If you think of sex symbols, you probably don’t think of a crusty old gardener, do you? Just like the image of a hot Hollywood starlet doesn’t exactly mix with calloused hands, weather-beaten faces and ripped jeans. (Actually, maybe the last one does. It’s all about distressed denim, baby.)
My point is, gardening isn’t always viewed as the most attractive of activities. Which is pretty unfair, if you think about it. Because the fact is, gardening has all kinds of physical and mental benefits.
It improves your health, your happiness and your relationships. It even makes you a kinder, more mindful person. Which is pretty damn attractive, in my book.
Got a more shallow goal in mind? Like, around your appearance? That’s ok, we all do. (Beauty may be skin-deep but it doesn’t hurt to look good and feel good, right?!)
In that case, you’ll be happy to know that gardening can help you look your very best. (Yay!) Especially if you’ve been wanting to shed some post-Christmas pounds. Or to tone up your summer beach bod. Or to just feel better about yourself in any season, so you can step on those scales with confidence.
Forget the crash diets and the failed resolutions. Say goodbye to the guilt trips you go on when you inevitably fall off whatever strict wagon you’ve hopped on.
Instead, say hello to gardening – a painless, simple and healthy way to get you in great shape.
Well, most of the time. Unless your ‘garden’ is a couple of pots on your windowsill – which of course, there’s nothing wrong with! But if you can use gardening to spend more time in the Great Outdoors, you should.
Why? Well, because all that fresh air and exercise is brilliant for your body…and your mind. It gets you away from whatever Netflix series you’re currently glued to (and the ice-cream gorging that goes with it) and into a far healthier space. One where you might actually start spending more time, be it for a game of football, a walk or a jog after you’ve taken off those gardening gloves.
Plus, the act of gardening itself can lead to some pretty great results. It might feel like light exercise at the time but all that stretching and pulling, bending and scattering – well, if you look over the wall at your local Community Garden, the movements bear an uncanny resemblance to those of the most avid Crossfitters!
Going organic is one fad that seems to have stuck. Once the fancy of hemp-wearing, wheatgrass-quaffing vegan hipsters, it’s now rooted in the mainstream. (Sorry, Blair and Blaine – us common folk are in the know, too. How uncool.)
Unfortunately, buying organic food is often something few of us can afford. Well, if we stick to fancy health food stores, that is. Actually, you can eat super-healthily and organically by simply growing your own food – just like the simpler times of yesteryear. And it just tastes soooo good – like, have you ever had a salad with a freshly picked cherry tomato? No? Well then, quite frankly, you haven’t lived. Sorry. But it’s true.
But how can this help you lose weight, I hear you ask? Well, think about it. If you have all the fresh fruit and veggies you need right outside your window, you’ll be less likely to order your third pizza that week. You’ll also be avoiding all those nasty chemicals they spray on fruit and veg in the supermarket to make them look all shiny. Phew.
There’s a very well-known mathematical equation, which goes like this:
What do you mean, that’s not an equation? Well, it should be. It’s certainly more helpful than ol’ Pythagoras’ one. (Lame!)
The science behind it is sound. Because moderate aerobic exercise has been proven to increase the amount of slow wave sleep – or deep, rejuvenating sleep – you get at night. It also stabilises your mood, stopping that ‘monkey mind’ from keeping you awake. And although some people feel that exercising too close to bedtime actually wakes them up, others who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise during the day see an improvement in the quality of their sleep that same night.
So, great. Gardening can put you to sleep. But how can it help you slimify? Well, if you sleep better, you’ll be less tired in the morning (duh!). And less irritable. And less likely to choose donuts over granola for a sugar-buzzed breakfast.
Again, science has something to say on the subject. Because sleep deprivation can affect your ‘hunger hormones’ – leptin and ghrelin – so if you aren’t getting enough of the snoozy stuff, you’re more prone to a bigger appetite and to constantly snacking.
Countless studies have shown the effect that gardening can have on mental health. But in its simplest form, gardening makes you feel good. Like you’ve got a purpose. Like you’re contributing to something. All while giving you a lovely dose of fresh air and exercise.
And that sense of purpose, of community, of fresh air and exercise (not to mention the healthy eating aspect) – it makes you feel happy. Or at the very least, happier than you’ve perhaps been in a while.
Any weight-loss self-help guru worth their sea salt will tell you – “the first step to looking good on the outside is feeling good on the inside”. And once gardening makes you feel better inside, you’re more likely to make healthier decisions (for instance, around nutrition and lifestyle) to help you look better on the outside.
Remember… There’s no need to comfort eat when your beautiful garden provides all the comfort you need!
Stop obsessing about your weight for a while. (Easier said than done, I know…but humour me here!)
Instead, take up gardening as a hobby. Stick to it regularly. Soon you’ll see that it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than a rigorous diet – and much more effective!
Of course, you’re gorgeous just as you are. But if you do want to lose a couple of pounds, do it in a healthy way – get into gardening and reap the rewards for yourself.