Food gives us energy and it's what makes us able to perform everyday tasks from walking, breathing, cooking, and even moving your mouse on your computer right now... so literally everything. Without food, we are nothing. And that old saying, I'm sure we all heard a million times as a kid, "you are what you eat" is true. Your body is made up of whatever energy you put into it. So if you eat a lot of processed foods that are high in saturated fat and added sugar... guess what? That's what you are replenishing your body stores with... If you eat lots of lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables, then you are fueling those stores and providing your body with good, wholesome foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. All of which are vital for good health and nutrition!
Too many people think it' too challenging to reach all of the daily requirements our bodies need, but it's really not. However, it does take a little planning and discipline... And that means more than just remembering to take supplements. While supplements aren't bad... they are exactly what they mean... SUPPLEMENTAL! Meaning this is not where ALL of your micronutrients should be coming from. So, no, you aren't "healthy" just because you take supplements and think it makes up for eating junk foods. Many of them are synthetically made, so you aren't giving your body all the benefits it would be getting if you consumed those nutrients through your food. Also, all the money you spend on supplements is literally "wasted." When you take a supplement, your body does NOT absorb it all, so whatever isn't used is excreted, which a lot of times is half or less than half of the amount that's in the supplement.
Keep in mind... that is all being said for a person is does not have any conditions and is just being lazy about not eating properly. If you have a medical condition and your body does not absorb certain nutrients properly or does not produce certain nutrients, then supplements may be necessary, along with proper nutrition!
So if you find yourself kidna lazy, or you just don't know what foods you should be eating to help get all these wonderful nutrients in... here are my top 5 choices of foods that are going to provide a good balance on a daily basis. Keep in mind, it's important to have lots of variety in your diet, but you can't go wrong with these foods:
1. Blueberries - packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Great protector against heart disease and cancer! So many ways to eat them too... plain, in yogurt, on pancakes, in cereal, in salads... Not to mention it's a superfood!
2. Yogurt - Greek yogurt preferably. It's packed with protein and lots of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that are good for your digestive tract. Also, a great source of calcium!
3. Oats - They can be used in so many ways and they are a great source of whole grains and fiber! They make for a great breakfast and you can even add those blueberries to them!
4. Broccoli - I know, I know... Everyone's favorite! Broccoli offers so many vitamins and minerals and has lots of cancer fighting properties... These come from sulfur compounds, which is what causes it to smell while cooking.
5. Nuts - Nuts like almonds and walnuts provide lots of protein and healthy fats. They make for a great snack that will help keep you full and give you lots of energy!
Living in New Orleans during Lent really isn't much of a sacrifice with the boiled crawfish and fried shrimp... We are kinda spoiled down here. And for some of us, it's a detox from the not-so-healthy choices made during Mardi Gras. Many people give up certain foods and bad habits, but what happens when it's over? Many typically go right back to those things that may not be so healthy. I'm doing several things during Lent and while I did not give up any particular foods, part of what I'm doing is eliminating as many processed foods out of my diet as possible. And this is not just something I'm not doing this for just 40 days... It's a lifestyle change. I don't eat many processed things to begin with, but I want to eliminate them completely.
Another part of what I'm doing is not making any excuses. If you want something bad enough, you will work hard for it. If I feel too tired in the morning to pack my lunch or if I really feel like skipping the gym and going straight home after work... where is that going to get me? Nowhere...
Now the difficult part about making a lifestyle change like eliminating all processed foods, isn't not eating them or getting up a few minutes earlier to prepare them for the day... It is holding onto it even after those 40 days are up. For those people that are giving up things like sweets, alcohol... and the real brave ones...COFFEE! Obviously that's not something that's going to last forever, but maybe it will help you think twice about how often you do indulge.
I'm using these 40 days, not only as a time of sacrifice, reflection, and prayer, but as a way I want to continue to live even when these 40 days are over. I am constantly trying to improve the way I live and the healthy choices I make, so when I start something new, I go into it with the mindset that it's not just something temporary. This is just the start to an even healthier life!
And to help me stay on top of my goals and keep track of everything... I am using my fitbook! Don't forget to check out the link with all the awesome products!
What's a fitbook? For starters, it's my new favorite product! Fitbooks were created by Angela Mader to help promote living a healthy lifestyle and to help you achieve your goals. For me, I never really kept a food journal for an extended period of time before I started using my fitbook (about 3 weeks ago) because I always watch what I eat and get plenty of exercise. I've kept one from time-to-time during some some more intense training periods where I needed to monitor my caloric intake a little more closely. But now, I have a fitbook and it's hard to see myself not continuing to use it. It's amazing!
A fitbook helps you set goals and achieve them over a 12 week period. You start by setting your goals for the end of the 12 weeks, but you also set a new goal for each week. You actually set 3 goals... nutrition, workout, and "other." This week my nutrition goal is to not eat too much king cake (which is seemingly difficult with one always sitting in the kitchen), my workout goal is to increase my reps, and my "other" goal is to complete my DICAS application. The best part? You also set a reward for yourself each week (ONLY if you achieve your goals and stick to your plan), and preferably not a food reward!
Does it actually work? Yes! It forces you to plan ahead. I sit down at the beginning of each week and plan my workouts and meals, then you record each day separately. You record all your measurements at the beginning and end of the 12 weeks, and "weigh-in" each week. While I'm not necessarily looking to lose weight, it's a GREAT tool for people who are! It's great for everyone really... those looking to maintain weight, build muscle, or even just meal plan. Also, at the end of each week, you record how well you did... the good, positive points, and the areas where you struggled and maybe need a little improvement. It helps you stay on track and makes you feel guilty if you don't... all because you have to write it down... You are 69% more likely to stick to your goals if you WRITE them down. And people who tend to write down what they eat are likely to eat about 500 calories less a day compared to someone who doesn't - said by Angela herself!
I had an opportunity to listen to Angela speak at a meeting for work and she was so inspiring! She has developed a great product that I will continue to use and recommend! She has other great products (and an app!) that are available on her website... or even if you want to learn more, I recommend checking it out! And I love her fitlosophy - "live life fit."