First, if you made the resolution to become healthier, to become fitter, to start to live a better life, I seriously applaud you. That first step is often the most difficult, and you are on the path to living a healthier and happier life! But, yes there is a but, (“Look, Nemo touched the butt”. You know I always get the movie reference in 😝) if you do not make the same commitment to your nutrition and eating plan, solely working out will not get you the results you are often seeking.
So here’s where this article comes into play. Most likely, you have seen and read about various fad diets that are often promoted by celebrities and read about in your latest health magazines, that often have tons of rules, guidelines and restrictions that often can lead you to cheat on those diets, thus decreasing their effectiveness. I am not discrediting any of those diets. If you can follow them and stay consistent then by all means go for it! But for most, there is a simpler approach to take, and I am going to tell you how.
To get the results you want, AND improve your health and wellbeing, there’s THREE things I believe are the most important AND can jumpstart you to your health goals for 2020. That’s it. Three. Incorporate all three things for the next month and you will see and feel results.
1. Do not eat for 12 hours a day.
The first, is to change the amount of time that your body ISN’T eating. Yes you read that right. Everyday, our bodies need an ample amount of time to do what it’s supposed to do, especially when it comes to digestion. Our bodies need to adequately digest and break down the food to get the nutrients we need, then transport those nutrients all throughout our bodies, from our head to our toes, our muscles, joints, bones, organs, tissues, and cells. The only time our bodies give this process its full attention, is when we sleep. 8 hours is that magic number for sleep that is required to make sure we are functioning properly and getting enough rest to recharge for the next day. And our bodies do well with that. However, in terms of what we are eating in relationship to our eating window, we do NOT give ourselves enough time to use that energy our body stored up from the day before. We are a species that is built for storage. We evolved on being able to go long periods without eating in order to survive because we had to move and hunt for our food. With the access of food being readily available today, as well as the societal impact on “eating a balanced breakfast” advertised on tv’s since we were kids, our brain has tricked us into thinking we need to eat as soon as we wake up regardless if we are even hungry. This isn’t the case. But its okay if this is describing your eating pattern. It isn’t hard to fix. Our bodies and brain adapt fairly quickly. All you have to do is give yourself a few days with this approach and you will be well on your way to developing a new eating routine that sticks. So here’s what you do. Give yourself a time period of 12 hours to devote to NOT eating anything. 8 of those hours are going to be spent sleeping. So the time frame in terms of meals will be from after dinner, to before breakfast. I suggest a time frame of 7pm to 7am. That means your last meal/snack will be at 7pm. Do not eat anything until 7am the next day. Even if you wake up earlier than that, you can not eat. If you do, you do not get the benefits that come from this state of fasting. You may have heard of this before, even from prior posts I have written, called intermittent fasting. 12 hours is the minimum amount of time needed to give your body the positive effects from this approach. Plain coffee or plain tea without any sweetener is okay as long as there is no added sugar during this window of not eating. Once you reach 12 hours, you can then eat your normal day’s worth of calories. To enhance the effects of this fast, you can increase the time you’re not eating to 14-16 hours. Working out first thing in the morning on this state of fasting is also extremely beneficial and gets your body into a state of “ketosis” or fat burning mode. (The same ketosis that happens in the ketogenic diet that has become popular and trendy). What is lost in that diet however, is your body does not need to stay in constant ketosis to reap the benefits. You can get a lot of those same benefits from starting with just a 12 hour fast each day. This first thing to implement is the easiest, because you are not changing anything to your actual eating plan, yet. You are just shifting the time you are NOT eating. Do this for one month, and I promise you will see results.
2. No dairy!
The second thing is going to be directed at a specific food group. And yes, it involves restriction. I know, I know, diets that restrict don’t normally work out in the end due to cheating, but I strongly believe this restriction will fast forward your health and fitness results, as well as make you internally feel a lot better. That restriction is dairy. Yes, that also means cheese. (I’ll lose half of you after this statement I know it). Dairy has been routinely studied and linked to causing inflammation in the body. And inflammation in the body is bad. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to prove that. (Or a health teacher 😏🤓). It has been linked to increases in the risks of many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and various forms of cancer. Not only that, but many of us lack the proper enzymes to even digest dairy products. This increase in inflammation that happens in our bodies from eating dairy products leads to stomach issues, inconsistent bowels, IBS, yeast overgrowth, bacterial infections due to the increase in bad bacteria, and ulcers. Not to mention decreased immune function. (70% of our immune system is in our guts, so if our guts are not working properly, neither is our immune system). What doctors and nutritionists have found over the years is that if their patients took out dairy, a significant portion improved their symptoms relatively quickly. You see, when your gut starts to feel better your entire body reaps the benefits. I know this one is usually the hardest to do, but for one month try it out. No dairy products. (Sorry pizza lovers).
3. Add a salad of leafy greens.
Last but not least, the third thing to implement in your nutrition plan is to add a salad of leafy greens to your meals, or part of your meals. Leafy green vegetables have SO many benefits, too many for this post, but I will try to sum those up as best as I can in the least amount of words! Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula, swiss chard, box choy and microgreens are some of the healthiest for you. They are high in vitamins A, C and K, great sources of iron and calcium, as well as a great source of fiber. They are vegetables that your stomach bacteria absolutely love and thrive off of. Not the bad bacteria that feeds off your dairy addiction. (See how number two intertwines with number 3). Since you’ve cut out dairy, the bad bacteria have nothing to feed off of, or at least less. The influx of leafy green vegetables gives more for your good bacteria to feed off this increasing. The more good bacteria your stomach has, the better you feel. Plus, a big bowl of leafy greens has a considerable amount of fiber and water. So when you eat that beautiful green instagram able meal , you not only get hydrated, but you feel fuller faster, with less food, thus eating less. So if one of your other goals in 2020 is to lose weight and reduce calories, substituting a salad as one of your meals is a great choice to make!
Well, there you have it. My three things to implement in your nutrition plan to transform you into a healthier and better you. You have the fitness down. Now comes the nutrition. Or maybe its backwards. Start with this nutrition plan, then add some fitness. Whatever you choose, it’s consistency and determination that will help you reach your goals. Start with these three things, and you will be on your way.
As always, peace and love…..(and lots of salads 😎)