Got writer’s block? Got a little extra weight? Many good habits benefit the mind as well as the body. Here are five that will help you think more clearly and shed some pounds at the same time.
1. Get more sleep. Most adults need six to eight hours or more of sleep for optimal brain function. Getting enough sleep makes concentration and clear thinking easier. When we don’t get enough sleep we tend to get distracted easily, have a hard time getting motivated, and are more likely to crave junk food. Get to bed early before you get hungry and feel the need to snack, and avoid watching television just before going to bed, as it can make falling asleep more difficult.
2. Exercise at least two or three times a week. Regular exercise benefits the mind and body in many ways. It gives the mind a break and provides oxygen to the brain to facilitate clear thinking. It helps elevate mood and combat depression. And it burns calories, both directly, and over the long term by boosting metabolism. Choose ways of exercising that you can enjoy (or at least not hate), so you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Even better, exercise with a friend.
3. Eat fewer processed foods. Processed foods are foods that have been altered beyond recognition. If you can’t tell what the ingredients are in a food item just by looking at it, it’s processed. In general, processed foods tend to digest quickly, causing a rush and then a dip in blood sugar. Blood sugar is what fuels your brain. To think clearly and creatively, you need a constant supply. Fluctuations in blood sugar can also prompt cravings for fattening snacks. Unprocessed foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, and nuts digest more gradually, allowing blood sugar levels to remain more stable so you can think better and longer without being hampered by cravings or writer’s block. To start out your day, try a yogurt parfait with fruit and granola or chopped nuts, a bowl of cracked wheat cereal or steel-cut oatmeal, or eggs with salsa or avocado. Stock your refrigerator with weight loss foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, nuts, and whole grains.
4. Take a brisk walk. When you have writer’s block, are getting easily distracted, or feel like your mental wheels are spinning, it’s time to give your brain a break. Not only will a 15-minute brisk walk help clear your mind and reset your thinking, it has also been shown in scientific studies to calm junk food cravings. If you can’t get outside to walk, do a few body-weight exercises inside, or at least get up and walk around the room.
5. Meditate daily. Meditation-based therapy has been used successfully in the treatment of chronic pain, stress, anxiety, and depression. Stress and anxiety not only impair thinking, they can prompt us to turn to food to make ourselves feel better. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and paying attention to your breathing. Try to make it a daily habit. For a meditation session to be most beneficial, it should last at least 12 minutes.
Don’t try to develop all of your healthy mind and body habits at once. Start with one or two of the easiest ones and work on those for two or three weeks. Once you see the rewards, you’ll be motivated to tackle the habits that require more effort.
Stan Spencer, PhD, is a biological consultant, former research scientist, and author of The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss: Find Your Easiest Path to Naturally Thin (Fine Life Books, 2013). He lives in southern California and blogs on natural weight loss techniques at fatlossscience.org.
This book isn’t about the latest celebrity diet, wonder food, or miracle supplement. It’s about creating a personalized weight loss plan—your own easiest path to naturally thin. While you can lose weight with almost any diet, keeping the weight off is much more difficult, requiring permanent changes in eating and exercise habits. This book provides a science-based approach for making those changes in a way that works best for you, without wasting time, money, or effort.
Dr. Spencer explains why we gain weight and why the fat lost by dieting almost always comes back. He then presents an array of practical weight loss tools for controlling emotional eating, calming cravings, boosting metabolism, and improving nutrition and exercise. In the final chapter he has you create a natural weight loss plan based on your unique set of needs, abilities, and preferences. Simple recipes are provided for weight loss foods that reduce cravings and prolong satisfaction.
What this book offers is a solid approach to weight loss—self-directed, gradual, and lasting—in contrast to the quick but fleeting weight loss offered by most one-size-fits-all diet plans.
Genre – Non-fiction
Rating – G