(This is Part 12 of a 12 part series to provide you with some useful health and fitness info over the holiday season)
Imagine business without progress; a stock portfolio that shows no growth; an investment that becomes a loss. Mention any one of these occurrences to a reasonably intelligent individual, and the first thing they should say is “something has got to change”. So what does it have to take for people to view their health the same way? Businesses come and go, stocks rise and fall, and investments will always be there. But you only get one shot at your health. It’s yours to grow, nurture, and improve and no one can take that away from you. It is what I like to call a safe investment with minimal risk. Sure, there are things in life that occur that are simply out of our control. However, if you wait around hoping good things will happen for you instead of making them happen, you will be disappointed more times than not. Understanding how exercise and good nutrition play a role in the improvement of your health is vital to your success. If you don’t clearly know what it is you are supposed to do, you begin to walk down a dimly lit path full of debris and deceitful crossroads
To help shed some light, in a recent report some of the top US nutrition experts came up with their top five nutritional gripes – nutritional blunders our society is repeatedly guilty of. In the never ending quest for knowledge and progress, see which of these gripes you are perhaps guilty of and imagine the possibilities if you were to make even some small, subtle changes in regards to your dietary habits.
- We can’t tell the good fats from the bad ones.
“Most people still don’t get that some fats are actually good for you,” says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, an American Heart Association spokesperson. “You want to avoid saturated and trans fats, but you need more good fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources are fish, nuts, avocados, soybean products, and canola and olive oils. If you keep track of total calories, you don’t have to worry about how much fat you eat, just what kind,” explains Dr. Lichtenstein.
- We super-size to save money.
“People think that super-sizing a restaurant meal is a money saver, but it’s not a health bargain if it has way too many calories,” says Karen Weber Cullen, DPH, RD, research nutritionist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Judge portion sizes with your palm, not your purse. A serving size is about what fits into the palm of your hand (larger for men than women, smaller for children). For most meals, pick one protein, one starch, one veggie, and one fruit based on the serving that will fit into your palm. Buffets are not good values. They’re feeding troughs!
- We think anything liquid has no calories.
“What freaks me out is the amount of sugared soda and juice we drink,” says Judith Stern, ScD, RD, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. “I’d like to see all the sugared drinks sent out into space, where they could orbit the Earth forever.” Sugared drinks balloon your calorie intake and squeeze out more nutritious foods. Diet beverages are no better, as they too have been linked to weight gain and eating the fruit is far more superior nutritionally than drinking juice. Instead, try a cup of tea. Available in myriad varieties, the calorie-free brew promotes heart health, staves off several types of cancer, strengthens bones and teeth, and protects the skin. Still, when it comes to what is best, nothing can replace water.
- We don’t know how “hungry” really feels.
“If you don’t know when you’re hungry, you don’t know when you’re full, so you won’t know when to stop eating,” says Elisabetta Politi, RD, nutrition manager of the Duke University Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC. Tune in with mindful eating by doing the following: 1) Before you eat, relax, and rate your hunger from 1 (hungriest) to 7 (fullest); 2) Eat slowly, pausing often to rate how your hunger changes; 3) When finished, rate yourself one more time. Try to stay between 2 1/2 and 5 1/2: not too ravenous when you start and not completely full when you stop.
- We have a microwave addiction.
Many people come home from work and pop a frozen entrée into the microwave. “Eating too many heavily processed foods can leave you short on fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin C,” explains Jo Ann Hattner, RD, clinical dietitian at Stanford University Medical Center. Complement a frozen entrée with a green salad, a 100 percent whole-wheat roll, and fruit for dessert. Stock up on the freshest fruit for maximum flavor.
Nutrition however is only part of the equation. There are blunders people make when it comes to getting fit. The improvement and betterment of your health should be the number one reason you begin an exercise program; not to look good for a vacation or get ready for a class reunion. The good news is those benefits can and will manifest themselves with a lifestyle that includes regular exercise. Especially at this time of year, perhaps you may be guilty of some of these oversights regarding exercise.
The “Fit” Fix
- Not enough time and lack of consistency. When time becomes the excuse, exercise is not a priority. Translated: my health is not a priority. Exercise doesn’t have to be hours doing something physical. It just needs to be consistent. There may be days when time is more available, and other times when it is of the essence. Consistency breeds a habit, and that habit becomes a lifestyle. You can ill afford to not make the time.
- Taking credit for physical activity. All too often, people like to think that household chores, yard work, and shopping account for exercise. Don’t be confused and likewise, don’t be too proud. Any physical activity is a good thing, but when was the last time you heard that someone reduced their blood pressure or participated in a 5 K because they clean their windows every week? Structured exercise, a physical stress beyond normal every day activity, is what it means and is necessary to get fit.
- Buying into gimmicks. Late night and weekend infomercials are only interested in one thing and it is not your health. It’s your emotional buying power. They only add to the confusion of what most think it is they need to do and in turn have created mounds of rubbish. Like mom always said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
- Using generic fitness programs. We are all unique and what works for some does not guarantee that it will work for everyone. Fitness programs should be specifically tailored to the individual and not copied because it is what some Hollywood starlet used to get ready for a movie.
- Exercise designed around a specific body part. Our bodies work and operate as a whole, and as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Optimal health comes from incorporating the body as a living, functional unit, and an exercise program designed around just a specific body part is short sighted and will yield sub-par results.
The prospect of a New Year can be thrilling. Another potential 365 days of promise, hope, and wonder and a chance to improve and take another step towards greatness. Change is not going to happen overnight. Fitness (physical, nutritional) is a lifestyle of smarter choices, commitment, and balance. In 2017, make a promise to yourself that this year will be different and you will not only do what is necessary to take care of your health, but also make real progress towards making a better you.
All my best to you and your families for a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.
*Originally featured in January 2008 Issue of 422 Business Advisor
Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:
Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts
Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself
Day 4 – Never Diet Again!
Day 5 – Benefits of Exercising in Winter – Outdoors!
Day 6 – Understanding Your Metabolism
Day 7 – The Most Addictive (And Least Addictive) Foods
Day 8 – The 10 Biggest Lies of the Weight Loss Industry
Day 9 – Are You a Closet Eater?
Day 10 – 10 Ways to Kickstart a Morning Workout
Day 11 – A Resolution or A Plan?