Typically, when we want to get our weight or health back on track, we develop a "plan" to eat healthier and make a promise ourselves to start hitting the gym. This is a great start. Sedentary lifestyles and inappropriate food choices definitely play major roles in our nation’s obesity and health epidemics.
The problem is there are many other areas of our lives that can affect both our weight and our health.The four areas that you might need to change around are sleep, stress management, vitamin D, and social relationships.
The easiest one to fix is your sleeping habits. One night of sleep deprivation can alter our hormones and increase our caloric intake by up to 600 calories without you even realizing it. According to research, over the course of a week, sleep deprivation of roughly 5.5 hours per night increased caloric intake with no change in energy expenditure. It also altered the leptin and ghrelin hormones, setting the stage to promote obesity.1 Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling us when to eat and how much fat to store. Ghrelin tells us when we are hungry. Both hormones have been implicated in obesity.
If your hormones get out of sync and drive hunger cravings, you will most likely reach for foods that are not ideal for our goals. How often do you crave broccoli when you’re tired? Most of us will crave our favorite sweet treats loaded in sugar to "comfort" ourselves.Make sure you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep in a completely blacked-out room. This will make sure you are recovering from workouts and help make a switch to eating real foods easier due to the decrease in hunger and cravings.
Our body is built upon a balance system. We need balance between our sympathetic nervous system (our fight or flight) and our parasympathetic nervous system (our rest and digest). Exercise elicits a response from our sympathetic nervous system, while activities such as mindful meditation, deep breathing, and going for a walk while listening to relaxing music elicit a response from our parasympathetic nervous system.To balance this, we need to actively take part in activities that reduce our stress levels.
Know how much Vitamin D you are getting to prevent hunger cravings and keep your body functioning properly. Research suggests to me that vitamin D may play a role as an energy homeostatic hormone in the hypothalamus by telling us how much food to eat.All of this is important because anywhere between 40 to 75% of the population may be deficient in vitamin D. So, get your vitamin D checked twice per year and make sure the values fall between 40 to 60ng/ml.
Make sure to spend time with QUALITY people. You are a vision The reason social relationships may be so important might be due to a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin may play a role as an immunoregulatory hormone. It has been shown to be released during times of infection and interact with inflammatory markers.All too often people make drastic changes to their diet that can lead to social isolation. Make sure you explain to your friends, family, and coworkers why you are making changes and ask that they be supportive of your work to better your health. If you are having trouble finding supportive friends, there are plenty of communities and groups of like-minded people you could seek out to create positive social relationships.
When attempting to take control of your health, there are a number of areas we need to pay attention to. Exercise and nutrition are important, but so are sleep, stress management, vitamin D, and social relationships. These areas, if neglected, can lead us to eat more and have higher mortality rates.
Take a quick assessment of your life and see how you are performing in each of these areas. Fix the weakest inks and pay attention to how you look, feel, and perform. I think you will be happily surprised with the results.