Love Yourself... Diet
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LOVE-YOURSELF STRATEGY: Discover the joy of movement
Staying active doesn’t have to mean marching on a treadmill or running around a track. Find something you enjoy and incorporate it into your life. “You may get more out of yoga, gardening, or movement therapy (a technique that uses dance or movement to help people explore feelings),” says John Bagnulo, Ph.D., who teaches nutrition and fitness courses at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, in Stockbridge, Mass.
HOW IT HELPS: Moving your body boosts your energy, your immune system, and your mood. And if it doesn’t feel like an obligation, you’ll do it more often.
GET STARTED: Make a list of the physical activities you love and find a way to fit them in. If you like to dance, sign up for a weekly tango, Bollywood, or hip-hop class. If you loved cycling as a child, bike to work a few days a week, or run errands by bike. If you like to clean or do yard work, consider that part of your exercise plan.
LOVE-YOURSELF STRATEGY: Make time for sleep
A good night’s sleep (at least seven hours) helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels (reducing your risk of diabetes), protects your heart by lowering “bad” cholesterol, reduces inflammation throughout your body, and protects your memory function. Now scientists know that it may also help you lose weight.
HOW IT HELPS: Researchers have found that lack of sleep disturbs appetite-related hormones, spiking appetite, and decreasing feelings of satiety. When you’re sleepy, you may also be more likely to overindulge in sugary, high-calorie foods, researchers say. In a study of more than 9,000 people, scientists found that those who averaged six hours of sleep per night were 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who logged seven to nine hours a night. People who averaged five hours of sleep per night were 73 percent more likely to be overweight.
GET STARTED: Adopt good sleep habits: Turn off the TV and computer an hour before bed, keep your bedroom as dark as possible, block out noise with earplugs, and do some deep breathing to calm your nervous system before retiring.
LOVE-YOURSELF STRATEGY: Don’t beat yourself up if you overeat
We all occasionally overeat. Instead of berating yourself (which often leads to more overeating), strive to stay positive and compassionate in your thoughts and actions.
HOW IT HELPS: Forgiving yourself—and reinforcing positive, nurturing choices—is the best way to change your eating habits in a lasting way, says Aruni Nan Futuronsky, program advisor for the Integrative Weight Loss Program at the Kripalu Center. “Many women who struggle with weight issues tend to give away their energy and time, and are unable to meet their own needs,” she says. “You have to dare to put yourself first.” The more often you do this, the less likely you are to overeat or make unhealthy food choices.
GET STARTED: Whenever you notice self-punishing thoughts related to food, try nurturing yourself by taking a walk, going to a movie, writing in a journal, or calling a friend. Remember, too, that you can practice caring for yourself at any time. If you’re in the middle of a bag of chips and you notice critical self-talk, take a moment to relax and breathe, then decide whether you’d like to finish eating the chips (and enjoy them) or not.