Now that January is here, the gyms are full and the produce shelves at the grocery stores are empty. Here at Nature Works, we love the idea of a fresh start and a good health-related goal, but we are also fiercely anti-diet culture. We believe that restricting entire food groups or making drastic changes to your diet is unsustainable and unhealthy. There are so many small changes that you can make that will lead to better health (and, yes, sometimes weight loss) that you can maintain while enjoying MORE... let's talk about them!
MORE PRODUCE: We've all heard that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", and there's so much truth to this statement! Adding more produce to your diet (organic whenever possible) will fuel your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and so much more. Eating more produce will also make you feel more satisfied/full without significantly increasing your caloric intake. Whenever you're eating a meal, ask yourself "how can I add another color to this?". If you're having a salad, try to add at least 3 different colored vegetables to it! If you're eating scrambled eggs for breakfast, toss in some sauteed mushrooms and asparagus. If you're having a sandwich for lunch, add an apple or some vegetables & hummus as a side. And no dinner is complete without at least two vegetables on the plate. Give MORE PRODUCE a try!
MORE WATER: So many people have a new year's goal of drinking less soda or coffee... but few people have the goal of drinking more water! Drinking more water is easy when you hack into an already existing habit. For example: if you're used to drinking coffee first thing in the morning, grab a large glass of water and drink it while your coffee is brewing! If you drink soda on a daily basis, try swapping it out for a sparkling water instead. If you just want to start drinking more water in general, try this: drink a large glass in the morning when you wake up, then drink another glass every time you go to the restroom through the day (water in to replace water out!!). Many times, our brain confuses the thirst cue for a hunger cue... so if weight loss is your goal, this should be one MORE thing that can help you reach your goals. Drink up and watch your energy, mood, and body feel better!
MORE MEALS: We know what you're thinking: "That doesn't make sense... How does eating MORE lead to weight loss?". Well, if you don’t eat often enough, your body goes into “starvation protection” mode; conserving calories, storing fat, and burning muscle (not fat) for energy. Eating small, balanced meals every few hours repeatedly resets your metabolism so it stays in high gear, and you burn fat all day long. Additionally, restricting calories/meals leads to low blood sugar, which in turn leads to a higher likelihood of binging carbohydrates or sugary foods, because your body wants to boost blood sugar quickly, and those foods do that. By eating healthy foods MORE often, you'll notice more energy, less cravings for unhealthy foods, and possibly some downward movement on the scale. While there are benefits to occasional fasting, it should not be done regularly as a way to lose weight.
MORE WHOLE GRAINS: Many fad diets focus on restricting or removing grains from your diet entirely, but our bodies are designed to use carbohydrates as a source of energy! Whole grains are a great source of folates (B vitamins), fiber, and other nutrients. While we agree that highly processed grains aren't good for you, there is so much benefit to eating whole grains such as brown, red, and wild rice, quinoa, steel cut or regular rolled oats, barley, amaranth, and more. When you eat grains in their whole form (brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat instead of white flour, etc), they contain more protein and enzymes, and are lower on the glycemic index, meaning that they are blood-sugar friendly. The way these whole grains are prepared makes a difference too... Did you know that both sprouted and sourdough bread are less likely to cause insulin spikes than a white, refined bread? We hope that you decide to add more whole grains to your diet this year, even if it starts as a simple swap of white bread for whole grain or white rice for brown.
MORE MOVEMENT: If you've been following us for a while, you have probably heard us say that you should move your body in a way that makes you happy for at least 30 minutes every day. But here's the thing: so many people force themselves to do workouts that make them miserable. They exercise because they're punishing themselves for eating or because they hate the way their body looks. We want you to flip the script on this diet culture way of thinking. We want you to find a way to move your body that makes you happy! Whether it's walking, biking, hiking, running, lifting weights, taking a dance class, jumping on a trampoline, or a mixture of these movements, you should always approach exercise with an attitude of gratitude. Your heart is a hard-working muscle that provides life to your body, and it deserves to be cared for with a little cardio now and then! Your body is an amazing miracle, and daily movement will keep it healthy! Instead of exercise as a form of punishment, try exercise as a form of celebration of what your body can do!
MORE SLEEP: In our fast-paced, increasingly digital world, healthy sleep can be hard to achieve. Being short on sleep can really affect your weight, your mental health, and your energy levels. Poor sleep is associated with increased adrenal stress, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. Extra time spent awake increases your opportunities to eat, and sleeping less disrupts circadian rhythms, which can lead to weight gain. When you're tired, you have less energy for exercise, and you're actually more likely to feel hungry (think about those late-night cravings!). Start creating healthier sleep habits such as: keeping a regular sleep schedule, sleeping in a dark room, and avoiding screen time or eating within an hour before bed. You can also try our Relax Ease or Nighty Night formulas if you still have a hard time falling or staying asleep.
MORE SELF-CARE: So many of us (especially women) tend to put everyone else's needs ahead of our own. Part of the problem is how we think about self-care in general... When you hear the term self-care, do you think about massages or taking a long bath with candles, or dinner with friends? When you're a busy parent or business owner, sometimes making time and appointments for those "escapes" can feel like more effort than they're worth. Today we want to remind you to do the little acts of self-care that are more centered on your physical health: taking your vitamins daily, drinking enough water, scheduling regular visits to the chiropractor, holistic health consultant, or massage therapist, making time for daily meditation or breathing exercise, journaling, making your bed, etc. Without the little acts of self-care, the bigger getaways aren't going to have the effect you're looking for.
So there you have it, our suggestions for a healthier year, by giving yourself MORE, instead of restricting yourself! We sincerely hope that this year brings you abundance in your health and happiness!
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