If you dedicate yourself to working out, you can enjoy the occasional piece of cake. Go ahead…Sweat now, treat later!
Eating a balanced diet (“clean eating”) and exercising regularly is easier said than done. It’s more convenient to grab fast food than cook vegetables, and it’s tempting to put off exercise because you’re too tired. However, not only will exercise and a clean diet help you look better, they’ll help you feel better. So, while regular exercise is a key component to managing weight gain (and stress), it is imperative that you follow a clean diet if you want to see results.
I know, I know… the term “clean eating” can be intimidating. I don’t know anyone, myself included, who wants to give up all of their favorite foods forever and ever and ever! Well, I have good news. You don’t have to! Moderation is key — you can still eat what you like, while reducing portion sizes and making healthier choices MOST of the time. Personally, I try to stick to the 80/20 rule. I eat clean 80% of time and allow myself to relax my diet and enjoy my favorite treats 20% of the time.
Below are some tips on how to maintain a balanced exercise/diet regimen.
Try to do 30-60 minutes of walking, jogging, aerobic classes, biking, swimming, etc. at least 3 days a week. Be sure to keep the intensity up! If you can carry on a casual conversation, you are not working hard enough. Keep a log of your activity and aim to increase your time and/or intensity every couple of weeks.
Lift weights or perform body resistance exercises at least two days a week. Focus on working all the major muscle groups. Join PRESCRIPTION FITNESS – hiring a trainer who will encourage you to push you past your comfort zone is very important.
- Figure out how many calories you need to eat per day. There are free online caloric needs calculators that will give you a number based on your age, weight and activity level. Losing 1 pound requires eating 3,500 fewer calories than you burn. This is where clean eating and exercise come into play.
- Fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. Plant foods should make up the bulk of your diet.
- Limit your fat and sugar intake. Make sparing use of healthy oils such as olive and coconut, or get your fats from foods such as nuts and avocados.
- Eat whole foods as often as possible. Beans, nuts and tofu are low-fat, single-ingredient protein sources, as are fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat.
- Pair lean protein with whole grains — the more fiber you get in your diet, the better, so choose brown rice, quinoa and steel-cut oats over white rice, bread and sugary cereal.
- Replace sweetened beverages with water and green tea, and have fruit for dessert. You might find that the less sugar you eat, the less you want.
- Be patient with yourself. Clean eating and regular exercise don’t happen overnight. Think gradual lifestyle change.
- Exercise and clean eating should enhance your life, not become it.