Whether you’ve just started AH or have been successfully maintaining an AH lifestyle for years, you might wonder what else you could do, beyond food, to attain maximum success. Perhaps the New Year has you thinking about renewing your focus on healthy living, or maybe you’ve done a Phase 1 Reboot after reading our blog post from a few weeks back. Whatever the case, it’s important to reintroduce yourself to the idea that what you eat is only one facet of a healthy lifestyle.
Beyond Food: AH Lifestyle Supports
At AH, we know that lifestyle supports can be just as important as the food you eat. In Always Hungry?, we introduced 4 of these Lifestyle Supports, but we’ve added a fifth one here as a bonus. In order to experience the most success from AH, make sure these 5 habits are integrated into your daily routine. This is important for everyone, but especially if you feel bogged down by maintaining perfect ratios or food prep, or if you are worried you aren’t yet getting the most out of AH.
Which of these five habits have you incorporated into your life already? Which are missing? Your goal for this month could be to include one of these habits into your daily routine. Pay attention to how it changes the overall effects of AH!
1) Reintroduce a Passeggiata to your daily routine
Studies have shown that a relaxing 10 minute walk after meals will boost your metabolism and help your body get the most from your food. It is also a great way to introduce movement into your life, which is important if your day is otherwise fairly sedentary. Pleasurable, relaxing walks after meals will not only benefit your metabolism, but will also make you feel good. If you can’t get outside to walk, just move your body a bit. Remember this is about relaxing movement. You could dance or play with kids instead of walking. Just move in a way that you love.
2) Five-Minute Stress Reduction
Stress reduction is an important aspect of any healthy lifestyle. Your body cannot perform at its best if it is constantly enduring undo stress. As Dr. Ludwig explains in Always Hungry? “Too much stress can raise insulin levels, promote chronic inflammation, keep fact cells in calories storage overdrive and counteract the benefits of a good diet”.
Unfortunately, stress relief is often disregarded since many people believe it requires large chunks of your already busy day. But this isn’t true! A great deal of effective stress relief can be done in fewer than five minutes. Here are a few ideas for quick stress relief moments:
Take 10 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. You don’t even need to leave your desk to accomplish this, but your body will thank you.
Walk around your office or step outside for a moment of air.
Close your eyes for a moment to simply visualize yourself in your happy place. Imagine feeling every sensation as if you were there. Perhaps the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, or anything that helps you connect with being happy.
Let your mind take a mini vacation in the middle of the day, and try to spend just one minute remembering what it feels like to be truly happy and relaxed.
Find a relaxing, mindfulness activity like an adult coloring book or an art project or whatever focuses your mind away from everyday stressors.
Do a few moments of either stretching or dancing.
Many people find helping others makes them feel good, so you could incorporate one random act of kindness into your day. Reach out and do something nice for somebody, even if that somebody is yourself.
Affirmations, prayers, or intention setting can be great ways to start or end your day.
If you think even these small steps are too much to remember in your hectic schedule, then try linking your new relaxation technique to an already scheduled event or habit. For example, every time you look at your watch, take 10 deep breaths. Or every time you brush your teeth, tell yourself your daily affirmation. Feel free to come up with your own as well. Different techniques work for different people.
Our Daily Tracker has reminders for these lifestyle factors as well. Using the daily trackers will help you focus on NSVs (non-scale victories) like your energy, hunger, cravings, as well as your lifestyle factors.
3) Joyful Movement
Shift your perspective on exercise from a painful way to burn what you shouldn’t have eaten to a joyful way to express moving your body. A Passeggiata, 10-minute walk after a meal, is an excellent way to begin. It is important to remember that, as we explored in a recent blog post, exercise is not just about burning calories.
Some people need more vigorous activity in their life, while others don’t. Joyful movement is as personal as stress relief. Find what works for you. It just needs to be something you love. At AH, we are always telling people to leave guilt, shame, and blame at the door when it comes to their relationship to food, but it is just as important in regards to movement. Anything that feels good and gets you moving is worthwhile exercise. This could be gardening, playing with your grandkids, dancing in the kitchen, or a full on workout in the gym.
4) Develop a Consistent Sleep Routine
If your body isn’t running on adequate sleep, it won’t be able to make the most of your food or exercise. Lack of sleep is a major stressor on the body. When the body’s stress hormones are out of whack, your body won’t be able to let go of excess weight out of fear that it will need it in times of stress. A regular sleep schedule will increase your overall sense of well-being and reduce stress in your body.
5) Bonus Lifestyle Support: Eat Regular Meals at Regular Times
Eating regular meals at regular times sets our biological clock and determines the rhythm of our lives. If you travel to a new time zone, adjusting to the eating patterns in the new place is critical to adapting to the new time. The same is true in your everyday life. Eating at consistent times allows your body to adapt to stressors and environments that could otherwise throw you off balance.
So, what if my schedule is irregular or I work nights? The benefits of consistency are more important than the specific times you eat, so it doesn’t matter if you work nights and sleep during the day. You still need to develop regular, consistent time for meals. Your body will thank you.
Consistent meal times help regulate your body’s hormones, moods, hunger, cravings, and more. It allows your body to relax and trust that it will be nourished. Eliminating uncertainty is a powerful step towards regaining control over your body. Above all, nourish your body and it will support you back.
Many of our readers are shocked at how much of a difference these simple changes makes in their lives. Which ones will you focus on this month?