Of course, we all know that a healthy diet of natural foods is important for weight loss and good health, but there are also other habits beyond the dinner plate that support a firm belly and disease prevention. Daily routines, like getting enough sleep, finding relief from stress, and taking daily walks, are three easy ways to lose weight and feel great.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation leads to weight gain and a number of other health problems. You may not be aware of it, but your body requires sufficient sleep each night.
Your appetite is regulated by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is produced in your fat cells. It tells your brain when it has had enough, and eating should stop. Ghrelin comes from the gut and does the opposite. It sends messages to increase appetite.
Studies show that chronic sleep deprivation lowers levels of leptin while boosting the production of ghrelin. This leads to a stronger appetite. Food choices are also impacted by a lack of sleep, causing cravings for sweets, salty snacks, and starchy foods.
Stress is a normal part of everyday life, but letting life’s tensions get the best of you can be detrimental to your health and weight loss efforts. When you have a stressful day, you are more likely to crave sweet snacks.
Studies show that the stress hormone cortisol may affect mechanisms that increase hunger. Those who have a more difficult time handling pressure eat more sweets in response to stress.
Neurotransmitters that help modulate our appetite and mood are drained when we are under continuous stress, thus leading to an increase in appetite or mood states that trigger cravings for sugar or carbs to self-medicate.
Additionally, when you are under stress, the liver dumps the sugar it has stored into the blood stream; this prompts an insulin response and then the storage of that sugar as fat. The more stress you are under the more fat that is going to get stored, particularly in the belly area. If there is continuous stress, then this can eventually lead to loss of insulin sensitivity, and a cascade of potential problems like type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Managing your stress is not only a natural and easy way to lose weight, but it protects you in many other ways.
Keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings not only relieves stress, but helps solve problems and generate ideas. Self-hypnosis is another beneficial way to relax, and is especially effective if you have difficulties falling asleep. Smiling, even a fake smile, has been shown to reduce stress hormones as well, so smile often and for no particular reason.
Enjoy Regular Physical Activity
Everybody knows that regular exercise supports healthy weight loss. The problem is that most people think they need a gym membership or expensive running shoes in order to participate in effective physical activities.
Fortunately, a simple walk that alternates in intensity for 30 minutes each day offers the same–if not better–health benefits. If 30 minutes is a bit too long for you, start with 10 minutes and add 10 percent each day. Don’t overexert yourself. Make this an enjoyable part of your daily life.
Good health and nutrition goes beyond what you put on your plate. Daily habits like getting enough sleep, relieving stress, and physical activities that you enjoy are not only easy ways to lose weight, but will help you feel your best as you work towards your goal.
Knutson, Kristen L. “Does Inadequate Sleep Play a Role in Vulnerability to Obesity?” American Journal of Human Biology 24.3 (2012): 361-71. Print.
Epel, Elissa, and Et Al. “Stress May Add Bite to Appetite in Women: A Laboratory Study of Stress-induced Cortisol and Eating Behavior.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 26.1 (2000). Print.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Sleep Problems May Affect A Person’s Diet.” ScienceDaily, 11 Jun. 2007. Web. 13 Jun. 2012.