Nutrition and weight management rely heavily on lifestyle. It will always be true that in order to ensure health and longevity, frequent movement and an adequate diet must be part of a person’s lifestyle. Movement includes both exercise and daily activity. One of the biggest contributors to weight gain and disease is lack of activity. It doesn’t matter if you exercise two hours out of every day, what you do with the rest of the day matters. Is critical to keep movement up throughout the day. Current research shows that anywhere in the range of 7,500 to 12,000 steps a day is positively correlated to a long and healthy life. As our seasons of life change, between kids and careers and all of the things that life throws at us, it is very easy to become more and more sedentary, but it is extremely important that we fight against that at all costs. Parking across the parking lot, using the bathroom at the opposite end of the house, taking phone calls and meetings while walking, etc are all ways to stay more active without much effort.
Exercise is extremely important not only for cardiovascular health but for maintaining lean muscle and promoting mental health. Different kinds of exercise have different types of benefits, but exercises should be chosen based on what you enjoy doing. Exercise is really only beneficial long-term when it’s done on a routine basis, so choosing something that you will continue to do consistently is key.
Alcohol does not cause weight gain but it significantly and negatively impacts fat metabolism. Alcohol is the only other substance from which your body gets calories other than macronutrients (7 cals per gram). Your body considers alcohol a toxin, and while our bodies typically metabolize fat while we are at rest, when alcohol is present in the system, fat metabolism is halted while your body metabolizes the alcohol in order to get rid of it as fast as possible. Alcohol also severely diminishes quality of sleep. Alcohol will not have an overall lasting negative impact when enjoyed in moderation, but rather it is the frequency and amount of which alcohol is consumed that can have steep ramifications.
When it comes to lifestyle habits like daily activity, exercise, and alcohol consumption, making changes can be very hard. At the end of the day, no one can force you to make those changes. Even if you have a doctor telling you that you need to make changes for your own health, habit and lifestyle changes are ultimately your decision. Most often the things we need to change are things that we don’t necessarily want to change for fear of missing out or even fear of failure. At the same time, if we want the benefits of those lifestyle changes there’s no way around the fact that we will have to do things differently and put in some work. Showing up when we don’t feel like it is one of the hardest things to do, but nothing worth a damn is ever easy, and the rewards will always be worth it.
There is a ton of misinformation out there to weed through when it comes to nutrition. It’s important to remember that so much of our health is tied to what we put in our bodies and how we move them. You don’t have to restrict all the foods you love, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) live on 1200 cals, and you don’t have to do intermittent fasting unless you just like having a small window for eating. You don’t have to eat breakfast unless you just want to. You don’t have to stop eating at 7 pm unless you just don’t get hungry at night. How you spread your calories out is completely and totally up to you. Making sure that the majority of your calories come from quality foods high in micronutrients is important but enjoying some of your favorite treats is important as well. Great resources for recipes and nutrition information include:
– Precision Nutrition
– Sam Miller Science
– Yummly (app) for recipes
– masonfit.com for recipes
– Flex Diet podcast
– StrongerU podcast
– Docs Who Lift podcast
– The Consistency Project podcast
Certified Nutrition Coach