Food as Fuel

Truth be told, I never liked the word diet.  It has connotations of reducing the foods you love, hunger pains, boredom and even depression.  There is nothing wrong with food.  It’s the fuel that keeps our bodies moving, repairing themselves and doing all the incredible things that bodies do.
So why deprive the body of food?   That’s not what this piece is about at all.  Instead, consider how you can fuel your body with the right food that will make you stronger, leaner and help reduce possible diseases from high-blood pressure to cancer.
For those who know me, you may remember that this happened to me during college, yes that long ago.  I went from a super active professional ice skater to a student at McGill University whose only activity was carrying loads of books and dashing to class.  One morning I discovered that all my clothing was tight, really tight.  I didn’t consider how fueling my body with the same high-calories foods I needed during my skating years would pack on the pounds once I became less active.
To find the fuel that’s good for you just takes a bit of thought.  And by selecting whole, natural and fresh foods you’ll feel better and younger, maybe within a few days.  Changing from a steady selection of fast foods loaded with preservatives, fats and sugars to one of vegetables, lean proteins and lots of fruits may take some planning.  It could surprise your family and friends, too.  But honestly isn’t it time that you gave your health a higher priority?
A great way to begin is with breakfast and lunch tomorrow.  If the way you start your day is eating something sweet and pops up from the toaster, you may temporarily feel satisfied, but about 10 AM, you’re going to be hungry and maybe fatigued.  Grab a banana, spread it with peanut butter.  Good at multi-taking?  Fix hot cereal as you’re making dinner in the evening and then place individual servings in zipper-style bags.  The next morning, just pour that cereal in a bowl and hit “start” on the microwave.  When it’s ready add some yogurt or low-fat milk and you’ll have a quick and healthy meal to get your body going and energy up.
For lunch?  Brown bag fruit, yogurt, cheese or some lean protein source, whole grain crackers and water.  Juice sounds good, but most varieties are loaded with sugar and little of the fiber found in fruit.  Pack a snack of vegetables and some nuts for mid-afternoon and then see how much better you feel.
Here’s the deal.  Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, such as I’ve sketched here, and a healthful dinner of about the same amount you usually consume and in a month you may be able to lose over two pounds.
A body that if fueled by healthful foods will want to move more and exercise is the answer.  If you’re not as strong as you’d like to be, consult with a fitness trainer, take a spa vacation where you can talk with experts, and today, start a program of brisk walking and comfortable stretching.  If you choose walking, challenge your muscles by varying the terrain and speed.  Brisk walking builds your leg muscles, helps the heart, and increases lung capacity. This impact exercise may also stop or slow bone loss that can occur as we age.  To increase strength in your arms and upper torso, you’ll want to lift weights.   You can create your own weights by lifting books, bottles filled with water or even cans of soup of the same weight.  Check out YouTube, DVDs found at your library or join a strength training class through your local community center or gym.
Have fun as your body changes once you’re fueling it in a healthy way and adding more exercise.  You might want to change your hair color or style, shop where younger women do or even consult with a personal shopper to see what styles will enhance your new trimmer figure.
For more information, check out this article from the American Heart Association called “Food as Fuel: Before, During and After Your Workout” that you can find using a search engine, such as Google.com.
What are the rewards of understanding and living a life where food is fuel?  In addition to never having to diet again, self esteem will soar as you stay fit for life.

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