The summer months are sadly coming to an end! Soon, the leaves will start changing and fall will be here. The beginning of a new season is often a great time to make a healthy change. Vacations, dinner parties, socializing on a patio or at a barbeque, and drinks in the sun often make up a large part of our summers. Fall is a good opportunity to get back to our healthier ways.
People often think dieting or doing a cleanse are the best ways to kick some unhealthy habits and turn over a new leaf. However, if you take a closer look – is the diet or cleanse you’re interested in something that you think you will be able to sustain for the long term? Often, fad diets and cleanses offer a quick fix instead of a sustainable lifestyle change. Yes, you may be able to shed a few pounds but is it fat that you’re losing or muscle mass? Losing weight too quickly is often times both fat AND muscle mass that you’re losing, in addition to a ton of body water. Not to mention the lack of nutrients in most fad diets and cleanses which would leave you feeling tired, fatigued, and at risk for nutrient deficiencies leading to health problems in the future.
Top 5 ways to turn over a healthy leaf this fall that do NOT involve fad diets or cleanses:
1) Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean sources of protein and low fat dairy / alternatives.
• Sounds too simple, right? Healthy eating does not have to get complicated. One way to simplify this even further is the dinner plate rule – you want half of your plate to be represented by vegetables or fruit, ¼ by lean protein, and ¼ by whole grains.
2) Eat small, frequent meals every 2-3 hours.
• This helps ensure you meet your energy and nutrient needs while boosting your resting metabolic rate (meaning you’ll burn more calories at rest), and keeping your energy levels consistent throughout the day (see my previous post, Energize Your Life! for more details on this).
3) Get active, on a regular basis! Consider planning out a regular exercise routine to get moving at least 30-60 minutes 3-6 days a week.
• Whether that be joining a sports team for the fall season, getting out on some bike rides, walks or runs with friends, taking advantage of some of the last sunny days in Vancouver and planning some weekend getaways of hiking/surfing/biking/swimming, doing outdoor workouts in a park, or hitting the gym on rainy days. There are so many options! Vancouver is a playground, don’t take this for granted.
4) Keep it realistic.
• When it comes to being healthy, start simple with goals that are achievable. For example, if your biggest problem is not getting enough vegetables and fruit every day, start by adding 2 more servings to your diet this week, and increase to 3 next week, until you meet your daily goal. If you are currently not exercising at all, no need to join a cross-fit gym tomorrow and workout 7 days a week – pick something you will enjoy that will fit into your schedule (but you also have to do your best to make it fit!). You can continue to challenge your body more and more over time.
5) Prioritize your health.
• No matter what your goals are, put your health first. Starving yourself to look like a magazine ad is never the way to go. Putting aside health problems or injuries because you just don’t feel like dealing with them is also not recommended. First, tackle any underlying health problems . Be sure to seek help from medical professionals if necessary. For example, if you’re suffering from stomach aches or other digestive health problems that are preventing you from adopting a healthy diet – see your family doctor or gastroenterologist as well as your local dietitian who specializes in digestive health to help you along your way.