When it’s about hacks to keep you lean & toned, it sounds too good to be true. Keeping lean and toned is an important part of a healthy life. It isn’t always easy, but if you commit to it your body will work better for you. Staying fit wards off many diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. A plethora of information is available to aid people to keep in shape, and many trends emerge every year that highlight a new “best way” to eat or exercise.
You’ve probably heard about keto, paleo, Crossfit, HIIT, and there are so many more fads to follow. Studies show that eating fewer calories than you consume is the key to weight management, but without an active lifestyle, your body can still struggle to do some things like take the stairs or carry heavy boxes. Ensuring you are lean and toned enough to take on the many adventures you crave requires dedication to these five key life hacks:
1. You must sleep!
Your body needs time to rejuvenate after the stress you put on it during the day. Shortened sleep times can be detrimental to muscle building, fat busting, and your mental health. Further, missing out on sleep leads to a reduction of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel fed, which increases ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. It also decreases insulin sensitivity so your body will not be as capable of processing the carbs you eat throughout the day. In simpler words: Losing sleep makes you feel hungrier and prevents your body from regulating and managing the food you eat. Check out this chart by The Sleep Foundation to determine how much sleep is recommended for your age.
2. Reward yourself with non-food incentives
We all know the feeling. You’ve been so good this week with exercise and meal planning and you’re meeting the goals you set for yourself, but now it’s the weekend and you deserve a reward. That 1,300 calorie slice of cake at the restaurant certainly won’t derail all your work and you’ve got to have some sort of reward, right? This hack will require you to really dig deep on self-discipline at first, but eventually, it will get easier. When you’re doing well, look for non-food related incentives like a massage, a hot bath, a fuzzy pair of socks, an evening at the movies (skip the popcorn!), or buy yourself some flowers for your table.
3. Avoid food peer pressure
The pressure to eat what your friends and family eat is so ingrained in our lives that we don’t even realize what’s happening. When you’re out at a restaurant, and everyone is drinking, it is natural to order one too. Or if everyone orders dessert, we often think we’ll partake this one time too. If you’re normally defending your food choices to your friends and family, it may be time to look at other options for spending time together. Instead of going to eat, go bowling. Take your best friend for a pedicure and not out for drinks. Making these small changes will not only help you avoid being pressured into breaking your new habits, but it will help you stay active.
4. Water is life
This is less of a life hack and more of a life fact. If you don’t already know the amazing health benefits of H2O hydration, put down the soda and listen up. There are so many benefits to drinking water, I could write all day. Here are just a few:
- Increases Brain Power and Provides Energy
- Flush Out Toxins
- Improves Your Complexion
- Boosts Immune System
- Prevents Headaches
- Prevents Cramps and Sprains
In fact, dehydration (losing just 2% of your body’s water content) can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. So, if you are focusing on your health and want to stay lean and toned, remember: Water is life and without it, our bodies suffer.
5. HIIT workout
Having a good cardio and weight training schedule is a key part of staying toned, but science has also shown that our bodies benefit from HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training). Adding this intense cardio training to your exercise program for two non-consecutive days will boost your metabolism and burns fat in less time. A HIIT workout consists of high-intensity exercise like sprinting up a hill or doing jumping jacks and burpees, for 10-30 seconds then doing a similar workout like walking or planks for the same amount of time. This is repeated for 15-20 minutes. Read more about why HIIT works.