Quality nutrition is key. No matter what your health and wellness goal is, success begins and ends with what you are putting into your body. In fact, your daily eating habits account for at least 70% of your results; many professionals even argue more. Regardless, we know that food affects everything. So what are you putting inside your body? Is what you’re eating, the frequency in which you eat, and the quality of the foods you consume conducive to accomplishing your goals? Or is every bite you take feeding fat, disease, and addiction?
If you’re over being overweight, tired of being tired, or sick of being sick, here are three steps you can take today to regain control of your health:
1. Keep a food journal.
What if I told you one thing could double your chances of losing weight and reaching your other health related goals? It’s true. Studies have shown that people who keep a food journal six days out of the week are twice as likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who record their food intake two times or less per week.
So why does this work? Writing down what you ate, how much you ate, and also the macronutrient breakdown keeps you accountable away from the gym. When you are able to see what you eat written on paper or in an app like MyFitnessPal as opposed to seeing what you ate on the scale, you will be more aware of your triggers and tweaks you need to make in your nutrition. You’ll be able to visually pinpoint issues and fix them quickly before the pounds pack on. Sharing your journal with a trusted individual will also increase your accountability factor. Food journals make you more inclined to make better decisions in fear of disappointing yourself as well as others.
As a personal trainer, I could tell you testimony after testimony of how incredibly effective it is to record your food intake. On the other hand, I can give you many more examples of how detrimental not keeping a food journal can be to reaching your overall health goals. Losing weight is hard enough so don’t start your journey in fat loss with a disadvantage. Record what you eat on a day-to-day basis and double your chances of being successful. You cannot afford not to.
2. Eat more vegetables and drink more water.
Once you’ve gotten better at tracking your daily food intake by keeping a journal, it’s time to make gradual, yet necessary adjustments to what foods you eat and how often you eat them. In my experience, most people don’t over consume meals. They actually often don’t eat enough. With an overwhelming amount of Americans working anywhere from 40-60 hours per week, it’s not uncommon for people to skip meals or completely forget to eat until dinner time. Unless fasting is your goal, this schedule of eating can become detrimental to the body when not performed correctly. Ultimately, it can lead to binge-eating right before bed and an accumulation of body fat over the years. You are sending your blood pressure and blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster with a lot of highs and lows and essentially starving yourself. Inconsistent, infrequent meals puts your body in a state called “survival mode.” Because your body is unsure when it will be fed again, now anything you eat will be stored as fat to ensure survival and regain natural function of the body. This is why many experts suggest eating every 2-3 hours, resulting in three, main meals for the day with snacks in between. Eating multiple times per day helps regulate your blood pressure and sugar levels while also boosting your metabolism.
In addition to not eating frequently enough, most Americans do not even come close to drinking enough water or consuming enough vegetables for the day. You need a minimum of half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. This doesn’t factor in your activity level, weather conditions, or if you drank any other beverage during the day. You need to increase your water intake the more you work out, the hotter it is outside, and the more liquid you consume that isn’t water. For example, if you drink 8 ounces of coffee for the day, you need to drink an additional 16 ounces of water to rehydrate. This is why the recommended gallon of water a day is ideal for most people.
Vegetables should also be the foundation of your diet with a recommended of five to nine servings of them each day. Sadly, only 14% of Americans manage to get at least three servings per day. If you are looking to reach optimal health, eating five to six small meals throughout the day and increasing your water and vegetable intake is a great place to start.
3. Focus on quality and avoid inflammatory foods.
Despite popular belief, the quality of your food really does matter. Can you lose weight and build muscle eating fast food every day? Absolutely. As long as your caloric intake and macros are conducive to your fitness goals, you will get results, but at what price? If you care so much about how your body looks on the outside, then you should care even more how the inside of it functions.
It’s best to eat foods as close to the way God created them so having a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts is ideal. For people who are ready to take their health to the next level, I always suggest to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, inflammatory foods from their diets. These include gluten, dairy, refined sugars, caffeine, and alcohol. I also include soy into this because it’s a hormone disruptor. All of these foods are heavily prevalent in the American diet, yet none of them are needed and oftentimes do harm to the body. Some people may be able to tolerate them more than others, but they cause an inflammatory response in everyone’s body when consumed.
All in all, no matter what wellness goals you may have, success and healing is rooted in nutrition. If you are still struggling with these lifestyle changes and need individual accountability, schedule your complimentary consultation with Never Settle Fitness today. We will address your current eating habits, how to improve, and include a 15 minute demo, training session. We look forward to serving you and helping you lead a healthier life.
Photo by Christopher Flowers