The first thing you can do is to get out of the house and move – get that blood flowing! It may feel like too much effort in the moment but I promise just a few short minutes will help rest your mind and energy level. Take just 10 minutes and be creative with your time. Walk outside for a fresh breath of air, find out what the top floor of your apartment building looks like by taking the stairs, or start a game of tag. This not only helps wake you up, but also burns a few extra calories. If you do not have the luxury of leaving your house, take a few minutes and do a few chair stretches releasing tension in your back, neck, and hips.
Fuel Your Body.
Another way to fit in a little pick-me-up is to add a small snack to your afternoon routine. Snacking is a great way to give yourself an energy boost as well as allow you to add healthful foods to your diet. Snacking is important because it helps you ward off the perpetual hunger cycle. What is the hunger cycle you ask? This is when you wake up, skip breakfast and are starving by 10:30. Lunchtime finally rolls around and you stuff yourself at the pizza buffet. You are so full that you don’t want to work out, however, by the time you can get the family together for dinner it is 7:00 and again you are starving. This leads to either overeating during dinner or loading up on the sweets later in the evening.
Break the cycle by breaking your three large meals into three small meals and two snacks each day. You may be thinking that this is a lot of food; however, if you keep your portions in check you may actually be eating less food than you were before. Depending on your calorie needs, you should aim to keep your meals between 300 and 600 calories. Your snacks should be around 200 calories each.
Here are some examples of tasty 200-calorie snacks:
- 6-ounce cup of non-fat or light yogurt with 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds or slivered almonds.
- ¾ cup of oatmeal with 1-tablespoon raisins
- One medium apple, nectarine, peach or pear with 1-ounce mozzarella cheese stick.
- 6-8 cups low-fat popcorn
- ½ whole grain English muffin, toasted with 2 teaspoons peanut butter and 6 ounces skim milk.
- One small apple or banana with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
- 7-10 pita chips with 2 tablespoons of hummus
Snacking has many healthy benefits if done correctly. One benefit of snacking is that it allows you to add healthy foods such as fruits or vegetables to your day. Another benefit is that you will find you are less hungry but eating less food. This is because you are avoiding becoming too hungry which leads to a cycle of overeating. Food is your body’s fuel so by adding snacks you are supplying your body with a steady flow of energy. Snacking is also hugely beneficial for those trying to gain weight because it allows you to choose a variety of healthy foods and simply add more calories to your diet.
Here are some simple ways to make snacking a healthful habit:
- Stock up on simple snacks. Have the foods that you enjoy always on hand so when you are running put the door in the morning you can grab these and go.
- Keep healthy snacks in your car, purse, or desk. Having snacks on hand will help you avoid extra BLTs (bites, licks and tastes) or through a drive through for a quick bite
- Avoid snacking while on the phone, standing in the kitchen, or on the computer. These activities are distracting and before you know it the entire jar of peanuts are gone!
- Put the money you used to spend on these extras towards a better cause. You can use the spare change to buy healthy snacks or donate the money you accumulate to your favorite charity.
- Take one day a week and prepare your snacks by portioning them into smaller baggies. Pre-portioning allows you to avoid over doing it and provide on-the-run foods that allow you to grab and go.