This article, entitled "Fitness in Food," comes from MomsEveryday blogger Rachel Smith from Chico, CA.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term by now that you should “eat clean”, but do you really know what that means? If you are thinking that sanitizing your hands before downing a plate of nachos qualifies…you are on the wrong path.
Eating clean, for most of us means, fueling our bodies with the best foods available, which means staying away from processed foods and “junk” foods. Nutrition plays a HUGE part in having a healthy, fit body. In fact, I’d say it’s the most important factor. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose weight, or to gain muscle and tone, if you aren’t eating according to your goals…it’s just not going to happen. So often, people will spend hours working their tails off in the gym, only to set themselves back in the kitchen.
Here are a few fit mom tips to help you win the battle against poor eating habits:
It’s a mental thing.
Working out is easy, the real battle starts in the kitchen. Unless you are one of those people who was born without a sweet tooth, dislikes salty snacks, or has an aversion to anything full of fat (these people exist, we just don’t like them), then eating healthy is going to be a challenge at some point.
I will admit, that I am a lover of food. I love cooking, trying new recipes, dining out, desserts…you name it. I have always just really enjoyed food. The problem is, when food is a source of pleasure…it’s incredibly hard to eat healthy consistently. This is true especially for women, as eating something tasty can often be a stress reliever. While that bowl of ice cream might make you feel fantastic for an hour after your tot throws a tantrum…the frustration you get when you can’t button up your jeans lasts a heck of a lot longer.
For me, it took a significant mental shift to change my eating habits.
Here it is: Food is a source of fuel, not a source of pleasure. What you put into it directly effects its performance, similar to a car. If you put inexpensive parts into a Ferrari, it’s going to run like a Ford. The same goes with what you are fueling your body with. It needs to be fed to optimize how your body performs, and ultimately, how it looks.
The right stuff
One of the worst misconceptions out there is that to lose weight, you have to starve yourself. WRONG! In fact, you may find yourself consuming quite a bit more than ever before. Eating more of the right types of foods, that is. The rule of thumb with weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume. However, not all calories are created equal. A 300 calorie slice of pizza is going to have a much different effect on your body than 300 calories of fish, rice, and asparagus.
You need to find the right balance in your meal plan of the macro-nutrients that provide energy: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Not everyone’s plan will look the same, as everyone starts in a different place and has different goals. If you are not sure what to eat, I suggest consulting with a nutritionist. It will save you time in eliminating “guesswork”, and give you the confidence you need in knowing that you are eating the balance of the right types of food for you and your specific goals.
Eat. Then eat some more!
It was a few years ago that I made a lifestyle change and really started focusing on eating clean. However, when I decided to enter my first fitness competition, I knew that my nutrition was going to have to get even more targeted. I sought out the help of a sports nutritionist/health coach to help me develop a meal plan to reach my fitness goals by the competition date. I distinctly remember my jaw hitting the floor when I saw my first meal plan. I was eating more food, and more throughout the day than ever before. The first couple of weeks were admittedly challenging. Eating every three hours, even if I was not hungry, felt like I was overindulging.
The benefits were soon very clear. My energy levels stayed high throughout the day, as I was fueling my body with what it needed consistently. I also never found myself starving and reaching for a “quick fix” to ease my growling tummy. The mind can get very cloudy on what your body needs versus what it wants in a state of hunger :). My body always seems to want a big plate of Mexican food. Ultimately, changing my eating habits to 6 smaller meals per day helped me obtain my goal faster than I had anticipated.
Probably the hardest part of eating small, healthy meals throughout the day is the planning and preparation it takes to carry it out on a daily basis. We live in a fast paced world where we are often eating on the go: which keeps the drive thru at McDonald’s full, and our waist sizes large. It’s not easy to find a balanced healthy meal away from home, and if you do…it’s usually 5 times the cost of Big Mac. It’s a wonder Americans are the most obese country in the world, right?!
Eating well means getting used to preparing your meals ahead of time. This doesn’t mean that you have to light up the grill every morning before the sun rises though! Meal prepping can be done over a few hours over the weekend, or even once again mid-week. I like to cook every Sunday enough to get me through Wednesday, then again Wednesday evening to tide me over for the rest of the week. It’s just as easy to cook 3 packs of chicken as it is one! Of course, this may require a trip to Target to invest in Tupperware and a larger lunch pail. You can also find great options at www.sixpackbags.com.
Pay attention to the little things
Our families may be supportive of our decision, but it doesn’t mean they want to each chicken and broccoli with us all of the time! Often this means that we are cooking two meals at once…one for our family, and one for ourselves. My children are always expected to eat vegetables, so generally the only adjustment that I make is swapping out that cheesy piece of lasagna out for a nice piece of lean protein. Making it through the meal prep usually wasn’t the challenge for me, it was after I finished my nice healthy meal. I am a notorious “nibbler”. I would eat that last bite of lasagna one of the kids didn’t finish. Then I would sneak that little piece of garlic bread no one wanted. Of course I couldn’t let half of a brownie go to waste…that would be crazy! I didn’t feel as guilty as if I were an entire cheat meal, but here is where the problem lies…it adds up.
Think of it like this: we keep a jar in our house where we throw loose change. Every few months we take it in and trade it in for dollar bills, and it never ceases to amaze me how much it adds up to. Little nibbles of food are just like loose change…it may not be a lot on its own, but it can add up to a lot by the end of the day, sometimes more than an entire extra meal! Don’t sabotage your progress with nibbling…little things DO count!
Healthy eating is not always an easy road, but it is one that is rewarded with less doctor visits, a longer life span, a slimmer physique, and a huge feeling of accomplishment. Eating clean is not a short term diet, but a long term lifestyle change. You have to make the choice to put your health first…the only thing stopping you is you. There is no better time than NOW to start!
Until next time,
The Fit Mom.