Here is a simple way to work with your body when it comes to eating and exercise. In fact, it’s so basic that it may surprise you and so effective it will certainly please you.
I call it the Mealtime-Movetime Rule. In general, when life isn’t too chaotic, we have a set routine for mealtimes – breakfast, lunch and dinner. We may even have them planned to the hour, eating dinner punctually at 6:30.
Well, how about doing the same with exercise? How about tying exercise directly into your mealtime routine. Within an hour after you eat, exercise. Many of us won’t miss a meal, so here’s a way to make sure we won’t miss the exercise either. And get a healthier result from our meal as well.
Now before you start protesting that you can’t go to the gym three times a day or change into sweats after lunch because you’re at work, hear me out.
I’m not talking about a big marathon. I’m simply telling you to move after a meal. Here are the specifics:
Eat & Exercise Rule #1: One Hour After
After eating a meal, set a timer for one hour. Use this hour to savor your meal and let your body get some of the digestion underway. Right now, you can sit.
Eat & Exercise Rule #2: Stand Up
When the timer goes off, stand up. Don’t sit a few more minutes, or lie down and take a nap. (Yes, this hour is usually around the time you start to really feel sleepy after a meal if you’re tired already.) Just stand up and move.
Eat & Exercise Rule #3: Keep It Simple
Now that you’ve stood up, you’ve done half the work. If you’ve got time for a good bike ride or hike, go for it. But don’t be dismayed – or dismiss this MoveTime Rule – if you can’t. Set the timer again for 10 minutes and just move a little. Maybe take a brisk walk or go up and down the stairs a few times. Do some stretching mixed in with calisthenics like pushups or crunches. I sometimes standup and have a conversation with my husband while doing the weirdest moves, like swinging my hips in a circle, marching in place or going up and down on my toes.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or make you even break a sweat. Just move.
When you put this rule into action, you tell your body that the calories you just took in are going to be used for activity. So your body understands to put the calories on the metabolic fast track, not storage.
Also, this makes exercise easier. When you remind your muscles about movements, you keep those movements fresh in the "muscle memory". In other words, pushups that seem onerous if you haven’t done them for a month, are so much easier to do if you’ve done them periodically throughout the week. Try it, you’ll see.
But take note, you don’t need to do 20 or 30 pushups. Ten will do. Your muscles don’t need long slogs to keep these memories strong, they need frequent reminders. Keep this "muscle memory" fresh by doing these exercises regularly.
When you put these Eat & Exercise Rules into play you can keep yourself from putting on the pounds, feel more alert and make mealtimes part of a healthy daily routine.