My grandmother doesn’t hold back when she has something to say. She recently told me “You’re lazy and you eat too much”. It sounds harsh, but it was her way of saying I was unhealthy, and it was in context to me complaining about my weight. When my grandma was young, she walked almost everywhere – to visit friends, to eat out, to work. Her serves of food were smaller and desserts were considered an occasional treat. She softened the blow with “Your generation has it too easy. Maybe if you ate less junk and moved a little more you wouldn’t have to worry about your weight. You need to get healthy to lose weight, not the other way around”.
While it was ‘tough love’, she had hit on a really important point. Perhaps it’s time we stopped focusing on weight loss and started to focus on health first. Weight loss should really just be the positive side effect of healthy living.
What does being ‘healthy’ actually mean?
Health is complex. It ranges from metabolic to mental. Health is more than just your weight and the presence (or absence) of disease.
We already know that to simply measure your health by your weight is incorrect, as there are plenty of ‘skinny’ people who are unhealthy. So, instead of focusing on weight loss we think it’s time to focus on healthiness. Here are 14 tips to get healthy to lose weight– not the other way around. Win-win!
1.Eat a balanced diet
This means get your proportions of carbs to protein to fats right. It also means carefully choosing the types of foods you eat. Include lots of colourful fruits and vegetables (think a rainbow of veggies), good quality polyunsaturated fats (eg. olive oil) and adequate protein (lean, unprocessed meats).
2. Stop eating with your eyes
Portion control is one of our biggest downfalls. Our serves of food are up to 50 percent more than 30 years ago. Try listening to your hunger signals before you sit down to a meal. And, ask for half serve of rice next time you eat out. It will take around 3 days for your body to adjust to smaller serving sizes, so be prepared to really feel the hunger pangs!
3. Snack right
Snacking is great for appetite control. BUT you have to choose snacks that are beneficial for your health. Think nuts, veggie sticks with hummus, yoghurt and fruit as opposed to anything that is packaged. Weekly snack prep is an easy way to ensure you always have a healthy snack at hand.
4. Don’t restrict – Eat healthy to lose weight the right way
Restriction of food wreaks havoc with our mindset. It’s like you want that treat even more than before and your willpower is tested beyond measure. Research suggests a simple change in the language you use can get your health on track. Instead of saying ‘I can’t have that Ais Kacang or Cendol’ say ‘I don’t do Ais Kacang or Cendol’
5. Cheat days don’t work
A treat is much better than a cheat! There are so many negative connotations with ‘cheating’ and it defies the principle of healthy living all of the time. Part of healthy living is a balanced eating. Treats are occasional indulgences to be enjoyed in moderation. Try using non-food based rewards for your consistent healthy living – a massage or new workout gear is a winner for me!
6. Drink water
Sounds so simple, right?! But many of us don’t drink enough water. We tend to fulfil our thirst with sugary drinks or tea and coffee. Water is essential for our cells to function well. Plus, it’s the ultimate detox for your insides and your skin!
7. Sit less
It’s true, we sit a whole lot more than our parents and grandparents ever did! Science says that even being active semi-regularly won’t undo all the harm that constant sitting for long hours causes. So, get up now! Make the most of moving from your desk or the couch by grabbing a drink of water at the same time!
8. Move more
Yes, we want you to sit less and incidental movement is great, but you also need to be increasing your heart rate for at least 20 min- 3 times per week. That means – you are slightly out of breath and break a sweat! Doing this consistently will improve your cardiovascular fitness and increase the calories you burn – meaning weight loss.
9. Stop criticising yourself
Put that inner critic out of its misery once and for all. Your thoughts shape your behaviours and actions. We want you to be healthy, you want to be healthy. So, that means ditching your critical self- talk. Ok, so it’s not always that easy but recognising your negative self-talk is the first step. Second step – challenge those thoughts and redirect them with a more positive approach (like you were talking to a friend). Finally, don’t dwell on your critical thoughts. Harnessing your mind is just as important for you to get healthy to lose weight as is your diet and exercise.
10. Identify your triggers
Are you an emotional eater? Do you prioritise everything over exercise? When you identify your trigger for ‘unhealthy’ habits, you can start to make adjustments to counter them. Take your emotions out in a brisk walk or schedule your workouts at the beginning of the week to prioritise them.
11. Don’t overdo it
Small, consistent steps towards fitness are better than going all out and hating it. The same goes for nutrition. Micro actions are the key to change. Making changes that are so small that you barely notice their impact. Eventually though, those micro actions compound and start to crowd out the habits that no longer serve you well.
Apart from looking tired and old from lack of sleep, it creates a cycle of stress that leads to weight gain. Do you ever feel yourself reaching for a pick-me-up sugary snack when you’re tired? That’s because lack of sleep interferes with hormones responsible for hunger and satiety (feeling full). So, while diet and exercise are important for health (and weight loss), without sleep you are undermining your efforts.
13. Enjoy life
There are loads of temptations, it’s up to you to choose what you *ultimately* want. If that is health, then you can have your cake and eat it…just not every day. And, on the days you do have your cake, consider moving a little extra to burn some more calories. You can choose to get healthy to lose weight instead of making it all or nothing!
14. Hang out with ‘healthy life’ people
We are largely influenced by the people we spend most time with (whether we like it or not). If you think carefully, how many times have you NOT done your workout? Or, chosen a less nutritious meal than you planned because of the company you’re with? Yes, I’m guilty! Science agrees – hanging out with people who live a healthy life is contagious…that’s one thing we’re happy to catch!
Healthy life vs Weight loss yo-yo-ing, you choose!
There you have it – 14 ways to live a healthy life – grandma approved! If you undertook these healthier living habits you’re likely to find weight loss comes as the added bonus. If you want guidance, advice and a really easy way to incorporate ‘health’ into your life – try an Active8me program today! The Active8me app is packed with daily recipes, weekly meal plans, comprehensive workouts, mindset lessons and even access to a coach. It’s like having a personal trainer, dietician and life coach in your pocket.