My Thoughts on Nutrition: Keep it Simple!

(I am not a registered dietician nor an expert on nutrition. These are my thoughts about what has worked for me.)

We are a nation obsessed with fat. We are a nation obsessed with weight. With food. With diets. With extreme cardio. With….fill in the blank. Longer, leaner, firmer, lighter…we long for that quick fix. The newest diet on the market. The newest machine at the gym. I recently saw a machine that looks like an elliptical mixed with a recumbent bike. It was the oddest piece of equipment I have ever seen. Supposedly there is more glute activation because not only are you biking but you are also using your arms and you burn like 1000 calories an hour. Puuuuhlease. What a waste of space and a waste of your time. Grab a 40 pound dumbbell and do a few goblet squats (butt to the ground) and then tell me about glute activation. If you want to activate your glutes, SQUAT.  All the way down and all the way up. Then tell me how activated your glutes feel. 🙂

Nutrition plays a huge role in living healthier, losing weight and staying fit.  Exercise aside, if you want to begin changing the way you feel, take long, hard look at what you are eating. Plan your meals. Choose your foods wisely.  Power shakes are great….but why not EAT instead of drink your meals? Instead of eating a meal replacement bar filled with preservatives and other crap for lunch, eat a garden salad filled with spinach, carrots, tomatoes, red cabbage, peppers and top it off with some good protein – grilled chicken, canned tuna, salmon, lunch meat, cottage cheese. Vegan or vegetarian??? There are some great recipes online and there are plenty of strong individuals who are able to plan their meals well and include good amount of protein in their diet. Yes, good amount of protein. If you don’t eat it, your body cannot grow. The point is, eat nutrient dense food, not bars. Skip the frozen Lean Cuisine meal that is filled with preservatives, sodium, glutenhmenaical (I made this word up but you get the point) and grill a nice salmon steak or make salmon burgers. Grill chicken, make a bean casserole….eat real food that YOU prepare. Just don’t eat something out of a box. You don’t know where that box has been. 🙂

We all have the ability to choose what we do and do not eat. Pass by the donut aisle at the food store. Don’t walk down the cookie aisle.  Ignore the ice cream aisle.  Remember when you were a kid and your parents took you out to get ice cream and your were so excited because it was such a rare occasion that you go to go out and actually get an ice cream cone??? We call that getting a treat.  Once in a blue moon, my parents would take me, my sister and my brother to McDonalds.  It was always such a huge deal.  I can remember my brother feeling so overwhelmed the first time he went (he was all of 2-3 years old), that he could not even eat his food. (I helped him out with his fries.) He was that excited.  Try to get that feeling back as an adult. What are your special treats? Allow yourself to have them.  Every once in awhile, go out for an ice cream.  Eat a burger with fries.  Allow yourself a treat of milk and cookies. The key is to not do it every day.  Feed your body good food, fibrous food, nutrient dense food and your body will thank you now and when you are 80.  Save your treats for when you need them.  That way they will taste so much better.

The message here is simple. It is not about the latest gadget and the newest diet or diet pill.  It is about getting back to the basics. Simple nutrition. Simple training. If you want to lose a few pounds, if you want to lose fat, you need to change how and what you eat. Fat loss starts in the kitchen, not in the gym. If you want to lose weight, you have to stop looking at exercise as the key to fat loss. It is only part of the picture. You should NOT be exercising to lose weight. You should BE exercising to 1. Feel better 2. Get stronger 3. Become more mobile 4. Become more flexible 5. Get stronger. Exercise to keep your body healthy. Eat less to lose weight. (My next post will be more on the importance of basic training – squats, push ups, chin-ups, deadlifts.) To feel better and get stronger, you have to train smarter.

Below are a few of my meals. I have included breakfast, lunch and dinner. My snacks usually consist of almonds, apples, bananas. “Dessert” is usually greek yogurt with a little honey and granola. My “treats” are typically on the weekend, like a beer. 🙂 This is what I have found that works for me. My meals are pretty much the same each day….it helps me stay on track and keeps me running all day. Enjoy!

Breakfast consists of an omelet prepared with two omega-3 eggs, four egg whites, about two ounces of ham, and a handful of spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and whatever other veggies are in the fridge.  I also have a cup of fruit, usually strawberries.

Breakfast preparations
Cooking the omelete

Lunch is always a green salad topped with about five ounces of grilled chicken and olive oil as dressing.

Lunch preparations
Chicken added!

Dinner is different each day of the week, but repeats again the following week.  So each Monday I will have the same dinner, and then a different one on Tuesdays, and so on.  This makes planning and shopping easier, while having enough variety to keep things interesting.  Each dinner consists of a healthy portion of protein, mostly fish and chicken, with the occasional red meat.  There is also a good portion of veggies, and a starch such as rice or potatoes.   Here are two examples from different nights:

Dinner #1 - Chicken, green beans, sweet potato
Dinner #2 - Chicken sausage, vegetables, sweet potato (sometimes brown rice)

I will usually have a protein shake after heavy lifting workouts.  This is by no means necessary or recommended if you are trying to lose weight (though the heavy lifting is), but it helps if you are trying to build muscle.

So, there you have it.  Not terribly exciting, but simple to prepare and easy to follow.  Good nutrition is not rocket science and does not require a culinary degree.  Just eat real, nutrient dense foods that you prepare yourself.  Stay away from packaged foods as much as possible.  Eat protein and fibrous vegetables with every meal.  Adjust your carbohydrate intake up or down to match your level of activity and training.   Eat more if you are trying to build muscle and less if you are trying to lose fat.  Don’t get taken in by advertisements and systems that sound too good to be true.  Be persistent, be patient and keep it simple!

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