Many people are interested in losing weight these days. But as a culture and a nation, we’ve forgotten some of the basics. We’ve gotten caught up in the weight-loss crazes, most often instigated and perpetuated by companies seeking a profit. Every few years we hear about a different “evil food stuff” that most be avoided at all costs: fat, carbs, sodium, red meat, etc… We also have a variety of products and exercises pushed on us with the promise that they are the one and only solution to reaching your weight-loss goals.
Throughout all this clutter, we’ve paid less and less attention to five things I believe are the pillars for truly losing weight, keeping it off, and staying healthy. None of these things cost money – so you may hear less about them in the media – or even nothing at all. But rather than get caught up in the latest craze, just pay attention to these five ideas and reap the benefits.
How much sleep do you get a night? Do you feel tired throughout the day? If you sit down in a quiet place for too long, do you find yourself falling asleep?
These are important questions to ask yourself. Study after study reveal the importance of sleep for our overall health and the size of our waistline. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies feel more hungry, our metabolism is lower and we tend to reach for sugary and high-carb food for extra energy.
Read more about the importance of sleep on our weight here.
2. Read Labels Religiously
In my opinion – all heavily processed foods should be avoided all the time. What constitutes processed food? This can be hard to tell at times. These days, pretty much all of our food has been processed at some point. Even a plain can of black beans was processed in some manner in order to get the food into that can.
Rather than avoiding all canned, frozen and otherwise packaged foods – read the ingredients list on the label. A good rule of thumb – if a product has ingredients you can’t pronounce or a long list of ingredients – it’s probably better to avoid it.
Reading labels is an extremely eye-opening experience – especially if you are not in the practice of doing it. You may be shocked at what’s in some of the “simplest” forms of packaged foods. As much as possible, eat close to the earth. In other words, try to only eat things that are minimally processed and contain natural ingredients in their whole form.
3. Exercise Consistently
Exercising is easy – CONSISTENTLY exercising is not so easy. Make a huge effort to get at least 10 minutes of exercise per day. Even if that’s all you can do – it’s better than nothing. Worry more about consistently exercising than about the length of time or intensity at which you exercise each session. Yoga is the perfect form of exercise because it works on all areas of the body and mind at the same time. Talk about getting your bang for your buck
4. Don’t Stress
Stress is one of the leading causes of health problems in the US. High to medium levels of stress over a long period of time can be extremely detrimental to your health. Take a look at some of these articles from highly respected sources:
Reducing stress may not be easy (I know it’s not easy for me!) But there are a few things you can do to help:
- Get enough sleep and eat well (see above!)
- Daily Meditation - even just 10 minutes of meditation per day can really have an effect on reducing your stress levels. Have a look at my visual meditation post. Additionally, on my Yoga For Beginners STRETCH DVD, you’ll find a 10 minute meditation sequence called Kirtan Kryia. Several studies have touted the benefits of practicing Kirtan Kryia.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Think back to five years ago. What was stressing you out then? Maybe you had a new baby, had some money problems or worried about a certain problem at your work. Now think about how you feel about those stressors today. Are you still worried about them or have they worked themselves out? Chances are, those stressors were replaced by new ones. And probably whatever caused the stress of 5 years ago worked themselves out on their own – maybe even without much effort from you. Remember, the stresses that you have today will likely work themselves out in the same way. So don’t worry too much about them! All forms of stress come and go – it’s all transitory.