As summer rapidly draws to a close, it’s a perfect time to re-evaluate your day to day eating and workout habits. Summer often becomes a time when we tend to overindulge in food and beverages due to vacations, barbecues and the desire to enjoy ourselves. Almost everybody associates a sense of pleasure with consuming certain things. In addition, we are conditioned from the time we are children to recognize summer as a time to relax the rules a bit and enjoy ourselves – which is good for our mental and physical well-being.
Unfortunately, this “summer mindset” tends to lead to undisciplined eating and workout habits that should not be carried over into the next season. One of the biggest threats to your fitness is allowing those relaxed summer habits to slide all the way into the holiday season (which is rapidly approaching). Once you get off track, it becomes a slippery slope due to the forces of momentum. We’ve all had the experience of getting into a good groove with our diet and fitness regimen, which gives us the momentum to stay on track and avoid unhealthy meals and skipped workouts. You’ve probably also had the experience of skipping a work out, which turns into a couple missed workouts and leads you to make some less than healthy dietary decisions until you get back on track.
With the unofficial end of summer, it is a great time to develop some new momentum – starting with your nutrition habits.
One of the biggest misconceptions about eating healthy is that it requires a Spartan diet and you cannot have a bowl of ice cream or a cheeseburger ever again. The reality of the situation is most people want to be healthy and fit, but not at the price of completely eliminating the foods and drinks that they really enjoy. The key concept here is balance.
In prior columns, I have talked about the 70/30 rule, which simply means you eat for health and nourishment 70 percent of the time and you eat for pleasure 30 percent of the time. For most people, this means eating healthfully during the week and splurging a bit on the weekends. Remember, it is about balance, so the 30 percent cannot involve binge eating (or drinking for that matter) or completely over indulging in high calorie, fatty foods. As always, the percentages here can be adjusted upward to 80/20 or even 90/10. However, the minimum is healthy eating 70 percent of the time.
Naturally, a healthy eating plan should go hand in hand with a consistent workout plan. A minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise three times per week combined with some form of resistance training at least twice per week are necessary for optimal health and fitness. Naturally, the less disciplined you are with your diet, the more exercise you will need to maintain your weight and overall health. However, I firmly believe that you cannot out train bad nutrition and a proper diet is the first building block in developing a healthy body.
So, with the change of seasons looming and the holidays around the bend, I encourage you to exercise the self-discipline to get back on track with proper diet and exercise - and avoid the temptation to continue the fast and loose rules of summertime!