Health and fitness advice tends to be doled out more like Scared Straight! than informative coaching. Lift for hours a day; stuff yourself with kale; never have a slice of cake. Apparently the only route to a better life. But getting and staying healthy doesn’t have to be an exercise in self-deprivation and masochism. You can still live your best life and treat yo’self.
Sleeping Until Noon
Some people sleep like a teen no matter how old they get. For those that don’t mind wasting half the day being dead to the world, there’s no reason to be embarrassed. Listening to your body is more important than subscribing to some idea of how adults are supposed to spend their time.
By sticking to your natural circadian rhythms, you’ll keep your metabolism up, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. Getting enough sleep will also keep you from stuffing your face with junk food and eating larger portions in general. So forget your mum and skip the alarm clock as often you can.
Drinking Enough Coffee To Wake The Dead
If the only thing that can lure you out of bed in the morning is the promise of a giant cup of Joe, fear not. Coffee has gotten a seriously bad rap over the past few decades, blamed for heart problems, cancer and why you never hit six feet. That’s pretty much all BS.
The black stuff is chock full of antioxidants and can help improve mood thanks to activating chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. It’s also shown to help fight certain cancers, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and type-2 diabetes. So feel free to keep yourself caffeinated, as long as you’re keeping it as close to black as possible. A venti 1/2&1/2, 10 pumps vanilla, extra whip isn’t helping anyone.
Hitting The Gym Before Hitting The Kitchen
You’ve been told over and over how important it is to fuel up before exercising. But some people just cannot stomach food before a morning workout. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
While not recommended for those training for long distance events like marathons and triathlons, working out before eating can help you shed extra weight quicker, since working out on an empty stomach means that your body is burning fat instead of an immediate food source. It also means you’re less likely to revisit your scrambled eggs on that fifth set of burpees.
Skipping A Workout (Or Two)
The guilt can be real if you skip a workout, especially twice in a row. But you don’t have to workout every day to be healthy – it’s actually better for you to take a day or two off every so often. As long as you’re exercising three to four days a week, you’ll stay in shape.
Working out every day also won’t give your muscles the time they need to repair and strengthen. If you really can’t bear to go a day without exercise, try switching your routine up with a flexibility-based activity like yoga or Pilates. They’ll only serve to better support the rest of your workouts.
Indulging Your Sweet Tooth
This seems totally counterintuitive, but you can keep your life sweet even if you’re looking to lose weight and improve health. Chocolate is a mood booster and full of antioxidant compounds that can help increase the flexibility of veins and arteries, and lower blood pressure. That doesn’t mean you should stuff yourself with Cadbury, though. Grab something that’s at least 70 per cent cocoa to receive the full health benefits.
And don’t obsess over that bag of Haribo in your glovebox. Surprisingly, people who regularly eat sweets actually have a lower BMI than those that completely avoid them, as they tend to be lower in saturated fat and calories than other desserts.
Just make sure to eat your treat right after a workout, when your body is ready to burn all that sugar.
Lazing In Front Of The TV
Don’t feel too bad if you surrender to a night in front of the box every now and again. Research has found that people who spend time watching their favourite TV shows have better self control in other areas of their life, because the comfort this brings makes us better able to behave when it comes to other things that require discipline.
And if you’re watching with your partner – research has found that this can bring intimacy to a relationship and do wonders for your sex life.
Skipping The Shower
We’ve all had those mornings when it’s way more tempting to have an extra five minutes in bed and forgo the shower. But – unless it’s the middle of summer and you’ve just run a marathon – skipping the odd shower might actually be good for you.
Dermatologists have found that regular showering with warm water can actually dry out your skin, and can also wash away good bacteria that helps to fight off infection.
Not Getting Your Five-a-day
If you end the day having only eaten three portions of the recommended five-a-day, there’s no need to try and turn the mouldy pack of strawberries at the bottom of the fridge into something resembling a dessert.
Research has found that eating too much fruit can be unhealthy, because the sugar can actually make you hungrier – and let’s not forget what it can do to our teeth. Bananas are the worse culprit, with some nutritionists arguing they have little more to offer than a sugar boost.
Not Shaving Every Day
Beards, would you believe, can actually be good for you (as well as your Tinder profile). That’s because not shaving every day may actually benefit your health, even if it’s because you can’t be bothered to get up five minutes earlier (lie-ins are good for you though, remember).
Having a beard gives you another layer to help protect against both infections and damaging UV rays, while shaving less can reduce the likelihood of acne flare-ups and pesky in-grown hairs. Beards also help guard the lungs against invading particles – so they’re good for fending off asthma symptoms and throat disease. So, put down the razor and embrace your inner Gandalf.