We all know there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ body. There is, however, a level in each individual when we know when our bodies look and feel good and when they are functioning at optimum level. If you are currently struggling with trying to reach that zone, or are looking to maintain a level of body shape that you are content with, use the tips below to assist you in achieving your goal.
1. Move every day
Some fitness instructors and programs encourage rest days. Rest days however are all relative to how much exercise you are doing. If you are training for a marathon and therefore clocking up huge mileage in running every week, you definitely need a rest day to help your body recover. Ditto if you are into hard core CrossFit or other heavy-going fitness activities. For the most of us however, a “rest day” is simply an excuse to laze around, sleep in late and plonk down in front of the television with a big bowl of ice cream. While behaviour like this (if indulged in only occasionally) isn’t going to make you pile on the weight, it is definitely a great thing to cut out if you really want to refine your shape or lose the last couple of kilograms.
Exercising every day doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym or a hard core run. It can mean going for a leisurely walk with your dog or a friend, or swimming a few laps at a local pool. It can mean doing half an hour of your own yoga poses in your living room. Keeping your limbs moving and active every day is vital to a healthy body and mind, so on your normal scheduled day off from exercise, pick something gentle to try and see if it makes a difference.
2. Get educated about food (but don’t count calories)
Knowing what is in your food and therefore what you are putting in your mouth is absolutely vital in the quest of attaining your perfect weight. So many people I know fall into the trap of thinking they are being healthy while eating a Caesar salad covered in fatty mayonnaise and croutons, or drizzling low fat but high sugar dressing all over their meal. While we all know the obvious foods that are bad for us, get educated on the less obvious ones. While olive oil is extremely good for you, did you know there are 159 calories in just one tablespoon? Did you know that there are 600 calories in only 100 grams of raw almonds? It is this sort of information that it is important to be aware of.
Despite the above, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of obsessing over calories. If you find yourself venturing down that track, stop immediately. This sort of behaviour leads to distorted eating and ultimately eating disorders and I highly discourage it. Eat sensibly and with purpose and your body will steer you in the right direction.
3. Listen to when your body is truly hungry and only eat then
This is the one I struggle with most. Eating is a highly routine-based activity. We are told to eat three meals a day, at quite specific times, plus sometimes up to two snacks a day to “keep our blood sugar levels stable”. While this may be true for diabetics, in the main part, we simply don’t need all of that food each day. Try to stick to three main meals and make them good ones. I will often have a small, healthy snack in between lunch and dinner but it is light and nutritious. Often times, I find I am not truly hungry when eating this snack, but I eat it simply because my body clock is programmed to think it needs food. Cut this habit out and you cut out the additional calories. You are also able to tap in to your body’s true hunger and can let it guide you gently.
4. Don’t, under any circumstances, drink your calories
This one is so super easy to adhere to. If you haven’t already, stop drinking soft drink (soda) immediately. This applies equally to iced tea (the variety with added sugar) and sugary coffees and teas. Stop ordering your caramel latte every morning. You seriously don’t need it.
Without counting water, the only liquid you should be consuming is milk (if you eat dairy, or perhaps almond or coconut milk if you don’t). Of course, the occasional alcoholic drink on the weekend isn’t going to hurt, but make this a nightly habit and you will notice the difference to your waistline. Cut out the crap now and get back on the water. You will notice too that the more water you drink, the less hungry you will probably feel.
5. Practice self care – this includes getting enough sleep
This one comes down to listening to your body. Are you tired? Get more sleep. Are you hungry? Eat something nutritious and fuel your body with foods that will assist you and provide you long lasting energy. Are you feeling sluggish? Lace up your shoes and get out the door. Feeling lonely? Connect with a friend or a family member. Listen to your intuition. You will find it is always right.