Updated: Mar 12, 2020
March is National Nutrition month and the perfect time to focus on healthy eating and exercise. Consistent exercise is very important for your overall health and fitness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adults should aim to get at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, which includes high intensity exercises like running, jogging and Zumba (WHO, 2020). If you are unable to perform high intensity exercise, you should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, which can include dancing, swimming, walking, cycling, tennis, or yoga. Children 5 to 17 years old should participate in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily (WHO, 2020). I highly recommend that you start with an exercise that will be fun like Zumba or a dance class. Physical activity does not have to be exhausting or boring.
Regular exercise helps control your body weight and can reduce your risk of chronic diseases which can include type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 42 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese (CDC, 2020). Being overweight or obese can significantly decrease your quality of life. Excess weight can begin to cause stress on your muscles, joints, bones, and ligaments. Obesity can also cause other health problems, which can include lower back pain, depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping due to sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
Did you know not getting enough sleep is directly associated with an increase in weight in and around the belly area? You should aim to get at least six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you have consistent problems falling asleep or staying asleep through the night, contact your primary care physician (PCP), to determine if a sleep study is required to determine or rule out sleep apnea.
It can be difficult to change bad eating habits like grabbing meals from fast food restaurants or eating out to avoid cooking meals at home. However, planning your meals and batch cooking are two of the best winning strategies for losing weight and eating healthier. Batch cooking requires you to plan your meals for a several days so, that you can have healthy meals ready when you need them. I batch cook my weekly meals on Sunday. I start to plan my menu on Friday and then purchase the items I need on Saturday or Sunday morning.
Batch cooking does require discipline and the process can be time-consuming. However, here are some tricks that I recommend to help with the batch cooking process. Listen to some of your favorite music while cooking your meals, watch one of your favorite shows on your DVR, or watch a movie on Netflix. When you cook your own meals, you control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat that is included in your meals, which is a win-win for you, your family, and your health.
Eating healthy is not about depriving yourself from food. However, in order to lose weight you will need to make sure you are eating a variety of healthy foods to obtain the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for optimal health. It is also important to ensure your portion sizes are adequate. Most portion sizes served in restaurants are more than what you should be eating. An easy way to measure portion sizes is to use your fist as a measurement tool. Your vegetable and meat portion sizes should not be any larger than the size of one of your fists. You should aim to eat a variety of colorful fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, beans, lentils, wild-caught fish, and healthy grains each week. In addition, make sure you drink more water and less sugary drinks like soda. Finally, if you must eat red meat and poultry, try eating lean cuts of meat that are grass-fed, which should not have harmful chemicals like antibiotics, human growth hormones, and steroids.
Are you ready to make the necessary changes to move toward a healthier weight? Remember, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthier weight can help improve your overall health and well-being. Check out the links below to help you with exercise suggestions. Also, I have provided some great resources to empower you to make healthy meals at home.
Enjoy and be well!
Exercise and Healthy Eating Resources
USDA’s MyPlate Kitchen (Recipes, Cookbooks, Recipe videos, and other resources)
20 Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Beginners (provided by the Food Network)
Athlean-X YouTube Channel (30-minute workouts with strength coach and physical therapist, Jeff Cavaliere)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, February). Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States 2017-2018. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm?deliveryName=USCDC_171-DM21134
Eat Right. (2020, March). Family exercise ideas for every season. Retrieved from: https://www.eatright.org/fitness/exercise/family-activities/family-exercise-ideas-for-every-season
Food Network. (2019, May). 20 Easy plant-based recipes for beginners that will make you drool. Retrieved from: https://www.foodnetwork.ca/healthy-eating/photos/plant-based-recipes-for-beginners/#!plant-cauliflower-wings
U.S. Department of Agriculture ChooseMyPlate. (2020, March). My Plate Kitchen. Retrieved from: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplatekitchen
World Health Organization (WHO). (2020, March). Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/