It’s no secret. Getting healthy is one of the most (if not the most) commonly searched New Year’s resolution online. At this time of year, we’re assessing our weight, fitness, eating and sleeping habits, and more. Some of us, however, focus solely on weight loss, and although this isn’t inherently bad, it’s important to remember that “getting healthy” is more than a hyper-focus on weight loss. In fact, there are many practices that influence our weight loss and overall health.
When your sleep is off, so is everything else. Of course, it’s dreamy to get at least 9 hours of sleep each night, but too much or too little sleep can actually be linked to weight gain. Not enough sleep, or oversleeping, can negatively impact how your body produces hormones, which control appetite and hunger. Not to mention, when you’re sleep deprived, you’re much more likely to skip workouts, take the elevator, and circle the parking lot for 15 minutes while you search for the closest spot.
Hydration drives everything forward. Your body is made mostly of water, and without enough, even your brain functioning slows. By drinking between 2 and 6 cups of clear, filtered water each day, you can actually shed extra pounds. It’s the perfect hydrator–no calories and quenches thirst. If you really commit to this habit, you become less likely (on your own) to grab a soda, sugary juice, or sweetened coffee. Plus, it’s free most places, if not all. So, save some cash while you’re shedding pounds.
Waiting Too Long to Eat
Contrary to what some may believe, spacing out your meals can slow down your metabolism, which makes it harder for you to burn calories from your next meal. Waiting so long may also make you so hungry that you end up overeating. (I feel like we’ve all been there, ha.) My advice is to try eating smaller portions, more often.
Eating Out Too Often
It’s totally normal to hate cooking. It can be overwhelming, and it definitely takes practice. The problem with not cooking, is the alternative: eating out. If you eat most of your meals at restaurants, it’s much harder to monitor what goes into your body. Thus, you can easily lose control of your weight. Unfortunately, even these so-called “lighter” dishes can have more calories than portrayed. Lunch isn’t excluded. Those who eat out for lunch on a daily basis are likely to weigh 5 more pounds than those who bring their homemade lunch to work.
Sitting All Day
It’s hard to avoid this one. I know the struggle. Office jobs are desk jobs, and just because you’re sitting all day doesn’t mean you aren’t exhausted at the end. At home, Netflix is waiting for you, so you rest your mind, and in turn, you rest your body even more. It takes a lot of willpower to find the right time of day to do physical activity, but it must be a priority. If you sit most of the time, your body loses its ability to tell when you’ve eaten too much. In turn, you eat more and gain more weight. Yes, binge watching and binge eating can go hand-in-hand. If you can, take brief exercise breaks during the day. Whether it’s a walk around the building or up and down the stairs, get at least three 10-minute walks between obligations.
Overdoing the Alcohol
Wine, beer, mixed drinks: they all have calories. Even just 1.5 shots of vodka has around 146 calories, so be careful with those vodka-sprites, or tall glasses of Guinness. Three or more drinks a day can cause you to gain weight or be overweight–no matter what type of alcohol you drink. Stick to something lighter with more health benefits, like wine. A glass of red with dinner is a moderate option that may actually keep you from gaining weight.
Overeating in general, as well as eating unhealthy food, is common when under stress or feeling sad. Try to find other coping mechanisms that’ll make you feel better after you’ve eaten–instead of reaching for those unhealthy, high-calorie treats that make you feel worse when you’re done.
Making Food Decisions Fast
Taking the time to plan out meals is taking care of your present and future self. It’s worth it and much more likely that you’ll not be so tempted to reach for something unhealthy when you’re on the go. Even if you do work out regularly, it’s still possible to gain a few extra pounds if you’re eating fast food, sugary snacks, and sodas. Why? Because your body doesn’t respond the same way to these sugary calories as it does to energy you get from healthy foods. In fact, it breaks them down too quickly, and because they are low in fiber, you don’t feel satisfied or full afterward. Thus, you’ll likely eat or drink more.
Your thyroid–the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your throat–is in control of your energy level and how your body breaks down food. If it’s not producing the right amount thyroid hormone, you could gain as much as 5 to 10 extra pounds. Thyroid problems are more likely in women than in men, so if you’re a female, take a look at your family’s medical history. And, if you think you might have a thyroid problem, don’t wait; talk with your doctor and be sure to test for deficiencies in iodine and selenium — as naturally supplementing with these can help!
Most women notice a creeping weight gain during menopause. I mean, a lot is going on: changes in your hormones, less muscle mass, hot flashes. These can all lead to added pounds. It’s all kind of a chain reaction, actually. Your hormones change, so you get hot flashes in the night. The hot flashes cause you to lose sleep. If you’re exhausted, you try to boost your energy throughout the day with snacks. It’s a vicious cycle. Do what you can to get decent sleep by turning on the ceiling fan or having a cooler mattress topper. Eat healthy; you can’t go wrong with that. And, whenever possible, drink detoxifying herbal teas. Many have found that it can help with some of the annoying symptoms!