6 Tips to Emerge Victorious from a Health Hiatus
There comes a time in our lives–commonly after months of hibernating in sweaters, too many helpings of winter treats, and then too many pints after feeling guilty about said winter treats–that we have to take a minute, look in the mirror, and ask ourselves: “Who the hell is that?”
No, really. When you live in an area of the world that has four seasons, you know that the atmosphere isn’t the only thing that fluctuates. And for each year I’ve lived in such a climate (which is all of the years), I’ve noticed that it gets harder and harder to emerge from my wintry cocoon.
And it can be an epidemic. Everyone around you is trying frantically to shed the pounds and gain back some summer vigor. Your coworkers are taking “walking breaks” over lunch, which really just means walking across the street for an afternoon cronut, you’re concerned about your flatmate who hasn’t emerged from his room since committing to his all-juice detox, and everyone and their grandmas seem to be on the mend from overzealous CrossFit-ness. THE MADNESS!
So how does someone stay sane, regain some vitality, and get a sunny little pep in their step? Here are 6 tips to surviving the de-thaw.
1. Drink water.
This is the LEAST ORIGINAL thing I have ever written, but it’s so important and so ignored, so I’ll write it again: drink water. Did you just wake up? Drink water. Are you sitting on a train and have nothing to do? Drink water. You have to choose a drink for your meal? Drink water. You can’t get anything done because between drinking water and going to the bathroom, your whole day is gone? Ok, you can take a break.
But really. You don’t have to drink enormous quantities, the important thing is consistency to ensure that you’re constantly hydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, low blood pressure, and a lot of other symptoms that are going to prevent you from being your best. Your skin, your energy level, and your mood will improve when you… I don’t think I need to say it again.
2. Take a walk. Or just sit on a bench.
Spring is here, the warm weather and even some sun has arrived. It’s time for you to emerge from your cave and get some fresh air. Fresh air boosts your immune system, happiness and energy levels. Need convincing? Just ask the Huffington Post.
Of course, pumping that air through your lungs with some cardio is a great way to reap the benefits, but just taking your lunch break outdoors can make a difference and provide you some sunny vitamin D.
3. Stretch it out.
By incorporating a few simple stretches into your routine, you prime your muscles to leap and bound with agility over your daily hurdles. You’ll be armed with the strength and flexibility and will be looking great with toned muscles to boot.
Our bodies are ultimately our vehicles, so the better we tune them up and take care of them, the longer we’ll be getting to where we need to be.Researchers have found that yoga and stretching improve “quality-of-life measures related to sense of well-being and energy and fatigue compared to controls.”
Stretching and staying active is all the easier when you never fall off the train, so even if you are young and bendy, keep up the good work and make it a habit!
4. Regard your plate.
You diet. You fast. You swear off all things sugary, fat, and carbo-loaded, but most of these endeavors result merely in the annoyance of your friends. You get on the bandwagon, fall off, have a few weeks of self-loathing, and then pick another fad.
The best way to figure out what you should be eating might just be to actually think about what you are eating. Yes, a very obvious point, but one that’s often missed in the anemic dash for all things juice and raw.
Go to your favorite restaurant, make that beloved dish, go crazy at the grocery store, and then, at the beginning of every meal, take a good, hard look at your plate; all the vegetables (and lack there of), all the lean protein (and extra fats), and think about how it all came to be on your plate. Then, eat according to your desire.
In a study from 1998, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) tested the effectiveness of food awareness, or “self-monitoring” and found that “the most consistent self-monitors lost more weight than the least consistent self-monitors.” So, you want to be a smart consumer, a healthy eater, and keep the weight off? Make sure you think about what’s on every plate.
5. Breathe and bust that stress.
Many wise friends in my life have told me that I need to get it together and calm the f*** down or else my stress levels will send me to an early grave. So what do I do? Add that to my worry list and continue to freak out.
This disquiet would hit me the hardest at night while trying to fall asleep. I would run through countless checklists, worry if I was a complete idiot in the day’s meeting, and then, I’d come around to the fact that because I can’t sleep and all I can do is stress out, I will die early and have even less time to get all this stuff done.
I’d tell myself, “Relax! Sleep! Stop being crazy!” Needless to say, none of it helped. What I needed was to pay attention to what I’ve had all along: my breath.
I won’t go into length about the benefits of meditation because they’ve been touted everywhere from East to West. Although finding a few minutes of zen is often intimidating if not impossible, reminding yourself to take a few deep breaths when you’re feeling down, stressed, or just plain angry can help bring you some peace of mind.
What a relief it is to rush home from a nightmare day at work, call up our best friend, laugh at what assholes our colleagues are, and then hang up and treat yourself to a dose of Ricky Gervais’ latest standup.
I don’t need to quote any acclaimed research on this one, because we’ve heard it from the time we were kids: Laughter is the best medicine. What gives off a real essence of health and vitality? Certainly not stuffy judgement, cranky moods, and the humor of a crocodile. To regain some ease in your life all that’s required is to not take yourself too seriously.
Ease the corners of your eyes, soften your brow, appreciate weirdness, and smile a little. You’ll not only look and seem more open and radiant, you’ll feel that way too.