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The Fundamentals of Healthy Living

12.01.2017

Welcome to January - the month synonymous with post-festivity health and fitness. Over the next 4 weeks, our guest blogger Rebecca will be giving taking over and giving us the lowdown on becoming our best selves. This week - The Fundamentals of Healthy Living!

There is never a more popular time to start healthy living patterns or pursuing a weight loss diet than January. You simply cannot escape the media bombardment of the best plans that will help you lose weight, get in shape and have your healthiest year yet! 

With so much information available, some of it often conflicting, it’s hard to know where to even start and what will or will not work for you. See, that’s the key, following a plan that you can stick to that’s suitable for You, Your Needs and Your lifestyle. What Sandra in HR did to lose weight last year might not necessarily work for you because you’re not Sandra! You’re you and we are all different, which is why the hardest part of developing sustainable healthy living habits for long term weight loss is finding that out, often the hard way.

The hard way being following extreme low calorie diets, eating foods that you don’t even like and trying to maintain strict exercise regimes which you might not have the time for, that leave you achy and exhausted (and not in a good way).  Both of these are the perfect combination for you to fall off the healthy eating ‘New Year, new me’ wagon and give up any aspiration of feeling and looking fitter, healthier and happier. Why? Because they aren’t sustainable. Here are a few solutions to start and being able to continue with healthy habits year round…

KEEP THINGS SIMPLE -  

What you do to lose weight and get fit, you have to continue (fairly closely, leaving room for flexibility) to maintain your new physique and fitness levels. 

It doesn't sound sexy but it’s all about balance, moderation and making it part of your lifestyle. 

Plus it doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need are a few small and realistic lifestyle changes that you can practise consistently.

KEEP HYDRATED BY DRINKING WATER -  

We need water present for every bio-chemical process in the body but it also helps with digestion and nutrient absorption from the food we eat. You may have heard that ‘You are what you eat’, actually you are what the body absorbs and you need water present for this to happen.

It's a classic but many of us (me included), can still confuse real hunger with dehydration and being thirsty. Drink up and then decide if you're still hungry before consuming additional calories you may not need. 

EAT LOTS OF HIGH FIBRE, NUTRIENT DENSE VEGETABLES -  

My number one rule; where possible add more vegetables! Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and are a low-calorie, low-fat food source. Meaning you can eat a lot of them with minimal damage to your waist line! Having them in your diet is a must as many essential nutrients and antioxidants are only accessed through vegetable consumption. Vegetables are also a source of fibre and help maintain a healthy digestive system and they increase your satiety after meals, meaning less snacking and mindless eating.

EAT ADEQUATE LEVELS OF PROTEIN -

Protein is the building block of muscles. The more muscle you have, the leaner you are and the more efficient the body is at burning fat. You need to be eating enough protein to support this (women especially who tend to not eat as much protein as they ought to). 

REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR AND PROCESSED FOODS IN YOUR DIET -

We all know by now about the war on sugar; it’s not something we should be eating regularly, especially not in excess. Sugar, and it's derivatives are 'empty-calories', meaning they provide no essential nutrients, nor promote health within the body. There is a plethora of health complications involved with too much sugar in your diet such as Type II Diabetes, Obesity and Cancer. If the only thing you do this year is start eating mostly natural, whole foods in their original source (not messed about with in a factory) then you will be a big step closer to optimal health.

PRIORITISE QUALITY SLEEP REGULARLY -

It is during sleep that the body is working hardest repairing itself from the day and preparing for what’s to come. Lots of different functions take place during rest such as healing the heart and blood vessels, improving immune systems, nervous system repair and developing cognitive functions to name a few. A good night's sleep will also keep your hormones balanced and prevent ghrelin, (the hormone responsible for letting you know that you are hungry) increasing and leptin, (the hormone responsible for letting you know that you are full) decreasing in the body (which is what happens after a poor night's sleep). This is one of the reasons why I advise all of my Revolution clients who want to lose weight to make quality sleep a priority.  

GET THE BODY MOVING -

I’m a health and fitness professional; I could talk about the benefits of exercise until I’m blue in the face! (I won’t!) Put simply, you are healthier if working out is part of your life! You reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and it will help you lose or maintain weight. Physical activity will put you in a better mood giving you that ‘feel-good’ factor. Being healthy is not just about how your body looks but also about looking after your emotional and mental well-being, and regular physical activity helps with that. 

It might sound simple enough but so many of us (60% of the English population are either overweight or obese) struggle with these. I’m a big believer that once you nail the basics, the rest takes care of itself. So why not make 2017 the year you practise small progressive changes that you can stick to and see what happens to your health, body and life? Next week I’ll be sharing my favourite pick of healthy foods to include in your diet.

Posted by Rebecca Maslin

Rebecca Maslin is the founder and author of healthy living blog A Helping of Healthy, a certified nutritional coach and works as a Personal Trainer in Revolution PTS

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