When people as me what I studied in school, their first reaction is usually something along the lines of "Oh, you can help me with a meal plan!" or "I need to lose some weight, what should I eat?" Truth is, it varies person to person. Each person's nutritional needs may be a little different from the next. While there are so many reliable resources at our fingertips, like MyPlate and other USDA resources, they provide generalized recommendations to cover a large population. They provide a great outline of a healthy diet, but some people may need something more individualized, hence the job of a dietitian! A lot of things have to be taken into consideration when working with an individual and his/her nutritional needs.
Another thing I am frequently asked is if a certain diet supplements/diets work... Honestly, most of them are going to just help you take off water weight. There are countless diet products on the market... Don't waste your time or money. One, you are more than likely depriving your body of the nutrients it needs because you aren't eating enough due to a curbed appetite. Two, many people want the easy, quick fix, so they purchase products that are going to allow them to do this... Many of these products will say you don't have to change your diet or exercise. NOT TRUE! They are usually just taking off water weight, and as soon as you stop taking them, the weight will be right back to where it was! In order to lose weight, maintain weight, or whatever your goal may be... changing your lifestyle is what you have to do... This includes altering the way you eat and incorporating exercise. This doesn't mean you have restrictions or that you can't enjoy food... If you don't enjoy what you're eating, then why eat it?
Since I get questioned a lot, I decided to come up with my top 5 tips to living a healthy lifestyle! These are very generalized tips that can be part of anyone's routine. Apply it to your life and do what works best for you... Like I mentioned, everyone has different needs and goals!
1. Eat a wholesome, healthy diet
Eating wholesome, healthy foods will give you the energy you need to be your best! Nutrition should be of concern to everyone, even if you consider yourself to be healthy, because it is our foundation. Nourishing ourselves with the nutrients we need is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle. Quick fixes like diet pills and fad diets will only get you so far. When you think of nutrition, think long-term, not just right now! And remember, everything in moderation. Don't limit yourself from eating something you enjoy, even if it's not the healthiest thing! It's perfectly fine to enjoy a greasy burger, slice of cake, or any of your favorite treats from time to time. There is no reason to deprive yourself!
2. Drink lots of water
Drinking water not only keeps us hydrated, but has so many other benefits as well. It's needed for many reactions and processes that go on in our bodies. If we are dehydrated, our body is not functioning at its max potential. This can further cause problems, like injuries during exercise. A little secret.... It keeps us looking younger too! If you're dehydrated, you are more likely to look older and show more signs of aging; if you're drinking the appropriate amount of water, then your skin will look well hydrated and keep you looking younger!
3. Be active... and enjoy it
Find an activity you truly enjoy. Exercising/workouts should not be dreadful. Sure, we all have our days where we don't feel like working out, but if we push through that mental block, we will only become stronger. For the most part, your workout should be something you really enjoy, but of course, we all have those parts of workouts that we don't always care for... like for me, I LOVE leg day, but don't particularly like chest day, but I push through it because I know I will not get any better at it, or improve in anyway if I don't do it. Trying new things is the only way to find out what you like... I never thought I would be a runner. I'm a severe chronic asthmatic. I never would have imagined myself crossing the finish line of a half marathon, but I did. Twice, so far. And now I'm working towards a full. When you do find what you like, don't stop there! Keep trying new things to keep your workouts fun... Paddleboarding (great core workout!), dancing, kickboxing, swimming, hiking... the options are limitless!
4. Listen to your body
Don't over-do it. If your body is sending you signals that it's tired or needs a break, then give it a break. If you are in the middle of a workout and you become tired and/or mentally drained, stop. You will not be doing much for yourself by continuing at that point, and you increase your risk for injury. Getting plenty of sleep is a very important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 6AM is going to reduce your productivity and not allow you to function at your potential. You will be left feeling drained and lack motivation to workout, and be more tempted to stop and grab a burger on the way home (partly because you know it will make you feel better) and you can use the excuse that you're too tired to cook or do anything else. By listening to your body, eating a healthy diet, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and resting when your body needs a break are necessary for staying healthy. One of the most important things to keep in mind here, is knowing the difference from when you're actually tired and when you're just being lazy!
5. Do what you love
Find what you are passionate about and do it. I love nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle, so I use my interests and knowledge to help others. I find so much reward in what I do, and I know it's just beginning! When someone asks me for advise or my opinion on something, and they later tell me it worked for them or they feel better because they started changing the way they eat, I feel good knowing I helped someone make those changes (big or small) to improve his/her lifestyle! Part of living healthy includes being happy!