What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of weight-loss? Diet? Exercise? Maybe a combination of both? What if I told you that other issues may be involved?

Below are my top 3 most important non-food-related factors for you to consider when it comes to your health and weight-loss:

1. Sleep

I always like to know how well my clients are sleeping. Consider the time that you usually go to bed. What time do you wake up in the morning? How many times do you wake up during the night?

The quality and quantity of sleep impacts your hormones – one of which is cortisol (stress hormone). Poor sleep or lack of sleep elevates cortisol levels which leads to increased blood-sugar levels. Long-term, this is bad news as the cells are starved of glucose (energy), so hunger signals are sent to the brain that may lead to overeating of carbohydrates (converts to glucose in the body). Excess glucose is stored as body fat. This is only one brief explanation which deserves its own blog post, but what I really want to do here is to get you to start thinking about your own sleep pattern and making changes.

Plan to go to bed earlier and get in the habit of doing this. Consistency is key. If you’re used to burning the midnight oil, then going to bed early may be difficult at first. You may lay awake for some time before falling asleep, but keep at it. Your body will get used to your new habit. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark as this will help to trigger your body’s natural sleep rhythm. The darker the room, the more melatonin is released from your brain making you feel sleepier.

Turn off the TV and switch off other electronic gadgets well in advance of going to bed, in order to create a more restful state for your body. Don’t eat dinner too close to bed-time and don’t snack late at night so that your digestive system has time to properly digest your food. Also, ensure that your bedroom is cool as this will help to promote better sleep.

2. Clutter

Let’s face it, we all have ‘stuff’. We keep accumulating more and more ‘stuff’. Our homes are full of ‘stuff’. Why? What does all this ‘stuff’ represent to you? Is there something deeper happening in your life? Is the ‘stuff’ defining you? Does the ‘stuff’ own you, rather than the other way around? Is this the way that you want to live?

Make some time and get rid of the ‘stuff’ that you don’t use or need. Donate to a charity, sell it on eBay, or trash it. Then, with the things that remain, get organized and find suitable places for them. Don’t forget the kitchen. The pantry and fridge can be the most cluttered parts of the home. How can you expect to eat healthy when you can’t find what you need to create nutritious meals? An organized space allows you to breathe deeply and creates a sense of harmony. You’ll be surprised at how a good de-clutter can lift your mood and your surroundings.

3. Forgiveness

Forgiveness is so powerful. Forgiveness allows you to ‘let go’.

When you’re constantly blaming either yourself or those around you for what’s happening in your life, you’re in ‘victim’ mode. Whilst in ‘victim’ mode, you’re creating a ‘story’ for yourself filled with reasons for being unable to do things. Your ‘story’ becomes an excuse for not taking responsibility for your situation and this takes away your power. Holding on to emotions such as anger, sadness or jealousy can also be felt in the body in physical ways that you may not have even noticed, such as clenched teeth, knots in the stomach, a tight feeling in the chest, or shallow breathing. These can take a toll on your health.

The past can’t be changed, but how you perceive yourself and past experiences can be altered. Be gentle with yourself. Choose to forgive. It’s not about telling others that you forgive them. It’s about releasing your attachment to whatever these actions or words were. Notice how doing this can suddenly feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders (pun not intended!).

By forgiving, not only will you have cleared space in your life (both internally and externally), but you’ll feel empowered and be more proactive in deciding your future goals, and be fully present in achieving them.

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