If you want to look better, feel better and even live longer, learning healthy habits should be at the top of your to-do list. Sometimes, it’s the small things we do every day that either make or break our potential for living a healthier life or even losing weight. For instance, if you have a few colas throughout the day, even if they’re diet cola, you could be adding extra calories or extra inches to your waist. Both contain phosphoric acid that can act with the caffeine as a diuretic and rob your body of nutrients. Both affect the heart, blood pressure, dental health and waistline, with people drinking diet sodas having more visceral fat and a bigger waist.
Move around for five minutes out of every hour.
That’s right. Just getting up and moving around for about five minutes every fifty to fifty-five minutes can extend your life, even if you workout regularly. Studies show that sitting for longer than 50-55 minutes without a break to move around can even reduce the benefits of your workout or wipe them out. Your body wasn’t meant to sit longer, so set a time and every fifty minutes or so, get up and move around. While you’re at it, take the stairs to your office, not the elevator and walk as much as possible.
Get rid of refined sugar in your diet for a few weeks.
While I could have said eliminate sugar for the rest of your life, it might be too much for most people to consider. Instead, don’t give it up for forever, just for a few weeks. This one takes a little effort, since you’ll find sugar in about everything from processed meats to salad dressing. Eat whole foods as much as possible to avoid all the label reading and make sure it doesn’t sneak in somewhere. Fill in that desire for sugar with fresh fruit. I have a client who tried this and kept a bowl of cut up cantaloupe in their refrigerator. They found that at the end of two weeks, that cantaloupe tasted extremely sweet. Sugar is addictive, so expect this step to be TOUGH!
Get plenty of sleep at night.
Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as exercise when it comes to health. Studies show that when you have inadequate sleep, it boosts your ghrelin hormone and suppresses the leptin hormone. Ghrelin sends a message to the brain that you’re hungry and leptin tells your brain that you’re full. You can see how that could affect your weight. Lack of sleep increases your risk of coronary disease and stroke, too. Turn out the lights and turn off the TV and any other distractions. The TV and light can interfere with the production of melatonin.
- Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Take a walk outside for 20 to 30 minute three to four times a week without sun block. While extensive exposure to the sun is bad, you need some to create vitamin D for your body. Studies show that most Americans have a shortage.
- Take longer strides when you walk. Several studies show that people who walk faster and take longer strides live longer.
- Make laughter and smiling a habit. The more you smile and laugh, the healthier you’ll be. Laughter is good medicine. It reduces stress and triggers the creation of hormones that make you healthier.
- Chew your food carefully and slow down at the table. Always sit down at a table to eat. Don’t eat on the go. Even if you have to sit at a park picnic table or bench, make it an “official” meal time and enjoy every bite.