So, let’s talk an easier language when it comes to fitness and health. Let’s speak in a dialect we can all understand. Everyone wants to be healthier, feel better, and have more energy. The vitality of one’s life has so much to do with how they care for themselves; from what they eat, their physical activity, and even to how well they manage stressors. Extra weight you might have put on could be causing you more problems than you realize. If your body is used to being at 125 pounds and you add an additional 30, it might not seem like a big deal, right? After you put on this extra weight, your lower back often has pain, your joints hurt for seemingly no reason, energy is always in short supply, and you’re moody.
That little bit of extra weight suddenly becomes a lot heavier baggage than what it first seemed. There is an abundance of material on health and it can be time consuming trying to sort through it and determine what is the best information to follow. I have been there, from the extra 30 pounds and miserableness that accompanied it, to health information being a puzzling maze. The flood of material, both truthful and misleading, is overwhelming. I spent a lot of time studying health, experimenting with a variety of information, and tracking my results. I am now here to give you one universal language to follow. When they say food is 80% and exercise is 20%, that is 100% true.
Food. Is. So. Hard.
Dieting, counting calories, time, reading all of the ingredients. Food alone makes many of us feel like throwing in the towel, but don’t give up before you start! There are all kinds of new apps and devices for fitness tracking and food logging to help, and some easy do’s and don’ts to remember that will make this part much easier. You may have even heard the ones I’m about to mention, but you may not have used them yet.
The MyFitnessPal app is for entering and logging what you consume daily. The app shows you what your body gets from the food through macros of protein, fat, and carbs. You can set and adjust your goals as well as track calories and progress. The app even has a scanner to make logging food easy and less time consuming, you simply scan the barcode on the food products and enter the amount you have consumed. This app shows you what you’re eating daily from beginning to end, your water intake, and what foods you’re having too much or too little of that are robbing you of what your body needs. It does the hard science of food for you and you get a comprehensive visual tool that helps you see what needs adjusting. This free app empowers you to be more capable of tracking your health successfully.
We’ve all heard of the Fitbits that aid tracking fitness/calories. They can also show your heart rate and be linked to your MyFitnessPal app, giving you even more accurate results. These are excellent tools even if they are not one hundred percent accurate. Monitoring yourself can help motivate you to get moving and eat right because no one wants to see bad results at the end of the day. The visual component can also help to prompt changes as you progress on your journey to better health.
Even if you do not want to use an app or device, I still have something for you. I have a simplified food plan that I follow based on healthy adjustments that is not vegan or Keto. I intake a healthy amount of carbs, protein, and fat daily. This is a simplified example of one week of food and easy exercise suggestions.
The main items to incorporate each week are listed and you get to choose the days you want them. Limiting meat intake to three days improves digestion which allows your body to process food easier, keeping it cleaner. Fish is super healthy in omegas and as a source of protein, but should be limited due to mercury (the suggested fish below is some of the least polluted). Salt is fine and necessary in safe amounts, but can be easy to overdue in snacks like almonds, etc. Veggies are the best foods we can eat for our health.
- Fish: 2x/week (Tuna, Alaskan Flounder, Alaskan Salmon – wild caught).
- Meat or Chicken: 2-3x/week depending on your needs.
- Fruit, protein smoothie or beans: 2x/week.
- Veggies (all): everyday!
- Water: 64 oz. everyday.
- Avoid margarine (Land O’ Lakes and Earth Butter are great alternatives).
- Limit processed foods.
- Eat saltless almonds, walnuts, or pecan halves for snacking on the go.
Cheat Days are a must. You can limit your cheats to prevent overindulging by having one indulging meal and snack, but be sure to make healthy choices for the rest of your cheat day. Do not try to go cold turkey. These days keep your body from freaking out and make adjusting to healthier lifestyle choices a smoother transition, while also acting as a reward. When you rush into strict diets you could ultimately be setting yourself up for failure. Cold turkey intensifies cravings for those indulgences and weakens your plan to combat them.
- Saturday and Sunday=Cheat Days: limit bread and remember to eat two healthy meals. If you want Mexican or that Irish Pub burger, go for it! And have a desert.
Just Add One…
We all know that there is still one more ingredient to add to this recipe and it is the dreaded “E”: Exercise. Just one though? As a former skeptic myself, sounds too good to be true. Not only am I giving you just one thing to start your fitness journey that has an abundance of benefits, it is also easy. Just add walking. It’s that simple. Whether its for fifteen minutes a day, an hour or more, walk 5,000, 7,000 or 10,000 steps consecutively four to five days a week. If you can only make time for three days a week, space it out, get up earlier or go to bed later to squeeze in that 4th or 5th day. Walk inside on the rainy days, turn on a YouTube walk video or DVD.
You can increase and modify as you go. Walking sheds the pounds and prepares our joints for more. While keeping the aches and pains away, we go from being immobile or sitting at a desk for too long to active and burning more calories. You don’t have to be perfect and you are going to mess up, we all are. Sometimes I have three cheat days, even cheat weeks. But, consistently getting back on track and committing to my health is what keeps me in shape.
My body, as yours will eventually after committing, lets me know when I need something and when I do not, when I am slacking and when I am not. Just don’t give up and keep going. The results will come, and I am saying that as an impatient individual myself. You will be amazed at the boost in energy you will gain just by walking. The ability to keep up with your children at play time, the aches and pains that disappear without the need for cortical steroid shots, and your mental health renewal. You have too much to gain and now you have a simple guide and tools to aid you.