Friday, July 29, 2011
Keeping it Simple
I am big believer in keeping things simple. You'll never see me doing one leg squats, balancing on a Bosu board, doing a bicep curl with one hand and a shoulder raise with the other. That's more trouble than it's worth. I try to apply the same uncomplicated philosophy to what I eat and the dietary recommendations I make to my clients. Truthfully, any type of diet can work in the short term; how short that term is really depends on how restrictive the diet, how much effort it takes to stick with it, and how well it integrates into your life and the life of the other people you have to feed. However, yo-yo dieting takes a toll on your metabolism, and makes you feel terrible both physically and emotionally.
I believe that if you eat a well-balanced, properly portioned diet of whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins, and tons fresh fruits and vegetables you'll have little difficulty reaching and maintaining your health goals. Buy local when possible; the food is actually more nutritious when it's fresh! Avoid things packaged things and products with ingredients you can't pronounce. Don't buy in to the supplement scheme; unless you have a specific deficiency or issue synthesizing a certain nutrient your generally wasting your money. You absorb nutrients much better in food form than from a pill, and food tastes much better anyway. If you want some specific action steps:
Don't drink your calories. The average American consumes around 450 calories in beverages a day, and liquid calories don't really contribute to satiety. Cut out soda, desserts masquerading as coffee, smoothies, and juice drinks. Even 100% juice contains calories and a ton of sugar. Reach for water instead, and try to drink at least 2 liters a day.
Watch your portion sizes. It doesn't take a Harvard research study to conclude that portion sizes are huge and so are our waistlines. Familiarize yourself with what a standard portion size really is. Even things that are healthy can become a problem if you overeat them. Brown rice is great, but if you have 3 cups of it with your stir fry, that's about 650 calories in rice alone. An occasional glass of wine may be beneficial for heart health; three glasses every evening with dinner caps you r day off with about 375 non-nutritional calories.
Eat some protein at every meal or snack. Protein slows down your digestive process so that you can feel fuller longer on the same number of calories than if you were only eating carbohydrates. Think about this: which seems more satisfying, 4oz of chicken breast or a slice of white bread? Meat and fish aren't the only good sources of protein: cottage cheese, eggs, edamame, tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, plain Greek yogurt are all packed with protein.
Include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in your day. Juice doesn't count here! Think of fruits and vegetables as low calorie plate-fillers that will fill you up without filling you out. Try to dedicate about half of your plate space to vegetables at every meal (can you even sneak some in at breakfast?). As an extra bonus, fresh foods like these contain numerous antioxidants and vitamins that help you look youthful both inside and out.
Avoid the white stuff. White rice, white flour, and white sugar (and alcohol!) all break down very quickly in your body, leading to spikes in blood sugar that cause insulin (a fat storing hormone) to be released. Spiking blood sugar can also later cause fatigue, sugar cravings, inflammation in the body, and eventually even diabetes. Stick to fiber-rich whole grain products like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and rolled oats to help you stay slim and stabilize your blood sugar.
Amy Forsyth is a personal trainer specializing in women's fitness and weight loss. She is currently running ladies-only morning boot camp programs across Oahu in Manoa Valley, Aina Haina, and Mililani. For more information and class schedules visit www.honolulupersonaltrainer.com. Mention Baby Awearness and receive a $15 discount off any August session.