Weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight is a battle for a lot of us, me included. I was told recently by a dietician that the Four Pillars are the key to being healthy. Exercise, Stress Management, Sleep, Food. I totally agree. If we can keep our portions to a healthy size, exercise regularly, sleep enough, and manage stress there is no reason we all can’t feel better and continue to feel good about ourselves.
Exercise: Movement is important. A lot of us have sedentary jobs. During this pandemic, even something as simple as walking from your car into the office and back made a difference. That alone put 2600 less steps on my pedometer. When your goal is 10000 a day, oops that adds up quickly. Always consult your doctor before embarking on any exercise program but until then, a walk is a good start. It doesn’t have to be a run, or a jog, or 10 miles. Around the block is a good place to start. Today is as good as any other day for a walk.
Stress Management: Cortisol is our stress hormone. It actually helps us in some situations. It increases sugars in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. It helps us react to a bad situation like a child getting hurt, or avoiding a car crash. Too much of it and it turns against you. This will cause a rise in blood sugar, weight gain, suppressed immune system, digestive issues, heart disease. We can’t avoid stress but the key is managing properly. That is not always easy and there are lots of options out there.
Sleep: A nutritionist told me years ago I needed to get my diet sleep. Sleep deprivation spikes our hormone called cortisol. See in the stress management above the side effects of cortisol. So many things can affect our sleep. Noise, ate too late, stressed, bad bed, and so on. It could be one thing or a combination of things. You need to isolate why you aren’t sleeping enough and correct those issues or at least reduce the amount of times that you don’t get enough sleep. Once in a while should not cause adverse effects. If you lack sleep on a regular basis, you will have an issue in the long term.
Food: Portion control is key. Who says you can’t have something. Unless you are allergic, there is no reason you can not have a food. How much of that food is key. A plate should be 1/2 vegetable, 1/4 protein, 1/4 starch. Smaller dinner plates help. Putting everything in the plate helps too. I also use a scale for weighing my food. Key is moderation. Example, I felt for a snack. I had fresh pineapple but I wanted something sweet. Then a thought of a chocolate fondue where you dip fruit into chocolate sounded sooo good. I opened the fridge and there was a sugar free low fat chocolate pudding. So I put that over my fresh pineapple, You know what, it was good. 140 calories. Healthier than a chocolate bar, still sweet and satisfied my craving.
So what can we take from this? Everything is connected. If one thing is out of balance, you will struggle to lose or maintain your weight. We need exercise regularly, manage our stress, sleep well, and have good portion control of our foods. There are no limits on possibilities on how to make this happen, we have to understand it, embrace it, and make the plan our own.