Thank you to Neil from NeilWelshNutrition for this helpful guest post about getting into better eating and health habits…
There are lots of different triggers that can motivate us to change our lifestyles and live healthier. The reasons to look and feel better can vary greatly, but there are many similarities for all of us. We’ve all been there on the first of January, having enjoyed the Christmas festivities and then decided that things are going to change. Come February or March, we’ve slipped back into old habits and before we know it we are thinking about getting ready for summer. If it’s not Christmas guilt or the nervous anticipation of bearing our white bits to the world during the summer, then it could be a wedding, an event, a race or a reunion, but more often than not, our efforts are short sighted and ultimately fruitless.
How many fad diets have you tried? How many new exercise routines or new activities have you tried and how often have you slipped back into the old routine after a period of weeks or months? Despite all of our best efforts, it never seems to quite go to plan. We ended up thinking “this is who I am and people should just accept me for who I am and how I look”, which is great, but often there is an underlying sense that we have not achieved what we set out to achieve and that things should have gone better and that we are a bit unsatisfied with our results.
As I write this, the UK is going through its biggest heat wave for decades and it seems almost impossible to survive without getting your white bits out at the moment. For me, that’s fine. My white bits are nowhere near perfect by any means, but they are better than they were at the start of the summer and that’s good enough for me and I know that my white bits will be in even better shape come summer 2019. One of the reasons for my confidence in the improvement of my health is that I am bedding in good habits this summer and laying the groundwork to continue eating healthily. Summer is an amazing time to form good habits and here are seven reasons to start thinking about summer 2019 now… even if you feel you might’ve missed the boat for looking and feeling great in 2018.
- Summer naturally leans towards healthy eating. Summer is often a time of eating lighter and fresher than other times of the year. We are more prone to eat salad, cooked lean meats on the barbecue and eat fruit salads instead of sticky toffee puddings. Have you ever noticed that you rarely crave a sticky toffee pudding after a salad, but if you’ve just had a Sunday roast in a pub in December and you are asked if you want to see the dessert menu, you’ll almost always just “have a look” and inevitably steer towards something calorific.
- Supermarkets have more variety of fresh fruit and veg at reasonable. Yes, we live in a society now where we can buy mangoes in November and out of season fruit all year round, but there’s a noticeable difference in availability, quality, and price of some of fruit and veg at this time of year. Stone fruits, berries, asparagus and all sorts of other ingredients become readily available and at good prices making fresh, healthy food much more accessible and economical.
- Better weather makes us more active. See for yourself. Have a look on the step counter on your phone (if it has one), and see how your summer months compared to your winter months. For me, there was a notable increase and we’re much more active on bikes, swimming and just being out and about.
- We’re less likely to experience SAD binges. I think we’ve all experienced those moments during the winter where we just want to curl up on the sofa next to the fire and eat rubbish. Food is hugely attached to emotion and when it starts getting dark at 4:30 and we find ourselves a little bit depressed under the weight of grey skies, it is easy to reach for the snacks and eat unhealthily to cheer ourselves up.
- Heat suppresses our appetites. To massively over simplify the science, our appetites are controlled by the hypothalamus, which is the appetite centre of our brain. The hypothalamus is also in charge of regulating our body temperatures, so our brains have two jobs; one: acting as a thermostat for our bodies and two: acting as a fuel gauge. When our bodies are trying to control temperature the hypothalamus pays less attention to our hunger. Digestion also increases the workload on the body and increases body temperature, which gives the hypothalamus further reason to try and suppress hunger.
- There are reminders everywhere to keep us on track. Whether it’s your skinny mate, other parents at school pickup or just passers by, it’s all out on display during the summer. Whilst it’s easy to be envious of those who seem who have what you want and to think that it must be easy for them, it is better to use this as motivation. It probably isn’t easy for them to be in the shape that you envy, but they probably do the little things right and it’s those things that make the difference. Calorie and macro nutrient balances make a huge difference and understanding these and getting them right can quickly put you on the path to where you want to be.
- It takes a long time to make genuine change. Start making healthy choices now and by the end of summer, if not before, you’ll feel better. By bonfire night, you’ll look better and at Christmas people will comment on how much better you look… rather than ask if you’ve been eating lots of mince pies! There’ll be no need for any after Christmas guilt or a fruitless drive to get fit in the spring as you can form new lifestyle habits that make it simple for you to hit your goals.
So start now. Eat more good things and enjoy your food. Be Active and develop good habits. Spend this summer feeling great and eating well with family and friends. Continue this and look great for summer 2019 and the rest of your life.
Neil has a little something for you! He has written an Ultimate Guide to looking and feeling like Super Mum with food your kids will actually eat. It contains info on looking and feeling great through getting your calorie balance right and eating in a way that fits your lifestyle that can work for you and your family for the long term. Check it out www.neilwelshnutrition.com/ultimate-guide/