Grandma was the best. She’d kiss your boo-boos when you fell down. She always made you food when you were hungry. And sure, you knew Mom and Dad loved you, but grandma’s love was different. But here’s the thing about grandma, she could also be the WORST.
Her famous apple pie was to die for. But before you could ever have a slice she demanded you eat all the broccoli on your plate. YUCK! And do you remember Summer break when all you thought about doing was play ing Nintendo all day? Pfft, not on Granny’s watch. She’d send you outside into the scorching summer sun and tell you to play.
Alright, so Grandma was super awesome and lame. Still, good ol’ granny did try and bestow bits of wisdom upon you as a kid. It just needs three or four decades of rebelling before it all sank in.
However, if you had listened to your Grandma, and followed her suggestions, there’s a good possibility that you could have avoided years of weight gain.
4 Healthy Habits Your Grandma Taught You Before You Knew It
I’m a terrible human being, or at least young me was pretty terrible. My great-grandma was pretty cool. But there was only one reason I ever wanted to stay over at her house: She had cable, my parents didn’t. And cable meant I could watch Nickelodeon.
But my grandma was smart. She stipulated a small catch around my use of her cable: I could watch all the Nickelodeon I wanted if I ate all the veggies she put on my plate.
My Great-Grandma loved her veggies. She cooked a cornucopia of veggies the likes that my young eyes had never seen.
Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, squash, collards, beets, you name it — she made it. But every kid knows that vegetables are disgusting. Couldn’t macaroni and cheese count as a veggie?
Why did I have to eat something like collards, okra, or squash that tasted like dog poop?
At the end of the day, Grandma was right though. Vegetables are good for you. Munching on cruciferous vegetables provides your body vital micronutrients like Vitamins A, K, E, B6, and minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and more. Without those nutrients and vitamins, you’ll have piss-poor cellular and immune function.
Plus, veggies take up a ton of room in your stomach and help you stay fuller for longer. When you’re in a calorie deficit you want more filling and voluminous foods. That’s why combining fibrous veggies with lean protein helps shield you from the hunger monster for longer.
Huh. I guess Grandma was trying to teach you something by demanding you eat your veggies. And here I thought she was just being mean and wanted me to eat the stuff she grew in her garden.
An Attitude Adjustment
Let me tell you this: if you didn’t have a Southern grandmother growing up you missed out. I’m not saying grandmothers from the Southern portion of the United States are any better than others. But Southerners have some ridiculous sayings. Many of these sayings involve the usage of double negatives.
The phrase I heard my grandmothers (and grandfathers) say the most often was this: “can’t never could do nothing.”
And to this day, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear the echo of my grandma’s voice as soon as I utter the words, “I can’t.” Here’s the thing about the word “can’t.” When you say you can’t do something, often what you really mean is, “I don’t want to.”
Here’s an exercise for you: The next time you think about something you can’t do, immediately swap that “I can’t” with “I don’t.”
What you say: “I can’t follow my nutrition plan while eating out.”
What you mean: “I don’t want to do the work involved to make the plan work while I eat out.”
What you say: “I can’t say no to snacks at night.”
What you mean: “I don’t want to examine my own actions and how they affect my life and goals.”
The word can’t steals your power to do something. It paralyzes you. Instead of doing something, you do nothing. Not because you can’t. You choose to take the easy way out and say “can’t” when what you really mean is “I don’t want to because it’s hard.”
If that’s the case, then my Souther granny was right: can’t never could nothing.
Okay. I can’t keep that going because it’s causing me anxiety. If you can even decipher what I wrote above, however, that’s how your mind works in today’s fast-paced, interconnected world.
So many people today, myself included, treat food today like Cookie Monster treats cookies. We stuff food in our face(s), barely aware of what we’re eating or how we’re feeling. And why? Because you have to move to the next thing on your to-do list?
Look, treating your meals like you’re in a speed eating contest harms you in numerous ways. The University of Rhode Island has performed numerous studies on the effects of slower eating. Here’re a few things they discovered:
- Healthy women who ate slower ate fewer calories.
- Participants who ate slower drank more water between bites; roughly 6 ounces more
- Slowing eating improved digestion and improved GI functioning
- Fast eaters gain more weight over time than slower eaters
Turn that Idiot Box Off and Get Outside
“Hey Robbie, how can I speed up my fat loss?”
My grandma used to chide me for being a smart-alec. But damn if it’s not hard to tell someone to cut off an arm if they want faster weight loss. I’m kidding, of course. I would never tell anyone to do that. Still, if you’re arm weighs 10 pounds, chopping it off is a quick way to lose 10 pounds.
Fine, I’ll put my serious hat back on. Fat loss takes time. You didn’t suddenly wake up 40-50 pounds overweight, and you’re sure as hell not gonna wake up 40-50 pounds lighter. But there are a few things you can do to boost your metabolism a smidge: increase your NEAT.
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. You know, the stuff you do with your body that isn’t lifting weights or cardio. Get outside and play basketball or kickball. Take your dog for a longer walk.
Walking is the best way to increase your NEAT. It’s also, hands down, the best way to recover after intense days at the gym. And if you’re intimidated by the gym, walking the best way to start getting active—period.
If you’re already hitting the gym 3-4 times a week, adding a 30-45 minute walk every day can help you burn extra calories. But getting outside and walking in nature does more for your overall health than just burn calories.
Walking outside has been shown to:
- Boost creative thinking and memory
- Help your body create Vitamin D due to the exposure to the sun
- Reduces stress; inflammation; and fatigue
- Help you better manage depression and anxiety
Healthy Hygiene is More Than You Think, Bro
There’s more to your health than losing body fat or building lean muscle. Mental health matters. Dental health matters. And I don’t want my grandma yelling at me because I didn’t mention these things.
Yes, the foods you eat can increase the likelihood of having a heart attack. But here’s an interesting stat you may not know. People who suffer from periodontal disease (aka, gum disease) are 2-3x more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening cardiovascular events.
Researchers still aren’t sure if there’s a direct link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. Thousands of people with heart disease have healthy gums. And those who are afflicted with gum disease don’t always experience heart problems. Risk factors like smoking or an unhealthy diet may be to blame here.
But, researchers do see suspicious signs that gum disease may be an independent risk factor for heart disease. Damn, Granny was right again. It is a big deal to brush and floss your teeth. Not only for fresh breath but for a healthier heart.
Oh, also, wear clean underwear. I’m not gonna go into detail here because, well, you’re an adult and I won’t speak to you like a child. Wear clean underwear. It’s the right thing to do for numerous health reasons.
Granny Got it Right
Ignoring the hugs and kisses and the best Christmas gifts ever, Grandmas had a lot to teach us. Most of those lessons are ones you didn’t want to learn when you were young. But in the end, those lessons are ones you come back to realize as truth later on in life.
Eating your veggies will help you feel better, provides a sense of satiety to your meals, reframing the word “can’t” will help you realize that you DO have the power to make changes, getting outside is good for your soul, and maintaining healthy hygiene is not only good for your breath, but it’s good for your heart too.
Grandma was right. Guess I should have listened to her all those years ago. Which is why she filmed a video to remind me of these things. Check it out below.