Can you believe it’s already October? Before you know it, you’ll be stocking your cupboards (and face) full of Christmas treats and making (and breaking) your New Year’s resolutions. But why wait? A summer body is fantastic, but you could be feeling your best all year round. It’s time to make little differences to your day that will affect your health and happiness for the better. If people can pick up bad habits, why not good, healthy ones?
What is a habit?
A habit is an action that you repeat continuously - most likely on a daily basis. When you think of habits, you probably think of smokers or people who over-indulge on junk food, but not all habits are bad. And the good news? They can be as effortless as swapping soft drinks for water. You don’t have to end up like Augustus Gloop - up the chocolate creek without a paddle!
There are several healthy habits you can form, but one of the most critical and easy to start is getting a good night’s rest. So many of us don’t get enough sleep, but it’s essential to your physical and emotional health that you do. You should aim for about eight hours of sleep a night. Take a note from Sleepy from Snow White - he had the right idea.
Forming habits in this way is all about routine - the more you do it, the more natural it will become. You might be a night owl, but that’s no excuse. Sleep has a range of benefits, but not having enough can affect your stress levels, cause heart problems and add to your weight. The same rule applies to exercise: the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Another essential habit to get into is healthy eating. You don’t need to diet or stop eating the things you love, but you should have it in moderation. If you deny yourself all your favourite foods, be it cake or carbs, you’ll be far more likely to binge. Sorting out your sleep schedule can help with this. Take a lesson from Sleeping Beauty herself; she had her priorities straight.
Remember that we said that lack of sleep could lead to weight gain? Well, that’s because leptin (the chemical that tells our body when we’re full) decreases and ghrelin (the chemical that makes us feel hungry) increases when we are sleep deprived. So if you don’t get at least eight hours of shut-eye a night, you might end up snacking on one too many Maltesers. Or Ferrero Rocher if you’re feeling fancy.
Whether you have a sweet tooth or a taste for savoury snacks, there are ways to prevent munching on bad foods throughout the day:
- Make sure you feel full by eating a proper breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Pack a big enough lunch so that you don’t end up going to the shop and buying sweetener and additive-filled food
- Eat plenty of protein, so you are fuller for longer
- Get lots of sleep to keep your leptin levels balanced
You can also make healthy food swaps; for example, fruit instead of sweets. Not only is this far healthier, but it’s also a part of your five a day! And believe it or not, those Haribo strawberries are NOT.
A moment on the lips...
It’s worth thinking about instant vs delayed gratification. If you wait a bit longer for something, it can be a lot more rewarding when you finally get it. Compare this to instant gratification which means that you may only enjoy something for a second before it’s gone. For any Tom Hiddleston fans out there, he does an excellent job of convincing us that delayed gratification is rewarding. If it’s good enough for the god of mischief, it’s good enough for us.
The most critical part of habits and being healthy is how you feel. If you’re happy, you’re healthy. Eating junk won’t make you feel good about yourself, and neither will staring at screens all night. It’s time to change your ways and start being healthy. Get motivated! Put on Eye of the Tiger! Go all Rocky on life!
Whether you put away your phone before bed or snack on carrot sticks instead of chocolate, you’ll feel a change before you know it.
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