8 small changes = 8 BIG differences

Sometimes it seems near impossible to take those first few steps to making changes in your life. What if I fail? What if I don’t like it? What if it doesn’t work for me? These are just some of the questions that act as obstacles for reaching our goals. It’s important to remember though, when it comes to making lifestyle changes you don’t need a complete overhaul. Small, committed changes make a big difference, and have a domino effect on other health habits.

So, if you’re ready to take the first step, but not sure how to do it, here are 8 small, but powerful, changes you can make without too much trouble at all.

1. Give yourself a chance to feel full before you grab seconds. There’s around a 20 minute time lapse between eating and food reaching your stomach/your brain registering that you’re full. So, at meal times, finish your plate of food and wait a while. You’ll more than likely find that you’re satiated and don’t need anything else to eat, thus saving yourself a lot of unnecessary calories.

2. Drink more water, it’s a good way to lose weight. In one study, overweight dieters who drank a glass of water before meals ended up eating less and lost on average 2kg more than a group of dieters who didn’t increase their water intake. As an added bonus, one year on, the water-drinkers had also maintained their weight loss.

3. Curl up with a book, not your computer. Why? The light from your computer (or iPad/mobile phone) suppresses the release of melatonin, that essential sleep hormone. Without it, you stay relatively alert, so your brain isn’t “ready” for sleep. So, curl up under the covers with a good book and you’re more likely to sleep better.

4. Take a daily dose of B vitamins. They can help reduce anaemia, memory loss, fatigue, weakness and digestive problems. B vitamins also help with the health of red blood cells, nerves, the heart and brain. Foods that are naturally rich in B vitamins include: fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products, but you can also take them as a supplement. Speak to your Dis-Chem pharmacist about a good quality brand to suit your needs.

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5. Eat your fruit, don’t drink them. Juicing can destroy a number of the beneficial compounds and antioxidants found in fresh fruit, and it removes nearly all natural fibre, which is crucial for slowing down the absorption of fructose and keeping GI levels low. This could also explain why juice increases a person’s risk of diabetes, and why a high consumption of fruit juice has also been linked to childhood obesity.

6. Stay motivated while exercising. It can be difficult, especially if you’re stuck in an exercise “rut” or tend to work out alone. Listening to music, especially upbeat music, helps keep your energy levels up. In fact, studies show that when music beats more or less correspond to a person’s heart rate during exercise, motivation levels improve dramatically. So, put together a play list of your favourite tracks and get moving!

7. Improve your memory, by using your “other” hand. A simple way to improve your memory is to brush your teeth with your “other” hand. Using your non-dominant hand to do simple chores can improve your mood and your memory, simply by stimulating the growth of neurons linked to long-term memory and mood.

8. Add 4 years to your life. Simply by watching less TV you can add around 4 years to your life. Research shows that for every hour of TV watched after the age of 25, a person’s life expectancy is reduced by 20 minutes.

So there you have it – simple, easy-to-implement ways to turn your life around – and you can start right now!

Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com