Exercise & Nutrition Working Together
“Who needs another diet anyway?” At least that’s what I’m thinking. People often misinterpret the word “Diet.” The word in itself depicts a plan to lose weight or any specific eating habits. It simply refers to what food people consume. You can have a good or a poor diet. By now most of you have a good idea of what’s healthy and what’s bad for you or at least know where to find that information. You have a pretty good idea when you’re eating something bad, though at times we may not want to hear it. The truth is that most of us just rather not think about it. The last thing I want to do is to give you more complicated advice about eating right. Some may not have the time or desire to keep a log or count calories of their eating habits. These tips are geared for the more middle of the road individuals who want to stay fit without feeling like they are being extreme. We try to keep it simple but like everything else that is worthwhile, it will take some effort on your part. It’s a fact that healthy eating habits improve your energy, memory, mood, and overall state of being. The following tips are geared to lead you in the right direction getting and staying fit.
- Stay Active and Exercise: The hardest part for most people is just getting started. That part usually needs motivation or just brute mental toughness. You have to force yourself to get dressed and start. Usually momentum will then kick in and keep you going. Some ideas would include; walking wherever you can avoid driving or taking elevator; Planning sport activities with friends to make it fun; and taking 10-15 minute breaks at work or school to walk around and get your blood flowing. Think about exercise like its homework. It should take you about 30 minutes a day and the sooner you get it done in the day the faster you can tend to other things.
- Make Healthy Decisions: For me, I have to take it minute by minute. I just remind myself to make healthy choices when different foods are presented to me. If nothing healthy is there then I wait until I can find something healthy. I’m sure I will not starve and this way I avoid feeling guilty about making a poor choice. Poor choices would include fried foods, foods high in fat content with no real nutritional value, and other “junk food.”
- Plan Ahead: This is the hard part, which may be time-consuming. People usually go for poor food choices when they’re hungry and have nothing healthy around. That’s when they usually grab something readily available, which may come out of a vending machine. Try to prepare healthy meals ahead of time so that you know what you’re going to eat. If you’re super busy, just pick something up from a healthy market so you don’t get stuck eating anything that’s loaded with preservatives and just sitting around.
- Eat Regular Meals: Remember: Don’t starve yourself as your body will go into survival mode, where it will immediately store any food you eat into fat for later use. Some people think that if they only eat one meal a day then they’ll start to lose weight. If anything this will slow down your metabolism and cause fat to be stored. Have you ever seen someone who’s thin as a rail and it seems like they just don’t stop eating? Well that’s just it. By providing their body with regular nourishment, their body doesn’t have to store the food as fat because it knows that nourishment will be replenished. Hence, they increased their metabolism and train their body to burn fat.
- Don’t Overeat: Most of us are trained to eat until we’re full. I cringe when I hear parents demanding from their children that they finish anything on their plate. Barring any severe illness, I’m pretty sure kids as young as 6 months can tell when they’re hungry. What happens is that every time we eat till capacity, we stretch the lining of our stomach a little bit more. Therefore, each subsequent time that we eat, we need more and more to feel full. Therefore, ideally it’s best to eat small portions and allow the food to settle.
- Prepare Healthy Snacks: Noshing while you’re watching TV, while you’re bored, or in a bad mood might feel comforting. It’s basically your body’s telling you that it wants stimulation and comfort. While it’s not healthy to eat in this state because you may not be monitoring how much you’re eating, there’s a solution to help you curb your appetite. Simply prepare healthy snacks like cut apples, raisins, and other fruits or vegetables. If it’s cut up and accessible then you and members of your family will be more likely to eat it. I try to prepare cut fruit and vegetables any time the kids are watching TV or having a PlayDate. Also, if you plan to attend potlucks or other functions try bringing a healthy dish.
- Sample in Moderation: I understand that people might want to try different ethnic foods or the latest snack fad. It’s adventurous and there’s usually no real harm in satisfying your curiosity. By all means have at it. All we’re telling you to do is use discretion and taste in moderation. It’s like any other food or habit. In moderation it may be fun and even healthy in some cases. However, people often run into problems when they go overboard and cannot control their intake. Yes, you can have a food disorder as in any other addiction.
- Tend to your Cravings: We all have periods when we just have to have that chocolate, peanut butter, ice cream, or whatever floats our boat. This can originate from a chemical deficiency in our body or possibly hormonal in both sexes that your body is trying to correct. Follow your cravings but try to find healthy substitutes. If none will do other than the fix you need, then start off with healthy food like fruit, vegetables, or water first and then reward yourself with your treat. This will reduce your craving and allow you to not eat as much as you may have otherwise.
- Water Works: The bottom line is that sugar is addictive and usually gets stored as fat in your body. Furthermore, drinks with sugar may quench your thirst, but tend to dehydrate you. Therefore, you’re getting the reverse affect with sugar-filled drinks where you feel like you constantly need more and more to replenish your body. Simply put, water prevents dehydration and is flat-out healthier for you.
- Slow Down your Intake: Take your time between bites. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before but there are great benefits to allowing food to enter your system and settle. This will require you to eat less and allow your body to get the maximum nutrients due to the proper break-down of food while you’re chewing. Saliva (as gross as it sounds), has enzymes which help break down food and allows to get the maximum benefits of absorbing nutrients.
- Balance your meals: Having a huge bowl of pasta for dinner isn’t going to cut it. You should try to hit all the major food groups, which usually entails; a protein like chicken, fish, meat, or beans; a carbohydrate like rice, bread, or cereal; and a serving of fruits and vegetables. Your body depends on these foods to help maintain muscles and promote a healthy level of energy.
- Eat natural Foods: Work with the environment and eat less processed foods as much as possible. While we don’t want you to incur a huge financial burden, Organic products tend to have less pesticides and preservatives. They are not absolutely necessary but eating more natural unprocessed foods is definitely the way to go. You can’t go wrong with nuts, whole grain, vegetables and fruit.
- Reward Yourself: You shouldn’t have to go “cold turkey” on anything you love to eat. Just thinking that you might never be able to eat something that you love ever again might cause you to resent your diet. Set up goals you want to achieve and then give yourself a specific time and date when you’ll allow yourself to indulge in moderation. Have discipline and control, but don’t deprive yourself completely (Disclaimer: This does not apply to those who are recovering from an addiction).
- Don’t Eat Too Late: Late night meals are a killer. Your body’s metabolism slows down at night and reduces the rate of burning energy. Therefore, the excess food usually turns into stored fat. The rule of thumb should be to avoid eating any large meal at least three hours prior to going to bed.
- Get Back on Track: We’re all human and mess up sooner or later. That’s no surprise to anyone. The important thing is what you do after you make a mistake. Some people get discouraged and just give up their entire healthy diet. That’s not going to make anything better. Remember, if you’ve trained your body’s metabolism correctly it usually will not have to store the current food you eat as fat because it is expecting healthy food to be replenished shortly. That’s why you see some people who are thin be able to eat the occasional candy bar or other treat. Keep in mind that if you stray or eat something that you regret, you can always get back on track. You’re in control now and it’s what you do after that that defines your tenacity. IMPORTANT: Do not resort to forcing yourself to throw up or starving yourself. If this occurs you should seek medical attention immediately as this can cause long-term medical problems.