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Just as many people were feeling good about finishing Christmas, getting back into the gym and hitting their new fitness goals we were slammed with yet another lockdown. A setback like this – in the winter, after Christmas and when our usual freedoms have been reduced – it’s not great for the motivation. While working out at home is ok, many of us are limited to bodyweight cardiovascular work, core work and resistance work (if you have a few free weights) at home.
Whilst all of the above will certainly keep things ticking over fitness-wise, I wanted to look at how a good nutrition plan can supplement your workouts and help you achieve your goals despite the setbacks.
Following on from my recent weight loss articles, I will now share a few tips about how to organise your kitchen to help you reach your goals.
Out of sight, out of mind. The most important thing in my opinion is to remove unhealthy or quick foods from sight so they’re not so easy to grab and go. That is not to say, there isn’t a place for them as a treat now and then, but it’s the regular picking that hampers your progress. With food wastage being such a current issue, you may feel that you don’t want to just throw this food out, so another good idea would be to take it out of view. How many times have you walked into the kitchen and just picked up something to eat out of convenience? Stash it away for when you really need it.
Get tempted by the good stuff -get it out on show. For those moments when you’re tempted to graze – especially now with everyone spending so much time at home – make sure the food that’s easy to grab, is food with nutritional benefits. Fruit can be a lot better in terms of calories and definitely better in getting in your vitamins, minerals and fibre. Mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes…nutrient packed vegetables to eat on the go, or pad out meals whilst keeping calories down.
It’s the nuts. Filling, fibrous and full of protein. A handful of nuts as a snack and a sprinkling of seeds on you breakfast have heart-healthy benefits, omega 3 fatty acids and can lower cholesterol.
Add chia seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds to vegetable based smoothies (kale and spinach over mango and banana – use your smoothies for low sugar veg you wouldn’t enjoy as much eating raw!). Throw a handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried coconut on your museli. Grab a small bowl of almonds, pistachios, (unsalted) peanuts, walnuts and chestnuts to snack at through the day.
Eat more, not less. Just make sure it’s more of the right things. Time and time again I hear of people starting new diets – cutting this out, and that out, starving one day and eating the next. We do not need more restrictions!
The way that those practices /diets work is by reducing and restricting calories. But…by doing it that way, you also miss out on vital nutrients and bacteria (more of this next), food groups and most importantly the fact that health is a long-term lifestyle choice – not a fleeting moment.
Whether we like to think about it or not, our bodies contain trillions of bacteria, the majority of which are located in the gut. This gut bacteria is vital to health, as they communicate with the immune system and produce certain vitamins. Furthermore, gut bacteria affects digestion and are responsible for the chemicals that make you feel full. As a result, they can affect your weight. Higher levels of gut bacteria are associated with a stable, healthy weight.
Size does matter. Having different sized bowls and plates can also help keep your portion sizes in check. If you have a balanced diet already, a smaller plate will mean you reduce your calories but maintain the goodness from all the food groups. The same goes for bowls. I admit sometimes when serving my food I use the ‘wrong’ bowl, for instance, when I have pasta I don’t always use a pasta bowl. Different bowls have different capacities for food, just like the plates. It is easy also to forget the psychological benefits of feeling full when finishing a plate or bowl of food, so trick your mind into feeling like you’ve eaten more than you have.
The scales don’t lie. In one of my recent blogs, I explained the benefits of tracking calories. By keeping the scales visible can make a difference – as it will make you conscious of your goal. To accurately track the calories of foods, getting the correct weight of foods is essential. Not only will seeing the scales remind you of the importance of this, it makes them more likely to be used.
Add a bit of spice to your life. My last point is to always keep your spice rack full. Make sure that nutritious meals taste good. It’s a lot easier to eat more nutritious meals when we enjoy them rather than feeling we ‘have’ to eat them.
As you can see that with the points that I have outlined above, a lot of healthy eating ‘slip ups’ are convenience related. During lockdown we have more time to take care of ourselves. Try working on changing what we see as ‘treats’. Treats should have positive impacts. Instead of seeing chocolate, cake and biscuits as treats, maybe just see them as another food source, and think again about what real ‘treats’ for your body may be.
Need some more motivation or advice in lockdown, just contact the Gym Team and we will get back to you with some tips, techniques or just a word of encouragement.
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