Guest Author: Travis Ronaldson (Strength & Conditioning Coach)
In part 1 of our Spring Health series we looked at how we can identify our goals and put timelines and measures in place to ensure we have direction and are always on the path to achieving them. So now that we have developed some health goals, it is time to get the nutrition part of our plan right. Now I think I can cover almost everyone’s goals by saying that they probably include wanting to lose some weight by getting rid of excess fat tissue and getting more defined. Rather than eating purely for weight loss or body composition goals however, I want to focus on eating for health. Just as with our goal setting we aimed to set goals for our fitness rather than purely just weight loss, we want our nutrition plan to improve our health, rather than just help us lose weight. This is because eating for health is something that will leave you feeling better, fitter and being healthier, which will help your body composition goals take care of themselves.
So while restricting some of the unhealthy foods you currently may consume is important, let’s also focus on the foods you should be eating more of.
Step 1. Clean out the fridge and cupboard of all of your high sugar and fat products. See it as a spring clean. This means getting rid of frozen desserts, stashes of chocolate and food that is counterproductive to your goals. If you have these foods around you, at some stage you are likely to be tired or stressed or fatigued and may, despite your best intentions, end up consuming them anyway. If you feel bad about throwing them out, give them away or donate them to charity, or even invite some friends or family over for dinner and try to get rid of them then.
Step 2. Get a water bottle. When you are hydrated you function better physically, mentally and emotionally. It will also serve as an appetite suppressant. When you feel better you are less likely to make bad eating decisions based on emotion. Research has indicated that the majority of people are dehydrated at any given time. Don’t rob yourself of the health benefits of being hydrated, which include feeling more energetic. Keep your drink bottle with you all day and try to consume a decent amount such as 500ml early in the day to help you stay hydrated all day. The best part? Tap water is cheap and easily accessible.
Step 3. Be organised. You need to have a plan of what you are going to eat and when. Don’t get to three o’clock, realise you are hungry and go to the vending machine. Pack some snacks. Most people intend to eat well, but end up being too busy to make something and buy an unhealthy treat. Get some Tupperware and after cooking a healthy dinner, pop the leftovers in and freeze it or take it to work for lunch. When you do have some time, such as on a Sunday, feel free to cook up a big healthy meal and divide it up into smaller portions for consumption during the week. It may sound like a lot of work, but it will save you money, make you healthier and stop you making bad eating decisions based on convenience alone. Also keep some snacks handy. A handful of nuts and seeds in your bag make a nice healthy, filling snack when you are on the move.
Step 5. Eat more veggies and salads. This goes without saying. Be adventurous and try some different vegetables and salad ingredients and combinations for variety. On the move? Quick heat up and frozen vegetables can make a quick and healthy meal. Use your vegetables and salads to help you fill up and get all of the vitamins and nutrients you need to feel great.
Step 6. Use cuts of lean meat and eat more fish. Dust off the grill and prepare those lean cuts of lamb and beef, chicken, kangaroo, turkey and pork. Be sure to include lots of fish in your food intake too, with salmon a great option that is high in protein and fatty acids essential for body function. Protein should always form the basis of your meals, with eggs, lentils and nuts also great sources of lean protein. This will assist with muscle growth and repair and also help you feel fuller for longer.
Step 7. If you don’t think you can cut out your vices cold turkey, or are worried if you do it could end in a three day sugar and saturated fat bender in a couple of weeks’ time, cut down slowly. It may be just cutting down from one can of soft drink a day to one can every second day, or takeaway three nights a week to takeaway only one. Slowly cut down even further as you go, and you will find that the less you consume sugar and fat, the less you will crave it.
Remember that you will be rewarded for eating well. Feeling great, being healthier and looking good are all great by-products of eating healthy, it doesn’t have to be a chore or feel like punishment. If you do fall off the wagon, try and get straight back on and make sure your next meal is healthy, don’t make the mistake of saying that you have started the day unhealthy and you may as well continue that way. Healthy eating is the key to building the body you want. Next step is exercise. Stay tuned for part three when we will cover how to design and implement an exercise program to reach your goals.
To find out more about Travis please visit his Facebook page at travisronaldson.com.au