It’s a well established fact now that exercise alone isn’t enough to lose the fat that’s accumulated in our bodies – in fact our diets are the primary means by which we can live healthier lives. With a weight of only 40kg (88lbs) at 28 years of age, I am well in the underweight category. Most people would take that as an excuse to binge on fatty fast food – unhealthy even in that scenario.
Remember, changing your habits is more important and effective, long-term, then setting specific weight/calorie based goals. I’m on the journey of a healthier lifestyle myself – let me share my top lifestyle changes for enabling a healthier, happier life.
Eat Less, But Many Times A Day
Instead of having 2 to 3 big meals, try to have 6 to 7 smaller portions throughout the day. Having spent a lifetime having huge breakfasts, lunches and/or dinners to power you through the day, it will take your body some time to adjust to such a routine change. There are a few ways you can help your body into making this transition.
For starters, you can start using smaller plates – the same amount of food will appear to fill a smaller plate more than a larger plate. The mind does not have accurate measuring tools, it measures everything in relation to another object. That means, “I’ll just put less food on my plate” won’t likely succeed, as the brain judges portion size in comparison to the size of the plate you put it on. Go on, try it for yourself and see!
Greens Are Your Best Friends
The half-plate rule for eating can help you adopt from vegetables and fruits into your eating regiment. It’s quite simple: at meal-time, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Whatever’s been cooked goes into the remaining half. Not only are regular greens a far healthier option, they will also help you feel full faster, ensuring your body does not end up eating more than it needs. It’s how I control my love for biryani!
Here’s another way to trick your brain into embracing the green revolution: When fridging or storing foods, always wrap the healthy stuff in cling-film or any other clear wrapping, while the fatty, unhealthy stuff should go in the ceramic containers or any opaque storage boxes. The idea being the old Urdu idiom “Aankh ojhal, pahar ojhal!” (translates into the English proverb “out of sight, out of mind!”).
There Are More Than One Type of Good Greens
I am speaking, of course, about the wonder-drink that is green tea. Why is it so highly regarded? It’s all down to the antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are supposed to aid in the prevention of cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases. While the aforementioned greens (fruits and vegetables) contain polyphenols as well, they’re just not in high enough concentrations as green tea. Small wonder, then, that green tea is the go-to drink for cleansing your body of several toxins and enabling better metabolism and weight loss.
Do you have a favourite type of tea? It’s time to replace it with green tea, and me and my family swear by the soothing aroma and flavours of Tapal Green Tea.
Speaking of cleansing your body, I feel that we have, by and large, started associating “thirst” with sodas and other non-water fluids. Not only are those drinks highly unhealthy and laced with chemicals, they also don’t help regulate the water levels in your body. I don’t know if you remember your science lessons from grade school, but water is one of the most essential parts of our body! It’s a part of everything from digestion to various metabolic reactions, excretion and more – yet we continue to deprive our body of it.
I have a simple trick I use to ensure my mind does not stray to unhealthy drinks – I place sufficient quantities of water in places where I spend most of my time. That way, when I feel thirsty, I instantly spot the water and don’t go looking for sodas and more. You can keep bottles of the stuff everywhere: Your office, at your bedside, in your car (but not in plastic bottles!).
You’ll find that when you have water handy all the time, you’ll be preferring it over any unhealthy drink.
Exercise is Still Important For a Healthy Lifestyle!
You may have noticed that I’ve spent most of this article on adjusting various dietary elements in your life, and earlier declared it far more important than exercise to control fat stores in your body. That’s true, but it in no way means that exercise itself is unnecessary. In fact, it’s got several critical roles to play, beyond weight control.
Exercise, be it jogging, swimming or cycling (or really, any strenuous activity performed regularly) helps your muscles use oxygen better. That means that you don’t get out of breath as easily, lowers your heart rate and makes your blood vessels more elastic – all combining to help lower your blood pressure.
That slight soreness when you first started exercising? That’s your muscles getting tiny tears and other damage from not having been used in that way for so long. It’s good news though, because it means that when your muscle repairs itself, it will be stronger than before!
On top of all that, exercise increases the flow of oxygenated blood into your brain and you know what that means – boosted brain function! Why else have my husband and I started hiking and trekking with regularity? That feeling of a stronger, more active body is just exhilarating!
These lifestyle changes might not manifest themselves visibly all that soon, but I assure you, you’ll start feeling better in a few weeks and once you start living with a healthier body, you’ll automatically want to keep it in that shape.