It’s no mystery: the real secret to getting serious results from your health and fitness program is almost always overlooked and glossed over. Most folks say ‘I know that already’ or ‘I understand,’ but in reality they have no clue what they’re talking about.
So, what’s the secret? It’s your nutrition habits.
There’s nothing more important to your success than building a solid foundation of healthy nutrition and supplementation habits into your life. As a fitness professional who has helped hundreds of women and men shed thousands of pounds, I believe you’ve got to have the following six components as part of any successful health and fitness program. They include:
- Nutrition, the foundation of all health and fitness;
- Supplementation, to fill in the voids in your nutrition program;
- Resistance training, to build lean muscle and ramp up your metabolism;
- Cardiovascular exercise, to optimize fat burning and heart health;
- Flexibility, to prevent injury and promote recovery from exercise; and
- Coaching, knowledge, support, and accountability to get you to the finish line.
In part one of this article, I’m going to focus on the first two factors, nutrition and supplementation. Because without that solid foundation, nothing — and I mean nothing — works. It literally makes all…
The Difference Between Success and Failure
Before I get into what to eat and the nutrition habits you must instill in your life, let’s talk about why nutrition is so important to your results.
First of all, it’s essential to increasing your energy. If you’re going to increase your exercise activity level, you must have the energy to do so. Not only do you need energy to keep up with all the day-to-day activities you have on your plate right now, but, more important, you must have more energy before you even think about adding additional exercise activity into your life.
Second, eating certain foods stimulates the digestive processes of the body in a big way. That’s a little-known secret to ramping up your metabolism, which I discussed in last month’s article. And that is why nutrition is very important.
By focusing on developing solid nutrition habits, you not only get results in the short term, but establish the foundation necessary to maintain those results for life.
There are many symptoms associated with poor nutrition, and you’re probably dealing with several of them right now. For instance, being run down every week, being sick several times a year, and generally not feeling well are indicative of a much more serious problem with your health: a weakened immune system.
Second, being tired in the afternoons or when you wake up, running out of gas at 2 p.m. every day, and even getting low-grade headaches are often the direct results of blood-sugar fluctuations. When your blood sugar is going up and down throughout the day, insulin levels start fluctuating in the body, which takes your body out of the fat-burning mode, and makes it virtually impossible to lose weight.
Third, being sore for several days after a workout, waking up so stiff you can’t move, and only getting slow gains in strength from your exercise program are not normal. These symptoms indicate that recovery from exercise is not being properly addressed.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? If any or all of them ring true, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Most Americans are suffering from many, if not all, of these symptoms every single day of their lives. Why? Because the standard American diet (SAD) is absolutely horrible.
Have you taken notice of all the processed foods and junk you’re eating at every turn? The majority of these symptoms are the direct result of not feeding your body the nutrients required to be fit and healthy. Furthermore, these symptoms indicate much bigger problems.
What Causes These Problems?
- Missing meals. Most clients I work with are eating maybe one or two good meals a day, generally not taking in any healthy snacks in-between, and ultimately eating a big meal every six or seven hours. That doesn’t work.
- Food processing. When foods are processed, they lose many of the micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are naturally present in them. So what happens is, you’re eating food, but not getting the nutrition you need from that food. Unfortunately, unless you’re growing your own food on a farm, the majority of food around you today is processed in some way and void of many nutrients.
- Low protein in the diet. If you don’t have enough protein in our diet, then you can’t repair tissue or build new lean muscle. In fact, you end up losing what little muscle mass you do have, which you absolutely do not want to do. This occurs when there are not enough amino acids present in the bloodstream. The body will then actually break down its own muscle tissue to feed itself — essentially eating its own muscle! Most people are not consuming any type of protein at the most important meal of the day, breakfast. You’ve got to start the day off right to get your body going, and that includes eating protein with breakfast.
- Lack of fiber in the diet. This is another big problem that leads to a whole host of issues, but also impacts blood-sugar fluctuations. When this happens, your body comes out of the fat-burning mode and starts storing fat. This is the exact opposite of what you want to occur.
- Ignoring the importance of post-workout nutrition. Not feeding your body the correct nutrients after a workout leads to slow recovery, slow results, and a lot of unnecessary soreness.
So, now that you know the causes of these problems, where do you start to improve? Try these six highly effective habits of the healthy, fit, and firm:
- Increase your meal frequency;
- Balance your meals;
- Drink enough water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated;
- Take a vitamin/mineral supplement every day;
- Use meal-replacement shakes and bars for snacks and meals on the go; and
- Always take a recovery shake after your workout.
In part two of this discussion next month, I’ll be providing you with more detailed information about these six habits, discuss why you need to start integrating them into your daily routine, and provide you with a sample meal plan to continue helping you improve your nutrition plan and get results.
After working with many clients over the years, I’m fully aware that it takes some time to get nutrition habits down pat. You’re going to stumble, have challenges, and encounter obstacles, and you’re going to go through an adjustment period. That’s OK. Just remember to take it one day at a time and make it your goal to do one thing better tomorrow than you did today.
Coach Holly Leonard, owner of BeFit Health and Wellness Solutions, is a body transformation specialist who has helped more than 300 Pioneer Valley men and women reclaim their health and vitality through proper fitness and nutrition. For more expert fitness advice and information about her coaching programs, visitwww.befittraining.com.