Health and Fitness

I Became A Healthier Person (Lost 20kgs In The Process) Because Of These Habits

#1 — I snack almost everyday.

I kid you not, my husband actually went to Amazon and searched “Haribo 1kg” once. (He couldn’t find any good deals so we didn’t buy in the end).

That’s how much I love Haribo (and how much my dude loves me).

At this point in life, I can pretty much give up every other snacks or food — except gummy.

Nope. No one is taking that one away from me.

I love my snacks.

When I say snacks, I don’t mean the healthy almond nuts and what-have-you. I’m not talking about the snacks your mind conjure up when you hear ‘yoga teacher’ (a good friend once looked into my shopping basket and said, “I can’t believe this is the grocery of a yoga teacher”. Well, yoga teachers are humans too).

It’s one of the things people find the hardest to give up.

The snacks.

And that’s just one of the things related to the habits I’ve picked up over the years, habits that have transformed me into a healthier person (I lost 20kgs in the process — without unhealthy diets).

I’m going to share with you the top 3 habits that have transformed me into a healthy fitness teacher.

#1 — I snack. Almost everyday.

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Photo by Chan on Unsplash

That’s right, ladies. I snack.

Chips, chocolate, ice cream, gummy, sweets. This lady cannot live without her snacks.

I can see all the healthy, fit people’s eyes bulging upon reading that last sentence.

Let me explain.

The snacks had been the main reason I had gained unhealthy weight that led to sluggishness in the first place.

It was my first winter in the UK.

Well, it was my first few months in the UK really.

So many awesome snacks! Wonderful snacks I’ve never laid eyes upon! Cinnamon Crunch Cereal?? What kind of sorcery is this?!

I wanted to try ’em all.

And I did.

Yes, I once nearly finished a big box of Cinnamon Crunch Cereal as I was watching a movie. Nope, no milk. Just the crunchy delicious cinnamon and sugar coated pieces.

Don’t even get me started on the other snacks.

Buttery Scottish Walkers shortbread, Cadbury’s creamy milky chocolate fingers, salty chips that come in flavours not available in my country.

Suffice to say, I snacked myself to coma those first few months.

I’m not proud of it, but I wouldn’t change a thing because in the end, I learned a valuable lesson from it.

I still snack.

It’s not something I’m willing to give up.

I found that it’s not so much about snacks, it’s about how much and how often you snack.

I snack almost everyday. Has been for a while now.

It helps me cope with my stress (I don’t smoke and drink alcohol).

Here’s the game changing snacking habit I’ve picked up:

I portion my snacks and only snack at certain hour(s).

I allow myself only so much snacks in a day.

My problem hasn’t been the snacking. It’s how much I snack in a day.

I used to eat a few packets of chips plus a few packets of biscuits plus sweets daily.

No, it’s not about the weight, or God forbid, about being skinny.

It’s about having 2 grandfathers with diabetes (both had to take insulin until the day they died).

I don’t want to stop snacking. Others have their cigarettes and their wines/beers/whatever alcohol people consume these days. I have my snacks.

So instead of trying to quit snacking altogether (and suffer from the craving — because we all know, the more we tell ourself we can’t eat certain things, the more we crave for it), do this instead:

Set a snack time and a limit to your snacking.

Here’s mine: I can only eat one type of snack (even better if you happen to love healthy snacks like almonds, etc) per day in moderation (a handful or one little bowl). My snack time is between 3 to 4PM (I tend to get peckish at this hour).

My exception to the rule: movie nights, nights out, menstruation.

#2 — I exercise before my first meal of the day.

I had been lucky to have a housemate who majored in Biomedical Science back in my university days.

She taught me this one valuable lesson and it has continued to benefit me ever since.

Try to exercise or work out before the first meal of the day.

I generally finish my workout in the morning, not always first thing, but always before my first meal.

I won’t classify my daily diet (eating habit, not crazy weight-loss fad) as intermittent fasting but my first meal of the day tend to be around noon.

It gives me ample time to squeeze in a workout.

Wake up — coffee — journaling — writing — workout — food. Or workout before writing.

That’s how my usual normal day goes.

Here’s what a scientific study from University of Bath says about exercising before eating:

The six-week study, which involved thirty men classified as obese or overweight and compared results from two intervention groups (who ate breakfast before / after exercise) and a control group (who made no lifestyle changes), found that people who performed exercise before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after breakfast.

They found that increased fat use is mainly due to lower insulin levels during exercise when people have fasted overnight, which means that they can use more of the fat from their fat tissue and the fat within their muscles as a fuel.

I love exercising before eating. I feel lighter and nimbler.

I’ve compared exercising before and after eating (with a minimum of one hour gap between the eating and the exercising, of course).

I find it a little harder to move and concentrate inwards when I have food in my belly.

I suspect it’s because my body has to work twice as hard. As I’m exercising and burning calories, my body also has to digest and break down the food I’ve eaten.

I might be wrong. I’m not a doctor (Oh. My. God. I just quote Trump. Gonna go grab myself some snacks. I’m not thinking straight, clearly). If I am indeed wrong and you’re a doctor or a certified nutritionist/dietician/whatever it’s called these days, do let me know in the comment. Unlike the mad Dondon, I am opened to learn and admit that I am wrong if I am.

Your body, the type of workout you do and your lifestyle in general play huge roles in determining whether this is for you or not.

Some of my friends have gastric problem (my brother has a severe one). They can’t exercise on empty stomach. In that case, do not exercise before your first meal of the day.

Certain trainings simply cannot be done on empty stomach. Long intense run, for example, requires a pre-workout meal.

Do your exercise before your first meal of the day.

What I do: I schedule my workout on the first half of the day, before noon.

My exception to the rule: Weekends and vacations (sometimes, most times, I still do this).

#3 — Short workout is better than no workout.

I know. You’ve worked all day, 7AM to 6PM, your brain is fried, in a mush, you’re practically a zombie and all you want to do is go home, turn on Netflix, turn off your brain and be couch potato.

We’ve all had those days.

Sometimes, you just don’t feel like moving, let alone exercising.

The prospect of having to move your body for 30 minutes or God forbid, an hour after spending an exhausting day at work is daunting.

Here’s the thing. Most probably, you just can’t be bothered because the workout in your head is 30 minutes to an hour.

The reality is, a short workout can be as effective as a long one. I wrote about how short workout has helped me maintain my lean body here.

You just need to choose the right workout and make sure you do it right, following the instructions to the letter.

Here are my go-to for short workouts:

  • 5 minutes
  • 10 minutes
  • 15 minutes

5–15 minutes.

That’s like 1–5 funny cat videos.

You’ll live.

Opt for short exercise instead of no exercise.

What I do: Immediately change into my workout outfit, sparing not even a glance on my comfortable couch. Choose one short workout and start moving.

My exception to the rule: Rest day. You need to have rest day(s) depending on your physical condition. Ideally, I would say not more than 2 rest days per week.

Final words

A habit doesn’t have to be drastic or massive to make a difference.

It’s in the nitty gritty.

  • Yes, you can still snack. Just don’t go Augustus Gloop.
  • If you are physically capable (no underlying health issue), try to exercise before your first meal of the day.
  • Move, even if it’s only 5–15 minutes.

Start small.

Start now.

This post is a part of my October’s writing challenge:

If you have a burning question(s) you think I can answer (it can be about anything), feel free to pop the question(s) in the comment section below or e-mail me the question(s) at agneslouis3108@gmail.com to join in my October fun.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey!

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Writer by heart. Teacher (English, Yoga, Pilates) by trade. Avid reader. World traveller. Model. You can reach me at agneslouis3108@gmail.com.

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