Tuesday 7 April 2015

Happy World Health Day!

It's World Health Day today, so I thought I'd make a quick compilation of lots of simple tips to keep you healthy!

• Never skip meals. Skipping meals isn't an effective way to lose weight - in fact, it often yields the opposite effect. Always get three good meals every day, especially a breakfast, and remember that protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer as it digests slowly, carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy because it digests the quickest (and so is no good to snack on if you're hungry), and fats are the middle ground. Be sure to get them all.

• Not all dietary fats are bad. Only saturated fat is listed on food packages because it's the 'bad' one and you need to watch it closely. The fats not listed are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, and these are the ones you need.

• Exercise releases endorphins quicker and far more effectively than chocolate. Eating might be fun at the time, but chocolate - store-bought, regular, tasty chocolate - doesn't make you as happy as you think, and you're likely to just feel guilty afterwards. Chocolate's happy-factor has been overhyped by the media and chocolate companies. The cacao bean itself contains the good stuff, and the darker the chocolate the more of that goodness the chocolate bar contains, but as more ingredients are added and the cacao is put through the process of making actual chocolate (as cacao is bitter), a lot of the goodness is lost. As a result, readily-available milk chocolate contains more other ingredients and less cacao, making it about as effective at boosting happiness as uncooked sprouts.

• On average, the first 15-20 minutes of exercise uses the carbs you ate before hand. After those 15-20 minutes your body starts using its fat stores instead. Carbs are essential for energy, so you need carbs in your breakfast, alongside protein so that you don't get hungry too soon. If you don't have any carbs at all before working out your workout will most likely suffer as you won't have the energy to begin, either physically or mentally, which will lead to a less intense workout, continuous stopping in the middle of sets, and ultimately poor results.

• 'Super Foods' don't make you lose weight. A 'superfood' is just a food - usually a fruit, seed or nut - that contains a surprising amount of nutrients for so small and simple a thing. Sometimes a superfood may be the equivalent of a multi-vitamin, providing lots of different things your body needs to work properly, and sometimes it might simply be a great source of a single nutrient - baobab, for example, contains 6 times the amount of vitamin C as oranges. That doesn't mean you should binge, it simply means that you need consume a lot less to get the same benefits. In this manner it can lead to weightloss, but excessive consumption of 'superfoods' can be just as damaging as binging on sandwiches. Fruits are carbs and loaded with sugar, and nuts are loaded with fats, meaning they're both heavy with calories.

• Always listen to your body. If it aches too much to workout, don't. If something hurts while performing an exercise, stop. "Push through the pain" simply refers to pushing through the ache at the end of a set, or breaking through the wall where you want to quit the most. It doesn't mean "workout even though your leg is in a splint."

• Results take time. Don't expect quick changes to your body. It takes 4 weeks for you to notice a difference, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for everyone else - the post man or the woman who runs the local corner shop. Don't obsess over where you aren't yet, focus on where you aren't anymore. Don't push yourself into injury to achieve results, as that will only delay them.

• Don't deny yourself things you love. If you do, you're likely to break and binge, and that will lead to you eating more in one sitting than is good. Practise moderation, and practise saying 'no' - consciously deciding on the spot not to have something tasty on offer will empower you and make you feel good, and should something better come along later that day or the next, you can say 'yes' without guilt. If you're going to have something 'naughty' don't have much of it, but make sure it's worth it.
   • On a similar point, having something large over several days rather than in one day isn't something to feel guilty over. Having a 1000 calorie easter egg over 3 days, for example, is totally fine as your body has the chance to work it off gradually. Having a 1000 calorie easter egg in one day is certainly not. And yes, I speak from personal mistakes. Recent personal mistakes.

• Exercise doesn't have to be a chore, but set time aside from it in advance around your schedule. This will help keep it consistant. And choose things you love. It's true I love strength training, but I have a passion for yoga, kick boxing and dance, so I do a lot of those to keep my spirits up and stop it from feeling like work. This will keep you going longer and give you a good chance to find a passion in it.

• You can't count calories or guarantee what every single ingredient of a meal is if you eat out. So don't. If you go out once a week or fortnight with friends for a meal, like a lot of people do, let yourself enjoy it. Don't ask the waiter what's in something unless you're allergic. Don't ask about calories. Order what seems to be the healthiest if you're that health-conscious, but having one 'free' meal a week off-diet to better socialise is totally acceptable. Maybe forgo a starter if you plan on having dessert. Alternatively, find another venue to meet with friends where you can relax and keep their attention and give them all of yours.
   • Restaurants provide seats, a close atmosphere, food and toilets, and so does your house, so alternatively you could put together a friendly get together at home. Make sure to buy snacks and drinks that your friends will like, but this also means you're able to satisfy your own health needs at the same time, be it an awareness of allergies, or simply staying on-diet.

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  1. Pinning this, so much good info. Working out isn't a chore for me anymore (I love how good I feel after). But eating healthy is still hard. I wish pizza could be good for me...

    1. Eating healthy is the hardest part. I never set out to eat healthy, to be honest, but it started to happen naturally, I started swapping out bad foods for good foods without even thinking about it. I never cut out the things I loved, I just tone them down - and I still have pizza once a week ;P that pretty pie can't be forgotten!


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