11 Bad habits that hinder your fitness and health

Resident fitness gurus, Emile Solomons and Heinrich Smith of N2 Fitness tell us about the worst habits you can adopt that could impact negatively on your overall fitness and health. See how you can improve your fitness and health by taking this advice:

1. Drinking (too much) alcohol
Excess alcohol is linked to a greater risk of high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and heart failure. In addition, the extra calories can lead to weight gain. According to – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, heavy or high-risk drinking is the consumption of more than three drinks on any day or more than seven per week for women and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 per week for men.

But how much is one drink? Here is what constitutes a drink:

1 drink (beer) = 354ml,
1 drink (wine) = 147.5ml
1 drink (distilled spirits) = 44.25ml

2. Overeating
We always try to get good value for money when eating out, but even though you might come across a restaurant that serves “healthy” portion sizes, it doesn’t mean you should finish the whole dish. Be careful not to fall for the three course meal options. Avoid overeating; eat small portions at regular intervals instead.

Here’s a quick guide on portion sizes:
Protein portions should be the size and thickness of your palm (excluding fingers).
Good carbs (for e.g. brown rice) should be the size of your two clenched fists and bad carbs (for e.g. white rice) equal to your one clenched fist.
Good fats (for e.g. avocado) should be the size of your thumb and bad fats (butter) should be no more than the size of the tip of your thumb.

3. Be careful of warning signs
Many of us are guilty of thinking certain things won’t happen to us. If, for example, you are sweating regularly without even exercising, thirstier for no reason, constantly out of breath doing normal daily activities then go get yourself checked up. Don’t ignore your body’s warning signs.

4. Eating red meat
Red meats are higher in saturated fat, so be sure not to make it your primary source of protein as this would increase your cholesterol levels. Rather have it as a snack or have it as your main course meal once or twice per week.

5. Don’t be a health procrastinator
Make sure you go for regular checkups at your GP. Monitoring your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure figures are essential in one’s health and wellness.

6. Avoiding fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veg are essential in providing your body with the necessary vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fats and fiber. Stock up on the various seasonal fruits, veg, nuts and whole grains.

7. Being a salty snacker
The more salt you consume, the higher your blood pressure rises and the more acidic your body will be. These days our foods contain large amounts of sodium, additives and preservatives, so always try and avoid adding salt whenever you can.

8. Eating empty calories
When you eat, it’s important to eat foods that have nutritional value. In the busy, crazy world we live in today, it is really easy to go for convenience foods as it saves time. Get into the habit of planning and preparing food in advance and avoid going for the bad foods, such as processed, packaged, ready-made microwave meals. Generally they are high in additives, preservatives and sodium.

9. Snacking while working at your desk
Snacking regularly throughout the day on healthy foods is good. But some people get into the habit of having a drawer full of sugary snacks at work. It is easy to get distracted and not pay attention to how much you are eating. What makes it worse is when you eat while you are bored or when you don’t have much to do because this is generally the time when we make poor choices or eat too much.

10. Skipping breakfast
Eating something small in the morning is enough to kick start your metabolism after six to eight hours of rest. Not having that first meal of the day can affect your weight, energy levels and blood sugar.

11. Overusing pain killers
If you take pain killers regularly over a long period, it will cause more problems than it solves. Using ibuprofen or aspirins will increase your risk for ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, high blood pressure and even heart attacks. If you have a pain or discomfort that you have been treating for a while without seeing a doctor, rather get it sorted before using drugs becomes a habit.