We want to wish everyone a safe and fun holiday week. As the year ends I’ve put together some of the most common health topics my patients bring up. This time of year we usually start to think about how to be healthier. We start making our resolutions, and exercise often tops the list of things to get started on. Of course exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. Along with a good diet, exercise will give you more energy as well as enable weight control. Whatever you decide to do keep a few basics in mind:
Just Get Started
-You don’t have to have a goal or reach it immediately. In fact if you are just starting out after not moving much lately then just getting outside and walking is great.
-Start your exercise program slowly. Exercise is good whatever your age, but we aren’t teenagers anymore. We can’t just start a running program - we have to walk then jog first.
-Do something you enjoy and look forward to. When exercise becomes a reward in itself you are well on your way to a real life-style change.
-Try several programs to see what feels right to you. Is it enough challenge? Will it keep my interest? Probably the number 1 exercise program killer, right up there with having time to exercise, is boredom.
-Recent research has shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is what ends up giving the most bang for your buck in terms of time spent working out delivering measurable results.
-Ask me about some local gyms. I have a few patients who own awesome gyms in the area. I’ll suggest one that would be a good fit for you.
Plenty of Sleep
Lack of sleep may be the most surprising reason why your weight is out of control or you are just not having the energy you want. It’s so surprising, because the fact is, it’s sort of admirable in our society when people don’t sleep very much and they’re just super productive. But our sleep has a lot to do with how our bodies gain and lose weight and provide the well-being we need. This can be a hard one for a lot of us, especially if you’ve got kids, and you’re trying to work out, and you’re making time to eat well, and of course you’re doing all of this while trying to work, but you’ve got to sleep!
When you don’t sleep enough, the cortisol levels rise in your body which makes it really easy to gain that unwanted belly fat. But when you sleep for many hours at a time your body produces human growth hormone (HGH), which helps you to lose fat and gain muscle. So when you don’t get adequate sleep, you’re not allowing your body to what it is meant to do. You’re essentially starving yourself of the exact hormones that you need to get the wellness results that you’re looking for.
Stress has a lot to do with weight issues. When you are stressed your adrenal glands get activated and they produce cortisol, which is a hormone that does all kinds of things like create inflammation in your body and unwanted fat in your belly and thighs. When you’re cranking out cortisol it suppresses your immune system and can turn off your digestion. If your adrenals are working too hard, it can affect your pituitary, which controls your thyroid, which is also in control of your metabolism. Being over-stressed affects your entire body. It’s also going to affect your ability to sleep, which you now know has its own effects on your weight.
Drink More Water
Water is so important; it’s actually reason #1 on why we experience low energy and weight gain. Water is to weight loss as donuts are to weight gain. If your diet is generally pretty good and you are not overeating, you may need to increase the amount of water you are drinking. Add a little bit of lemon juice or a tiny bit of fruit juice to it just to give it some flavor and always keep it right next to you.
As you drink this throughout the day it will keep you full, so you won't find yourself overly hungry and tempted by various snack treats especially available during the holidays. One thing to remember is when we feel hungry, often times we're actually just thirsty. I always recommend carrying a water bottle. It can be hard to remember to do it, but your water consumption increases immensely when its readily available.
Be Wary of Processed Foods
“Processed foods” is a very vague term. Cooking, dehydrating, freezing, drying or smoking are all forms of processing food, but these forms of processing are not so much a problem. The type of processed food you really need to stay away from is junk food, and I don't have to tell you what those look like: They're often prepackaged in colorful plastic bags and stacked high in huge displays at your local grocery store. When on the store shelves, they are at eye level so you're sure not to miss them.
But please, MISS THEM. These “foods”: the Doritos, the cookies, the cream filled muffins, the sodas, the frosted toaster pastries, packaged Christmas treats…are made in labs and loaded with tons of salt, sugar, and bad fats. These unhealthy treats are made to be quickly and easily consumed so it’s tempting to eat way more of them than we actually should.
In fact these foods are designed to make us want to eat more of them. From their packaging and marketing to their sugary flavor that melts in your mouth, processed foods are a big part of struggling with weight and feeling good.
Changing your lifestyle, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, and increasing your overall health all starts with YOU! You can do this, and we can help! So to all of our friends - stay healthy and happy, we can’t wait to see you in the new year!