Reclaiming your body
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2019 - 12:00am

Summer is almost over. When the rainy season comes, it gets harder to go out and hit the gym or run or bike or even swim. Gradually, we’re thrown off our healthy habits, and slowly sit things out and eat more. How do we fight these blooming bad habits so excess weight doesn’t “snack” up on us?

Why are you eating? Most of the time, we eat not because we’re hungry. We eat for many other reasons. We eat because we’re stressed. We eat because we’re idle. We eat to pass the time. We eat because we don’t know what to do with our hands. We eat for all the wrong reasons. The first step in a positive direction is being aware of why you eat. Then, you can take the next step by controlling your intake. If you aren’t really physically hungry, just have a cup of tea, which wakes you up more smoothly than coffee. A pen and paper can occupy your hands, too, and be a gateway to something creative when you’re otherwise unoccupied.

Don’t beat yourself up. If you do slip up and eat too much, or eat something you weren’t supposed to, don’t get down on yourself. This will only discourage you further. You did it, accept that you enjoyed it, and that you’ll have to work to burn it off. It’s done. There’s no point magnifying it. Learn the lesson. Change the habit. Doing yourself more damage doesn’t benefit anyone. It was a misstep, nothing more.

Watch the liquids. The most unnoticed part of our diet is our liquid intake. We watch our food, but rarely what we drink. I used to drink frappuccino regularly, even had the whipped cream blended in. I belatedly realized how much sugar I was ingesting. And that casual glass of soft drink packs empty calories and sugar that causes your heart to beat faster and gives you an artificial boost. Iced teas, juice drinks (not real juice), and souped up coffees have so many hidden calories in them. But nothing beats water.

Burn more. The best thing you can do for yourself is add on some light physical activity to stimulate your body. A little more walking and taking the stairs for about 20 minutes keeps your metabolism going for a while. This will also help regulate your appetite, you’ll drink more and feel better.

Get a buddy. Doing things as challenging as keeping your weight down is hard enough on your own. Having a friend, colleague or coach to go through it with you can make a world of difference. There will always be days when you’re tired, depressed, don’t want to exercise or watch what you eat. And that’s okay. A partner can encourage, keep you honest and call your hang-ups. Sometimes, all you need is a little extra push.

Shrink your stomach. What most people don’t realize is that it isn’t just the outside of your stomach gets distended; the inside stretches, too. This creates more space that you feel a need to fill. If you gradually eat less and less, your stomach physically shrinks, and you don’t need to eat so much anymore. All you need is a little patience.

The meaning of being full. Do you get full because of the nutrients you’ve consumed, or because your belly is heavy from food? Notice that the natural sugar from fruits and vegetables gives you an immediate lift. When you eat fastfood, you only stop when you’ve stuffed yourself, which is unhealthy. Just listening to your body can help you notice what you can do better for yourself. 

Warm water. Hot tea and warm water are not just calming Asian after-meal habits. They also serve an important function. Drinking warm, non-flavored fluids after eating prevents the oil in your food from hardening in your digestive system and causing all sorts of problems. It also helps your digestive system stay relaxed to break down food more efficiently. Ironically, many of us drink icy cold liquids with our meals, which negate those benefits.

Small, bite-sized (pardon the pun) changes can help correct your course towards health. Other than that, you just need a little discipline, and celebrate your wins.

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