Improving our health is really just the case of replacing negative, harmful ingrained habits with more positive, healthful ones. Simple, but that doesn't mean it's quick and easy.
There are so many potential habits to ingrain that it can be difficult to know where to start. Often, we can be guilty of setting the bar too high for ourselves - leading to failure. When this happens, that motivation we started out with can be quick to fade.
So, in this article I'm going to outline 3 simple yet highly effective methods for enhancing your well-being if you're just getting started on your health journey. Just because these are 'for beginners', doesn't mean that they aren't still highly valuable for everyone - they're simply easily implementable changes that anyone can make.
Let's get to it.
GET YOUR STEPS UP
Steps, steps, steps. One of the big positives to take from this lockdown/pandemic situation, is that I’m seeing more people getting outside and being physically active - and just going on walks is a perfect example of that.
But, there’s also a proportion of people moving less. When the daily commute gets taken out of the equation, for some, the number of daily steps can go from low to drastically low. And that presents problems.
If you’ve been highly inactive over the past few months, start off light. Aim to hit 5000 steps per day for a week. That’s only going to be around a 30-40 minute walk for most people - everyone can find 30 minutes out of their day to do this.
You don’t need to be training for marathons, simply go out to your local park, woods - or just anywhere in nature - and start walking.
Once you’ve managed to consistently hit 5000 steps for a week or so, raise the bar for yourself. Aim for 7,500 - again, do that for a week. Continue to incrementally increase the number of steps you’re taking, with the long term goal being to hit 10,000+ steps daily. This of course includes steps taken whilst moving around the house, gardening, or whatever you might get up to.
By simply moving more you’re going to firstly be expending more energy, helping to manage weight.
But beyond the obvious benefits, you’ll be getting more daylight - which is crucial to health. With the rise of sedentary, desk-based jobs, so many of us are light-deprived, spending almost all of our day indoors. When this happens, our circadian health is compromised - affecting our quality of sleep & our susceptible to disease. We can also become vitamin-D deficient - a hormone crucial to good health.
Finally, walks are a great opportunity for stress relief & reflection. Use it as a moment to check-in with yourself, assess how you’ve been feeling, or just to get away from the ongoing stressors in daily life.
EAT UNTIL 80% FULL
Something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my own daily life.
One of the most common sayings in Japan is “Hara hachi bu”, which is repeated before or after eating. It translates roughly to “Fill your stomach till 8/10 full”. This is a practice carried out by residents of the island of Okinawa in Japan - one of the Earth’s Blue Zones, which are essential areas of exceedingly high longevity.
Engaging in this practice has a couple of benefits. Firstly, overeating causes our body to deal with long ongoing digestive processes which accelerate cellular oxidation - leading to cell death. So we age faster.
Secondly, when you make the conscious effort to eat until you’re just 80% full, as opposed to eating until you’re completely stuffed, you’ll inevitably consume fewer calories. When this happens, we’re more able to manage our weight & therefore reduce our risk of metabolic disease.
At first it can be a little challenging; a lot of us are so conditioned to eating in excess of our nutritional needs. We exist in societies where 'more' is regarded as better, but when it comes to food that's really not the case.
To help with this, become more mindful with your approach to consumption. Reduce your portion size. Limit distractions when eating & chew your food fully. When you find yourself wanting for that post-meal snack, ask yourself "am I truly hungry?". Putting in a bit of effort to step away from this ingrained habit is key to longevity & enhanced well-being.
SLEEP BETTER, SLEEP MORE
Sleep is central to our well-being and physiology, yet society seems to be fixated on the idea of living deprived of it. Unfortunately, if you fall into the trappings of society - by sleeping less - your life will be shortened.
Every major disease killing us in the developed world is linked to insufficient sleep, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular problems, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
A lack of sleep has also been linked to psychiatric conditions, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and even most recently, suicide. Driving while drowsy has even been proven to be more dangerous than driving while drunk.
I think you get the idea - our sleep matters. So, how can you improve the quantity & quality of your sleep?
First up, set yourself a consistent bed time, weekends included. Aim to achieve at least 7-9 hours of sleep. By establishing a routine sleep pattern your body will essentially synchronize itself to feel tired at the time it expects to sleep. By adhering to this ingrained routine, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep & will feel more refreshed when waking up.
Secondly, be more active - go on those walks I was talking about. When we expend more energy during the day, it’s only natural that come night-time we feel more tired & ready to sleep.
Finally, the use of light-emitting screens (TV’s, phones, laptops) at least an hour before sleep. The blue-light emitted from these devices suppresses melatonin - a hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
What's more, the content we're exposed to on these devices can leave us overwhelmed & our minds racing with all sorts of unhealthy thoughts. It’s not easy to rest peacefully when your consistently pre-occupied with your fears, desires, & some of the craziness going on in the world of late.
Use your hour before bed as an opportunity to reflect, relax, & step away from the chaos. Reading, journaling, meditation - all are solid pre-bed behaviours worth ingraining.
Want to learn more ways to enhance your health & well-being? Access your free copy of my e-book "5 Hacks to Enhanced Health".
Personal Trainer in Tunbridge Wells | Personal Trainer in Sevenoaks | Personal Trainer in Tonbridge
Personal Training | Personal Trainer | Tunbridge Wells | Tonbridge | Sevenoaks
Christian Lawal Personal Training.
Personal training in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & Sevenoaks.