Get Ready for Swimsuit Season--Safely
Nourishing an exercising body is an essential component to getting and staying fit
Spring has sprung, turning thoughts to the summer fun ahead. Too often, people kickoff overly ambitious self-improvement programs that lead to discouragement, injury, or ill health. If the idea of skimpier clothes fills you with resolve to eat better and exercise in the coming months, keep in mind that small, smart changes over time lead to better results than crash diets and other fads.
Enjoy your exercise
- Slow and steady wins the race: To establish good physical fitness, start slow and work your way up with a goal of 30 to 60 minutes of activity per day. All activity counts, so take the stairs, walk to the store, ride bikes with your kids, find a buddy, promise your dog--whatever it takes. That will benefit your body composition more and be less likely to lead to injury than the occasional five-mile slog.
- Assess your goals: If you have limited time or are just learning how to maintain an exercise routine, do some research to make sure you get the best bang for your buck. While it may seem like abdominal exercises will take care of that spare tire, dropping overall pounds may do more. Talk to your doctor or find a trainer to help you stay on target.
- Fuel efficiently: While it's important to burn more calories than you eat while trying to shed pounds, nourishing an exercising body is an essential component to getting and staying fit. So skip the sugar and processed foods but don't starve your cells and muscles of quality nutrition.
Eat fabulous food
- Begin with breakfast: Not eating a morning meal can actually trick the body into thinking it is starving, which makes it hold on to fat or cause you to eat more during the day. Keep your metabolism revved and blood sugar levels steady by eating breakfast within 45 minutes of rising. Aim for a balance of fat, protein, and carbs, such as oatmeal with a handful of nuts or a veggie omelet.
- Eat enough. No need to overeat, but make sure you eat enough to hold you until your next meal. Make your meals nourishing, focusing on nutrient-dense foods that satisfy hunger for longer than less nutritious foods. Keep healthy snacks available, such as raw fruits and vegetables for times when you just want to eat, and nuts or seeds for times when you are truly hungry.
- Do a diary. Though some people find keeping a food diary an inconvenience, writing down everything you eat for a defined period of time can help avoid "portion creep"--the tendency to eat slightly larger servings of everything over time. Try writing down everything you eat for three to four days each month.
It should come as no surprise that the only sure way to lose weight and keep it off is to change the way you eat and to exercise more. Claims that any supplement, medicine, or any other product can help you lose weight without doing these things should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism and only used after conferring with a knowledgeable healthcare professional.