Even though the weather is still as warm and wonderful as ever, summer is well and truly over and most of us are finally starting to get back to some form of a routine. It’s often the time of year when we’ll be rushing back to the gym in order to get fit, lose those lingering summer pounds and “get healthy” again.
While exercise plays an integral part in any “health kick”, it’s often overvalued as a means to lose weight and “get healthy” and sometimes takes away our focus from the more important factors that effect our health and weight – namely diet, sleep, hydration and stress.
So going to the gym is not a bad thing, but here are a few simple things you can do to improve in those other areas, too.
Review what you put inside your body; literally, take a hard look at what you eat. While 100 percent of the calories we consume come from food, we can only burn 10 to 30 percent through physical activity each day. By addressing what you eat, you have an impact on the 100 percent of what you consume, and your diet may seem challenging because it’s set in deeply engrained habits but the thing is, you don’t need to get it perfect from the start.
I’ve found the most successful way of helping my clients is by setting weekly or fortnightly goals. It can be eliminating sugar and eating more vegetables, for example. Or eliminating refined carbs and processed foods. A step-by-step process may take longer but the changes you’ll be implementing will be tailored to your specific needs and sustainable.
Hydrate. I don’t mean a glass of water here or there, I’m talking 8 glasses of water a day. A lack of water can affect your metabolism, your capacity to eliminate but also your brain’s ability to function. The amount of water you need will depend on your size, the type of climate you live in, and how much you exercise but 8 cups of water per day is a good measure for most people. Start with 1-2 glasses first thing in the morning and spread it out evenly throughout the day.
Learn to relax. When we stress our body releases a hormone called cortisol. This not only affects insulin levels and therefore our hunger but also favors fat storage, especially around the abdomen! One of the best ways to deal with stress is through breathing exercises and meditation. Not only will these practices help you relax but they will focus your mind in a way nothing else will. You can download Headspace or Zenfie on your phone. This is how I started.
Alternatively you can get an introduction to meditation and breath work through Yoga. Sunshine Yoga at 40 ave Princesse Grace offers a range of different classes every day of the week (click here for the schedule).
Sleep. Forget exercise, I reckon sleep is going to be the next big trend in wellness. More and more people are waking up to the importance of sleep and the shocking reality of what a lack of it does to our health. Not only because when we are tired we are more likely to reach for junk food but a lack of sleep also makes us more prone to stress. Stress leads to inflammation and inflammation leads to disease.
The quality and the amount we sleep affect our stress and hunger hormones so getting enough sleep is as important as exercising and eating healthy. Plan for early nights, don’t eat dinner too late or too heavy, don’t consume alcohol and find a way of winding down before you go to bed that doesn’t involve looking at a screen. It can be reading a book, having a bath, meditating or doing your breathing exercises. Having a bedtime ritual is essential to getting a good night’s sleep.
Integrate more daily movement into your life. Research has shown that the people who live the longest in good physical health are those who do 40 minutes to one hour of “moderate” exercise a day.
This means walking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of one of Monaco’s 78 public elevators, 35 escalators or 8 travelators, and maybe going for a walk along the seafront after dinner. If you’re feeling up for it, take the stairs up to Monaco Ville (the equivalent of a six-storied building) and visit the St Martin gardens near the Oceanographic Museum.
This type of daily movement will be more beneficial to your long-term health than slamming out a workout in the gym a few times a week. Exercise is important but it should be something you enjoy and that truly benefits your body. A good form of fitness should make you stronger (without breaking you), more flexible, more mobile, more relaxed and happier as a result. These factors are more important than the amount of calories you’ll burn.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little with these things. What is important is that you find the balance that works best for you. We are all different and even though these guidelines are valid for everyone, you will find that what works best for you will be unique to you. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if you need a little help: email@example.com.
Alternatively, sign up to my 10-day guided detox program starting on October 23rd, which includes a full meal plan with nutritious recipes that are naturally gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free, along with daily tips on how to move more, improve your sleep and increase your hydration.
Article first published October 15, 2017.Maddy is the Founder of Nutrition For Naughty People, aimed at helping individuals find a better balance between the things that keep them healthy and the things that make them happy! Any firstname.lastname@example.org.
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