You don’t need to overhaul your entire life to start making meaningful changes to your health and wellbeing. In fact, when we try to “fix” our exercise, diet and sleep patterns all at the same time, it becomes overwhelming and we inevitably fail to achieve the goals we have set ourselves.
It’s the small steps that make the biggest difference. The little tweaks that we can make to the steps we are already taking. Here are five suggested “lifestyle tweaks” that I believe will help support your journey towards better wellbeing.
- Reframe the idea of traditional exercise to make it more convenient and in keeping with your lifestyle. You can do this by changing your movement patterns at home by making some of your daily habits a bit more inconvenient, in order to move your body more.
For example, if you always place your dinner plates on the upper left hand corner of the bottom shelf in the cupboard, what happens if you move them to the upper right hand corner of the top shelf? It creates a slightly different movement pattern to the ones you are used to. We don’t need to be working out for hours on end each week. Just 15 minutes a day is enough as long as we are consistent and changing our movement patterns regularly.
- Place exercise equipment somewhere it doesn’t traditionally belong. A balance board in your kitchen or a Bosu ball in your lounge, so that when you are chatting with your family while making dinner, you can hop on the balance board for a few minutes to improve your strength and overall balance. Bodyweight training, or strengthening workouts are vital for women to maintain bone and muscle mass as we age.
- The 80% rule. Stop eating when you are 80% full. This is taken from the “Power 9”, or longevity lessons which is a distillation of the findings of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers and epidemiologists from research of the Blue Zones. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.Focus on ensuring every meal contains protein. This is particularly important for women in their 40s and beyond and will also keep you fuller for longer.
- Set an alarm to go to bed. We set one to wake up, but if we are serious about getting our 7-8 hours sleep a night, set an alarm to go to bed. And go! Don’t then start emptying the dishwasher, putting another load of washing on or tidying the house. Research shows that lack of sleep increases cravings for sweets, carbohydrate-rich foods and salty snacks by between 30-40%. It can also lead to lack of energy, which means you are less likely to exercise.
- Take a “boredom break”. Every day we need to carve out time – even just 5 minutes – to calm the mind and body to relieve stress. Some people don’t want to meditate, or can’t get out for a walk in the countryside, but they can sit still and do nothing for 5 minutes. No reading, no scrolling through social media. Just sitting and being bored for 5 minutes. See what comes up for you.
Breaking Ballet’s unique ballet-inspired workouts are tailored for perimenopausal and menopausal women to help them future proof their bodies at the same time as looking after the here and now.
Sarah is the founder of Breaking Ballet, a unique online ballet fitness programme for busy women.
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