Florida’s Sun Worshippers Shouldn’t Say “DIET!”

January 3, 2012
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Let’s start by calling it a “nutrition plan.”

In the land of perpetual sun it might be hip to say you are dieting but it also is an admission that you will fail. The more appropriate title of nutrition plan takes the stigma out of dieting and instead gives you a psychological boost to do well for yourself in weight, body mass and eating arenas.

So rather than brand yourself with an impossible to maintain regimen that makes you miserable and gives you a plethora of reasons to abandon it, how about making some reasonable changes to your lifestyle and eating habits that can help you attain a healthy body and a positive outlook?

The truth is, most “diets” especially the fad diets that tell you to eat inordinate amounts of cardboard tasting complex cards, or to eschew carbs altogether, or to load up on protein or ingest huge amounts of fat, may give you a weight loss burst initially, but in the long run won’t be doing much for your overall health and appearance

For starters, our bodies need balance and that means a reasonable amount of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats daily, as well as vitamins and minerals in varying amounts. You can’t get everything you need if you cut out or severely reduce certain foods from your daily intake, and you can actually do yourself considerable harm if you end up eliminating trace elements that are necessary for life.

I found a reasonable 5-point list of suggestions on the website http://www.WebMD.com/diet/features/5-diet-resolutions-new-year that can serve as a great starting place. They include:

No. 1: Go Slow. Take small steps such as adding a piece of produce to your lunch each day; designate a day as fish day; try a single serving of whole-grain cereal for a midmorning snack.

No 2: Drink one glass of water first thing in the morning, before you brush your teeth; Drink a cup of water with a splash of your favorite soda or wine it to reduce your intake of alcohol or sweets; 

No. 3: Colorful produce is packed with disease-fighting plant compounds, so when you shop designate a color-a-day such as yellow on Mondays with grapefruit, golden apples, or corn on the menu; Tuesdays can be purple with plums and eggplant featured and so on.

No 4: Try these tips to reign in the munchies: Pop a stick of gum or a sugar-free mint in your mouth; brush or floss your teeth; Pay attention – look at each piece of food you plan to eat; busy your hands with a glass of water, a cup of tea, or cleaning off the table.

No 5: Reach out for help when you need it. For instance you can buddy up with a friend or family member and share your ideas, plans, and successes regularly; leave the temptations such as ice cream, chips, soda, at the grocery store. Promise yourself you’ll cater to cravings only outside the home, in one-serving portions; and try to socialize at non-food events, such as a walk in the park or meeting up at the movies.

The WebMD website has more information and there is probably far more information available than most of us can absorb. It is a good idea to consult with your physician before you start any program and you also must remember that regular daily exercise is a necessary component of any program.

It is common among professional and serious amateur fitness fans to avoid using bodyweight as the benchmark for progress. For starters if you are young enough to still add lean muscle as a result of your program you may be giving yourself conflicting information if you rely on only a scale to determine progress.

That is because muscle weighs more than fat and you could be burning more fat than you realize – which is a good thing – but not seeing the results on your weekly weigh in. Instead do a body fat analysis once a week, and take measurements at strategic points, hips, waist, chest and upper arms for instance, and then use those measurements to determine if you are becoming toned and losing body fat.

You should find at least 30 minutes of movement each day, such as going for a walk, a swim or a bike ride – all good possibilities year-round in Florida. And remember, your body recovers when it rests, so get a good night’s sleep, which means forget the heavy late night snacks and the “nightcaps.”

Food or drink before going to bed will cut into your productive sleep cycle and can lead to insomnia and unnecessary stress. The simple rule to remember is simplify, simplify, simplify. If the program is too complicated, too strenuous, too difficult to maintain you are destined to fail before you begin.

And remember, a true nutrition and fitness program gives you the best results with consistency over time. Envision how you want to look at this time next year and they work toward that goal steadily. You may be able to lose some weight quickly by following an unhealthy fad diet, but in the long run you’ll be worse off than when you started!

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