Weight management is something that most of us struggle with. As a coach and trainer it is the most common challenge faced by my clients, and something that I constantly battle with on my journey to being my best. In this update, I outline 5 tips that have helped me to find me optimal shape and health. What's more, I am 100% confident that if you apply these 5 principles consistently you will start to see your body gradually change into your best shape.
Your Best Shape - before I dive in, it is important to highlight the fact that 'your best shape' is not somebody else's. We all have a unique genetic code, and a pre-defined best shape. We are not all meant to look the same, or strive for the same 'warrior or goddess' body types that seem to flood social media. If you do these 5 things, your body will begin to take it's best shape.
The Key To Weight Management Is Consistency!
Sleep is vital to maintaining effective and efficient body functionality. It is when we learn, secure memories, rest, recover, detox, de-stress, grow, and reset our bodies from the following day. It also assist hormone production and regulation of optimal body function. Now, all of these functions are vital to managing weight, but there is an added benefit of sleep, It also prevents us from eating and drinking items that aren't healthy. In addition, when you are sleeping you aren't creating any habits that are detrimental to your health and well-being.
Quite often when we are tired, we eat or drink high calorie foods/drinks to boost our energy and keep us awake, this is the beginning of a detrimental habit. This habit is then solidified when we sleep (when all of out habits are solidified, good or bad). These high calorie items we consume will also impact the quality of our sleep, preventing us from waking with the rest we need, because our body is in a state of stress as it tries to remove and detox the content you have consumed.
In addition, your metabolism slows considerably while you sleep, therefore your body is only burning the calories it needs to survive, sending the excess calories to your adipose tissue to be stored as fat.
So whether you choose, high sugar foods, high fat foods, alcohol, soda, or simply consuming too much, each has a detrimental impact on your sleep which has a detrimental impact on weight management.
The easiest solution is to listen to your body, if it is telling you it's time for bed, it's time for bed, for some of us that signal is masked as 'I want unhealthy things'. If you like to stay up late, arrange your schedule so that you can wake up late. If your schedule requires you to be up early, be sure to go to bed early. Waking early and going to bed late will likely lead to weight gain, not to mention decreased cognitive function, increased mistakes, poor performance, mood swings and more.
Yes, daily. It doesn't have to be much, 20-60 minutes of intentional moderate-vigorous exercise daily. WE ARE ALL MEANT TO.
Over thousands of years humans have become less active as our technologies become more efficient and effective. Without realizing, it is leading to alarming rates of sedentary lifestyles - meaning little to no physical activity. Humans are designed to be physically active beings and our big brains are constantly coming up with new ways to minimize physical exertion.
Yes, this is a natural progression. We are the most dominant species on earth because of our problem solving, communication and creative thinking abilities that we then use to make things more effective, efficient, productive, and advance life as we know it. The down side to this is that centuries ago we would all be physically active because we had to, now that most of us don't have to it is vital that we choose to and prioritize it like any other part of our schedule.
It's true, the modern lives that we have created make exercising daily a challenge. We have busy jobs, children, and numerous other commitments to consider. I completely understand that, but I propose that you cannot do any of those things to the best of your ability without taking care of your health and well-being first.
Exercise increases blood oxygen, regulates hormones that control mood, energy, and weight, offers a mindful break with stress reduction benefits, increases bone density, increases balance and coordination, decreases blood pressure, decreases resting heart rate, increases your metabolism, increases strength, burns calories and reduces adipose tissue. In summary, exercise should be a daily priority.
Now if you are able to exercise daily, just be sure to mix it up, keep it interesting, do a wide variety of exercises and activity types.
Eat Fresh Whole Foods
Time is one of our biggest obstacles when we think about weight management. Not enough time to exercise, not enough time to sleep, not enough time to prepare food from fresh whole ingredients.
Again, this should be a priority. What good is being busy if your health, and therefore your ability to perform or enjoy things, is stunted due to poor nutrition?
Eating fresh whole foods is not hard, and too be honest, it's not actually that much more expensive than eating packages, bulk-made, processed foods. A lot of people might have you believe it is more expensive but the truth is that whole foods have more essential nutrients and minerals, including fiber, which is almost completely removed by processed foods. On the other hand, nearly anything in a package will have reduced fiber, more sodium and/or more sugar.
Increased sugar, makes you crave more sugar. Increased sodium (salt), makes you thirsty and also makes you crave more salt. For many people, drinks with sugar accompany foods with salt.
Fiber is important as part of digestion, and while it helps you stay regular, it also helps your body manage the absorption of nutrients through the intestinal wall.
When you eat fresh whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural state as possible) you are consuming natural salts, natural sugars, minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and fiber that will help your body absorb and digest what it needs.
When we aren't fueling our bodies with the right fuel, our bodies don't work efficiently or effectively. We end up developing inflammation and weight volatility.
What about flavor? Olive oil, Rock Salt, Pepper, Vinegar, and natural herbs and spices add amazing flavor with minimal processing.
Mindfulness is so powerful you've probably heard of it... my poor attempt at a joke.
Due to an overwhelming lack of education about mindfulness, most people believe that you have to sit in quite and meditate... that's just one way to be mindful.
Mindfulness is simply turning all of your focus and your senses to one things at a time. Being completely present in the moment. This means that you can be mindful in everything that you do.
How does this help weight management?
Quite often we eat without thinking about it, exercise without paying attention to our body, stay up until fatigue sets in because we ignore our bodies signals, the list goes on.
Being mindful when you eat is about raising your awareness to the quality, quantity, texture, smell, taste and life-giving properties of what you put in your mouth. Being connected to what you eat and aware of when your body is content... not full, content.
Being mindful when you exercise is raising your awareness to the control, technique, feeling of your muscles when lifting weights, or the strike of your feet as you run, or visualizing your muscles relax and lengthen as you stretch.
Being mindful as you fatigue is raising your awareness to how you feel in your mind, in your energy levels, how present you are in conversations, how your body feels.
Being mindful in more activities you do can help weight management as well as reduce stress, anxiety, irritability, and more.
So switch off the autopilot!
Approximately 60% of the adult human body is water. Knowing this, and it's vital role in the optimal functioning of our body and mind, should be enough of a reason for us to consume our recommended 64oz or 8 cups of water each day (those recommendations increase when doing exercise). Many of us struggle to consume that much water and try to claim that we are getting it through coffee or tea, or various other methods.
The truth is, unless it is room temperature water, it is very difficult to gauge how much your body will absorb and utilize. Coffee and Tea typically have caffeine which is a diuretic and actually promotes the secretion of water through urine. Iced water isn't absorbed into your body readily and must warm it to body temperature for effective absorption.
Therefore, drinking tea, coffee or iced water is not really hydrating you, it is deceptively dehydrating you.
And this is where it impacts weight management. Dehydration reduces energy levels. Reduced energy levels makes us think we need fuel, so we look for food, often with sugar. Even if not with sugar we will often over eat when dehydrated because now our body is searching for water in the food we eat.
Tip for weight management:
Drink an 8-12oz cup of water before and after every meal. You will find that you don't need to eat as much, you will be hydrated, and it will assist nutrient absorption from your food.
Here’s a recap:
Sleep more - 7.5-9 hours a night.
Exercise intentionally for 20-60 minutes at a moderate to vigorous intensity each day.
Eat fresh whole foods as often as possible.
Practice mindfulness in as many daily activities as you can.
Hydrate before and after each meal.