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Get your gut up to speed

It’s no secret that the most wonderful time of the year is also the most overindulgent.

Packing on a couple extra pounds over the winter isn’t a huge deal, but odds are you’re already thinking about how you’ll achieve that awesome beach bod this summer.

As it turns out, there’s no perfect body, and the most effective method for looking and feeling good is consistently nurturing your physical and mental health. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some quick tips!

<who> Photo Credit: Canva

1. Get your gut up to speed

Did you know that your gut is full of bacteria?

Essentially, your gut is home to tons of hardworking bacteria that help your body do fun stuff like digest food, regulate when you feel hungry, support immune function, and keep everything running smoothly, in return for a place to live and eat!

It’s important to note that according to recent studies, there is a delicate balance of more than 160 species of good and bad gut bacteria inside you. And upsetting this balance can lead to more than just a couple extra pounds, according to a study on gut flora and disease, it might actually increase your risk of IBS, colon cancer and many other pathological conditions!

If you’re looking to lose weight and maintain overall health, work from scientists at the Washington University School Of Medicine suggests you should work towards achieving healthy biodiversity of those little guys by avoiding repetitive meals (diversify your diet) and focusing in on foods that keep your microbiota in balance!

Science-backed foods to increase gut include: high-fibre options such as beans, oats and fruits, probiotic foods like kefir, kombucha and yogurt, prebiotic foods like bananas, onions, and garlic and anti-inflammatory foods like walnuts, flax seeds and broccoli!

The bottom line is:

To get your gut into shape try to eat a wide variety of different foods including stuff that’s fermented or high in fibre. My favourite go-tos are kimchi, kombucha, blueberries, and bananas!

<who> Photo Credit: Pexel

2. Give a new sport a go

Did you know that according to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, only 27% of Canadian adults participated in sports from 2019-2021 as compared to 75% of children and youth? And to make matters more dire, only 19% of those adults were women.

Staying active has many health benefits for both body and mind, but you already know that.

So what’s holding you back?

For many people, there are aspects of participating in a sport that may seem off-putting, but when you find something you really enjoy, the benefits will surely outweigh the risk (and costs).

If you’re worried about the financial aspect of sport then you should know that many cities in BC have fun and affordable adult sports leagues, and tons of used equipment on marketplace!

Don’t want to dip into precious time reserved for yourself or your family?

Take the family with you! You could go for a bike ride up to Knox or even pack the car and head to the pool for a swim! Your kids will thank you for the fun memories when they’re older.

If you don’t have any little rascals, consider how much more rewarding “me time” will feel if you spend it bettering your health rather than sitting on the couch (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Some examples of sports you could could give a go include:

Whether you’re a gym person or you need the “game” aspect of a sport to keep you interested, sweating every day can create a positive ripple effect in your life and help you lose a couple pounds!

The bottom line is:

Sports aren’t just for your kids, and there’s plenty of beginner friendly and cost effective options to get a healthy sweat on. The hardest part is starting, so don’t wait!

<who> Photo Credit: Canva

3. Try Intermittent Fasting

How many times have you grabbed a snack to curb boredom or stress when you weren’t really hungry?

Intermittent fasting involves setting a scheduled time aside to eat, ultimately helping you consume less calories by restricting when you're eating!

Some of the most popular routines are a 16:8 diet, meaning you eat for eight hours of the day, and you avoid consuming more than 50 calories during the other 16 hours of your day.

This is pretty approachable for most people who sleep between six to eight hours every day, especially those grappling with frequent trips to the fridge before bed.

Whilst some people tout that you can eat whatever you want during your eating window, I suggest sticking to foods that’ll make your gut happy.

Intermittent fasting has the potential to benefit you in lots of ways outside of just weight loss, helping you avoid that sluggish feeling that comes with consistent snacking, and scientists from University of California's Moores Cancer Center think it may even be an effective disease prevention strategy!

The bottom line is:

Intermittent fasting is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals, and when combined with the other tips in this list it could do wonders for your mind and body! But, as this may require a big lifestyle change, make sure you check in with your doctor because it’s not for everyone!

<who> Photo Credit: Canva

4. Change your perspective

Losing weight isn’t just about calorie deficits, healthy eating and hitting the gym.

No matter what you’re trying to achieve in this life, you are the only person on earth who can get you there.

Having a healthy relationship with your mind, knowing how to set clear goals, and keep track of them, is the most valuable part of any weight-loss journey!

Psychologists agree, changing your behaviour requires both motivation and skill, practiced over an extended period. And for most people that's just as hard as it sounds.

So here’s some tips to keep you on the right track:

  • Write it down! Keeping a list or purchase a premade goal-setting journal, that breaks things down into specific steps can keep your goals at the forefront

  • According to research from Washington University's School of Medicine, you should aim for goals that are positively framed like “eating more vegetables” or “working out for 30 minutes every day” rather than avoidance goals like “stop eating french fries” or “spend less time on the couch”

  • Don’t give up. Even if you have a couple of cheat days or experience setbacks, keep working towards your goals, and don’t let a lack of immediate results discourage you!

The bottom line is:

Set clearly defined goals, aim to increase positive behavior rather than decreasing negative behavior, be kind to yourself and don’t give up!

I hope this list sparks motivation and interest in pursuing a healthier lifestyle in 2023 and onward!

Please consult your doctor before committing to any serious or dramatic changes to your diet, exercise routine or other lifestyle choices as every body and mind is different.

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