by Charlotte Andersen for SHAPE.com
10 times it's OK to break the healthy living rulesYou don't eat lots of processed foods, you get to the gym every day, and generally follow the healthy living rules to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. But it can be hard to be "good" all the time. And hey, rules were meant to be broken, right?
Here are 10 instances in which being "bad" is so much better for you!
1. Go without healthy snacks: It's okay to not to eat every three hours! Research from Vanderbilt University shows that your metabolism won't nosedive if you don't snack throughout the day. In fact, it's very easy to overeat calorie wise when you're eating five or six times a day. So don't worry if you don't have time to prepare and package healthy snacks every day, just focus on your total calorie intake.
2. Choose sleep over sweat: It's okay to turn off your alarm and skip your morning workout every once in a while! This is especially true if you're trying to lose weight. A study from the University of Chicago found that sleep deprivation increases levels of a hunger hormone and decreases levels of a hormone that makes you feel full, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.
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3. Skip spin class this week: It's okay to skip your super-intense spin class sometimes! A Louisiana State University study reported in Time says that exercise, especially high-intensity "sugar-burning" workouts like running and spinning, can make you ravenous afterwards. Even worse, subjects craved quick calories like candy, a combo which can quickly undo that hard-earned calorie burn.
4. Dress your salad: It's okay to order your salad with dressing that does not have "low" or "reduced" in its name! According to a Purdue University study, pairing the veggies in your salad with full-fat dressing can help maximize your body's absorption of health-boosting carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that can help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease, and improve your immune system.
The key to maximizing this delish discovery is using the highest quality ingredients in your dressings. Skip the cheap soybean oil and look for dressings made with olive, grapeseed (canola), or walnut oils as a base.
5. Splurge and don't look back: It's okay if you splurged and ate one of everything from the buffet at the company picnic! Eating one large meal won't derail your otherwise healthy diet. Black-and-white thinking will-"I've ruined it now, might as well eat whatever I want!" Plus, a 2009 study found that cycling your calories (i.e. alternating large and small amounts) leads to greater fat loss than consistent eating.
6. Just do it! Because you want to: It's okay to do something just because you love it! Who cares if ballroom dancing is a great calorie burn or not? Who cares if you stink at rock climbing? Does it really matter if you speed walk the entire way to the top of the hike? It's easy to get caught up in the "I am exercising!" mentality, but doing something active just because it's fun can be even better for you than pushing yourself through a punishing workout you don't enjoy.
7. Order another coffee: It's okay to caffeinate yourself sometimes! While too much caffeine can lead to jitters and anxiety, sometimes you just need something to help you power through a long afternoon. New research even shows that a moderate amount of coffee can help prevent type II diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
8. How much do I weigh? It's okay to only weigh yourself at the doctor's office! Focusing on that one number as an indicator of your health is a losing battle, says Rachel Cosgrove in The Female Body Breakthrough. She suggests having a pair of "thermometer jeans" (i.e. jeans that make you feel smokin' hot) that you can try on to make sure you are maintaining. In the meantime, work on getting stronger, faster, and having more fun, rather than worrying about a number.
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9. Ask a stranger for help: It's okay to ask for help! Whether it's asking for a spot in the weight room so you can up your resistance or asking for help with a hard-to-reach zipper in the locker room, according to Psychology Today, reaching out to people helps both the giver and the receiver feel happier, more connected, and less worried for hours afterward.
10. Look in the mirror for motivation: It's okay if a hot bod is your biggest workout motivation! Of course regular exercise is great for many more reasons, but there's no shame in scheduling a few extra sweat sessions simply because you want to look fierce in your LBD at an upcoming cocktail party.
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by Charlotte Andersen for SHAPE.com