Let’s be honest, we are all looking for the best way to either get fit, stay fit, or improve our health to the point where our doctor is satisfied. Whether it is for health reasons, personal goals, or our own vanity, it is essential that we are taking care of ourselves. I get a lot of questions about the latest and greatest supplements and exercise routines out there that can help us achieve a higher health status or a more desirable body. We all have common goals – to live longer, better, and healthier.
The answer to the question on how to achieve this is, quite simply, a little bit of everything.
Nutritionally speaking, people are looking for a way to get ahead. Stressing the importance of moderation is an essential part of healthy nutrition. There needs to be a healthy balance of our essential nutrients; carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water. The amount of each will differ on the individual, but all of these nutrients are essential for optimal body function. My advice is to stay away from the diets that want you to cut out one thing or the other out entirely. Complex carbohydrates should be chosen over simple carbohydrates, unsaturated fats should be chosen over high saturated fat foods, and complete proteins should be your protein source.
Improper portion control is a major flaw in our country. We find ourselves going out to eat at a nice restaurant and making a point to finish whatever is put in front of us. This is often too much food for one sitting. Moderation is the key for anything we are consuming. If we eat a balanced amount of meats, plants, and whole grains (unprocessed), then we should be able to fulfill our body’s nutritional needs from our diet. In certain cases supplementation may be necessary if we cannot get certain things from our diet, or we have some underlying issues that inhibit our utilization of certain nutrients in the body.
When speaking about exercise there is one main point I want to drive home. Your body is designed to adapt to the stress that is put upon it. For instance, if you started running 5 miles a day today, then it may be very difficult. However, if you run 5 miles every day for one month, then you will find it much easier to run 5 miles at the end of the month. The physiological benefits you may have at the beginning of a running program will plateau and the improvements you saw at the beginning of your program will slow or stop eventually. Thus, having a well-rounded repertoire is a way to prevent your body from plateauing. Keep moving forward!
There are 4 components of your fitness you need to be aware of: (1) Cardiorespiratory Fitness- Training your heart and lungs will keep your heart and blood vessels in proper condition to live longer and perform better, (2) Power- our fast-twitch muscle fibers decrease rapidly as we age. Power movements are essential for our ability to maintain these fibers and perform our activities of daily living as we grow older. (3) Muscular strength/endurance- Maintaining healthy lean mass is essential for our structural integrity and ability to perform daily tasks. (4) Flexibility/Mobility- Having proper mobility and flexibility will decrease the likelihood of injury to our body that will inhibit our ability to do what we love. Each component needs to be addressed on a weekly basis. This means you should elevate your heart rate, perform some type of resistance training, and work on mobility (stretching, yoga, etc.) a couple times a week. These things could be done in two-three bouts of exercise a week!
Bottom line, if you stay well-rounded in your workouts and eat balanced with moderation, achieving a higher health status is a certainty.