Week 1: What affects weight loss?

I finally did it.  I made the decision to pursue a healthier lifestyle.  I’m going to get focused, eat right and stay active.

So how do I do that exactly?

Truth be told, I have no idea.  I’ve never done this before!  But that’s why this blog exists: to chronicle the misadventures of a health and wellness beginner.

The way I figure, the first thing I have to do is research what affects overall fitness, both positively and negatively.  In doing so I found four main things that impact weight levels.

1. Food

It is a widely known fact that the food we eat affects the health of our body.  What I didn’t know is there is more to healthy eating than eating healthy food.  Other factors include portion size, calorie intake and nutritional content.  For example, a single portion of diet soda will equal zero calories, but it will also have zero nutrition content and lack the hydration benefits of water.

To address this issue, I found an article at WebMD that helps explain how to change eating habits, as well as a healthy beverage slideshow and a weight loss without dieting slideshow.

2. Sleep

The less sleep you get, the more you weigh, according to a 2006 presentation at the American Thoracic Society International Conference.  Their study of 70,000 middle-aged women found that those “who slept five hours per night were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain (an increase of 33 pounds or more).”  Another study found that sleep disorders like sleep apnea could also affect weight gain.

I don’t get a lot of sleep, so this could spell bad news for me.  To help me out I found 10 tips for better sleep from the Mayo Clinic as well as insomnia sleep tips from sleeptips.org.

3. Stress

Studies show that the more stress is in a person’s life, the more they will weigh, especially if they are already overweight, according to a July 2009 article by Medical News Today.  The study links stress related to jobs, finances, relationships, depression and more to conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk for cancer.

One way to combat stress is to manage time wisely.  Since I have a busy schedule, this is something I’m going to have to get good at.  A second way is to address stress biologically by controlling healthy levels of cortisol.

4. Exercise

I know I said this before, but I hate to exercise.  I don’t have a lot of time to devote to it, and I don’t have the energy to keep it up.  Unfortunately for me Jillian Michaels has addressed these and other excuses for not being fit.  Even though I know I’m just making excuses, I still have a hard time getting motivated to exercise.

So I found a motivation makeover quiz from Self.com.  As it turns out, I’m motivated by deadlines.

With this information at hand, I’m giving myself a 20-week time frame in which to develop and improve my healthy lifestyle habits.  In other words, by the time I graduate Sinclair Community College, I hope to achieve my goals.  Now all I’ve got to do is set them.

Next week: Setting realistic goals

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