We live in a culture of instant gratification where weight loss is touted as an easy achievement. Just take this pill or wear that device! With a never ending supply of dietary dogmas that preach the full proof solution to health and achieving your desired weight, this ceaseless pit of information results in a lot of confusion.
The truth of the matter is that there is no one set of weight loss standards that universally applies to every person. If there were, then we’d stop struggling to lose weight as a nation. That’s not to say that there aren’t some common truths. But you’ve likely noticed that some people can eat junk food day in and day out, never exercise, and still stay thin. Or perhaps you’ve found yourself cutting calories in an attempt to lose weight only to see no improvement on the scale or in how your clothes fit.
Regardless of who you are, here are 5 habits that will promote weight loss.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important for a number of reasons. For one, it’s the only means by which your brain is able to get rid of waste and toxins. It’s also important for learning and memory. More importantly for anyone wanting to lose weight, sleep is imperative for weight loss.
Sleep, and a lack thereof, impacts the levels of hormones in your body. There are two hormones that are especially impacted by a lack of sleep. They are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin suppresses your appetite while ghrelin stimulates your appetite. When you don’t get enough sleep, it actually lowers the amount of leptin in your body while causing the levels of ghrelin to go up. In turn, you eat more during your waking hours. But if you get enough sleep, then it decreases your levels of hunger hormone there by helping you lose weight.
If you don’t get enough sleep it also increases the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when you are stressed and causes your metabolism to slow down. It also tells your body to break protein down into glucose which interferes with your body’s capacity to build muscle. In addition, excess glucose is stored in the body as fat.
Exercise is a universal known for promoting weight loss. But what’s less promoted is finding physical activity that excites you. Too many of us partake in activities that we either find terribly boring or abhor. If yoga is too slow paced for you, don’t suffer by forcing yourself through a 90 minute bikram class. If you hate running but love dancing, then don’t force yourself to go on a 3 mile jog, take that barre class instead!
The best way to ensure you exercise regularly is to find an activity that you’ve always wanted to try or that you find interesting. Maybe you’re someone who prefers to take group classes or perhaps you prefer to work out on your own. Maybe your thrive doing 30 day challengesor maybe you prefer a less competitive route. Find the type of exercise that excites you and go for it!
3. Eat Whole, Natural Foods
Eating foods in their whole, most natural form is a great way to promote weight loss. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not only full of fiber, making your feel fuller faster, but they also contain antioxidants and vitamins that are important for optimal health.
Foods that are processed and refined, like candies, cakes, and chips, tend to be calorically dense and nutritionally void. This means that these foods provide a lot of calories but not many nutrients. These foods are also digested much quicker by the body making it easier to absorb all of the calories. This causes spikesin your body’s blood sugar levels and ultimately leads to the body storing more fat than if you had eaten something healthier.
4. Drink Water
We all know that water is an important part of health but do you know why it’s important? Water is needed for virtually every cellular process in your body. If you don’t get enough water, then your body’s ability to carry out its daily physiological processes is impaired.
Not only is water important for health but by drinking more water, you’re likely going to reduce the amount of other beverages you drink. You may even decrease the amount of food that you eat. One of the best things about water is that it’s calorie free. So replacing that soda, juice, or tea with water is a great way to reduce calories while still meeting your body’s fluid needs. Beverages are an easy way for many Americans to take in extra calories and because most beverages don’t have a filling effect, they’re often a hidden source of calories. Drinking water can help solve this problem.
5. Recognize your Body’s Hunger and Satiety Cues
The next time you’re hungry, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. You may be bored, sad, or excited instead. Emotional eating can be a slippery slope to excessive caloric intake. You may not even realize that you’re partaking in emotional eating if you don’t know how to recognize when you’re hungry and when you’re full.
Recognizing when you are hungry versus when you are full is key to promoting weight loss. To help with this, practice mindful eating. Take your time when eating meals. Think about what you’re eating, it’s flavor, and texture. Eating when you’re distracted is an easy way to overeat. We’ve all gone through that entire bag of chips while watching TV without even realizing how much we’ve eaten. This happens because you’re distracted and are unaware of your intake.