The holidays have come and gone. If you are like most people, too much food and too little activity has left you with an unwanted weight gain. And the accompanying sluggish hangover from all the sugary treats and alcohol. I enjoyed my holiday break visiting friends and family in Oklahoma, but I was anxious to get back to my routine of healthy eating and exercise. This time of year, magazines and newspapers talk about detox diets. Although these offer quick results, they are not nutritionally adequate, especially as you get back into a regular workout routine. Rather than go on a crash diet, develop a healthy eating plan that will become part of your lifestyle. And no, vitamins and supplements are not substitutes for real food. Bottom line, you are going to get the best results from eating whole, nutrient dense food.
Now most of us know that an apple is more nutritious than a candy bar. Healthy eating is common sense for the most part, but it can get confusing. Especially when you read articles filled with misinformation (please stay tuned for my next post about separating nutrition fact from fiction). Most of it comes down to planning. Just like you plan your workouts, you need to plan your eating.
Get started. Write down what you typically eat in a day. Now review your meals- do you notice anything missing? Do you need to eat more vegetables? Cut back on the sugar?
Keep track of your eating. Websites such as www.sparkpeople.com and www.livestrong.com are helpful. Enter your personal information and an estimate of your daily calorie needs is provided. This will seem tedious, but after awhile you will get into a routine and be more aware of what you are eating.
Set Goals. We all have training goals- swim faster, bike stronger. Make nutrition goals as well. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). It is not enough to say that you are going to eat more fruits in a day. Plan it out. For instance, "I am going to increase my intake of fruits by having a banana before my workout and adding berries to my post-workout smoothie."
Plan, Plan, Plan. Think about what you will eat ahead of time. Plan out 2 to 3 breakfast meals and have the food on hand. Instead of hitting the drive-thru, bring your lunch to work. Pack snacks to avoid the vending machines and breakroom munchies. Plan your dinners. Whether you are a single or married with a family, you can sit down and plan your meals for the week. Create a shopping list from your meal plan. Spend a weekend afternoon cooking your meals for the week. Portion into containers and refrigerate. That way you will have healthy meals available when you get home from your busy day.
As you plan out your racing calendar and accompanying workouts, don't forget to plan your nutrition. Take your training up a notch with healthy eating. It can make a good year even better.
If you would like help getting started with a healthy eating plan, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy New Year!