Happy Healthy Me
"Aha" moments: Learning the benefits of Greek yogurt, strength training &avoiding the "comparison trap"
I am sure that you have had a moment when you said “ohhh, now I get it!” Like when algebra clicked (or maybe it never did). Or when you learned to ride a bike.
Well I had my “aha” moments when I started paying more attention to my own health and fitness habits, and it changed the way I plan what I eat and how I exercise.
Aha: The importance of protein
For instance, a visit with a local nutritionist helped me understand that everything I eat, including snacks, should include a protein and a carbohydrate. Without getting too scientific, proteins increase energy and reduce fatigue. They also build muscle and satisfy our stomach with good-for-you calories. Carbohydrates produce and store energy, so pairing them together is ideal for your body’s fat fighting and fitness performance.
Before I knew this pairing, I would eat an apple for a snack (and still be hungry), but now I’ll add string cheese or spreadable cheese to it.
Same goes for post-workout recovery. I used to only drink water, but now I make sure that I eat a protein/carb pairing within an hour. Chocolate milk is ideal because it has a carb-to-protein ratio of 4:1. You’ll also notice that athletic energy bars, like Clif Bars have a similar ratio.
Along with eating the right types of food together comes eating the right calories. I used to be a loyal Dannon Light n’ Fit yogurt fan. One a day, everyday for breakfast. Dannon’s vanilla yogurts have 80 calories per 6-oz cup, which was what I thought was most important. But it also has only 5 grams of protein. By comparison, Stonyfield’s Oikos Vanilla Greek yogurt has 110 calories and 15 g protein per 5 oz cup.
Remember when we talked about beefing up your protein? Pairing one cup of yogurt with a low-sugar cereal, oats, or a homemade muffin is a great combination.
And have you ever wondered why Greek yogurt packs in so much protein? Their yogurt is processed at a separate facility than regular yogurt and requires three times more milk to produce. I’m a Greek yogurt convert, and that’s what convinced me.
Here's a favorite breakfast:
5 oz container Vanilla Oikos yogurt
1/4 cup Fiber One cereal
1/4 cup Galaxy Granola, any flavor
1/4 cup blueberries
Aha: Strength training
Another thing I realized is that strength training really works. I used to think the same myths that many women do—I’d rather spend my time on cardio burning calories than on weight machines where I may not be doing it correctly, or sometimes not even break a sweat. When I wanted to increase my running mileage, I realized that I need strong legs, and I need to supplement cardio with something to build them.
I also learned that you do not need machines to get a great workout. I started CrossFit classes two times per week, and there is not one machine in the gym. All exercises are done with body weight, free weights, or bar bells. Not only do I feel stronger every time, I increase what I can lift periodically which tells me that I really am getting stronger.
Aha: The comparison trap
I also had a fitness epiphany about the comparison trap. When I stopped comparing my workouts or fitness abilities to others and focused on me, the outside didn’t bother me as much because it was just about what I can do. Use others to help set a goal or look to them for correct form. But statements like “I’ll never be able to run as fast as her” or “I am just not that flexible” aren’t helping you make progress.
These “Aha” moments pointed out key changes that I needed to tweak in eating and exercising. They made sense to me, and then I could see it working. The journey to true health and fitness is different for everyone and an experience in trial and error. These changes helped me proceed to the next level, and I’m still trying new things all the time.
Follow Marci Gilbert's quest for a healthier life at www.marcigilbert.com