Simple Steps to Healthy Eating and Fitness

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You don't need any fancy foods, special supplements, or crazy diets to get fit and healthy. What you do need, however, is commitment and a bit of will power. Now don't panic - if you don't have will power, some simple steps can help you flex your willpower muscles from the comfort of your armchair so you can get fit and healthy in no time at all.

Eat Normal Foods

Crazy diets don't work. The human body was made to consume normal, healthy foods. The closer foods are to their natural state, the better.

Consume the following foods daily:

Fruits: any and all fruits are good for you. Choose whatever is in season. Shop at your local grocery store. We only buy what's on sale, whether it's peaches and plums during summer or apples in the fall. Buy what you like so you're sure to eat it! Keep most fruits in a bowl on the counter so they're visible, handy, and ripen.

Vegetables: cooked or raw, vegetables should form a large portion of the diet. Again, purchase what's in season and eat what you like. Bagged salads are great for quick meals or side dishes. Same goes for frozen and canned vegetables. They're economical, easy to heat in the microwave, and taste great. If you can, purchase and consume frozen vegetables without added sauces for the healthiest option.

Breads: Breads are tricky, since my research and opinion from years of researching and writing about diet and health point to the fact that most supermarket sold breads are virtually useless, fortified junk products. Buy and consume high fiber and whole wheat if you can, or just cut back the amount of bread you consume. If you will only eat white bread, eat it at only one meal of the day.

Breakfast cereal most often contains lots of calories, chemical fortification, and junk. Okay, so the toys are fun, but after playing with them you're still stuck with a box of cardboard flakes. Best options for breakfast cereals are hot cereals, such as oatmeal or grits, or high fiber cereals.

Protein: Lowest fat choices are chicken and fish, again baked or broiled without added coatings. Beef isn't as bad for you as all the media makes it out to be, but do choose lowest fat cuts and again, bake or broil it, don't char grill or consume huge fast food burgers. Eggs also got a bad reputation but are proving to be healthful.

Nuts, Seeds: Unsalted and raw are fine. Just watch portion sizes.

Water: Water is the beverage of choice for weight loss! Avoid diet colas and all diet drinks. The artificial sweeteners are horrible for your health despite all the safety claims - much research points to all sorts of diseases stemming from them, so avoid them like the plague. Water straight from the tap is just fine. Add a twist of lemon for flavor. If you're transitioning away from soda pop, try fizzy waters and carbonated beverages like seltzer or Perrier for a treat. Tea and coffee are fine too, but watch how much sugar and cream you add.

No matter what you consume, weight loss is always a question of taking in fewer calories than you expend. There are many websites that help you figure out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Since each pound of body fat consists of 3,500 calories, you must reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day OR expend just a little bit more. Did you know that taking a half hour stroll through the neighborhood can burn up to 200 calories? Even if you hate to exercise, try a little stroll.

Portion sizes do most of us in when it comes to weight loss. Since the 1970's, portion sizes at restaurants have grown to astounding sizes, and now we are accustomed to large portions. If you have to, use a measuring cup and food scale to get a better handle on what a normal portion size looks like. If you're hungry, fill up on vegetables and fruits with a small handful of protein, like nuts or a glass of milk.

Avoid processed, packaged foods. All of them contain tons of chemical preservatives, sweeteners, colors, MSG and other garbage your body doesn't need. You're paying for packaging, marketing and convenience.

If you want to lose weight, these are just general guidelines. I'm six pounds into my own thirty pound weight loss journey and following this advice daily. Simply by cutting back my portions, avoiding all the empty calories from packaged foods, drinking lots of water (from the tap), and not snacking I have lost those six pounds. Good luck!

© 2008 Jeanne Grunert

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Comments 5 comments

Nicole Winter profile image

Nicole Winter 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

Can you really be healthy without exercising?


Jeanne Grunert profile image

Jeanne Grunert 8 years ago from Virginia Author

That's an interesting question Nicole. It depends on how one defines 'exercise.' When I read the original question, I assumed the poster was referring to specific exercise routines, classes, or regimens. I do think you need SOME exercise, but it depends on what you mean by exercise. My own personal routine for the past decade has been a two mile walk, daily, rain or shine, with one of my dogs; and I add onto that, depending on the season, the weather and my time. I lift weight 1-3x per week because I like toned arms. I plan to start riding my bike next spring when we get it repaired (I only ride with coaster brakes, not hand brakes and it's hard to find a bike shop around here to repair it!) and I love to horseback ride and garden, both active outdoors exercises. I think they key is to MOVE. While many experts believe you need that standard 30 minutes, 3x per week, many people, myself included, HATE classes, gyms and standard exercise programs.

I will say that among my relatives there are several centennarians (people who live to be 100 years old) or female relatives in their 80's and 90's who remain in good health but do not exercise. Most cannot or just did not. The key with all of them was eating healthfully. Most did not consume much sugar. None of them drink soft drinks, artificial sweeteners and the like. They eat very little and remained quite thin throughout their lives. While genetics must play a role in longevity, some scientific experiments with mice point to thinness and calorie restriction as adding to health. I think the jury is still out and all this reflects my opinion, but that's my take on the subject. Thanks for commenting and may your Higher Power, however you define it, bless you.


Nicole Winter profile image

Nicole Winter 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

Jeanne- You're absolutely right, the key is to MOVE! *smile* I was thinking a lot about this last night and I think I can add something a little more constructive, my apologies if I seemed curt. It elaborates on something you touched on. After I had my daughter my weight ballooned up to 265 pounds. During my pregnancy I had the typical 20-30 pound weight gain, nothing serious, but after I had her I started PACKING on pounds like you wouldn't believe. My husband, (ex-husband, now) was very emotionally, verbally and physically abusive after our daughter was born and I think that played a huge role in my weight gain, as well as the pint a week of swedish gourmet ice cream I was eating. Obviously I'm not a svelte girl, I'm big, big boned and curvy, but I'm no 265 pounds anymore either. I lost the weight by: A. Leaving my husband, B. I stopped drinking *all* soft drinks, and C. I became adverse to ice cream in all forms until I got over my depression. The third thing was kind of unnatural and almost phobic for awhile, but it's probably just because I had been eating so much of it. I weigh about 180 now, which obviously isn't where I should be at 5'8", but I'm so much happier now and I plan on continuing to slim down. Soft drinks are diet death. Even diet soft drinks. I don't know what it is, but for some reason when I made the switch over to diet I still wasn't dropping the pounds until I started eating a lot, regularly, and healthfully. I try to take in some walking as well, seeing that it's impossible to avoid walking in Chicago.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

sane and sound advice and how I lost weight.


irenehelenzundel profile image

irenehelenzundel 8 years ago

I am a vegetarian and eat about 75% raw food and 25% cooked food on any given day. I also drink plenty of water. It has helped me to lose weight, have better skin and a big boost in energy. Nice article, thanks for posting it.

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