You exercise, you rarely eat junk food, but you still don’t feel like you are healthy. What could be causing you to come up short? Chances are it could be one of (or all of) these five habits that destroy your otherwise healthy lifestyle.
Sleep is probably the most underrated lifestyle factor when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle. It has so many benefits, improved mood, improved recovery from exercise, improved cognition, and increased testosterone in men. It can help to regulate appetite, while a bad night’s sleep can lead to increased hunger and reduced satiety (by affecting Leptin and Ghrelin levels).
Studies have shown that getting 8-10 hours of sleep each night can improve sporting performance, concentration, and recovery from previous exercise . So what do you think that getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep is going to do? Nothing good sadly. Frequently staying up late and therefore only getting a few hours of sleep will lead to poor health (as mentioned above).
One thing that we should make clear though, it’s about the length of time that you sleep for. Not about what time you go to bed. You could go to sleep at 3am and wake up at 11am and consider that adequate sleep. While if you went to bed at 10am and woke up at 4am you would not be getting enough sleep.
Fix It: Set yourself a bed time and wake up at the same time each morning (if your work life allows this luxury). Aim for 8 hours every night, turn off all electronic lights 30 minutes before you fall asleep, consider natural sleeping supplements if you require extra help falling asleep. Exercise regularly and avoid caffeine after 7pm if going to bed at 11pm (or an equivalent time depending on when you go to bed).
We’re not talking about the famous 5:2 diet here (intermittent fasting). What we’re talking about is an interesting phenomenon where someone will rigidly follow a diet and exercise regime from Monday to Friday, but when Saturday comes along their diet goes out of the window and exercise grinds to a halt.
You continually consume a sub-2000 calorie target on each weekday and then average 5000 calories on Saturday and Sunday. This pushes up your average calories per day from 2,000 to 2,850+ and can lead to weight gain. Coupled with the reduced calorie burning due to skipping them gym, or avoiding your daily walk, your health is going to suffer.
Fix It: You can still take it a little easier on Saturday and Sunday but keep it within healthy limits. Maybe lower your weekly calories slightly to compensate, and then avoid a calorie explosion on Saturday and Sunday by planning your “cheat” foods in advance.
This might seem like an odd habit, but anyone who has kids, or a partner will probably immediately understand this. After every meal you sit back after finishing your plate (just like your parents had told you to) just to see that your partner/kid has pretty much left half of their meal. You can’t waste it! So, you finish it off for them. Congratulations, you’ve now increased your calories!
1) Cook smaller meals,
2) Throw your partner/kid’s food away
3) Save their leftovers for your lunch the next day.
Make a rule that whatever happens you eat YOUR meal, and nobody else’s.
Look, we aren’t going to tell you to drop alcohol out of your life. There are benefits to moderate alcohol consumption, and provided that you aren’t suffering from alcoholism, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a few drinks with friends. But excess alcohol can lead to weight gain, partly because alcoholic drinks are often high in calories, but also because of drunk eating.
Packet of crisps with each round, kebab on the way home, and then a huge fry up the next morning. All of this combined with 2,000 calories worth of booze can seriously wreck your diet and affect your healthy lifestyle.
Fix It: Look for lower calorie drinks if possible (Guinness rather than a higher calorie ale), drop the bar snacks, get the kebab (you’re only human) but pick the shish kebab over the doner (saving you about 500 calories). Having prepared food for the hangover can also save you from a calorie-fest.
Studies have demonstrated that 10,000 steps per day is a great target for improving fitness and lowering body fat . But most of us hit less than 3,000 a day. We sit on the way to work, sit at work, sit on the way home, then sit down and watch tv. This habit of sitting down most of the day can lead to hip issues, back issues, weak hamstrings, muscle loss, and weight gain.
Fix It: Aiming for 10,000 steps when you are currently performing less than 1/3rd of that is unrealistic. But why not aim to increase your step count per day by 500? Walk around the block after work, take the stairs rather than the lift, park a little further away from work each day. Or get yourself into a gym. You could even find yourself a more active job!
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