Health and fitness planning: part 2

Now that you have decided to get healthier, it’s time to create a plan.  Many people automatically get turned off at this point because the idea of dieting turns people off.  Oh and the thought of needing to exercise does the same thing.

The word diet brings up images of failure because people tend to levitate toward fad diets rather than healthy eating.  The main reason people fail in losing weight and maintaining a healthier self is that they start with a fad diet which tends to be difficult to keep following and does not necessarily lead to healthy eating overall.  If you get tired of eating the same foods over and over again you tend to give up easier and end up going back to how you ate before.

If you start off by choosing to eat healthier rather than following a specific diet then you have a better chance at success. I know that until I started to choose to eat healthier rather than just follow a diet, I was just mildly successful in losing weight.

The other thing is you really do need to be active. We were designed to be active rather than sedentary in life.  I know I have heard many claims from pills and fad diets that state you don’t need to exercise but rarely is this successful and you end up just not feeling well.

So what should you do?  The first thing you should do is have some type of plan.  With a plan, you have a greater chance of getting started and being successful and continuing what you set out to do.

Healthy eating is as simple as choosing food that is natural such as fruits, vegetables and some proteins and limiting or eliminating processed foods from your diet. When I was growing up we were given the food pyramid and told this was the best way to eat.  I suggest you think of eating as an experience rather than a diet.

You need to understand that your body needs a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in order to sustain a healthy body. You don’t need to eliminate certain categories of food from your diet, but instead select the healthiest options from each category.  A good diet should contain a higher amount of vegetables and fruits than grains, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Choosing right types of food

Protein gives your body energy it needs for the day while supporting mood and cognitive function.   It’s important to select the best ones for your body.  Red meats can be eaten sparingly so you don’t need to give it up altogether.  Chicken and fish are good choices.  There are also some plant-based proteins that you can choose as well.

Good fats can be beneficial for your brain and heart.   Omega-3 rich foods have great health benefits for both your brain and body.  It helps out with depression and anxiety as well as heart-related problems.  Really this more involved and deserves a separate discussion for another day. Just know that omega-s3s is important for your overall health.   There have been off and on discussions about what makes one type of fat healthier than another.  Currently, good fats are things such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats:

  • Olive, canola, peanut, and sesame oils
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines) and fish oil
  • Soybean and safflower oil
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu

There is currently some research suggesting soy is not as healthy as it has been thought of in the past.  A good replacement for soy sauce is coconut aminos.  It actually tastes similar and really is a good paleo substitute.

Another source of energy for your body is carbohydrates.   It is important to choose good carbs such as complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs which are stripped of natural nutrients and grains.  The choice of bad carbs is probably one of the greatest risks to eating healthy.  Cutting back and eliminating white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar from your diet can help prevent spikes in blood sugar, moderate mood and energy swings,  as well as help to keep away excess fat from your waistline.

Foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you stay regular and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Other benefits include improvement of your skin and also helping with weight loss.

Eating foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you stay regular and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also improve your skin and even help you to lose weight.

So now that you have an idea of food choices, the best way I have found is to find recipes that have foods that you have chosen to eat within your diet.  You can choose to join or get a plan that already has recipes and a weekly diet plan or make one for yourself. If you have a difficult time starting then finding a premade plan might be the way to get started. I had been going up and down with my weight and struggling with eating healthy for awhile when I came upon an ad from a local gym that had a 16-week weight loss program.  Not only did it give access to the gym with an exercise plan but a full 16-week diet plan complete with meals for each day.  I actually lost a significant amount of weight which was mostly body fat and gained more muscle.  This is the main reason I suggest finding and setting up a meal plan and sticking with it for at least a few months before you add some less than healthy foods.  It is definitely easier to benefit from a healthy eating plan if you eat that way exclusively for a significant period of time before you eat foods that aren’t as healthy for you.  What happens is you start feeling the benefits of the healthier food and you don’t fall back as easily to eating predominately foods that aren’t as good for you.  If you have a significant amount of weight to lose you need to lose a good portion of it before you can add what I consider to be comfort or cheat foods.

As a diabetic, I had a difficult time losing weight and gained quite a bit because I was on insulin.  Insulin tends to cause your body to hold on to body fats which in turn causes weight gain and then puts you in the vicious cycle of needing more insulin.  As a result, my best diet choice was a paleo plan.  You need to research and choose a food plan that works best for you based on your health needs and life choices.

If you want to try making your own meal plans I suggest searching for paleo recipes because they are a good choice as either a complete plan or to add in with other recipe choices if you decide a full paleo plan isn’t for you.  I can honestly say eating a paleo only diet was the only way I had success in weight loss as well as feeling much better on a daily basis. Around the holidays I didn’t follow my normal paleo diet and ended up feeling so much worse so I know for me paleo was the way to go.

I ended up putting together a binder of recipes along with grocery lists to make everyday planning easier and stressfree.  The plan I had with the gym provided me with a weekly meal plan complete with recipes and a weekly grocery list.  Coming up with something similar seems to be the way to go.  If you can’t find one online, I highly recommend taking the time out to create one for yourself in advance.  I think that helped me be more successful in my dieting.

An active lifestyle is a must along with healthy eating.  You should ideally work out at least three times a week.  Cardio along with weight training is the way to go.  It could be simply walking or biking along with doing some exercises that target your various body areas.

Next, I will be discussing in more detail about how to set up your own meal plan or finding one that fits your needs.

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