We’re now well into 2016. Did you make a resolution to lose weight? Eat healthier? Quit smoking? Start exercising? How’s that going? Are you still on track? Need a boost?
Here are four tips to set yourself up for success:
- Fuel up. Need more willpower? Then, give your brain the fuel it needs to perform. The brain burns about 500 calories a day coordinating all the body’s activities and our thought processes, including willpower. While much of the body can run off of fat (including our stored body fat), the brain requires glucose. And for that we need to eat on a regular basis. Low blood glucose leaves the brain struggling to think properly resulting in poor decisions – hitting the coach instead of the gym and reaching for sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. So, eat breakfast and then eat small meals throughout the day to ward off hunger and keep your willpower strong.
- Sleep undisturbed. Proper sleep not only helps you feel rested, it helps you lower your blood pressure, blood sugar, and even your weight! Not getting enough sleep messes up the hormones that help us reign in hunger. While we often hear about the hours of sleep needed, it’s just as critical to get the right type of sleep. Throughout the night, our body goes through continuous 90-minute sleep cycles, flowing from a light REM sleep (when we dream) to deep sleep and back again. REM sleep is important for our emotional health while deep sleep helps the body repair and recover from illness and injury. Getting the right type of sleep helps us stay healthy, emotionally stable, and make better decisions. Whenever our sleep cycle gets interrupted (by a sound or movement), the body has to start the cycle all over again. So get the kids into their own bed, kick the pets out of the room, and ask your snoring partner to get some medical help.
- Make 10 count. Short bouts of movement has been shown to increase productivity, encourage creative thoughts, and more. When we think about fitting in fitness, most of us think we have to join the gym and move continuously for at least 30-45 minutes. But, the research has shown that chunks of 10 minutes of activity counts towards the total – for weight control, heart health and stress management. Instead of stressing over fitting in a “real” workout, take the dog out for a 10-minute morning run (he will be so grateful), walk up and down the stairs for 10-minutes after lunch, and go for a 10-minute bike ride with the family in the evening. Bada bing, bada bang – done without much effort!
- Get creative. Finally, if you want to be successful in 2016, it’s important to be flexible about all your good intentions – failure is not an option! For example, Julie planned to exercise after work, but when she got home she inevitably got stuck in the kitchen (those snacks on the counter stopped her). In addition to tucking the snacks into the kitchen cabinet (out of sight, out of mind really works), she changed into her workout clothes just before leaving work so she could stop at the park for a run before getting home. Hector found himself raiding the snack machine every afternoon until he opted to only eat half of his restaurant lunch. He then had the rest of the lunch to eat mid-afternoon when he got hungry. Ali told me she got so stressed with taking customer service calls (leading to the munchies) until she decided to “cartoonize”. While listening to the calls she imagined the scenarios as cartoons. Her creativity resulted in her being able to remember all the details without feeling the stress of the other party’s frustrations. Less stress and fewer food cravings.
Dr. Jo Lichten is a PhD nutritionist and registered dietitian who inspires busy people to stay healthy, sane, and productive. She has presented at more than 1000 conferences and is the author of five books including REBOOT – how to power up your energy, focus, and productivity. Learn more at www.DrJo.com, www.Facebook.com/GoDrJo, or www.Twitter.com/GoDrJo.