I just had a conversation about exercise and weight with a friend which got me thinking it was time to post a blog on healthy eating and exercise habits that lead to healthy mind and body. Even though, some might think “I don’t care about the mind I just want the body!!”. Well a healthy mind helps lead to a healthy body. A healthy mind-set is best able to understand, commit to and make the right choices, like the ones I’ll mention below; as well, a healthy, calm, well rested and well nourished mind will make better decisions than an exhausted, hung over or impatient or angry mind might make. So the mind is as important as the body. It’s also about believing in yourself. Know that you are worth it. Believe you are worth it, don’t settle for less and you will attain whatever health and weight goal you want. And it’s also about acceptance. Making goals that include a weight that is appropriate for your body type, not trying to match your friend’s 5’11” eats-anything-she-wants-and-never-exercises frame. Love the skin you’re in
I’ve noticed people think maintaining a healthy weight is complicated, a lot of work or too much effort and a challenge to maintain. It is actually not complicated and only takes some will power and self-love. Just remember, you really want this. I say that because people who ask me about losing a bit of weight or how I stay fit, ask me about it often. We all want to feel good about ourselves. And remember, there is more to a healthy lifestyle than diet alone. Here are some guidelines I follow:
Keep it easy to maintain, and something you enjoy. Don’t think the only way to get fit is to head to a gym after work for an hour, especially if that is of no interest. Walking at a good pace and yoga (from DVDs – either in my room solo before everyone wakes or after breakfast with kids around me) are my main sources of exercise right now and I’m stronger and leaner then when I used to go to a gym. Using your natural body weight resistance is a perfect way to build lean muscle.
Enjoy what you are doing. Getting out into nature is a double win as it’s great for mental health too. You don’t need to stick to a routine workout, change it up to keep interest levels high but the most important thing is just get up and move. Bring your kids along or a friend to make it social if that helps. People ask me “How do you have the energy?” but exercising gives me energy. Stretching and exercising releases feel good endorphins in your body. (Again, also good for the mental health part!)
Don’t under estimate the power of walking, especially when at a good speed. It’s the little things that can add up, so being active throughout the day – try to walk when you can, use the stairs not the elevator, even walk to work if you can or half way. Being active throughout the day will help you feel your best (and you’ll sleep better). When I worked in a graphic design firm I’d power walk home from work which took me about 40 minutes. So when you think getting home would have taken me 15-20 minutes with driving or transit, that’s not a lot of extra time. No excuses, there is always a way.
WATER Our bodies are 70% water. We need it. Drink it. Lemon water first thing in the morning – helps kick-start your liver and flushes out toxins. It’s a natural revitaliser and energiser, and aids in digestion – good digestion plays a role in weight maintenance and a healthy body.
Often we think we are hungry when we are thirsty. So drink water always before eating food. I also don’t drink while I eat, partially as it interferes with digestion. Ice cold water also interferes with digestion (though sometimes it’s what I crave). But water is best consumed at room temperature.
Water also revives us, helping with the healthy mind part. Furthermore, I learned that dehydration can present itself as depression; not to belittle the seriousness of depression as it is a disease and can not be ‘cured’ by drinking more water. But this stresses the importance of drinking water – how dehydration can negatively affect your body (which kids demonstrate often with the grumps).
Drinking water, as well as herbal teas and coconut water, also keeps you away from drinking juices and/or sodas which are empty calories, loaded with sugars and are appetite killers, which will not help you develop wise eating habits.
ALCOHOL Be mindful of how much alcohol you consume. I get a lot of people asking me why I don’t drink. Personally, I just can’t imagine being hung over while caring for my three kids all day long. I was also heavier in my drinking days, then in any of my four pregnancies. I’m pretty sure my body is happier now – drinking really made me look and feel bloated and I never liked writing off the next day, not to mention what it does to your body/liver. So for me, the choice is easy. Also keep in mind that drinking slows your metabolism, so if a drinker is sitting next to a non-drinker on a sofa, the non-drinker is burning more calories just sitting there, then the drinker. So if you are having trouble with your weight, don’t overlook that drinking packs on the pounds – not only from calories and the food you (over) eat along with it, slowing your metabolism, disrupting your sleep but as well as poor food choices the next day (as well as lack of desire to exercise).
It’s the same as for exercise as for food and diet, stick to what you can maintain. Eat wisely and seek the help of a naturopath vs unrealistic diet plans, which often set you up for failure/disappointment once you stop the diet and return to everyday eating.
Don’t eat 3 hours prior to bed – it’s bad for your digestion and poor digestion prevents weight loss. If 3 hours is not realistic start with 2 hours. Eating too close to bed will also have an effect on how well you sleep (due to poor digestion). Like alcohol, if you are sleep deprived you will not make wise, healthy food and exercise choices the next day.
I often think of a saying my naturopath, Jill Kelner, told me, “Chew your drink. Drink your food” (pretty sure that’s it!?). But point being, chew your food a lot and drink slowly (I’m queen of sucking back a smoothie or fresh pressed juice way too fast!). This is especially important for busy moms who are often up and down non-stop during meals with little ones. Simple tips like putting your fork down in between bites and having a water jug on the table can help.
FATS Don’t steer clear of healthy fats – they are essential for weight maintenance, they help your body use fat for energy and can even help with weight loss. Healthy fats such as from avocado, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil and omega 3s (throw flax oil in your morning smoothies!) etc…not only provide an energy source and fight diseases but are satiating – they help you feel full after you eat (same with protein).
What specific foods to eat in your diet is a whole other blog post!