Last week I introduced the idea that overall wellness is a better way to look at fitness goals then just setting a physical/ esthetic goal. The ability to make an impact on the physical changes people want to see, are impacted by more than just changing exercise habits. In the New Year so often people set fitness goals- this is great- however if you really want to be better in 2018 and make it your best year… then you need to impact: Exercise, Sleep, Nutrition and Stress. Last week we covered the first two topics and this week we will cover nutrition and stress.
Nutrition is a challenging topic to review. Why? Because there are a million and one beliefs on the right and the wrong way to eat. I am not about to tell you I have the magic pill, solution or the right answer. I was someone who was obese as a child, because of this I have a much harder time keeping my weight in balance (as will most people who have struggled with obesity at any point in their life). I am also someone who is more directly impacted by food then by exercise. I adapt very quickly to exercise and need to be very diligent with my eating habits. That being said, I have tried a ton of things over the years to see what my body responds to. I have my beliefs on what works best for me and I have also altered my plans as I have aged.
Here are 3 best practices for nutrition that should help anyone!
If it seems too good to be true… It is!
There is no quick fix! If it can “melt away” the pounds in 7 days, that isn’t fat, it is likely water weight. If you have to deprive yourself, the weight will likely come back as quickly as you take it off because you won’t be able to maintain it. Wellness is not easy… it is something that takes time and effort. So you need to be prepared to put in the time to get the reward. Don’t fall for the scams that make you think there is an easy way out. There is not, at least not one that is sustainable or actually healthy for you.
What works for you is something you can maintain for at least 3 to 6 months.
We live in a world of quick fixes. In order to actually give yourself time to see results and make an impact on your body you need 3 months, at least, to see an impact. So if you don’t think you can stick with something for that long, it likely isn’t the best plan. Consistency is one of the most important aspects of wellness, no matter what area you are talking about. So, when you are deciding on a meal plan, give it time to work AND make sure it is something you can do long term.
Don’t overthink it… Nutrition is actually not that hard.
Like I said there are a million ways you can eat: Keto, Paleo, Hormone Based, South Beach… etc etc etc… I could go on for days. What may work for your friend, may not work for you. However, we now over complicate food and because we do, we make poor choices. Carrots are high on the glycemic index… but I promise you, if you eat “too many” carrots it will always be a better choice than eating a chocolate bar! You know what is nutritious: REAL (not processed) food. Fruits and Veggies, whole grains, lean meats. To dairy or not to dairy- your call! To eat bread or not to eat bread- your call. The less processed the better… and you know what you likely shouldn’t over indulge in… don’t pretend you don’t
If I were to give one hard and fast rule that I don’t think anyone will disagree with: AVOID SUGAR. It is the cocaine of the food world. It’s addictive, it is in EVERYTHING processed and it will never help your nutrition battle.
Stress is more challenging of a topic… not because there is abundance of opinion on it, more because it is an area where I say “you need to eliminate stresses from your life” and the majority of you scoff and say “yeah right”. Right?
I am not going to even try to sit here and say I live a stress free life. I am huge on integrity and everyone who knows me, would call me out on it. I am: type “A”, busy, work a lot, take on too much, say yes too often and love to have things on the go, STRESSBALL! That is not something people in my life have been able to change. However stress leads to inflammation and inflammation doesn’t let your body function properly. Adrenal fatigue is more common than ever and all of this comes back to stress.
I am not saying to have no stress in your life, I am saying that we need to all try and temper it in some way IF you want to maximize your results. And realize it may be the number one thing actually hindering your results.
Here are 3 easy ways you can impact your stress levels:
I started meditating about 6 months ago and it has been incredible to go through the experience. My resting heart rate has dropped, I am able to calm myself in situations by simply breathing and I am more mindful of what is happening in my body.
Meditation is one of the fastest growing trends in the fitness industry because people are seeing the benefits of slowing down, taking some time to just chill and know that we move so fast, we just need to pull the brake sometimes. Whether you download an app, go to a workshop or simply just be still. You only need a few minutes a day to see results!
Eliminate social guilt from your life.
Guilt is something that causes a lot of stress in our lives. We don’t eat “properly”, we feel guilty. We skip a workout, “we feel guilty”. We get stuck at work, “we feel guilty”. Social guilt is a nasty feeling where feel pressure from outside sources, that usually aren’t even critical people in our lives (sometimes they are), to do something for some reason that is not intrinsically motivated. Read: the mom on Facebook who is a master of Pinterest lunches and makes you feel like you are a failure as a parent because of it. Guilt leads to decisions that may not be in alignment with what you really want. Guilt leads to making choices that we may not actually have time for. Guilt leads to feelings that increase the heart rate, and other stress responses.
Don’t overdo it.
SLOW DOWN. Slow down at work. Slow down at home. Slow down at the gym. Your body is very good at telling you when something is up. Slow down enough to hear it. If you are irritable or anxious one day in a way you are not normally, that is likely a sign. If you are hungrier than normal that is likely a sign. If you are feeling drowsier then normal, that is likely a sign. All these signs are your body’s way of saying “don’t push me”. We need to be conscious enough to hear it, and then confident enough to make a change and act on it.
I wish you health and happiness for 2018! Excited to be on this journey with you.