With Fall in full swing, many of us gear up to re-tackle our health and wellness goals created earlier in the year. By now you know that living a healthy lifestyle is all about how to achieve balance with food and fitness.
Let’s face it; there isn’t one plan that fits everyone’s dietary needs, lifestyle, and habits. Both nutrition and exercise can vary by the seasons as well, depending on where you live and your lifestyle.
It’s all about finding balance within a day, week, and even a month. Let’s explore each these two components a little further.
How to Achieve Balance with Food and Fitness
The phrase “clean eating” is all over the place these days, being touted as the best way to fuel your body. But what does it really mean?
To me, it’s about limiting the amount of processed foods my family and I consume, cooking meals from home as much as possible, and eating a lot of salads that contain raw veggies.
For you, it may mean choosing a salad at the drive through instead of a cheeseburger, or cooking a meal from scratch a few times a week instead of heating a bag of ingredients on the stove.
Your version of clean will depend on your values, goals and motivation.
You may be fueled by a health scare. Maybe you are feeling low in energy and are curious about whether the food you eat could be causing you to feel that way? Or you may be fueled by a concern over the environment and how what we eat impacts the world both near and far.
Whatever clean eating looks like to you, create a plan to help you eat as “clean” as possible throughout the week and do your best to stick to it.
Here are a few other things to take into consideration:
What is in your food?
The best first step towards a cleaner diet is knowing what’s on your plate…your entire plate! Train yourself to not only compare calories, but also sugar, saturated fat, and sodium content, fiber, and protein. Also look at the ingredients on the nutrition label. The fewer the ingredients the cleaner it is!
How does food make you feel?
Have you ever eaten a large meal, and later felt bloated, gassy, or ill? Chances are, something you ate could be causing your discomfort. A food journal or online meal tracker can help you be more aware of how the food you consume is affecting your body.
Is organic and/or local best?
This all comes down to your goals, values, budget, and levels of commitment. Some people prefer to stick with organic produce, others also consider dairy products important to purchase in the organic variety, while others simply purchase what is most affordable. Take the time to research GMOs and pesticides, and then decide what approach you want to take.
What is realistic?
This is possibly the most important variable to consider when setting your nutrition goals. If you are someone who travels frequently, committing to a clean eating plan or staying away from certain ingredients may be challenging. That’s where replacing a meal with a shake such as Balance Complete can come in handy.
If you don’t know how to cook, commit to learning the basics on the nights you typically have more time. And if you are a busy mom, carting kids to activities all throughout the week, incorporate make ahead meals that call for as many fresh and unprocessed ingredients as possible.
Stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water is important for your overall health in so many ways. Consider setting a goal to drink a certain amount of water each day.
Let’s face it, not all of us can commit 2 hours a day, 6 days a week to exercise, nor should you have to. And not all of us like to run! Here are a few tips you can use to works towards your fitness goals.
Find a buddy!
Most people accomplish more by having an accountability partner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be with you all of the time. Walking with a friend, or getting together to workout while the kids nap, is a great way to stay motivated.
Create a flexible routine.
Each week I plan out which days I will make exercise a priority, and then schedule it into my day. Having it in my calendar is motivation not to skip the gym, and it also prevents me from overscheduling and not having enough time to actually go.
Do what you love, but don’t be afraid to try something new.
My mom hates running! She will swim all day long if it was possible, and loves to practice yoga. My brother enjoys (or should I say loves) training for triathlons and various races. My sister is a little more like my brother, and I’m happy to do almost anything active at various times of the week.
My point is, we all have something that we enjoy doing that keeps us motivated to continue day after day. Don’t be afraid to increase the speed on the treadmill or try a new class at the gym; you never know what you may fall in love with!
If you feel yourself hitting a plateau, it may be a sign you need a break from your current routine and it’s time to try something new for a month or two.
After reassessing your goals, come up with a plan for both solid nutrition and exercise. Write your goals down on paper and hang them somewhere you will be reminded of them daily.
Create a weekly meal plan and exercise plan. Do your best to follow them, but don’t be too hard on yourself if your week doesn’t go completely according to plan.
Indulge once in a while, set boundaries the rest of the time, and have fun finding your own rhythm to success!
Do you feel that you have achieved balance with food and fitness?
Jessica is a stay at home mom of two lovely little girls. She is also a military spouse and an entrepreneur. Jessica enjoys staying active and spending time outdoors with her family, cooking, and reading.