Are you hitting roadblocks while trying to reach your weight loss goals? We’re told over and over again that the key to weight loss is a healthy diet and regular exercise, but that’s not all there is to it. While those two habits are very much responsible for your overall weight, many people eat healthily and regularly exercise but still struggle to lose weight (which is both bewildering and frustrating). These three habits are surprisingly influential when it comes to weight loss, and might be the reason the scale refuses to budge:
1. Not drinking enough water
Water is extremely important for your overall health, but is also important when it comes to weight loss. Water helps support good digestion and helps you feel full. Many times, when you feel hungry, your body is actually just thirsty! Reaching for a snack instead of a glass of water could be standing in your way of reaching your weight-loss goal. A good way to tell if you’re hungry or just thirsty is to just drink a glass of water before reaching for a snack or eating a meal. If you don’t feel hungry any more after drinking, you’re good to go.
Staying hydrated can also help. According to a study researching the hydration habits of 10,000 adults, people who drank too little water daily had a 50 percent increase in their odds for obesity. Additionally, “those who were inadequately hydrated had higher body mass indexes (BMIs) than those who were adequately hydrated,” said study leader Dr. Tammy Chang, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Health experts suggest adults drink about eight cups of water a day, and more while exercising.
2. Sitting still for too long
We know exercise is essential to fighting obesity, but what about the health-hazardous practice of sitting still for too long? According to Mayo Clinic, health risks related to prolonged sitting aren’t even significantly offset by moderate to rigorous workouts.
In other words, pushing yourself on that gym elliptical doesn’t “make up” for sitting eight hours a day at your desk job (though it is still beneficial). If you’re sitting around for long periods of time during the day, you’re at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, weight gain and even death.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix. According to a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, standing up every half hour and doing an easy exercise for two minutes, like walking, will dramatically offset the negative effects of prolonged sitting. So the next time you’re at a desk job, watching TV or studying, set a timer to go off every thirty minutes. You don’t have to do anything that’ll get you sweaty or out of breath; a simple walk to the water fountain or around the house will do. That little two minute walk might be the key to losing those extra pounds.
3. Too few zzz’s
A study on sleep and weight found that people consume (on average) 300 additionally calories a day when they are sleep deprived versus when they have gotten adequate sleep — that’s because sleep loss affects your cortisol levels: a hormone that regulates appetite. Additionally, your body responds to sleep loss by increasing fat storage.
The correlation between sleep and weight gain can also shed some light as to why people tend to gain wait during certain life stages: college students and new parents are likely to miss out on much needed sleep, and may see weight gain as a result.
Health experts suggest adults get 7-8 hours of sleep every night to be adequately rested.
It sounds too simple to be true, but things as little as a glass of water, an easy two minute and a restful sleep session could make all the difference to reaching your weight goals.
McKenna Park is a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.