You’ve made your resolution to get healthy in 2016 and now the critical weeks begin. How do you stick with the plan? Habits, of course! Learn how to build good food and fitness habits on your road to better health. Welcome to Week #3 of Fitness and Nutrition Bloggers Jeni Tackett and Chelsey Bowermaster’s 2-month journey to a better you!
Diet Habits: Healthy eating needs to be a habit for a lifetime. You should not eat healthy only before swimsuit season, a wedding, or a reunion. Instead make healthy eating your norm most of the time. That means having healthy foods in your pantry and refrigerator and taking time to prepare healthy meals and snacks to fuel your body.
Portion Control: You do not have to give up your favorite not-so-healthy foods, but you need to limit the portion.
For example, if you like dark chocolate, try limiting it to about 2 ounces. If you enjoy ice cream, order a scoop in a cup rather than a milkshake. If French fries tempt you, split a small order with a friend.
Find ways to cut back on the portion sizes of unhealthy foods and keep temptations out of your house to avoid evening binging. You need to have will power in the grocery store and buy healthy foods, so that you don’t have to call on will power every time you look in your pantry or refrigerator.
Plant Based Diet: You don’t have to go vegan to be healthy, but you should be more towards the vegan end of the spectrum with meals and snacks based on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
Plant foods are nutrient dense: packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals but low in calories. Plant foods are also high in fiber, which fills our stomachs and gives us a sense of fullness.
Try adding two cuties (small oranges) to breakfast, or steamed broccoli with lunch and see how you feel full after the meal. A small handful of unsalted nuts are a wonderful snack or meal addition to give you a sense of fullness.
Keep it simple: Healthy eating is not complicated. You don’t have to drink meal replacement shakes or worry about the combination of certain nutrients.
You need to fuel yourself throughout the day with balanced meals. Include a combination of carbohydrate (from whole grains, vegetables, and fruit) with a protein source (lean meats, nuts, and nut butters), or include foods that are sources of both carbohydrate and protein (low fat milk and yogurt, beans).
Fill half your plate with vegetables, ¼ of your plate with protein foods, and ¼ of your plate with carbohydrate choices. The USDA has a website packed with easy to understand information on planning healthy meals for all ages: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Building Fitness Habits: By definition, a routine is something that is a repeated pattern. Find your “best” fitness workout time (when you can be most consistent) and repeat daily. The body is amazing in response to routine.
Typically, after 6-8 weeks of adding 30+ minutes of movement, your body will begin to remind you to move. Try journaling on how you feel each day after activity to help you note how your body reacts.
This element of routine will help you manage stress better, enhance brain stimuli and help you get more out of each day.
Another benefit to routine is the impact of your motor skills on your muscles.
Once you repeat an action, over time, it gets easier (muscle memory is a myth, but you really can make GAINS through repetition). Your performance will boost as you learn, retain and recall skills (weightlifting, running, biking, swimming, etc).
Recipe for Successful Workouts
1. Aerobic activity (creating oxygen debt or using oxygen). For example, running, walking, boxing, biking, swimming, jumping rope, etc.
2. Resistance training (causing your muscles to contract with an external resistance). For example, Kettle bells, Dumb bells, TRX, stationary machines, etc. Resistance is the best element for a personal trainer to help with to ensure form and function is on point! Both Quad City YMCA’s have great personal trainers. Consider one for your goals!
3. Core (engaging the support “trunk” muscles including abdominals, spinal muscles and glutes). For example, take a core class, Pilates, Les Mills CX Works, planks, stability ball exercises, etc.
4. Flexibility (range of motion for in your joints or muscles). For example, lifestyle training or daily tasks, yoga, static stretches, etc.
5. Balance training (engaging in activity that stimulates body/brain balance). As we age, this element becomes more and more challenging. For balance training, look into the Y”s Silver Sneakers Program (fall prevention), as well as ballet, stability ball exercises, etc.
The key is to choose something you enjoy and stick with it. Grab a buddy for accountability and log your progress. Beginning a routine in physical activity can be as simple as walking the dog in the morning or joining a new group exercise class. You can do this!