t’s easy to continue to follow the status quo to look at nutrition and health in terms of the number on a set of scales. Yes, we have been doing it for many years and I’m not excluding myself from that. However, I like to take a different perspective as I’ve personally experienced a low time in my life where I thought being a certain size or weight was going to be the problem I needed to solve. When actually, I hadn’t considered all the other components of a healthy lifestyle:
1. Sleep health
2. Stress management health
3. Menstrual health
4. Emotional health
5. Physical health
6. Sexual health
7. Digestive health
8. Relationship health
9. Confidence health
And the list could go on…
You see health is much more than just the absence of illness. It is a state of well-being. Performing at your best to live the life you want. Whether that’s work-life, home-life or fitness.
That low came for me in 2015 when lots of symptoms started to show up in my life. Now I never had a serious illness but lots of below par symptoms, that in isolation would have been ignored but after months of one thing after another, I knew it was something more. Things like:
Bloating and uncomfortable cramps
Low back and hip issues
2 colds in one month
Tired all the time
I thought I was living the healthy lifestyle, but my energy and confidence were low. And, it came down to one thing – how I was treating my body. I had huge demands for energy such as presentations, business meetings, travelling, flying, working out, playing sport, marriage, social life that I wasn’t actually fuelling my body in a way to meet all those demands. So, like most things, there is a time when you are simply running on empty and you are on the verge of a burnout which may lead to a serious illness or injury. It’s a case of you have nothing left to give.
Here are 5 ways to Fuel Your Body so you can thrive in your work, play and family times:
1. Hydrate with Water
Sounds simple right! With all the traveling and on the go, your body loses fluid through breathing, pores in our skin and those toilet trips. Plus, we have tendency to reach for caffeinated drinks which in excess can drive dehydration even further. Drink when you’re thirsty, and drink only calorie free things almost all of the time so water is perfect for this. Liquid calories don’t fill you up like solid food calories do, but they count just the same. Drinking water keeps you alert, focused and raring to go, so start the day with a glass, at every meal and when out and about. Aim for at 2-3 litres per day.
2. Prioritise Protein in Your Meals
This means lean meat, eggs, fish and high protein, dairy like Greek Yoghurt. Protein is your maintenance nutrient and helps with body composition (so the amount of fat you have vs muscle). Your body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding muscle over a 24h hour period which requires protein for this. As we get older this becomes more important because our rate of muscle rebuilding slows leading to more muscle loss which then impacts on our strength, balance and co-ordination. It also aids in blood glucose control and hunger/craving control so it’s not just all about having that toned or 6 pack look.
3. Remove Distraction Around Meal Times
A lot of the time we can focus on what we are eating without paying much attention to how we eat. Especially with so much to think about, all the distractions happening around us, how we eat can become a very quick task, another thing on the to do list so we can keep going. Have you ever eaten something then don’t remember doing it? Are we actually benefiting from the food if we are not able to digest it in a relaxed manner? So next time when you sit down for a meal, be in a place of no distraction. Begin to notice how your food looks, tastes, smells. Honour the time, money and effort that went into getting that meal in front of you. Not only will you become more aware of when you are full by being more relaxed at meal times, you will also allow your body to absorb more nutrients from the food as it is digested better.
4. Colour you Plate
Yes, get those veggies onto your plate! Vegetables and fruits are absolutely essential for our health as they are the real superfoods containing vitamins and minerals. They ultimately provide protection in our bodies to shield against illness and injury. And by consuming a variety of colours of fruits or veg will get a broad range of vitamins and minerals into our diets. The recommendation is to aim for 5 different colours of vegetable portions with 2 fruit portions per day. Plus, with lots of colour on the plate, makes the meal more appealing. Win win!
5. Cap your Caffeine Consumption.
One of the key factors of health and the most cost-effective treatment for anything is…. SLEEP!! Yes, it can pretty much alleviate symptoms of most ailments however…why do we spend so much time trying to avoid it? Not intentionally most of the time but there always seems to be something getting in the way of it. A key inhibitor of sleep in our lives is the level of caffeine we consume on a daily basis. Caffeine is a stimulant and it has been shown to have impact on our ability to sleep. Taking 400mg just 6 hours before bed can cause sleep disturbance – 400mg is equivalent to just over 5 espresso shots, 1 Starbucks Venti or 2.5 Monster drinks! So, I’m not saying to remove all caffeine, though switching to caffeine free drinks in the afternoon is advisable to really have top quality sleep.
So, show yourself some self-love. Nourish your body with love and respect for the life you want to live.
Gilly Davies x
Health & Fitness Coach