Below is a brief outline of my philosophy on food and exercise:
The average person today lives well into his/her 80s. At 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, that’s over 80,000 meals in a lifetime. Wow! That’s a lot of food. Shouldn’t you enjoy it? I think so.
That being said, those over 80,000 meals are what fuel your life. The higher quality the fuel you put in, the better energy you get out. For those who are physically active, proper nutrition can give you a competitive edge or help you reach your personal goals.
Now, I know what you are thinking, there are so many foods I enjoy that are not exactly “high-quality fuel” and you are right. There are many tasty treats out there that are less than nutritious. However, just because you are eating healthy does not mean you have to settle for rabbit food (although rabbit food can be mighty tasty).
Here are a few rules off which I base my nutrition:
1. No added sugar. Nearly everyone today is addicted to sugar. The amount of sugar the average American consumes per year would scare and disgust you. It’s no wonder there is a growing obesity epidemic. To make matters worse, there is sugar in nearly everything. Check out the nutrition label on your favorite snacks to see just how much.
2. No white flour. Although for the most part, I eat very few grains, whole or not, if I do indulge I make sure it is whole wheat. There is very little nutritional value in white flour. Why waste the calories on something that does nothing for you?
3. Find what YOU like. Face it, if you don’t like the way it tastes, you are not going to eat it. It doesn’t matter that salmon is considered a superfood and has tons of health benefits, I don’t like it and therefore don’t eat it (although I have found dousing it in lemon essentially getting rid of its flavor entirely, it is tolerable). Same goes for you. If you don’t like it, don’t force yourself to eat it. Find something that works for you.
4. Fat is not your enemy! I repeat, FAT IS NOT YOUR ENEMY! That being said, I do not suggest you go eat the deep fried butter at the Iowa State Fair. Healthy fats, like those found in nuts, avocados, milk, and fish are an important part of a well balanced diet. Fat and proteins are what keep you satisfied between meals. By eating more healthy fats you may find yourself eating less.
5. Cook it yourself! And if you don’t know how, learn. Anyone can learn to cook. The only way to be 100% sure of what goes into your body is to prepare it yourself. Not only do you not know what you are getting at a restaurant, the portions are enormous. It is cheaper and healthier to dine in than out.
7. Drink water. Water is a zero calorie alternative to those sugar-laden sodas, juices, and sports drinks. It is liquid life. Learn to love it and make it your first option. If you need some flavor squeeze some lemon or lime for a little kick.
8. Drink more water. Many times (I am often guilty of this), we mistake hunger for thirst. Most people are dehydrated on a daily basis and think they are hungry instead. Next time you are famished, reach for a glass of water and wait for 10 minutes. You may be shocked at the results.
9. Make it a lifestyle. I hate the word diet. I think it has such a negative connotation of restriction. While I’m not saying you should go out and binge on exorbitant amounts of food, you should not feel restricted. Don’t think of any healthy changes you have made as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle, or permanent change. Instead of thinking about all of the foods you don’t eat anymore, think of all the delicious things you can eat.
10. Indulge, occasionally. I am not perfect by any means. I love my chocolate and my other sweets and enjoy them occasionally. But I must stress the word occasionally. As in not everyday or even every other day. If there is a special occasion or homemade pie from mom that you can’t seem to resist, indulge! Just don’t get too carried away. Indulgence is different for everyone, however. If you don’t believe in your ability to say stop, don’t start.
I only have 2 rules for exercise:
1. Sweat at least once a day.
2. Have fun!
For me, the second is the most important. Like the food, if you don’t enjoy a workout, you aren’t likely to stick with it. Exercise is extremely personal. What I like, the next person may hate. You have to find what works for you and makes you happy. If you hate running, it probably shouldn’t be your number one option. That being said, just because you are bad at something at first doesn’t mean you should give up on it. Experiment and give everything a chance. Don’t be afraid to try new things or try and fail. Sometimes you must go out of your comfort zone to find something you enjoy (belly dancing was well out of my comfort zone!). Hopefully you can find something you love!