Healthy eating and exercise and are often described as “two sides of a coin” when it comes to weight management, and the two share a lot of common ground. For starters, both should be enjoyable for best results. Why would you want to drag yourself onto the elliptical when you find it mind-numbingly boring? If you’d prefer a fun dance class or an invigorating Pilates session, that’s what you should try to work into your schedule, because that’s what will stick. People tend to get all fired up when they start to make changes, but later become disappointed when they aren’t able to be consistent. The more enjoyable you find a lifestyle change, the more likely you are to maintain it.
It works the same way with food, of course. Food should taste good. I will never forget a little client of mine who thought that healthy eating meant she would have to eat boiled chicken and mushy broccoli for dinner every night. We sorted that out right away! (I sent her home with some great Kosherscoop recipes to try J.) Making healthy changes to your diet does not mean you can never again eat your favorite foods, and it also doesn’t mean that your day-to-day choices need to be bland and tasteless. In fact, they shouldn’t be, because you probably won’t be able to maintain that style of eating for very long. Choose nutritious foods that you find tasty, and learn healthy ways to prepare them so that you have plenty of delicious options.
Convenience is another super-important factor to consider when it comes to both exercise and good eating habits. If working out becomes too complicated, you will find lots of reasons to avoid it. If you can’t see yourself getting out to the gym or your walking partner is unreliable, consider home exercise equipment or workout videos. When you know you can be on the treadmill or using your video in five minutes flat without going outside, things seem a lot more doable.
Do yourself a favor by making healthy eating similarly convenient. The thought of cooking nutritious meals shouldn’t make you want to grab some pizza because you think the alternative requires hours of prep. I enjoy cooking but do not enjoy spending hours in the kitchen, and fortunately, it’s quite possible to prepare nutritious meals quickly. Arm yourself with a variety of quick and healthy recipes and see for yourself! Keep your refrigerator and pantry filled with healthy options that require little or no prep so that you always have good choices on hand for meals and snacks. Make your environment work for you.
Here’s one more workout trick that you can apply to healthy eating. A popular workout series utilizes the 3-2-1 method: three minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio, and one minute of abs work. Use this 3-2-1 tip with your eating to help stay energized and satisfied throughout your day. Remember that at meals, you should generally include 3 food groups. Breakfast can include a serving of dairy (or calcium-fortified substitute), a fruit or grain, and some protein or fat. Lunch and dinner should include servings of protein, starch, and vegetables, at minimum. If meals will be spaced further than 4-5 hours apart, snacks should include two food groups: a carbohydrate-containing food such as fruit or starch, plus a food containing protein or fat to help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full. Yogurt is a good choice combines carbohydrate and protein. (Greek yogurt is higher in protein and makes a very satisfying snack, especially when combined with fruit or nuts.) When you will be eating your next meal within a shorter amount of time, you can choose a snack composed of just one nutrient, such as a serving of fruit or whole grain.