I had 12 wonderful hours (to and from Napa) to catch up on my magazine/journal reading. I am very passionate about my career as a exercise and nutrition professional and I enjoy sharing my passion with each and every one of you. While I have my own philosophy on how I view food and exercise, I find it extremely important to the population that I keep up to date with ever-growing and new research. I am sure I miss a lot but subscribing to professional journals, such as the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, I am able to understand, apply and disseminate scientific information, specifically as it relates to food, nutrition and dietetics.
When it comes to exercise/training, I find that research changes almost daily. While most credible scientific nutrition studies are done long term, in order to demonstrate a change (or no change) in population rather than viewing a "snap shot" of society, I find that exercise research can be applied almost immediately and within a matter of a few months, results are noticeable.
The beauty (and often, frustration) of nutrition is that it is truely about the journey. Many of us take for granted daily nutrition habits which make a difference in how we feel and perform tomorrow. Not to mention, what we provide our body on a daily basis NOW, will likely have an effect on our health 20-50 years from now.
For example, any diet craze (ex. paleo, Dukan diet, low fat, sugar-free) will likely demonstrate considerable weight loss during the beginning phase, because the body is likely being restricted of calories. For most diets restrict foods. Certainly, be bumping up the nutrient density of your diet, it is likely that you can add in a host of nutrients through fruits and veggies, alongside eliminating x-food(s) in your diet. However, my concern with any diet is the restriction of certain foods. For in my opinion, there are no "bad" foods. There are foods we should emphasize and foods we should de-emphasize. However, de-emphasizing food does not mean "never can I have it". Even for myself as a health professional, I don't require that you are a vegetarian in order to live a healthful life. Rather, don't eliminate, replace. Focus on a plant based diet and incorporate more heart healthy foods into your diet..likely, making it a lot more balanced.
While it can be done to have a balanced "diet" diet, we don't know the effects of these diets long-term. Plus, having restriction, guilt and fear surrounding food is not my idea of a balanced lifestyle. And with no long term research on some diets, this could be a concern for any individual. Most importantly, for my fitness enthusiasts and athletes, who place their body under a considerable amount of stress, we require a high quantity of macro and micronutrients (not necessarily thousands and thousands of calories) to fuel metabolic processes.
What it all comes down to is balance. We aim for balance in our training routines and we should work towards balance with our diet.
I find that many individuals read a great deal of "thoughts" on the internet and immediately assume that the same diet or training routine will work for him/her. While it is great to try new things and consider a different way of living your life, we should strive to become healthier, more physically active (not necessarily "train" more) and more balanced. What works for one person may not work for everyone....nor is the right or best thing for your lifestyle at this moment in time.
Take a minute and reflect on the weaknesses in your current diet as well as the strengths. What do you feel is helping or hurting you meet your weight goal. Secondly, assess the nutrition of your diet and your view of food. For many people manage to stay at a healthy weight (or it is your goal/ideal weight) but stick to restrictive eating habits in order to stay at that weight. Third, take a look at your exercise routine. Do you feel the need to train/exercise every day in order to maintain/lose weight. While I believe in 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, we want to focus on a healthy dose of exercise. Too many athletes get incredibly close to overtraining for the fear of losing fitness or because of the fear of gaining weight.
After assessing your diet and exercise routine, think about 3 small changes that you can do on a daily basis to make yourself a more balanced person.
Perhaps taking a day off from training and taking a walk instead. Or, go to the local farmers market and pick out 3 veggies that you would never consider eating and try to find a recipe for them. Even better, write down 3 goals of how you want to feel (not look) in 30, 40 and 50 years from now. While we all want to be active and healthy, it is important that we are respecting our body now in order to enjoy the future.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ~World Health Organization, 1948