Column: The secret habits of healthy people

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Having trouble getting your wellness plan on track? February seems to bring out the best or worst when it come to exercise and diet. But studies show that the healthiest among us all share these habits:

• They don’t diet

Researchers from Cornell University created the online Global Healthy Weight Registry (GHWR) to study the everyday behavior of people who are able to maintain a healthy weight. Their analysis of 147 adults (mostly women) showed that 74 percent either never or rarely diet. Because dieting usually doesn’t work, or they are temporary at best, the cycle of dieting almost always leads to weight gain.

• They weigh themselves often

The scale is not supposed to be the enemy. Fifty percent of people in the GHWR use their scale once a week. The same is true of 75 percent of the 10,000 participants in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) at Brown University. Those 10,000 have successfully kept off at least 30 pounds for an average of five years. Data from these groups that weight themselves suggests that participants can often catch small weight gains and quickly do something about it. According to an NWCR investigator, using your scale often helps you get accustomed to coping with the negative feelings generated by getting on a scale.

• They eat mindfully

Ninty-two percent of those in the GHWR are conscious of everything they eat. Investigators suggest pausing before and after you eat, closing your eyes and thinking about how your body feels. It may take as long as six months before you’ll react to your body telling you that you are full and that it is time to stop.

Researchers say that is why mindful eating works better than diets.

• They walk it off

Breaking a sweat everyday pays off in the long run. Forty-two percent of participants in the GHWR exercise five or more times a week, and 90 percent of those in the NWCR exercise, usually by walking, at least an hour a day.

• They keep the kitchen clean

In a 2016 Cornell study, women in a chaotic, messy kitchen eat twice as many cookies as those in an orderly kitchen. Investigators say that is because the disarray primes our behavior for a lack of self-control, which causes stress and makes us eat more. Researchers suggest that when women have a meditative mind-set and feel in control, they are better able to resist temptation.

• They don’t feed their feelings

Most participants in the NWCR report that they rarely overeat in response to internal or external cues. They don’t reach for the ice cream when they are feeling down. In a 2014 study in Health Psychology, reports stated that when you eat your go-to comfort food, it doesn’t soothe you any more than when you eat something completely different. So you may as well save comfort food for when you feel happy and you can savor the treat.

• They start over every week

Fifty-eight percent of healthy people see Monday as a fresh start and usually start their week off with a workout and nutritious meals as well as a positive attitude, which helps keep them on track, according to a 2014 survey of more than 1,000 people by FGI Research & Analysis. These are the people who are also better able to maintain their weight even after a splurge.

Food for thought: I’m trying to incorporate at least a few of these habits into 2017 and beyond.

(Source: Martha Stewart Living)

Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener. 

By |February 25th, 2017|

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