DESIGN YOUR BEST BODY

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Design your best body

Design your best body – from the inside out

It is no secret that our diet, exercise and lifestyle choices play a significant role in our overall health. And with summer just around the corner, and bikini-season looming, it is a great time to take your health to the next level. Here are five tips to achieving your “best body”, which will not only have you looking great on the outside, but feeling good on the inside.

Make more time for yourself

Work deadlines, long commutes, bills – these are just a few of the things that contribute to the stress we experience on a daily basis. In the midst of this, we attempt to maintain some form of a social life in order to achieve a work/life balance. We are constantly switched on, and even when we do “switch off”, we are generally still active (most likely on social media). Making time to properly relax is important as excess stress leads to the production of a hormone known as cortisol. Excess cortisol can not only promote weight gain, but some studies have shown that this hormone promotes fat storage, particularly around the abdomen. So allocate some “me” time, even if it’s for half an hour once a week, to do something calming – take a yoga class, go for a walk, read a book and recharge your batteries!

Get Enough Z’s

Research has shown that on average, we require 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night. And according to science, not getting enough sleep does more than just increase your need for that second (or third) cup of coffee – it directly affects the two hormones responsible for the regulation of your appetite – ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin triggers your hunger, letting you know when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, your ghrelin levels are elevated. Leptin, the hormone that tells you when you are full, is lower when you are sleep-deprived. The combination of these two irregularities means you are more likely to eat in excess, resulting in weight gain.

Stay hydrated

Considering that the human body is made up of approximately 60% water, it is not rocket science that staying hydrated is an important part of staying healthy. When we are not adequately hydrated, our bodies tend to retain water for survival, which in turn can cause bloating. Dehydration can also lead to an increase in appetite and subsequent weight gain, and can impair brain function, making it harder for us to concentrate. It is recommended that we drink 2-3 litres of water per day, which sounds like a big feat. However, a great way to hit your daily goal is to infuse your water with lemon juice, cucumber or even some fresh berries, which makes it a little more interesting to drink!

Get your diet in check

Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet not only keeps your insides healthy, it keeps your outside looking great too! It is important to eat lean sources of protein such as white fish, chicken, turkey, beef, venison and eggs, as well as vegetarian protein sources from legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils. Protein is an essential part of our diets as it helps our body’s to build and repair tissue, and is an important building block of our muscles, bones, blood and skin.

Carbohydrates that are metabolised slowly by the body, known as complex carbohydrates, are an important part of weight loss and preventing weight gain for many reasons. Firstly, they give a sustained energy release, keeping us energised and fuller for longer. They also prevent a spike in our blood insulin levels, which if elevated, will increase the storage of fat in fat cells. Complex carbohydrates include brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, polenta, whole wheat pasta, sweet potato and quinoa.

Fats are also an important component of a well-balanced diet and come in many forms. There are the healthy types, known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, present in foods such as avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, tuna and mackerel. And then, there are saturated fats, which despite the bad wrap that they get, are required in small amounts in our diets too. However, it is important to choose wisely! Avoid processed meats and fried foods and instead choose grass-fed meats and dairy products from grass-fed cows. Saturated fats, such as coconut oil, are also excellent for high-heat cooking as they are highly resistant to heat-induced damage.

Another benefit of eating the above nutrient-dense foods within these three macronutrients is that without even trying, you are also providing your body with the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) it needs to maintain optimum health, strong bones, healthy skin and a strong immune system.

Workout

Sign up for a gym class, walk to work, or take the stairs – in other words, just get moving! Exercise releases endorphins, a neurotransmitter responsible for relieving stress and enhancing pleasure. Regular exercise also has positive effects on your metabolism, cardiovascular health and is vital in the prevention of chronic disease. A good exercise regime paired with a healthy diet is also the key to achieving your best body – no surprises there!

So, it really is as simple as getting more rest, drinking more (water that is), eating well and staying active. It is especially important to remember the fundamental role that maintaining a healthy diet plays in not just how you look on the outside, but how well your body is functioning on the inside. If you fill a car that runs on diesel with unleaded fuel, it will cause damage to the engine. It may not cause much damage if you do it once or twice, but the more it is pumped through the fuel system, the more damage it will do. Our bodies behave in the same way and in order to function well, require nutrient-dense, healthy foods on a regular basis. It is also important to have a positive mind-set and to remember that achieving your best body isn’t about looking better than the next person, but rather, striving to be the best version of yourself.