So you have decided to get serious about losing weight or just get healthier. Before that next milestone birthday comes consider making a checklist. First, determine the appropriate calories for your weight loss plan. Next, have a diet journal, or sign up for MyFitnessPal or Weight Watchers online. Then, write down your weekly schedule and figure out how to fit 150 minutes a week, or better yet, 60 minutes of exercise or 10,000 steps into the day. Congratulations! That’s it, the first step toward behavioral lifestyle change.
Now that you have a framework in place the next step is to balance the logical and emotional sides of your brain to maintain this new fitness routine. Here are a few situations that can sabotage the best laid plans and some examples to watch out for so you will not get tripped up.
1) Sleep– Many studies have indicated that sleep and metabolism are connected. Lack of sleep has profound effects on brain chemistry. For example, satiety, the feeling of fullness after eating a meal, has its normal regulation changed by lack of sleep. Ghrelin and Leptin, also known as the “Hunger Hormones” help regulate fullness and hunger. Ghrelin is released by the stomach cells and signals the brain to increase the appetite. Ghrelin also promotes fat storage. The belly fat that shows up as you age is due to this hormone. Leptin, a hormone released by the fat cells, signals to the brain to decrease appetite. People who sleep poorly at night can feel its effects during the day. The brain receives no signal to decrease hunger, thus you keep eating, even when you are full. More research is needed to determine, specifically, how these hormones and obesity are related. Leptin levels are lower in thin people and higher in obese people, so it should help obese people lose weight, but unfortunately, obese people have built up a resistance to the Leptin signal, to slow down or stop eating.
2) Insulin- The purpose of insulin in the body is to help cells take up glucose for energy. The liver, muscles and fat cells are ones that need insulin to take up the glucose. When there is too much glucose in the blood, as is the case in a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, Insulin Resistance can develop. This happens when the body stops responding to insulin as in the case of Type 2 Diabetes. When this occurs, excess sugar stays in the blood causing elevated blood sugar. There is a relationship between insulin, the hunger hormones and lack of regular sleep. In a study where young people were held to just 4 hours of sleep at night it was discovered through blood glucose testing that the values tested during this time were similar to those in whom were considered to have Prediabetes.
3) Stress- It is generally recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night but sometimes work or family gets the better of you. Meditation and Yoga are great ways to reduce stress. Try to incorporate them into your schedule. Sometimes the simplest method to reduce stress begins with our thoughts. Positive thoughts, as a part of a thought management method, can help redirect the negative self-talk that occurs when we overgeneralize a situation that does not go the way we intended. Exercise is also a good option. A regular exercise routine, helps keep muscles loose when a high stress situation causes muscles to tighten and strain, as the body response to stress.
Finding ways to change your routine to get some good sleep and reduce stress goes a long way to feel better!