6 Factors to Aid Weight Loss and a healthy Lifestyle!
When I was a teenager, I looked at the 30 somethings that were my friend’s parents and thought. “I never want to look that old.” Back then, thirty-something seemed so old. Cardigans, pipes and grey hair if I remember rightly. These days, forty-something seems so much younger. It could be due to a change in mindset, better lifestyles, diets or perception. One thing is for certain, it's not difficult to keep age and illness at bay.
Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, the medical profession were informing us. “After the age of forty, you shouldn’t exercise anymore.” “Why?” It put too much strain on the old ticker (heart). Today thankfully, things are very different.
Now, I’m in my fiftieth year and feel more alive and healthier than I did in my twenties. “Why?” I have a better diet, a better grasp of what health, fitness, and wellbeing are and how to take care of myself from the inside out.
The most important thing for me these days is to understand I may still feel young, but my body has different ideas. I still play on the park with the grandchildren, splash in puddles with the dogs and attempt the crab position whilst training for Taekwondo competitions with my youngest daughter.
However, waking up stiff in the mornings is a matter of course as is waking up four times during the night to go to the toilet. Some days I feel I’m clearly past it and over the hill and
other days I could climb Everest.
Just to clarify the only mornings that I wake up stiff are those mornings that follow a heavy workout the day before, and I only wake up four times in the night when I’ve drank copious amounts of sugary beverages before bedtime. In my case, it’s not alcohol but fizzy pop.
There are two types of people in this world, those who accept and those who challenge. I’m the challenging variety. I never accept “no” or “just because” as an answer. I find solutions to the very real problems that I face.
One of the main issues that I face is fast weight gain and stubborn to non-existent weight loss. The diet and fitness industry would like you to believe weight management whether it is a loss, gain or maintenance is as simple as calories in versus calories out. This is very far from the truth as science has proven.
Scientific evidence has shown that additional to calories in versus calories out there are other major factors at play. Some of which are highlighted below.
Exercise is one of the most important factors involved in living a healthy life. By exercise, I don't mean an hour in the gym five days a week. It could mean a thirty five minute walk three times a week in conjunction with taking the stairs instead of the lift.
The act of exercising releases endorphins which promote a good sense of wellbeing and happiness. Have you ever noticed, when you are feeling down in the dumps a walk around the lake, by the river or the sea can help you to feel much better. This is because the connection to nature combined with exercise increases dopamine levels which in turn promote a healthy mind.
If you are unable to attend the gym or go for a walk each day you could benefit from online coaching or by simply loading up YouTube and following an exercise routine of your choice.
Quick Tip: Exercise little and often can be as beneficial as an every day work out routine
Know where your calories come from
My diet is better than most peoples, but it’s still far from perfect. I eat around a thousand calories per day from back to basic home-cooked food and drink about five hundred calories, which I must stop immediately. These calories come from fizzy pop and hot chocolate drinks.
Most people count the food calories they consume but not many people include their calorie intake from the drinks that they consume. If you drink five cups of white coffee with two sugars daily your weekly calorie count from coffee alone is whopping 3675 calories (105 per coffee). 3000 calories are equal to 1lb of fat. If this calorie intake is additional to your food count you will put weight on.
That cheat day you were told you could have. If you chose a standard 12 inch margarita pizza, you will have gone for a food item with 1180 calories, add coleslaw and garlic bread and you are up to 2000 calories.
Fish and chips, OK that’s a hip-hanging 840 calories. Not as many as pizza, but still high in calories. If you are on a low-calorie diet (800) then this one meal alone exceeds your daily calorific allowance.
You only had a cheese and pickle sandwich, surely you can’t go wrong with that? 388 calories for what may only be a snack add tortilla chips and salad and you’ve just added an extra 150 calories equalling 533 calories.
It seems everything you eat apart from a salad is full of unwanted calories. This may be true if you are on a junk food diet. Pizza made from scratch at home is around 500 calories, fish and chips made at home also 500 calories. Your cheese and pickle sandwich, there’s a cheat way of reducing the calories (see my recipe).
You just can’t beat old fashioned back to basics cooking. It’s fun to do, you can do it with other people and it’s the healthiest option. You can control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat contained in your food by cooking it yourself at home and it will be preservative and additive-free making it a winner all round!
Quick Tip: cook all of your food from scratch and go out occasionally to eat.
Control your Portion sizes
We in the West just haven’t learnt what portion control is yet. Most of us believe a normal-sized dinner plate overflowing with food is the right amount. If it’s not heaped and full to overflowing, then we must be on rations. This is because over the last couple of decades we have come to accept large portions as the norm. Most people are not sure of the correct serving size of each food group and aren’t sure what the difference is between a serving size and a portion.
Portion size is how much food you choose to eat at one time, in most cases, we eat far too much at any given mealtime. A serving size is the amount of food listed on a product's nutrition facts label and is normally marked out in 35g or 100g servings which isn’t that much.
Different products have different serving sizes, the most common serving sizes among recipes that I have found on Pinterest are cups, pieces, slices, and numbers e.g. one cup of tomatoes. I advise my clients to eat standard portion sizes which they can measure for themselves from anywhere in the world. I advise clients to use cups as a standard portion size.
Normally, with processed food the serving size suggested on a packet is usually the amount of that food item you should eat at one sitting. You won’t have to worry too much about getting the portions sizes right if you follow the labeling.
I don’t buy processed food much and rely on fresh fruit and vegetables. If I do buy prepacked fruit and vegetables it comes from frozen and the items are labeled.
If you buy fresh fruit and vegetables you’ll have to do a Google for the calorie count for each serving of fresh fruit and vegetables as most don’t grow with labels on.
Eat the right amount of calories
The number of calories you need each day to lose weight or maintain your weight will depend on your age, weight, metabolism, activity levels and sex. For example, a 200-pound female bodybuilder will need to eat a lot more than a 200-pound sedentary female.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 and The Dietary Guidelines for the UK 2018 can give you an idea of what you should be eating and how many calories you may need each day based on your age, sex, and physical activity level. You can use the free Body Weight Planner tool provided by the National Institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases (NIH USA) to make better informed dietary choices of your own.
Quick Tip: Control those portion sizes - your right serving size is normally the size of your own fist.
Drink more water
There’s nothing better to increase your physical and mental health and give you a healthy complexion than water.
At last drinking water is fashionable. Both Americans and Brits can be seen carrying bottled water everywhere they go. Behind soft drinks and obviously alcohol, water is the most popular drink.
Whilst the guideline to drink eight glasses a day is good advice it is not based on scientific evidence. However, drinking water either straight from the tap or in the form of other fluids such as tea and coffee or food items such as vegetables and fruit is essential to your health. Water is a vital nutrient that helps your body to carry out its daily functions.
It is an essential requirement to replace the water loss from our bodies each day. We lose large amounts of fluid daily through metabolic functions and daily activity. We lose fluid continuously, from our skin by evaporation, breathing, urine, and stools. These losses must be replaced to maintain and improve optimal good health. Without the right amount of fluid our bodies become dehydrated, our metabolic processes struggle and we begin to feel tired and start to look aged.
Pure water is always the best option and can help you to stay slim, boost your metabolism and energy levels and help keep you healthy.
Quick Tip: Aim to drink at least five cups of plain water daily to keep yourself healthy. If you find water exceptionally boring as I do, add fresh food to it such as lemons, limes, and ginger.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is so underrated and is a key part of a healthy lifestyle that aids a healthy heart, mind, and body. Sleep is as important as eating healthily and exercising regularly. A decent night’s sleep, 6 – 8 hours allows enough time for the body to repair itself and to grow. Getting enough sleep when you need it can also help you to lose weight.
Poor sleep patterns are linked to weight gain and people who sleep less tend to weigh significantly more than those who get an adequate night’s sleep. According to an article published online, researchers found that short sleep duration was associated with reduced leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and an increased body mass index. Further scientific research showed that short sleep duration was one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. A study led by Francesco P. Cappuccio, published in on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website showed that short sleep duration may be associated with the development of obesity from childhood to adulthood. This at least gives us an idea of when our diets start to impact on us and how they lead to weight issues later in life.
Quick Tip: If you’re trying to lose weight, getting a quality night’s sleep is fundamental to your weight loss plan and your healthy lifestyle goals. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day and it will become a habit in no time at all.
Living a healthy and happy lifestyle doesn't have to be hard work. Follow these simple steps and combine them with a healthy outlook on life and you'll be on the path to living a healthy life in no time at all.
Believe age is a state of mind
Know where your calories come from
Control your portion sizes
Drink more water
Get more sleep
Have a positive outlook on life
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