Dieting and working-out are two things that six out of 10 people you meet will tell you they are doing. But, is this really enough? Are you too focused on your physical body and not giving your health its due?
Let's talk about a few of the seven "must-have" habits you must cultivate so that yours is a lifetime affair with fitness and good health.
Stick to an eating schedule. It is important to give your body some sort of routine as far as meal timings go. Having your meals at roughly the same time everyday fine-tunes your system and enhances your metabolism. Moreover, you won't feel hunger pangs at odd hours; this will definitely help to keep your cravings in check.
Make exercise a part of your life. We live, we breathe, we eat - and we exercise. Whatever your goal, i.e., gaining or losing weight, or chiselling off those extra inches, if you allow yourself to look at the larger picture, your health improves. Fitness is not something that can be stored in the body. So, once you've got started, don't stop.
Have fun. In the entire process of reducing weight one thing people miss out on is the fun. A person who huffed and puffed up the stairs yesterday can now run on the treadmill, do an aerobics class, weight train. all this while they are eating less!
Doesn't that say something? Don't fret over those 200 gm which you didn't lose yesterday and caused you so much stress that you gained an additional ? kilo! Remember stress releases hormones, which cause your weight to stick. Give yourself a break and exercise for the sheer pleasure of it. After all, fitness is also a state of mind!
Sleep well. Getting a good night's sleep boosts your body's immunity. It allows the repair and regeneration of worn out cells and tissues. It literally gives your body systems the much-needed break, helping you to wake up fresh and energised. While missing your night's sleep cannot be compensated by a nap during the day, experts say that grabbing your forty winks during the day actually refreshes you. It can also improve your performance at work by improving your mental agility.
Eat well. You cannot starve your way to health. Exercise is supposed to make you stronger. This is not likely to happen, if you do not eat right. Eating less than your body's requirement lowers your metabolic rate; so, your body now conserves energy from whatever little you eat. Your body breaks down muscle and stores fat! Stick to a diet that fits into your lifestyle, and meets your nutritional needs.
A diet that doesn't make you feel deprived is something realistic that you can follow for your lifetime, not just for a few days. Whether you need to lose, gain or maintain weight, balanced meals are important.
Just as you cannot drive a car on an empty fuel tank, you cannot start your day on an empty stomach. A good breakfast not only helps meet 1/4th of your day's caloric and nutrient requirements, but it's also a proven fact that people who regularly eat breakfast are mentally more alert and agile throughout the day. They lose weight faster!
One more thing. If you are constantly on the run this, again, should be no excuse to skip a meal. It would be a good idea to carry food with you that is non-messy, handy and nutrient dense.
Relax. While we all think of our physical health, by eating in moderation, exercising, going for check-ups, we never really spare a thought to our mental health. Stress becomes a habit after a point of time, to such an extent, that you do not even realise you are stressed. How many of us take time to unwind? How many of us have a relaxation plan at the end of the day?
You can see work pile up on your desk and eventually you don't even notice that it has eaten into all your free time! Take time out for yourself, everyday. Plan on doing absolutely nothing every once in a while. Know your limits, and don't be afraid to let others know them too.
Appreciate yourself. "If I could lose another kilo or two I'd be happy." Why stall your happiness for this? After all, is there a rule book that says that you can be happy only if you weigh a certain number of kilos?
Appreciate yourself for what you are now. After all, there is no joy in perfection!
Regular exercise isn't just good for your body, it is also good for your mind. It shapes up the way you feel about yourself, while the adrenaline that kicks in from working up a sweat [and the endorphins that follow] can leave you on a natural high. But like any routine activity that alters your mood, it can become habit-forming, and too much of a good thing may be harmful to your health.
Exercise dependency can also become a form of eating disorder, more likely to be found in males. This occurs when the person burns off many more calories than they are eating. Thus, they may appear to be eating the same as always but they will be getting thinner.
- You feel compelled to exercise every day, no matter what
- Your mood changes significantly as a result of working out
- Skipping a session leaves you feeling anxious or depressed
- You exercise despite injury, or in unsafe conditions, and often push yourself that little bit further.
Know the risks
- Cardiovascular and muscular damage
- A suppressed immune system
- Increased chance of infection
- More likely to suffer sporting injuries, including stress fractures
- Calorie counting and preoccupation with body image can lead to eating disorders.
Deal with it
- Recognise the problem. Accepting that your exercise routine is out of control is the first step to recovery
- Identify the cause. We live in a culture that places great importance on appearance and performance. Questioning how this influences your need to exercise can help get things into perspective
- Restore order. Exercising under professional guidance will ensure that you're not overdoing it. Drop in at your local gym or sports centre, and talk it over with an instructor. They can work out a routine that's right for you.
- Break free from the habit. People with exercise dependency issues tend to keep to a rigid timetable. There's no need to pack your routine completely. You can vary the time, frequency and also the type of exercise. It can only encourage you to crack the habit and enjoy working out for the right reasons
- Shape up your head. The need to keep your body in tip top condition can be a sign that something inside is being neglected. Confide in someone you trust about any problems to prevent you feeling compelled to run away from them through exercise.
- Team CW
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