3 Ways to Improve Your Health for Free

3 ways to improve your health for free

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Staying healthy when you’re stuck at home isn’t the easiest of tasks…

For starters it’s likely you’re in much closer proximity to your fridge now then you usually are during the working day.

And that pack of biscuits in the cupboard will probably start calling your name every time you put the kettle on throughout the day.

(At least the ones in my house seem to be doing that!)

You’re motivation to keep active may be starting to waiver a little too as your normal routine of going to the gym or attending classes isn’t available to you right now.

But even with these factors taken into account you can still make amazing levels of progress working on ways to improve your health and wellbeing from the comfort of your own home.

The art of healthy living is available to everyone, and it’s more important to take control of this art now than ever before.

ways to improve your health for free

Building a healthy lifestyle in a time of crisis is obviously going to be a little tougher than in normal times. But it certainly isn’t impossible.

With that in mind I wanted to write this article as a way of providing some solid foundations for you to start working from.

After all, I’ve been refining my craft in health and wellbeing for a fair few years now…

I’ll be exploring some simple habits you can implement right now to improve your health.

Best of all, these actions will not cost you a single penny.

In fact, the habits I’m about to describe below might even save you a little money.

You can think of this as a thrifty guide to boosting your health.

It’s also a good self-improvement project to work on whilst you’re at home more.

how to improve your health
Image credit – http://rawpixel.com

Lets make a start.

1. Setting a hydration target

Coming in at number one on my list of habits to boost your health is having a daily hydration target.

If you’re wondering why being hydrated is important here are a few reasons.

Drinking more water can improve your diet.

Studies have shown that people who drink more water throughout the day tend to have healthier diets too.

Now this might seem like a loose link, but what’s actually happening here is that drinking water is having a knock on effect further into your lifestyle.

It can be classed as what we call a keystone habit.

Keystone habits have the ability to inform and impact every other habit in your life.

You can read more about keystone habits in the article “How to build healthy habits“.

Drinking water can boost your metabolism.

The authors of one study showed that when participants drank 500ml of water before eating a meal they not only reduced the amount of food they consumed in one sitting, some of the study participants also saw their metabolism increase by up to 30%.

Being well hydrated can improve your mood.

This fact comes from research that suggests your mood can be negatively influenced when dehydrated by just 1% of your bodyweight.

Now, it’s not just that being in a good mood is good for you in general, but from a nutritional perspective your mood can influence your food choices too.

Think about your food choices when you’re in a normal, stable mood compared to when you’re angry, upset, anxious or frustrated.

The chances are that you’ll navigate towards highly palatable foods in times of instability, those highly palatable foods are jam packed with salt, sugar and fat which gives you a big hit of calories in one go…

This is not what you want to happen if you’re focusing on improving your health.

To learn more about the role of hydration check out this article “The Complete Guide to Hydration“.

Now moving onto number two on the list of ways to improve your health for free…

2. Making a weekly meal plan

One of the habits I’ve personally found has had a huge impact on my day-to-day nutrition has been to follow a meal plan.

Here are a few of the benefits as I see them…

Meal plans provide structure to your food intake.

As I mentioned a little earlier on in this article, you are likely in close proximity to your fridge now you’re stuck at home.

This can often lead to more casual grazing throughout the day compared to your normal eating patterns when at work or going about your normal daily activities.

That’s why I believe having a meal plan helps, it gives you a more solid structure to your eating habits during the day….and having set meals to follow means you’re less likely to buy unnecessary items when you go shopping.

Which brings me to the next benefit of a meal plan.

Meal planning saves money.

Since I’ve started using a meal plan consistently I’m saving around £30-50 weekly on my food shopping bill.

This comes down to the simple fact that I’m creating a list based on the meals I’m going to be cooking for the week ahead and then making sure when I shop I’m only buying the items needed for the set recipes.

I no longer wonder around the supermarket aimlessly adding items to my trolley and racking up my food bill.

It also means I’m staying on top of my cupboard essentials too, now I know exactly what I have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards each week.

*Note – I still eat snacks throughout the day but I also plan what those snacks are going to be, this stops me buying too much processed rubbish that I can graze on in the evenings.

To read more about the role of meal plans check out this article “The complete guide to healthy meal prep“.

Meal planning helps you reach your goals quicker.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build more lean muscle or just keep your weight as it is right now it’s important you know how much you’re eating on a daily basis.

Having a meal plan that is set-up to your calorie targets is one of the simplest ways of doing this.

As we find ourselves in a time of great stress the inclination to indulge on more palatable foods is going to be higher, as I mentioned in the above point about how your mood can influence eating habits.

This is why getting to grips with how much food and drink you’re putting into your body is important, if you want to continue making progress towards your bodyweight goals.

To learn more about the role of calorie intake check out this article I wrote a few months back “Body Composition Vs The Scale“.

The final point to focus on right now is another simple and actionable habit that has a long reaching impact on your health…

3. Focus on Sleep

Sleep is the best meditation

Dalai Lama

And right now we could all probably benefit from some meditation time, some quiet and peace in our minds.

Outside of the more holistic advantages to sleep here are some important reasons to focus on your time in bed and the impact on your nutritional health.

Poor sleep spikes your stress levels

Although stress is an entirely natural process for the body there’s a wealth of evidence that shows prolonged periods of stress can be damaging to your health.

And not getting enough sleep can hike up your production of stress hormones, in particular cortisol.

When it comes to the nutritional impact of increased stress due to poor sleep the main factor here is that higher levels of cortisol are linked to increased hunger.

Further to that prolonged elevation of cortisol is shown to drive fat storage around the abdominal area.

This is not a good thing for your long-term health.

Sleep controls your hunger hormones

Two of the main hormones involved in your hunger response throughout the day are;

Ghrelin, which drives your hunger.

Leptin, which suppresses your hunger.

Unfortunately for those of you not getting enough quality sleep each night your Ghrelin production is ramped up, which in turn will make you feel hungry…

At the same time your Leptin production is brought down, meaning your ability to feel satisfied whilst eating is reduced.

This is a dangerous combination of events for anyone that is trying to maintain or lose weight.

The image below shows a slide from my “Long-Term Weight-Loss Course” where we cover this topic and many more over a 6-week period as you build you educational footing to move away from diets for good.

sleep and hunger hormone response

Poor sleep influences your blood sugar levels

Not getting enough sleep each night can down-regulate the working ability of your hormone insulin.

As insulin becomes less able to do its normal job of transporting blood sugars around the body your body responds by producing more insulin to get the job done…

However, prolonged periods of elevated insulin have been shown to create what is known as a lipogenic (fat storage) environment in the body.

So poor sleep can not only drive up your desire to eat more food but also reduce your ability to handle the extra food you eat too.

To learn more about the role of sleep in your health check out this article “The Digestible Guide to Sleep“.

What next?

Here’s what I suggest you do to make a start implementing the 3 key concepts above…

Step 1

To get your hydration intake off to the best possible start each day it’s a good idea to make water your first drink of the day…

So try to have a small glass of water whilst you’re waiting for the coffee machine to fire into action or for the kettle to boil.

It might seem like a small idea, but this is where the real magic is.

Small wins at the start of your day lead to big results in time.

Step 2

Check out the recipes on this blog and start making your meal plan.

To do that go the “Eat Well” section on the blog.

Also, try setting up a free account on MyFitnessPal where you can start tracking your food intake on a daily basis.

Using the search function on MyFitnessPal and typing in “365 Coaching” will bring up all the recipes from this blog with their calorie and macronutrient values.

This makes logging your daily food intake quick and easy to do.

Step 3

Set yourself a consistent bed time each day and stick to it.

You can track your sleep each night with the free app SleepScore.

Just because you don’t need to get up as early and travel to work or to appointments doesn’t mean you should let your sleep patterns suffer.

Being consistent with sleep is the key to waking up feeling good each morning.

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