I wasn’t always healthy. In fact, for most of my childhood and all of my teenage years, health was the last thing on my mind. I am an addict and I am 9 years sober. I have put my body through a lot over the years and it was only during my second year of sobriety that I truly started to pursue healthy living.
In order to stay sober, I had to start treating my body better. Once I started making increasingly better choices, the way I looked and the way I felt changed drastically. I hadn’t realized how out of shape and unhealthy I had been until I started noticing just how much I was changing.
I am now in the best shape of my life, have more energy, am more positive, and much happier than before I started my weight loss and healthy living journey.
I have tried many things over the last 7 years including diets, weight loss pills, and any other ‘get fit quick’ strategies I came across. Some of them did offer results but they weren’t long lasting. Instead, I started cutting the habits that kept me from my weight loss and fitness goals. That is when I began to see true, long-term results.
1. Drinking Alcohol
I noticed in the first few weeks of going through my alcohol detox that I was slowly starting to lose some of the fact that I had for years. When I looked into it, I found that alcohol consumption is actually a leading factor in weight gain. Why?
First, the body metabolizes alcohol before getting to anything else. This means that any and all fats, carbs, proteins and sugars you consume will have to wait until all the alcohol in your system is gone first. The more alcohol you have, the longer everything else has to wait. This results in all the calories not coming from the alcohol being stored as fat.
Second, alcohol inhibits decision-making abilities which result in poor food choices and overeating.
Your body’s ability to make glucose and absorb nutrients from your food is also hindered by alcohol.
However, unless you are an addict, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give alcohol up altogether. The key is moderation and prioritization. Don’t drink excessively; having one or two portions of alcohol once in a while won’t do too much damage. Be very picky about when you decide to indulge; it would probably be much more memorable to share in a toast at your friend’s wedding than it would to just go out and get drunk for the fun of it.
2. Skipping or Skimping on Meals
Making sure to not overeat and maintain portion control definitely helps weight loss. However, eating too little or choosing not to eat at least three times a day can not only cause several health problems but also have the opposite effect of what you hope to achieve.
Eating 1000 calories a day or less may initially result in weight loss, but the body will soon plateau. This is because eating too little actually causes the metabolism to slow down. This is the way the body tries to protect itself despite not receiving enough vitamins and nutrients. Apart from a much slower metabolism, someone that eats too little will most often experience dizziness, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, inability to think clearly, loss of energy, and so on.
Eating controlled portions with healthy caloric content and making sure to eat at least three times a day will actually help increase your resting metabolic rate. Once again, it is important to be mindful of overeating. While eating multiple times a day can help speed up your metabolism, it won’t make too much of a difference if those portions are too big or if you are consuming more calories than your body needs.
3. Eating Quickly
In this day and age, everyone is busy, with barely any time to have a sit-down meal. Most of us tend to ‘grab a quick bite’ and wolf it down as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next task at hand.
This may come as a surprise, but eating too quickly can also lead to obesity. When you eat fast, you tend to eat until you feel full. The problem with that is it takes the body up to 20 minutes to process that you are in fact full. If you eat until you feel full, you are overeating. I learned to take a page out of the Japanese’s book ( a country known for its healthy, long-living people) and eat until I only felt about 80% full.
Eating too quickly also means that the food is not chewed well enough before it is swallowed. Not chewing enough can actually cause us to miss out on much of the nutrients that our food has to offer. A general rule of thumb is to chew soft foods 5 to 10 times, and harder food about 30 times before swallowing. This will also help to eat more slowly and mindfully and even prevent overeating.
4. Skipping Workouts
Eating healthy food, controlling your portions, and avoiding overeating can only get you so far. At the beginning, you will be losing fat, but as time goes you will lose muscle while the remaining fat lingers. This is where exercise comes in.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; you just have to get your blood pumping for at least 30 minutes everyday. This will help increase your metabolism and strengthen your muscles. Getting a little bit of strength training is a great addition because working on your muscles actually helps to burn fat.
5. Lack of Sleep
This may seem cliche, but sleep is very important to weight loss and healthy living. You could be doing everything else right; eating right, working out regularly, and still not see results. It might just be because you are not getting the optimal amount of sleep your body needs.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your metabolism won’t function at its full potential and you will be tired. When you’re tired, you look to caffeine, sugar and more food to keep you going. So not only do you consume more unnecessary calories, your body isn’t even burning them as quickly and effectively as it could be.
Getting about 7 to 8 hours a night will ensure that your body has had enough rest, your metabolism is at peak performance levels, and you don’t feel like you need more fuel to keep you going.
After so many years of neglecting my health and well being, it was tough to commit to weight loss and healthy living. I had a LOT of bad habits that contributed to my unhealthiness. It really helped to think more about building healthy habits and focus on my goals rather than think of it as breaking bad habits.
There are plenty of ‘quick fixes’ out there, but those results rarely last as long as it takes to achieve them. The secret is to keep practicing good habits in order to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The goal is to get healthy and stay that way.
If I could do it, you most definitely can.
What has your weight loss journey been like? Are there any habits you think should have been on this list? Feel free to leave them in the comments below, we’d love to read them!