The beginning of another year is an ideal time to cast off the regrets and unfulfilled plans of the past and embrace the new year with a renewed commitment to change.
In other words, it’s time to get in shape.
It’s easy enough to promise yourself that this is the year you’ll finally knuckle down to it by eating right and working out regularly. But what exactly does that mean? These days, there are countless fad diets and exercise regimens, each one promising to produce a trimmer, healthier you. This time, instead of opting for the newest, most popular route to wellness, why not get back to basics? Regular physical activity and a balanced diet that emphasizes the basic food groups can be the simplest, most direct way to achieve your health goals for 2018. After all, when it comes to health and nutrition, you probably learned everything you need to know in your formative years. You just lost sight of it along the way.
Protein for energy
You can’t jump into an aggressive fitness program if you lack the nutrition needed to sustain one. The basic food groups, the same ones you learned about in first grade, are ideal for fueling your body. Balance is important – you can derive many benefits from maxing out on vegetables, but you’ll miss out on vital protein and carbohydrates. If you’re serious about working out this year, protein is exactly what you need. It helps build muscles and provides energy.
You should eat approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, which you can get from poultry, fish, dairy, red meat, eggs and legumes. Be careful to avoid proteins that are high in trans and saturated fats. The recommended daily amount of protein is anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of daily caloric intake, but that range may vary depending on the individual. Don’t forget to include a healthy dose of nuts, olives, avocados and other healthy sources of fat, an important element in keeping your cholesterol under control.
Don’t forget the fiber
Most of us are familiar with the refrain, “Eat your vegetables!” since we were very young, probably without understanding why we should. Fortunately, health and nutrition experts have gotten better at explaining why vegetables and fruit are so important. They’re rich in fiber, an afterthought for many Americans but which is very important for digestive health. Fruit and vegetables also impart antioxidants, a substance that’s proven effective at protecting cells against free radicals, which can cause cancer and other diseases. If you just can’t handle broccoli again, try experimenting with other members of the vegetable family and with different ways of preparing them. Remember, it’s better to start with small steps than to ignore such an important part of a healthy diet.
For anyone in addiction recovery, nutrition and eating well are often overlooked as a means of helping survivors rebound from the associated negative physical effects. A healthy diet helps boost the strength they may have lost after years of self-abuse. Plus, eating healthier is a great way to boost the immune system.
Kick it up a notch
If, like most people, you struggle to find the time for regular exercise, you may have discovered that a brisk walk is an excellent way to get a good cardio workout. If weight loss is your aim, try injecting a little more vigor into your routine by jogging for a portion of your daily walk. That can help set your metabolism at a slightly higher rate (assuming you’re doing it every day). If weight training is more your speed, make an effort to include workouts that benefit each muscle group. That’ll keep you toned and increase weight loss.
It may well be that the best way to achieve health and wellness goals for 2018 is to simplify your approach and get back to basics. Maintaining a balanced diet and getting sufficient nutrition is a precondition for getting the physical exercise needed to boost your metabolism and shed pounds. If you like, you can start by eating your broccoli!
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