As I mentioned last week, research shows that people who make health changes to feel good follow through more often than those who make changes to look good. Plus, when you don’t reach your look-great goals as quickly as you’d like, you get discouraged. Regular victories are vital to wanting to stick with anything. So by resolving to perform a certain action — rather than get a certain result — you’ll get a little high each and every time you follow through.
- Shake Your Sodium Habit
When it comes to sodium, the saltshaker is the least of your concerns. Recent studies show that the top 10 individual food sources of sodium in the Australian diet are all convenience foods, coming from either restaurants or packaged foods. While salt can act as a preservative, most sodium is now used to boost flavour and keep consumers coming back for more. In fact, 75 percent of the average Australian’s sodium intake (which is almost twice what it should be) comes from commercially prepared foods. And our consumption of sodium can result in higher blood pressure, heart disease (the number-one killer of women!), stomach cancer and weak bones — not to mention water retention and bloating.
Action: Limit how many times you eat out a week, and stop stocking your pantry with packaged foods. When you’ve got to go for something convenient, pick the low-sodium option. When it’s cooking, you can still add salt as you like. Nine times out of ten, your food will still have less sodium. Your taste buds will adjust and over time you’ll find yourself needing less salt to make a meal tasty.
2. Intermittent Fasting
In case you haven’t worked it out by now, “Diets don’t work”.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.
Why is it worthwhile to change when you’re eating?
Well, most notably, it’s a great way to get lean without going on a crazy diet or cutting your calories down to nothing. In fact, most of the time you’ll try to keep your calories the same or just a little less when you start intermittent fasting. (Most people eat less, but slightly bigger meals during a shorter time frame.) Additionally, intermittent fasting is a good way to keep muscle mass on while getting lean.
With all that said, the main reason people try intermittent fasting is to lose fat.
Action: Men should be aiming for a 18/6 fast and women 16/8 fast, which means that you don’t eat for 18 hours (Men 7pm-1pm & Women 7pm-11am) and you consume your meals (2-3) in a 6 hour window.
You can start by delaying your breakfast for 1 hour initially 2-3 days per week and then gradually increase the frequency and time depending on how you feel.
I personally only eat twice a day (12.30pm & 7pm), and fast for 24hours (just dinner) once per week.
3. Focus on Your Focus
If you like to jog it out on the treadmill while flipping through magazines? Don’t. You can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training done three times a week than by jogging on the treadmill for an hour. What’s more, recent studies found that when you attempt demanding tasks simultaneously, you end up doing none of them as well as you should, because your brain — sorry to break it to you — has limits. So crank up the intensity and focus. You’ll have greater fitness results in less time. Plus, when you finish that article, you’ll actually have a clue what you’ve read!
The Plan: Set a workout schedule and don’t let other activities split your focus. Even if that means squeezing in a shorter workout, you’ll probably still accomplish more. During your workout time, mix in high-intensity interval training, pushing yourself to the max and then quickly recovering before you give it another go. (Our Small Group Classes at DirksHealth are the perfect way to achieve this)
4. Get Better Sleep
One third of our lives are spent sleeping…or at least should be. Many of us suffer from chronic sleep loss or sleep disorders — which can wreck your health and your waistline. During sleep, our bodies repair muscles, bolster the immune system, and release hormones and chemicals that rule everything from energy to appetite. Get less than seven hours of sleep tonight and tomorrow you can expect 15.5 percent lower levels of the hormone leptin, which makes you feel full, and 14.9 percent higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which ups your hunger factor big time. People who sleep 6 hours and 40 minutes eat an average of 549 more calories a day more than those who score 8 hours, according to a 2012 study from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. What’s more, people who have problems falling or staying asleep up their risk of developing depression tenfold and have 17 times higher anxiety levels than people who snooze soundly.
Action: Your bed is for sleep (and sex if your lucky). Not leisurely breakfasts and TV marathons. Programming your body to relate your bed — and even a pre-bedtime routine- with sleep can help keep you from tossing and turning. Take inventory of the things that get you hyped up versus calmed down, and create a ritual in the evening that will wind you don’t for bed. Whatever it is, don’t involve your electronics in it. The bright lights can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime. And no matter how tired you are, never down caffeine during the afternoon. It can stay in your system for a good 12 hours, and while your brain might pack enough adenosine (a sleepy-time compound) to override the caffeine, even the small dip in adenosine you experience after a few hours of sleep could be enough to let caffeine take over come 2 a.m. Plus, filling up on any liquids before bed can make for an up-and-down sort of night. Now, don’t give up if you don’t fall asleep easily the first night on your new routine. It generally takes a couple weeks to get your body reprogrammed.
Resolve to Make Realistic Resolutions
Now select the areas you want to improve in 2021 and write a “realistic resolution” for each. Be as specific as possible and make sure your resolution can be measured and tracked.
- Post the resolution where it can be seen daily—on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or computer screen saver.
- Find a buddy or pal who can assist as a mentor.
- Set up a reward system for yourself. For example, every week that you meet your resolution, put a dollar in the resolution jar. When it reaches $20, treat yourself.
- And face the facts that there will be setbacks but that doesn’t mean failure.
If you are unsure how to effectively apply any of these actions please feel free to contact me.
Yours in health,
About the Author:
Dirk Hansen has been a health & wellness professional and writer for DirksHealth for over 30 years.
You can learn more about us and what we do by calling 9365 7033 or emailing Dirk at email@example.com