8 simple ways to increase your health
When embarking on a fitness journey, the most important factor which is driving you forward and fuelling your journey, should be health. We often overlook this and let other factors, such as aesthetics and body weight be the centre of attention, however if health is your number one focus, and you change your lifestyle to improve your health, both body weight and aesthetics will happen as by-products of these lifestyle changes.
So, here’s 8 simple tips that you can implement from today to improve your lifestyle for better health and body composition.
- Put yourself first
This one can be hard for lots of people, especially women and parents, who have grown used to prioritising their children that they feel guilty if they do something for themselves. You will often find that parents will do anything and everything for their child, which isn’t a bad thing, however if you want to improve your health then focusing on yourself is the first place to start. So, if you want to improve your health and lose weight, you need to work on the relationship that you have with yourself. It’s okay to spend money on a gym membership, or supplements, or even invest in a personal trainer. Nurture yourself with the same love and devotion that you would your child.
- Be more productive
One of the most common excuses I here when asking people why they don’t workout or focus on their nutrition, is that they don’t have time. There should always be times for the things that matter, so whether its preparing your food, staying hydrated, exercising or getting a good night sleep. If you plan and designate time to specific areas of your life, you will do these things and your health will improve. You can easily spend less time watching TV, scrolling through social media just for the sake of it. If you have programmes that you really enjoy watching, then watch them, but do so at a time which you have planned and organised, so you can be more productive. Write things down, buy a diary and use it. Make sure you write down important daily tasks, for example if you want to train tomorrow, write it in your diary and allow yourself some time to do so, then you won’t feel guilty because you’ve done something for you. Delegate! If you are a parent, you don’t have to prepare everyone’s food or packed lunches, get your partner or children to help you. You’re not a bad person if you put yourself first.
- Manage your stress
Stress is something that we all face, whether it’s stress from work, financial or from our relationships. Stress isn’t something that happens to you, it’s a by-product of the way you think about things that happen. Being anxious or stressed about things is always going to happen, and you might not be able to change or remove that thing which is causing you stress. So, rather than focussing on changing or removing the stress, you need to change the way you think about it. Which leads me nicely onto point number 4….
Sleep is extremely important. When you get a bad nights sleep, your motivation will decrease, your energy will reduce and you’re more susceptible to stress and anxiety. Poor sleep affects your levels of insulin sensitivity and lowers leptin while increasing ghrelin production (1). Leptin and ghrelin are the two key hunger hormones, so if these aren’t balanced you will feel a greater need to eat and you will find it difficult to stop eating once you start. Research has shown that, short sleep duration is associated with reduced levels of leptin. This can lead to unwanted food consumption, and thus weight gain (2).
- Eat more protein
When I work with clients, the first thing I tend to look at improving is their protein consumption. Most of us consume far too little protein, especially if you train regularly. In the gym world, protein is seen as god, and it can often be focussed on too much. However, many members of the general population forget about protein, and don’t include it in there diet frequently enough. Eating a salad is all well and good, but protein increases satiety which is the feeling of fullness, not only will this reduce your overall calorie intake, but it will leave you less hungry throughout the day. Focus on lean meat, fish, eggs rather than processed meats. Have eggs with your breakfast, eat Greek yogurt as a snack, have some chicken or fish with your lunch, eat a steak for dinner. Also, don’t forget to include your beans and pulses, these all pack a huge amount of protein and fibre, so you don’t have to just focus on meat if you don’t want to. The macronutrients and fibre from the protein and veg will leave you feeling amazing and will truly nourish your body.
- Eat more vegetables
Everyone knows the benefits of vegetables, and how important they are for your health. You don’t really need me to remind you of that. However, consuming vegetables has so many potential benefits. Fibrous vegetables have a low calorie density, meaning that you can eat a large amount, while consuming few calories and reduce hunger because of their slow digestion (3, 4). In addition to this, eating more vegetables is associated with a ton of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, and providing protection against some types of cancer (5). In a nutshell, eating as many vegetables and fruits as you can is the most important thing for you physiological health. Aim to have a few different vegetables with each meal, eat fruit as a snack throughout the day. If you’re really struggling to consume vegetables and fruit, you can easily make a homemade smoothie and pack loads of micronutrient goodness into one drink.
- Drink more water
Hydration is extremely important, research has shown that even a small state of dehydration can have an effect on cognitive function and exercise performance (6, 7). From my experience in coaching hundreds of clients, most people don’t drink enough water. They have no trouble drinking tea, coffee, fizzy drinks but very little water. My key tip is to have a large glass of water with every meal, and to take a bottle with you everywhere you go. Then, throughout your day you will be sipping on your water, and before you know it you’ve filled it up multiple times throughout the day. If you start to do this, it becomes part of your lifestyle, you will feel amazing and your energy will go through the roof!
- Move more
Exercising daily has so many benefits, I could write several posts on why you should exercise and how it can benefit all aspects of your health and wellbeing. For me, the most important factor about exercise, is how it makes you feel. After a gym session, a game of football or a long walk with the dogs, you feel great. Endorphins are high, and you feel positive. I don’t think there is any feeling which compares to this. Even if joining the gym isn’t for you, you can still exercise daily. You can park further away from the office, so you walk 10 minutes extra, you could start a hobby you haven’t done since school, or you could play in the garden with your kids. These will have huge health benefits, and you will feel great in yourself if you do it regularly.
If you want to get everything right, improve your mindset, be happy in your body and improve your fitness, you should join my 12-Week Transformation Challenge. This is a lifestyle program which focuses on improving your lifestyle and getting amazing results. If you have any questions, then drop me a message.
- Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E. Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. Froguel P, ed. PLoS Medicine. 2004;1(3):e62. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062
- Spiegel, K., Leproult, R., L’Hermite-Balériaux, M., Copinschi, G., Penev, P. D., & Van Cauter, E. (2004). Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin. The Journal of clinical endocrinology & metabolism, 89(11), 5762-5771.
- Mojtahedi, M. C., Thorpe, M. P., Karampinos, D. C., Johnson, C. L., Layman, D. K., Georgiadis, J. G., & Evans, E. M. (2011). The effects of a higher protein intake during energy restriction on changes in body composition and physical function in older women. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, glr120.
- Cho, S. S., Case, I. L., & Nishi, S. (2009). Fiber and Satiety. Weight Control and Slimming Ingredients in Food Technology, 227.
- Wang Xia, Ouyang Yingying, Liu Jun, Zhu Minmin, Zhao Gang, Bao Wei et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies BMJ 2014; 349 :g4490
- Carlton, A., & Orr, R. M. (2015). The effects of fluid loss on physical performance: A critical review. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 4(4), 357-363.
- Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Comber, D. L., Flack, K. D., Savla, J., Davy, K. P., & Davy, B. M. (2010). Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle‐aged and older adults. Obesity, 18(2), 300-307.