People ask me all the time, what are the best health hacks, and the short answer is pretty much anything that’s sustainable! So here are what I feel are the best ‘bang for buck’ hacks to make this year your healthiest yet:
Take your MEDS and monitor them:
By MEDS I’m referring to:
M is for Mindfulness: This is about adopting practises that help you manage stress levels and promote positive mental health. Think meditation, deep breathing and spiritual practices.
E is for exercise: Recommendations are 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense activity.
D is for Diet: Adopting a whole food, plant first diet that is eaten in a social, enjoyable way, and drinking plenty of water.
S is for sleep: Creating habits that promote the best sleep you can get.
Start with the area you feel lacks and monitor which helps you stay focussed and motivated. Whether it’s downloading a mindfulness app you can track with, a sleep app, wearable technology or a good old fashioned food and exercise diary, monitoring your MEDS is a great way to stay on track.
Try intermittent fasting
Practice intermittent fasting for 12h-14/day: this is one of the easiest ways to curb your appetite and trigger fat burning. For example If you stop eating at 9pm, don’t eat again until 9am. What this does is narrow the window when you do eat, so breaky, lunch and dinner are closer, preventing sugar spikes and snacking. In 2021, the trend for intermittent fasting – or time-restricted eating – will continue to grow, as evidence mounts to show its benefits for weight loss and all-round health. Fasting for 12-14 hours overnight helps improve heart health, lower blood pressure and protect against type 2 diabetes because our bodies go into repair mode. It’s a gentler way to lose weight. The science behind this says humans were never meant to eat at the times we do now. With people eating breakfast early and having dinner late, their systems don’t have enough time to recover overnight.
Box breathing, square breathing, 4-4-4-4 breathing, by any name, this breathwork exercise is a forceful one. Unusual for its evenly timed inhales, holds and exhales, it’s a relatively intense breath pattern, so it makes sense that it was popularized by Navy SEALs. It helps to slow your breathing rate, enhance concentration and destress. Slow, deep breathing can help us engage our diaphragm, get air into the lower part of our lungs, and really stretch out our alveoli—the gas exchange units of our lungs. I love to do it right before bed, or in the shower. Imagine a square in your mind and follow this tempo as you mentally trace the four sides:
Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds.
Hold your breath (on full) for 4 seconds.
Exhale out of the mouth for 4 seconds.
Hold your breath (on empty) for 4 seconds.
Create a Shym
Since COVID, retailers have seen a 30 per cent increase in home gym inquiries. Decking out our backyard shed, garage or spare room into a gym (or Shym) is gaining popularity. Base requirements are some hand weights, yoga mat, and skipping rope. But from there the sky’s the limit! Digital fitness Innovators are jumping on the bandwagon with the launch of digital fitness platforms (think Apple Fitness+ which launched in Dec 2020) where online workouts are designed for all levels and types of home exercisers. No need to leave the house to get fitter and healthier!
Swap sugary drinks for sparkling water
Not only will this improve your health, but also your waistline! Research has shown that consuming 340ml of sugary drink a day (which equates to less than one can) increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 22%. (1) Plus consuming one can of soft drink per day could lead to a 6.75kg weight gain in one year. (2) Try SodaStream sparkling water, it has a much lower salt content than pre-packaged mineral or sparkling water products. By carbonating tap water you’ll be gaining the additional benefit of fluoride for your dental health, plus it can also save the average household over 2000 single-use plastic bottles from ending up in our oceans, thanks to its reusable and recyclable BPA free carbonating bottles.
What I Love about SodaStream
SodaStream sparkling water has a much lower salt content than pre-packaged mineral or sparkling water products.
By carbonating tap water you’ll be gaining the additional benefit of fluoride for your dental health. Fluoride is helpful because it helps protect against tooth decay in children and adults.
SodaStream can also save the average household over 2000 single-use plastic bottles from ending up in our oceans and environment, thanks to its reusable and recyclable BPA free carbonating bottles.
To find out more, visit SodaStream
The InterAct Consortium. Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct. Diabetologia PMID, 2013.
Apovian CM. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Journal of the American Medical Assocation 2004; 292(8): 978.
Note: Whilst this is a sponsored post, all views and opinions are my own.