Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Eating Right

I was visiting with some buddies recently about our new year’s resolutions to be healthier, and not to brag or anything but I achieved a couple of fitness goals recently.  A) I set a new record for mileage on www.runkeeper.com I’ve only been recording my efforts on there for about four months, but in the month of March I racked up more miles than I ever have previously!  It was only 55 miles, but it was a new personal record and I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve already determined that I’m going to beat that in April.  My second goal B) was to get my weight below 220 lbs.  Well, I weighed in the other morning at 219!  I was pretty happy.  I’ve shed nearly 10 pounds this month.

How did I do it? A lot of what I’m going to share with you came from www.stewsmith.com so I can’t take credit for the idea.  Also see my post on FITNESS for some good ideas and links.

“Spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices.  Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep and good eating habits increase your capacity to receive and understand revelation.” Elder Richard G. Scott. General Conference April 2012.

First off, I think that it is important to understand that getting physically fit is an integral and essential part of our eternal progression on earth. It is a key part of our earthy test.  Our spirits cannot be exalted without our bodies…they are one functioning unit, neither is much good without the other.  Caring for our bodies is a key element of progression that many of us are extremely lax on. Our daily regimen of: Prayer and scripture study should also contain physical exercise.  I can’t stress that enough because this is where the motivation, will power and perspective come in.

To begin a quest for fitness, we start with eating.  Food provides essential fuel for our bodies to work, but face it, we all have terrible eating habits.  Your worst enemy in the food battle is soda! 4 grams of sugar is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon, so your typical 20 oz. soda contains over 70 grams of sugar.  That’s nearly 18 teaspoons of refined sugar!  Not to mention the carbon dioxide (decreased lung capacity), and totally empty calories (sometimes over 200 calories per drink) it is no wonder that we have the health problems that we have.

In all seriousness, if you can simply eliminate your daily soda habit…you’ve taken a HUGE step toward health and fitness. (the occasional soda is fine, it’s you daily drinkers that are in trouble…I was one myself for years). It is not easy and your body WILL crave it.  Water just won’t quench your thirst, and you’ll say to yourself “I NEED this soda.” Don’t do it!  The best solution I’ve found is to go buy some of those individual drink mixes that have no calories and no sugar (Walmart has a Great Value Brand that is less than $2 a box), mix that into your water and drink it instead.  The taste is a good replacement to the soda and you’ll be able to get the water into you that you need. It may take a month to break the soda habit, but it is SO WORTH IT!

Kicking the junk food habit is almost as difficult. For me it was easier simply because I don’t really like sweet stuff.  All that candy just doesn’t appeal to me.  My weakness is pastries.  I  LOVE donuts! Especially the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting! YUM…

Here is how I found my way of kicking this habit…I keep my stomach full of good stuff throughout the day.  This is done by establishing some set ‘snack’ and meal times.  For instance: here is my typical-daily eating schedule. (this will vary for everyone...my day begins at 4:30 AM)

  • 5:30 AM – Protein shake mixed with milk, yogurt and Whey Protein (I use Body Fortress) and a banana.
  • 7:00 AM – Oatmeal with Crasins and a little bit of brown sugar (not the pre-packaged oatmeal, this contains a TON of sugar)
  • 9:00 AM – Morning Snack – granola bar or some nuts (trail mix) or Cottage Cheese mixed with yogurt or some fruit
  • 11:30 AM – Lunch (make sure that this meal contains a lot of veggies…especially green stuff)
  • 2:30 PM – Afternoon Snack – Carrot sticks, nuts, granola bar, apple, orange, cheese stick
  • 4:00 PM – light snack – nuts, peanut butter on crackers
  • 5:30 PM – Dinner (remember this rule: divide your plate in half, on one half goes your veggies, fill that half with vegetables.  On the other half, spit it in two and half is your protein; chicken or other meat, and the last section is your starches and carbs; potatoes, rice, noodles, etc.)  

  • 7:00 PM – evening snack – Crackers, apple, orange
  • 9:00 PM – sometimes in the evening I’ll have a bowl of cereal, this is the last amount of food I get into me before I go to bed. I need the calories because I usually get up at 4:30 to run.

If I start feeling hungry at 8 AM, I can say to myself: “I get a snack in about an hour” and I can look forward to that short term reward.  It makes it easier to wait.

You could eliminate the 5:30 AM, 4 PM and 9 PM meals if you want to lean down a bit more.  I have to consume nearly 3500-4000 calories a day for my level of activity…you’d have to adjust your intake accordingly. There are a lot of good calorie calculators in the internet.  The key is in all this is PORTION CONTROL, or to eat just enough so that you are satisfied, but not full.  Then those cravings for that candy bar can be ignored easier because there is almost always something in your stomach.  In addition to this, drink a lot of water.  I drink about 60 oz. of water a day.  That helps keep your stomach busy.  One big advantage to this is that by chewing, and digesting, you are burning calories.  You are working out!

Your portions are best measured by this easy rule of thumb:
The correct portion of meat is the size of the palm of your hand.
The correct portion of starches is the size of your fist.
The correct portion of Fruits and Vegetables is what fits into your two hands (this is because it is really unlimited).

As you eat healthier, you’ll not only see noticeable results, but you’ll also feel them.  You’ll be happier and have more energy.  Eventually you will get to the point where your body doesn’t want that sugary stuff anymore.

One important thing to emphasize with this kind of meal plan…is that you must select healthier foods.  Processed & packaged foods usually aren’t that good.  Learn to read nutrition labels.  There are unhealthy granola bars just as there are unhealthy yogurts.  They pretend to be good for you, but contain almost as much sugar and fat as candy.  

One last word on eating healthy.  DO NOT DIET! Diets are bad for you.  The only long term effect that dieting has is to teach your body to more efficiently store fat.  The number one indicator that a person will have a weight problem later in life is whether or not they have dieted in the past.  Eating should be a permanent lifestyle change, not a short term diet.

Once you have your eating going in the right direction and you have started to establish those good, life-long habits, it’s time to start exercise.

In future posts we'll begin to examine good weight lifting and cardio programs.  In the meantime, start eating right, walking/running and start getting fit.