Sunday 25 February 2018

Karl Henry: 'Health zoning' your life is the perfect way to get big results with small changes

Swap that cappucino for an Americano
Swap that cappucino for an Americano

Karl Henry

Health can be so confusing, so scary and intimidating. More often than not, people just don't know where to begin their journey to a healthier life.

But no matter what age you are, we know that as a nation, collectively we need to improve our health. And it doesn't matter whether you're of school-going age or in your 70s or 80s. And what I recommend as a great way to start you off is to 'health zone' your life.

'Health zoning' is something we do with our clients here at the gym. It's a simple tool that can actually make such a big difference to your health and it helps to simplify what can seem like a daunting process.

It's actually pretty straightforward. It's a way of dividing your life into the zones where you spend time. Then you look at those zones individually, and analyse where poor choices around food or movement are affecting your overall health.

Then you plan how to change each choice in each zone. And it's the cumulative effect of all those little changes that will have a big impact on your health in the long term.

So take, for example, that creamy large cappuccino you're in the habit of buying on the way into work. Swapping it for an Americano or even a cup of tea can make a difference of as much as 300 calories. Now if you do that five days a week, you've reduced your intake by 1,500 calories. That's 6,000 calories a month and 72,000 calories a year! That's a huge benefit from just one simple switch.

So what I suggest you do after you've finished reading today's column is get out a pen and paper and divide your life into zones. The basic ones to start off with are usually these:

* Prework/breakfast;

* Commuting;

* Work/desk;

* Lunch;

* Home;

* Evening time snacks;

* Car;

* Weekends.

Write these headings down on a sheet of paper, then under each one, write down the areas you know are having an unhealthy impact on your health and your life.

You will be amazed to see that you already know what it is that's causing the problem.

But the method of writing them down is such a powerful tool, you will stand back from them and think why you didn't realise it before.

When that's done, it's time to do some work! Here are some simple suggestions to help you make those changes in each of the different areas!!

Prework/breakfast

* Prepare your breakfast the night before.

* Have warm water with lemon.

* Prep your clothes and bags the night before.

* Hug your partner before you leave the house.

* Aim for eggs or brown carbs for breakfast.

* Buy a travel mug and make your own tea or coffee and bring it with you.

Commuting

* Have some healthy snacks in your bag with you.

* Have a one-litre water bottle in your car.

* Bring a notebook and write down any ideas you may have.

* Ensure you read positive news.

* Get off the bus or train one stop earlier and walk more of the way.

* Never commute hungry.

Work/desk

* Use the stairs as much as possible.

* Stand as much as possible.

* Always have water at your desk.

* Always have fruit and nuts at your desk that you can snack on.

* Walk at lunchtime.

* Join a work running group.

* Declutter your desk at least once per week.

* Have images at your desk that will enhance your life.

Lunch

* Eat brown carbohydrates.

* Prep your own if possible.

* If you're working late, have your big meal at lunchtime.

* Sit with people who have a positive impact on your day.

* Turn off your phone for at least 20 minutes of your lunch.

* Move for at least 20 minutes of your lunch... walk or jog!

Home

* Ensure you have stocked your presses with healthy food.

* Stock your freezer with healthy meals.

* Dedicate a treat night where you can have your takeaway and enjoy it.

* Declutter your home, clean home, clear mind.

* Eat dinner away from the television.

* Exercise as soon as you get home instead of putting it off.

Evening time

* Create a list of healthy snacks you can have.

* If you like to snack, then commit to having one a night.

* Read for 20 minutes before bed.

* No technology for 30 minutes before bed.

* Have a journal beside your bed. If you can't sleep or wake up during the night, write it down.

* Never go asleep with your partner without resolving that row.

These are simple tips, very simple. But all of those small things add up and make the difference over a long period of time.

Irish Independent

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