Everyone knows the basics in terms of how to get healthy – eat better and exercise more. But usually just knowing that doesn’t really make a difference.
It’s easier said than done right?
In order to truly hack your physical health and wellbeing, you’ve got to know a bit about behavioural science. In other words, understanding human behaviour, how we operate, how we think and feel – enables us to basically “trick” ourselves or our minds into doing the things we want.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference… So here are 10 wellness tricks you never hear about:
1. Develop the right sleep habits. Poor sleep and obesity are highly correlated1, and so sleeping well is one of the most efficient ways to lose weight! Make sure to stop liquid consumption at least 2 hours before bed. Waking up to go to the bathroom mid-sleep can ruin your sleep cycle. And don’t read emails or use technology at least an hour before bed. Having a stressful email on your mind can prohibit your ability to fall asleep.
2. Examine your protein bars. People think that protein bars are good for you because protein has been over-marketed. But you have to closely read the labels. Most bars have way too much sugar, refined carbs, or fake ingredients. So find a bar that has less than 10G of sugar per serving, and has the simplest ingredients (if you don’t know what it means, don’t buy it!)
3. Drink water first. Drinking water is probably the simplest way to improve various aspects of your health. Being hydrated even makes you look better (but that’s a blog for another time.) When you wake up, the first thing you should do is drink a glass of water – preferable warm & with lemon which will help clean and alkalize your body. But you should also drink a glass of water before each meal and it will help you eat less.
4. Outsmart the supermarket. Unfortunately, supermarkets are designed to have you buy more. There are tons of brands and temptations that make you buy more than you had intended. The middle aisles are the worst! Staying on the outer areas of the supermarket will keep you in the fresh food sections – whether that be the produce or the fresh seafood. And buying food with shorter expiration dates is a good thing! That means it’s actually fresh and is healthier for you!
5. Make eating more challenging. When you eat with your non-dominant hand, you’ll naturally eat less food, and you’ll eat slower (benefits of slow eating below). And you can also buy foods that require more work – like pistachios or walnuts.
6. Change your plate size! Are you bad at limiting portion size? This is the easiest way to fix that! We have a natural tendency to want to fill the empty space on our plates when it’s available. So use the plates that are meant for appetisers to help you manage your intake.
7. Eat slower. It takes your body 20 minutes to register your food intake. So when you eat slower it gives your body a chance to tell the brain that it’s full. If you eat too much too soon, you end up consuming more than what was necessary because your body didn’t have a chance to tell you that it was full!
8. Stop pill popping! Did you know that exercise is more effective than anti-depressants? And that there have been several studies done to prove that the placebo effect is just as effective as the pills themselves? The power of the brain and body is extraordinary. So the next time you aren’t feeling good about something, go for a jog in the outdoors. You get added neurological and biological benefits if you jog near water or amongst the trees!
9. Be the first to order. If you happen to be out to dinner with friends, research shows that the person who orders first sets the tone for everyone else. If you order a salad or fresh fish, others will feel guilty when they order the Mac N’ Cheese. And the reverse is true… If you see your friend order the French Fries, you’ll be more inclined to jump on the unhealthy bandwagon even if you know you promised yourself you wouldn’t.
10. Cultivate your friendships! Good friendships not only give us short-term happiness, but the long-term health effects are just as important as sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have solid relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. And on the flip side, not having a solid social circle, is associated with depression and even increased mortality.
So remember, your health is being affected by a variety of factors all the time. And a few small tweaks can help you develop the right habits and help you continue down the path of greater well-being.
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