When I started my health and fitness journey I was laser focused on feeling good naked, building confidence in myself and getting healthy from the inside out. I was at a point where I was ready to do whatever it took to get the body I wanted and to really change my health and fitness for the better. As time has gone on and I have learned so much about overall wellness, I realized that there were (and are) things that many of us do not consider when we make a lifestyle change that could potentially be keeping us from the body we are working for, even if our nutrition and fitness are on point. Things like sleep, nature, the use of technology, and other things factor into our overall health and well-being. Let’s take a look at this and talk about how these factors influence our health.
5 Sneaky things that could be keeping you from the body and life that you want.
Get some sleep.
Sleep is VITAL to health. It affects us in more ways than we think in our day-to-day life and could be keeping you from living the life you want and having the body you are working for. Many of us do not sleep enough every day and that lack of sleep does not benefit us in any way. It may allow you to get to the office earlier or spend a little more time with the family but it could also be negatively impacting your health and setting you up for some serious health issues down the road. The amount and quality of the sleep we get even affects how much and what we eat. Many studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived are hungrier than those who are not and generally crave nutrient deficient higher calorie foods. Are you having wicked cravings? Are you constantly lethargic during the day and needing tons of caffeine to function? Do you always lack energy in your workouts? Take a look at how much you are sleeping and get more! Turn off the TV a little earlier and go to bed, sleep in on the weekends and make sure you wind down before bed with a break from the screen. Getting more sleep can lead to better mood, increased memory, increased energy, better weight control, a better sex life, and even stronger immunity.
Take a hike.
We spend far too much time indoors today. In my experience the more time I spend outside in nature the better I feel. When we look at this from a scientific perspective we see that spending time outside has been linked to better memory, more creativity, reduced stress, better mental energy, improved concentration, and boosted immunity. These are some pretty significant benefits when we look at staying committed to overall health and wellness and succeeding in any weight loss endeavor. If we are feeling stressed out and foggy mentally then we will likely find it tough to follow through with any challenging things that we are working towards like trying to lose weight. Any activity like sleep or getting outside more that helps with managing stress and rejuvenating us mentally and physically should allow for a huge increase in our ability to stay committed to our goals and make good choices throughout our day. I know for me getting outside is like a reset for my soul. If I am feeling uninspired or I am having trouble being positive then I know that out is time for me to go jump in the ocean and spend a day in the sun. Vitamin D is good for you and we need it in our lives and hey, a little bit of a tan is not only good for us it makes us more attractive (protect yourself when you go into the sun for prolonged periods though, especially the small areas like your face and ears as well as feet and hands).
What’s in what you’re eating? I know that when I started on my journey towards a fitter, healthier me I ate a lot of processed foods and thought that I was making good choices. The fact is that there is a lot going on in our food today and a lot of it may be wreaking havoc on your body. This means that if you are eating something that is not agreeing with your body you may be carrying around a lot of inflammation and holding some extra weight. A good way to avoid this is to buy food that is organic and free from pesticides and additives. As a rule I stay away from processed carbohydrates because I simply feel better when I do not eat them. When you see me inflamed and posting before photos well, it’s because I decided to indulge and my body was telling me to stop it!! When we begin eating healthy we are told by the food industry to buy gluten-free, trans-fat-free, fat free, low-calorie, sugar-free, etc. The problem with a lot of this is that it is packed with chemicals and additives (and sugar under different names) in order to make it low-calorie. Just because something is low-calorie or free of fats or sugars does not mean that it is healthy. It is important to know what you are eating and understand your food and how it works with your body, not from a scientific standpoint necessarily but from the point of view of how it makes you feel after you eat it. If you are lacking energy or are stuck on a plateau it may be time to look at your diet in a more critical manner and evaluate what you are eating and see if there is a differ way you could be fueling yourself for optimum performance. Science is amazing and has helped our society make huge leaps forward in so many areas but when it comes to our food, simpler may be better.
Get some face time not more screen time.
We are talking about community here. As humans, we are social animals. This means that we need to be around people and have positive nurturing relationships to function at our peak health. Think about being social in your life and what it has meant to you. We have all come upon hard times and needed someone to lean on. This has allowed us to manage our stress and persevere through those times. Having strong social connections has likely also allowed us to stay committed to our goals due to the accountability and support we received from those close to us. When we have friends at work we are also able to deal with the stress off our jobs and thrive in a tough environment better than if we go it alone. Not having social connections has also been show to have some serious health consequences and increase the risk of various serious diseases at various points in our lives. If you want to live your best life and operate at your peak health then get out there and make friends and nurture positive relationships, it is as important as exercise and nutrition.
Shut it down before bed.
It is no secret that many of us are on our phones, computers, iPad’s, tablets and other pieces of technology a lot throughout the day. It is fine to run your business or stay connected to people during the day and even during the evening but our constant-connectedness may be keeping us from sleeping well and getting the rest we need. Experts recommend that we shut down our devices one hour before we got to bed and research has shown that people who read from an eReader have a harder time falling asleep and release less melatonin. This means that you should buy an old school book and settle into bed an hour before sleep and read. Artificial light throws off our circadian rhythm and even effects how we wake up in the morning. We did not evolve to be constantly inundated by light so it is vital to limit the amount of time we plug in before bed. Shutting down your tech will also allow you to mentally unwind and decompress from the day and all that happens online and even connect with your spouse or partner more. We leave our phones in the kitchen to charge overnight so we do not use them and we go into our room well before we fall asleep. Being mindful of using technology and not letting technology use you will hep you maximize your sleep and thus get all the benefits we discussed earlier.