"Tomorrow I am going to wake up early, hit the gym before sunrise, and workout for an hour. Enough of this unhealthy lifestyle," Allen told himself as went to bed Sunday night. The Monday sky was overcast. It was cosy in the warm bed. He slept another hour. When he woke up, there was no time for exercise. He rushed to work. Everyday wasn’t cloudy, but something or the other made him skip the gym: Pending work, lethargy, a long call, inadequate sleep, the list was as long and varied as they come. A month passed by. He was nowhere near going to the gym.
Does Allen’s story sound familiar?
Are you still waiting for a time when you will be less busy to start that healthy life? How long have you been waiting for that perfect occasion to start, one that never arrives?
This inabiity is rooted in the mindset that the new regimen should be all or nothing. People believe it’s worthless to give ‘healthy’ a shot unless everything is perfect. Well, life is not perfect, is it? So why should your health regime be? Now is the perfect time, here is the perfect time, whether you can go to the gym, or for a run, or to the yoga class, or not.
Cut through the clichéd motivation syndrome. Get real.
Staring moving. Non-Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis (NEAT), more or less, refers to any sort of activity, be it mopping the floor, carrying your grocery bags or climbing steps. Well, dosen’t it just burn calories without accomplishing much? So you think! Just keeping on your feet, you can burn 200-800 calories in a day, depending on your body weight and the nature of the activity. Compare this to a walk on the treadmill at 6 km for one hour: You will only burn 320 calories. Now you know why your clothes shrank after you took up that desk job; you don’t move your body much.
The 80% Rule
Get the good food vs bad food argument out of your head. This does not mean that you can wolf down a whole pizza. Anything in moderation is not bad for your body, balance being the key. Understand, if your goal is to lose fat, calorie deficit really helps. To keep it simple, as a beginner, start off in three small steps:
1. Eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner on time: Don’t miss your meals. Your body has good reason to shoot hunger pangs at regular intervals. Respect it.
2. Eat slowly, free from distractions (television, books, phones): This helps in better digestion, better hydration and greater satisfaction. This also achieves better weight-loss maintenance. It takes about 20 minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals that the stomach is full. Most people’s meals don’t last that long. Make it last.
3. Practice eating up to 80% fullness: I wouldn’t suggest you start measuring your portions right away. Rather, start serving yourself a little less of the quantity you usually eat. Practice mindful eating. Immediately after eating, if you’ve eaten the right amount of food for optimal health, you are likely to feel slight hunger. Stay with it. You should feel content, not overfull and sluggish.
An idea is only worth seven dollars; its effective implementation is worth seven billion. The key to better implementation: Track your activities and eating pattern. Download a paedometer app on your phone, or slap on a fitness tracker like Fitbit or MI band on your wrist. Know the number of steps you walk a day, and progressively set higher targets. A good target is to incrementally add 500 steps a day till you hit 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day. Keep a food diary, on an everyday basis, to regularly scan your eating pattern. Fill it out before going to bed at night. This will make you more aware. As you know, awareness is the path to transformation.
You don’t have to start big. You simply have to start.