Fat-Proof Your Life
We're Lame in the Sack
"Since the recession, we feel that we need to be working at all hours to prove our worth," Dr. Wheeler says. And once we do go to bed, high levels of the stress hormone cortisol prevent us from slipping into dreamland.
The problem is that not logging enough zzz's doesn't just make you drowsy during the day, it can also increase levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, reduce levels of the satiety hormone leptin, and give more clout to genes -- including the bad kind that tell your body to gain weight the second you stray from your diet or take a break from the gym. "The more people sleep, the less sway their genes have over their weight, and the more diet and exercise matter," says Nate Watson, MD, the codirector of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle.
To get your seven or more hours, skip caffeine in the evening, power down your electronics at least an hour before bedtime, go to sleep and get up at about the same time every day, and make sure your bedroom is pitch-black.Our Social Circle Is Growing, and Not in a Good Way
After tracking more than 12,000 health care professionals for 32 years, Harvard Medical School researchers found that their subjects' obesity risk was 57 percent greater if they had a close friend who was obese, 40 percent greater if a sibling of theirs was obese, and 37 percent greater if their spouse was obese. One explanation: The researchers suspect that unhealthy activities are contagious (if your BFF loves going out for happy hour nachos, you'll probably partake, too). Also, if the majority of the people in your life are packing extra pounds, being overweight can begin to seem like the norm.
Fight weight creep by finding ways to turn social time into slimming time. "People are willing to change, but you have to take the lead," Busis says. Suggest meeting at a healthy soup-and-salad cafe instead of a Chinese buffet or taking a kickboxing class together instead of seeing a movie.We Love a Bargain
You probably shop at least occasionally in one of the more than 4,000 big-box stores in the U.S., like Sam's Club and Costco. And once you get your purchases home, they can cause something called stock pressure, Wansink says. "You open the cupboard and think, Whoa, look at all those chips!" Suddenly, you're worried about polishing them off before they go stale or just clearing some room on your shelves.
If you must buy an economy-size bag of chips, crackers, or cookies, repackage it in smaller baggies as soon as you get home, Wansink suggests. Or put bad-for-you bites in the very back of your cabinets, where you're less likely to see them.
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