Saturday, January 2, 2010

Health & Fitness for the New Year

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter just started, but trust me, it's not too early to start getting your beach body back. If you wait until June, it will already be too late. I know, it's tough to fight the impulse to hibernate in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a novel. A little hibernation is therapeutic, but make it your goal right now to take action, alter stagnating behaviors, and implement a few new tools toward shaping up for the new year. I am going to share with you 5 simple steps to get healthier, more fit, and increased energy. What better way to start the new decade?

Health & Fitness Step #1: Eat fruit for breakfast. Fruit is best consumed on an empty stomach for optimal digestion. Fruit contains all the components it needs to digest itself and requires little assistance from the body. Fruit for breakfast will wake your body up and stimulate elimination channels. Proper elimination is the most important factor for improved health and weight loss. When you do your grocery shopping, look around the produce section for seasonal fruit that stands out and looks delicious. Always make sure you keep your fruit basket full at home, so you don't even have to think in the morning. Just grab a piece of delicious, juicy fruit and bite in!

Health & Fitness Step #2: Eat at least one green salad every day. Greens are such an important food to include in your diet because they contain an array of important vitamins, trace minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, even macronutrients in perfect proportion to nourish the body's tissues and cells. They even contain plenty of amino acids to help you build muscle! Greens are truly a super food. I know it can be difficult to get that green salad in every day. I love greens, but I get tired of them too! I have a solution, however, which will guarantee you to eat your green every day and love it! The answer is the green smoothie. I have one every single day for breakfast. By making my green smoothie every morning, I knock out step 1 and 2 at the same time: fruit first and greens every day! This is what my green smoothie was this morning:
  • 1/4 C. purified water
  • Half organic cucumber
  • 1 peeled lime
  • 1 ripe banana
  • Kale & Cilantro
  • 1 T. freshly ground flax seed
  • 1 C. frozen mango
Toss it all into the blender and power it up. Making breakfast and eating my greens takes 10 minutes tops. Fantastic!
It is important to rotate your greens and get creative with your smoothie ingredients.

Health & Fitness Step #3: Find an enjoyable form of exercise or physical activity and schedule it into your day. Lack of time is probably the biggest excuse for not exercising. Exercise doesn't have to take a long time. I do enjoy going to the gym for an hour-long workout, but most of the time, I just don't have that kind of time. I solve this problem by implementing the habit of waking up 15 minutes earlier to perform a quick, high-intensity workout that will get my blood and lymph moving. If you haven't discovered CrossFit yet, check it out because that is exactly what you need if you are short on time.

My typical morning workout, which doesn't cost me any money or any more time than 15 minutes per day, looks something like this:
  • Jog to my neighborhood park
  • 10 pullups on the playground bars
  • 3 uphill sprints
  • 10 pushups between each set of sprints
  • 50 lunges back toward home
  • Sprint home
  • Cool down with 4 sun salutations
These are all bodyweight exercises requiring no special equipment and no money, just 15 minutes per day. The high-intensity factor helps me stay lean and toned. My muscles stay strong and toned without 50 pound barbells.

The first step for successful exercising is just making it a habit. Decide that is what you are going to do first thing in the morning and don't give yourself any other choice. Write down the five exercises you are going to do the night before. If you do this just four times per week, it will make a big difference. If you are one who really needs someone else to motivate you to action, get a personal trainer. A personal trainer will customize an exercise program for you, keep you accountable, and force you to constantly improve. A personal trainer could be your fast-track to physical results. If you really want to see a difference in 2010, prioritize your finances and hire a personal trainer. Get your butt in shape and get your body moving whatever it takes. By 9AM, you can have steps 1, 2, & 3 knocked out.

Health & Fitness Step #4: Quit drinking sodas and bottled beverages full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. These drinks full of highly refined sugar or toxic sugar substitutes that do nothing but subtract from your overall health. High fructose corn syrup is not metabolized in the same manner as whole sugars and is linked to obesity and diabetes. Sugar substitutes are composed of toxic elements foreign to the body which may lead to sweet cravings and weight gain anyway. Our bodies are exposed to enough toxic elements in the water and air already. Don't contribute more to that toxic load; the liver already has a demanding job without the food additives.

If you are attached to the fizz factor, try drinking sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lime. You will be surprised how satisfying this really is. If you are attached to the sugar factor, this is going to take serious self-discipline. Sugar is addictive, so you will have to really make an effort at beating the soda habit. An extremely beneficial habit would be to replace the soda with Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented beverage containing beneficial organisms that aid in digestion and detoxification. For me, it is a treat that ranks above chocolate! In fact, when I get post-lunch sugar cravings, drinking kombucha knocks the craving right out. And how fantastic is it that I am giving my body something healthful?!

If you are addicted to the caffeine factor, switch to Yerba Maté tea which has caffeine without the other ingredients. Yerba Maté comes from a South American shrub. The tea infusion is similar to green tea. When I drink Yerba Maté for an energy boost, I do not experience the negative side effects that come from drinking coffee such as jitteriness, headaches, or nausea. I keep a Yerba Maté in my desk drawer at work for those especially tiresome days.

Health & Fitness Step #5: Eliminate fried foods. Fried foods are detrimental for two reasons: 1. They contain trans fat and 2. They are usually fried in vegetable oil. So, what is so bad about these two facts?

1. Trans fat is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are made to be solids at room temperature. This kind of fat is not found in nature and has been linked to cancer, neurological disorders, birth defects, nutritional deficiency, among others and should be completely avoided. Start reading the labels on any packaged food and look for "Hydrogenated", "Partially Hydrogenated", and "Shortening". Strictly avoid these foods. Hydrogenated oils are supertoxins that may get caught in the liver and contribute to gradual health decline. Also, note that fast food is loaded with this fat and should be avoided.

2. Vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola, and soybean oils are polyunsaturated fats which are highly susceptible to heat damage. Heat causes oxidative damage creating free radicals. Translation: these oils after heat exposure become cancer causing.

The bottom line is, there is absolutely no reason your body would want you to eat french fries or doughnuts. There is plenty of healthful, natural food to eat instead. For a mid-morning snack, if I want something bread-like, I eat a slice of toasted sprouted-grain cinnamon-raisin bread sometimes topped with an organic nut butter. This a much better choice over doughnuts.

If you start the new year off by following these 5 steps, you will be feeling better and looking better in no time. Cheers to your beach body 2010.


Anonymous said...

"'s not too early to start getting your beach body back. If you wait until June, it will already be too late." <- You hit the nail right in the head :D

Kristen's Raw said...

Yay for greens and green smoothies! Yum!

Happy New Year!

Cherri said...

I just discovered your blog and I'm loving it!

Rylee said...

Love it!
I'm going to make myself a green smoothie right now!