This time last year, the world began to shut down. Gyms emptied, offices closed, and our favorite restaurants became “take out” only. Our routines turned upside down, and it became hard to keep track of the days. A population that spent so much time on the go was now confined to their homes. The perfect equation of stress, desire for comfort, and 24/7 access to our kitchens led to the infamous “Quarantine 15."
Now fast forward a year later, it’s safe to say many of us may have experienced some unwanted changes in our bodies. Better times are on the horizon, which means it’s time to move forward and forgive ourselves for whatever we did or did not do during the global pandemic. If you’re still struggling with getting back on track, we have some tips to help:
By diet, we mean what we are eating daily. A healthy diet has you looking good on the outside and feeling good on the inside. At N4L, we consider food as medicine. A balanced diet consisting of vitamins and minerals from plants equips the body to fight infection and disease. A meal consisting of all three macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein, and fat, will help you find that balance and aid in healthy weight management. N4L’s meals are designed with this in mind. They are packed with whole grains, healthy fats, and high-quality protein.
Included in a well-balanced diet is our water intake. Water has been referred to as the “elixir of life.” While that may seem dramatic, water is that important. In addition to its countless functions in the body, water has been shown to aid in weight loss. In most cases, mild dehydration is mistaken for hunger by the brain. Drinking water will avoid dehydration and naturally suppress those false senses of hunger. In general, the more hydrated you are, the more optimally your body performs.2 To stay on track and meet your goals, you have to stay feeling good. The food we eat and the amount of water we drink play a large role in that.
N4L is backed by the science of the Longevity Diet and inspired by the Centenarian Hot Spots of the world. The Centenarian Hot Spots are geographic areas where some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world live. While their diets lay the foundation for their longevity, it’s their lifestyle habits that provide the framework. In these Centenarian Hot Spots, the residents lead active lives. ‘Being active’ does not have to mean spending an hour in the gym. Physical activity includes going for a walk, a hike, or playing in the yard with your kids. A study of physical activity and mortality found that any activity, no matter how small, can reduce mortality risks.2 The most notable changes were seen when people went from being almost completely sedentary to standing and moving for even an extra hour each day.
In addition to being active, being social is another contributing factor to living a long and happy life. People who lack social connections have 50% higher odds of dying prematurely than those who are more connected.3 Isolation has been shown to have a greater effect on high blood pressure than having diabetes in old age.
With spring approaching, the ability to be outside may allow you to participate in socially distant walks. Have loved ones that live in a different state? Participate in a virtual challenge - whoever gets the most steps in wins! Take the time to enjoy a meal with loved ones. Set up a Zoom book club. Anything to satisfy that social interaction is guaranteed to lift your spirits.
Take the time to check in with yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and the two directly affect one another. We all have had added stresses this year. Under stressful conditions, our body releases cortisol, the body’s “stress hormone." Consistently elevated levels of cortisol can lead to weight gain. Cortisol has an effect on appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods.4 There is nothing like a global pandemic to raise your cortisol levels. If your stress levels are affecting your motivation, check out our Staying Motivated blog post for tips on how to manage this.
Sleep is something we all know we need, yet most of us still find ourselves not getting enough. Our sleep at night, whether we realize it or not, affects our food choices for the following day. Current research states there is a positive relationship between good sleep and healthy body weight.5 A lack of sleep affects appetite and food preferences. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours a night.
A consistent sleep schedule is also crucial for a stable circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock. When the circadian rhythm is thrown off, the body’s systems don’t function to the best of their ability.
A lack of sleep can also affect our metabolism and weight through the regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol.7 To put it simply, sleep must be a priority. Put the phone away before bedtime. Set up a nighttime routine that will help you wind down - a cup of decaf tea, a book, a meditation, anything to get your body relaxed and know that it’s time for bed. If we do not give our bodies the rest it deserves, then we cannot expect our bodies to show up for us.
At the end of the day, we know all of these things are easier said than done. N4L believes in lifelong, sustainable change. While you may be carrying the Quarantine 15, or simply are looking for a way to jumpstart the spring, N4L is here for you! Let N4L take care of your diet, and allow you to focus on the other areas of health that require your attention. N4L can be an asset in promoting lifestyle change, not a fad diet.
1. Nutrition and immunity. Harvard School of Public Health website. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/. Accessed March 7, 2021.
2.Yes, drinking more water may help you lose weight. Johns Hopkins University Hub website. https://hub.jhu.edu/at-work/2020/01/15/focus-on-wellness-drinking-more-water/. Published January 15, 2020. Accessed March 10, 2021.
3. For a longer life, get moving. even a little. The New York Times website. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/28/well/move/for-a-longer-life-get-moving-even-a-little.html. Published September 3, 2019. Accessed March 7, 2021.
4.Friends and family may help Italians live healthier and longer. CNN website. https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/09/health/social-connections-health-benefits-intl/index.html. Published May 9, 2019. Accessed March 7, 2021.
5.Cortisol - its role in stress, inflammation, and indications for diet therapy. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml. Accessed March 9, 2021.
6.Why is sleep so important to weight loss? Sleep Foundation website. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/weight-loss-and-sleep. Published October 9, 2020. Accessed March 7, 2021.
7.How many hours of sleep are enough? Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898. Accessed March 7, 2021.
8.What is circadian rhythm? Sleep Foundation website. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm. Published September 25, 2020. Accessed March 9, 2021.