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Healthy Nutrition: Separating Fact From Fiction              by Kathleen Ekdahl
As fitness professionals, we are frequently asked, "Where and How" to begin this difficult process.  Below are some sensible suggestions for helping you begin the journey.   No myths. No gimmicks. 
#1 Seek advice from a professional.
(Your mother's hairdresser doesn't count!)  A professional is defined as a nutritionist or registered dietitian.  Even a fitness professional, such as a personal trainer, is not qualified to give in depth nutritional advice, only basic nutrition guidelines. Educate yourself by reing information on sound nutritional principles.
#2 Avoid diets that eliminate certain foods or entire food groups.
If you have successfully completed #1, this is a mute point.  Avoid any fad diet that requires eating only certain foods or combinations of foods.  These diets never work for long.  We are meant to eat a wide variety of foods in moderation and, thus, should never label certain foods as "bad".  Eliminating foods or entire food groups from your diet inevitably leads to deprivation and subsequent bingeing.
#3 Have patience!
The safest way to lose weight is to take your time. Nutritionists recommend 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week.  To lose 2 pounds/week, you must decrease your caloric intake by 7000 calories per week.  That's a reduction of 1000 calories per day.  Think about it! That's a tall order for some.  Any diet that claims higher weight loss is dangerous, unrealistic and short lived.  The weight will always come back once you stop the "diet".
Keep a food log.
Nutritionists recommend a food log as a way to track types and amounts of food eaten, as well as eating frequency.  They also suggest keeping track of emotions or "feelings" at the time of eating.  This will help you determine whether you are eating for reasons other than hunger.   A food log can help you "visualize" your eating patterns so you can adjust these patterns if necessary.   When you keep your log, be completely truthful about what you've eaten!   Do not look at the food log as punishment.  You are not "bad" or "good" because of what you have eaten.  The only way to fully discover your nutritional pitfalls is to be truthful with yourself.  The ultimate goal is to learn to seek satisfaction in healthier, low fat foods, matching what your body actually needs, with what YOU crave. 
#5 Add regular, vigorous exercise to your lifestyle.
It is impossible to be successful at long-term weight loss without exercise.   Some people can lose weight by adding exercise - without changing their diets - but this only works if their diets are well balanced and safe.  On the other hand, trying to lose weight without exercising, is futile.  Not only is exercise essential for good health and fitness, but, it raises your resting metabolism. A higher resting metabolism burns more calories and reduces the likelihood that calories will be stored as fat.
#6 Balance your nutrition with the 60-20-20 formula.
Most nutritionists recommend a daily calorie balance of 60% carbohydrates, 20% fat, and 20% proteins.  Each meal should also follow the 60-20-20 formula as well.   In addition to seeking this balance, look at total daily calories and fat grams.  
Make sure you get enough protein at each meal. Experts recommend .5-.7 grams of protein per day per pound of body weight, with .9 grams per pound being the uppermost limit of useable protein. Most women do not get enough protein, and consequently, cannot add much needed muscle.  This muscle helps raise metabolism and creates that lean, strong appearance they seek.  
#7 Know your BMR and feed your body the calories it requires.
Never eat fewer calories than your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) requires.  Your BMR is the amount of calories your body needs when it is at rest.  You can calculate your BMR by multiplying your current weight by 11.  Women often eat much less than their BMR.  This slows down their metabolism and sabotages their attempts to lose weight.
#8 Eat every meal.
Eat throughout the day, without skipping meals.  Skipping meals will make you hungrier later. Your largest meals should be taken earlier in the day. This gives you the opportunity to use those calories via your exercise and daily activities.  Breakfast is extremely important, especially if you exercise in the a.m.  Theoretically, dinners should not be very large meals, since shortly after, you will retire to bed.  
Take a multivitamin if you feel you are not getting enough fruits and vegetables.  Drink plenty of water, eat high fiber, multi-grain foods, and avoid high fat, high sugar or high salt foods. Eat everything in moderation while enjoying occasional "treats".
Accept yourself as you are.
Finally, learn to accept yourself as you are.  Women are meant to be "rounder" and fatter than men.  Men, by genetics, have larger muscles and are leaner than women.  You are beautiful and good.  Once you accept your beauty, no matter how atypical it may be, you will move forward towards giving yourself the gift of good health.

Kathleen Ekdahl is an AFAA and ACE Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer with over 10 years experience in fitness and a background in Clinical Re and Cardiovascular Medicine. Kathy is a consultant and presenter for the fitness industry and fitness professionals.

Fitness success can be achieved by following these simple rules:      Kathleen Ekdahl
1. Set achievable, realistic, internally focused goals.
We all set goals in our daily lives, and we need to do so with exercise as well. To make a difference in exercise adherence, the goals must be achievable and realistic. Most importantly, for the long haul, you must be motivated by the internal desire to be healthy because it feels great, not because your waist line will shrink. Goals such as “I’ll lose 30 pounds in 6 weeks for that wedding” are inappropriate and unachievable, not to mention, “externally focused”. With a goal such as this, you will eventually fail because the goal is unrealistic or even worse, you’ll lose weight too fast, and once the wedding is over, it will all come back because you were not motivated past the date of the wedding. We all know people who lost 30 pounds plus, just to gain it back, feeling worse than when they started. How self-defeating!

Finally, remember to reward yourself once you’ve achieved your goals, and then set new ones.

2. Accept yourself for who you are.
Each of us has a body type, a shape, a genetic gift that is ours. We may have shapely hips, strong muscular legs, or an ample bustline, and this is part of who we are. Accepting yourself for your genetic gifts, while giving yourself continual positive feedback such as “I am strong” and “I have a curvacious figure as all women are meant to have”, will go a long way to making you feel good about yourself. Negative self-talk achieves no purpose. It hurts us and makes us feel weak and failing. Once we feel good about ourselves on the inside and outside, we can overcome any minor setbacks that may arise as we move forward in our fitness.
3. Choose an exercise that you enjoy.
This may seem like a simple idea, but many people actually think they must suffer through exercise in order to be successful. The exact opposite is true if you want to find success. If you choose an exercise that you truly dislike, you’ll dread your exercise session and hence, you won’t do it! So, if you hate running - don’t run!

In order to address all aspects of good health you need to incorporate cardiovascular endurance, strength training, flexibility and nutrition. Even if you dislike one of these aspects of fitness, there are ways to sneak a little in here and there. By incorporating many different types of exercise and including lots of variety in your program, you will also be “Cross Training”, a proven way to beat boredom and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

4.Schedule your exercise time into your daily life just as you would any other appointment.
Our lives are often so hectic that we rarely have extra time to go to the grocery store, let alone exercise. Exercise can be pushed to a low priority when we become too busy.You must learn to manage your time more wisely, making exercise a top priority. If you analyze your current schedule, you will find places where you can insert an exercise session. Instead of your weekly manicure, or lunch with your friends, why not exercise instead? After all, which is more important, your health or your nails? Many people find exercising in the morning to be a good way to help them stick with their exercise programs, but this is only feasible if you have open morning time.
5. Don’t over exercise or under eat.
So many new exercisers make the mistake of thinking, "if a little exercise is good, more must be better." Even worse is this thinking: “if eating less makes me lose weight, eating even less will make me lose weight even faster.” Both of these ideas set you up for failure and possible injury and illness. It is possible to exercise too much, and injury is always the end result. Overexercising or “overtraining” can create “overuse injuries” such as pulled muscles, shin splints, and knee, foot and back problems. Undereating is just as dangerous, resulting in low energy, chronic sickness, slowing of your metabolism and increased risk of injury. Even occasional bouts of self-imposed starvation (DIETS), or bingeing and purging can lead to serious eating disorders.
6. Be Patient.
Changing your physical health takes time. Anyone, or anything that promises “quick, guaranteed results” is not telling the whole truth, and does not have your best interests at heart. They are only out to make money at your expense. Depending on your initial fitness level, creating positive changes in your health can take months, sometimes up to a year. This is not to be pessimistic - this is the truth!  Think of any goal you may have, whether it is saving for a new home, learning a new language, or training for a marathon.  Quick, guaranteed results are unheard of in these examples, why do we expect them in fitness?
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help! While some people manage to find fitness success on their own, many of us flounder through a lengthy trial-and-error process before we figure out how to achieve our goals. Finding a knowledgeable fitness professional to help can dramatically speed up this process. Make sure that you seek advice from a certified or accredited fitness professional with references, if applicable. Remember that while books, the Internet, or TV, often provide information about health and fitness, not all of it is grounded in science as it should be. Your best bet is to establish a one-to-one relationship with a gym, nutritionist or personal trainer who will provide you with healthy advice.
Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

Kathleen Ekdahl is an AFAA and ACE Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer with over 12 years experience in fitness and a background in Clinical Re and Cardiovascular Medicine. Kathy is a consultant and presenter for the fitness industry and fitness professionals.


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