This one’s a bit obvious, but there are probably some other unhealthy habits you haven’t thought of.
Just coming off a weekend, you can probably think of a few habits you have that aren’t all that healthy. I mean, yeah, it’s not a great idea to drink a bit too much wine or beer, devour a lot of deep fried and/or BBQ’d food, or lie around all day on the couch watching sports. But all those habits are a bit obvious and I barely think they’re worth mentioning.
You know what to do when it comes to the basic things. Drink more water, eat more vegetables, drink alcohol only in moderation (if at all), and workout regularly.
Not very enlightening, right?
So what habits should you give up that will make an impact on your health?
Here are 5 unhealthy habits that can be especially damaging:
1) Feeling guilty about what you’re eating – Whether it’s eating gluten or dairy when it doesn’t agree with you or just succumbing to your favourite treat that doesn’t align with your goals (whether that’s chocolate cake, donuts, french fries, pork pie, or chicken wings), adding guilt to the mix doesn’t do you any favours.
In fact, many people are likely to go on a food “bender” when they feel guilty about their eating.
So skip the guilt and just move on when you haven’t been eating exactly the way you’d like.
2) Not sleeping enough – It almost seems like a badge of honour to say that you only slept 5 or 6 hours…or that’s all you need. People love to bring up examples of successful people who sleep very little and talk about hustling to get what you want. I get it. Sometimes it feels like you’re slacking if you actually get the 7 or 8 hours you need (I personally think 8 and 1/4 would be my ideal).
Sleep, or lack thereof, affects every system in your body. You’ll perform worse at everything you do if you don’t have enough sleep, and you’ll also increase your chances of getting sick and having to take time off.
And not getting enough sleep can significantly increase your appetite and your motivation to eat well.
Prioritize sleep and other things will fall into place easier.
3) Not dealing with stress – Yes, we all face stress. Usually daily. But walking around thinking about how busy are and how much pressure you’re under while saying “everything’s fine” doesn’t help you. Take the time you need to take care of yourself, whether that’s exercise, meditation, or just taking 20 minutes to read a book.
If you don’t deal with stress, your body will fight back, perhaps by making you sick or bringing you chronic anxiety or depression. And chronically high levels of cortisol brought about by stress can actually increase your fat levels, especially belly fat…if you need another reason to motivate yourself to deal with stress.
4) Using food as a reward – You’ve had a tough day at work so it’s time to reward yourself with a giant burger and fries in front of the TV. You just completed a major project so you want to go out and celebrate at your favourite dessert place. Or the worst one, in that it really leads to a longtime battle with fat and a bad relationship with both food and exercise, is rewarding yourself with a massive meal because you hit the gym.
As I raise a 3-year-old, I’m becoming more aware of how early the use of food as a reward begins.
“If you’re good, you’ll get ice cream!”
“If you eat all your dinner, you can have dessert!”
Many of us have internalized those types of comments from our childhoods and turned them into the reason we just can’t seem to stay lean.
Being aware of it is the first step. The next thing you want to do is find other rewards that you can give yourself when you achieve something. Maybe it’s 20 minutes curled up with a book you’ve been dying to read, a new pair of gym shorts, or tickets to a concert (depending on the size of the goal).
5) Not making physical activity part of your day – You make time for an hour at the gym a few times a week so you’re all good, right? Unfortunately not.
Sitting all day at a desk, which the majority of us do, can raise your risk of cardiovascular issues and makes it harder to get lean. If you can, try to walk at least part of the way to work. Get up and take breaks from the computer as much as possible. Take a real lunch break and go outside for a walk.
On the weekends, try to find fun activities to do that don’t involve sitting around. Explore your city, investigate a local market or festival, or go for a hike with your family. Get moving as much as you can.
So as you begin your week, think about the habits that you want to acquire and the ones you want to eliminate.
Keep in mind that it’s all a process.
Take your time and be patient with yourself, but keep working towards the healthy life you want to have.
There’s no better time than now.
P.S. If you want to get lean (and stay lean!) for a lifetime, my Lean365 Online Membership Program can help! $47 a month gets you all the nutrition, exercise, and psychology & lifestyle guidance you need to get the body you want. Check out the details HERE.