I've written a few posts about my body, the way I look at it and the way I treat it. But I'm still learning a lot about myself and the way I function, especially in the two years I've lived away from home whilst studying at uni.
1) Sleep. One of the biggest things I've learnt about myself is that if I get 4 hours sleep I can function well (in the short term), or if I get 8-9 hours of sleep I can function well (in the long term). Anywhere in between or outside those I am a big, tired mess. For most of my life I've had a pretty strict sleep schedule, decided mostly by when I have to get up the next morning. At uni I don't have to get p every morning to be somewhere, so it's been interesting to learn how I best function and what works for me.
2) Mornings. On top of this, I've also reaffirmed my belief that I am a morning person. I'm at my most productive when I've started work by about 9am, and I tend to have switched off by 7pm. This also means I like eating early (in both the morning and the evening) and getting an early night (in bed by 10:30pm), which isn't always possible when uni social life tends to happen after hours.
3) Veg. I love vegetables. At uni it's a rare day when I don't have all of my 5 a day and then some. At home, I very rarely eat 5 a day - mostly because our meals are based around a meat and carb combination (ie. cottage pie, lasagna, roasts). My meals at uni are almost always centred around vegetables and they form the base of any meal I eat (don't worry, I still get my protein - mostly from nuts and cheese). I really feel the difference when I come home, and though there is often more fruit around the house I really miss the veg!
4) Periods. I've noticed my hunger levels change drastically depending what time of the month it is, particularly since being on the combination pill. If I've used the pill off licence (ran over, so I skip a bleed week), it really throws my body off and I get a lot more cravings. As soon as I get my period, my appetite drops off and stays that way till the week before my next period. If you are someone who gets periods, it can be really interesting to map a pattern in your hunger levels (among other things), as hormones can have a huge influence on how we act. I used to be so hard on myself for overeating in the week leading up to my period, but now I know that for the three weeks during and after my appetite returns to 'normal' I'm a lot kinder to my cravings!
5) Exercise. I have never enjoyed working out, but I've come to realise how much my body values exercise. Leaving the house, going for a short walk, cycle or jog makes so much difference to the enjoyment of my day, and to my state of mind.
What I'm trying to say with all this is that it's vital to learn how your body functions best, and though I'm still learning a lot about myself I feel like I've come a long way in the last few years. The body is a machine, and how you treat it (and what you fuel it with) will affect a huge amount of your life - not only the way you act but also the way you look and think about yourself.
Let me know what you've learnt about your body in the comments below, or send me a tweet @VickiMaitland.