Does COVID have you feeling overweight and out of shape? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. Just last week, even Gwyneth Paltrow admitted to struggling with weight gain during this pandemic. If you want to start feeling better today, I have just the fix for you.
Here are the top four top weight loss habits you need to adopt in 2021 to drop those pesky pounds and start feeling fabulous again.
1. Take Up Resistance Training
Humans are preprogrammed to seek comfort and to avoid discomfort. In times of challenge, this preprogramming goes into overdrive. So, if you found it hard to get off the couch before the pandemic, it’s probably been even harder this past year. The thing is, our bodies were designed to move, and when we go against that design, we suffer.
When we sit for too long (more than an hour), our body actually starts to conserve energy, and one of the first places it heads to is our muscles. Our body begins to store fat, withdrawing energy from our muscles instead. It’s a process called catabolism. This is a multifaceted problem, but from a pure weight loss perspective, it’s a huge issue because our muscle is actually metabolic. It burns calories just sitting there! In other words, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is.
New Habit: Set an alarm on your phone to get up every hour and walk. Even if it’s for 2 minutes, get up and move. This will shut off your body’s urge to break down your muscle. But if you want to actually start to build your muscle (and your metabolism), you need to start a resistance training program, ideally 2-3 times per week. This could mean doing bodyweight training like pushups or squats or lifting weights in the gym. It’s all movement, and it’s all good.
2. Replace Fat Storing with Fat Burning Foods
When we consume refined carbohydrates, like bread and pasta, our insulin levels automatically go up. While this is a natural process, the problem lies in how high it goes due to how refined our food is nowadays. A spike in insulin automatically shuts off our ability to burn fat, and excess insulin is actually being stored AS fat. It’s a double whammy, and in the worst kind of way.
New Habit: Make protein, fiber, and healthy fat the focus of all your meals; this slows the digestion of your food down and lowers the amount of insulin your body secretes. This means more fat burning and less hunger when the spike inevitably drops.
3. Belly Breathe to Relieve Stress
When we stress out, our fight or flight response is activated. Our stress hormone, cortisol, increases and our breathing becomes faster. Inside our bodies, cortisol and insulin are like BFFs; they love each other, and when one comes out to play, the other one does as well. A stress-induced spike in cortisol causes our insulin levels to spike as well, and we now know from above this is not a good thing.
New Habit: Limit your exposure to stress to the best of your ability but for those inevitable stress-filled moments, stop and perform five or more deep, slow belly breaths. When we breathe slowly and deeply and let our belly rise on each inhalation, we are actually stimulating the opposite of fight or flight; our rest and digest system activates. This causes our cortisol and our insulin to lower and reduces the chance that we self-medicate with high-carb comfort foods.
4. Sleep More, Better with 321 Rule
It is well known now that people who sleep less weigh more, and one of the worst offenders when it comes to quality sleep is those darn screens. We spend so much time staring at them they actually stimulate our brain, so it doesn’t feel tired anymore. When we don’t get enough sleep or enough restful sleep, our body chemistry gets confused, and we actually get hungrier, and our ability to be satiated decreases. This will have you paddling upstream when it comes to weight loss.
New Habit: Follow my 3,2,1 rule when it comes to sleep. Stop eating three hours before bed, stop checking emails or watching news two hours before bed, and no screens at all one hour before bed. This will set you up for a successful sleep!
When it comes to weight loss and wellness, sometimes the habits you stop are as important as the ones you start. Slowly replace old habits with new ones and remember, the key to success is consistency, not perfection.
**Article by Christine Sachse. Christine is a Health Coach and Personal Trainer and the owner of Roseland Health and Fitness, a full-service Personal Training and wellness studio in Burlington, Ontario. To find out more, visit Christine’s website or follow her on IG or Facebook.