Everyone wants you to buy buy buy. There is always the latest and greatest “silver bullet” magic health product, whether it’s a pill, potion, patch or other product. Yet, the underlying fundamentals of health and fitness have not changed, and you can reap the benefits from these approaches without mortgaging your first child to do so.
Also, it’s trendy to restrict, eliminate, avoid or otherwise take things away in the name of health and fitness – think of every “cleanse” or “detox” you’ve ever heard of. And yet studies show this approach simply does not work in the long run. When we’re told “don’t push that red button” what do we want to do? Push the darn red button. So this week’s Instagram video series and Facebook posts are all about things to do MORE of!
Drink More Water
Chances are, no matter who you are, you could stand to drink more water (there are exceptions to every rule of course; you’ll know if you’re that special case). If you’ve been following me for any length of time (thanks if you have been, and if you’re new to my world, WELCOME!), you’ll know that my top tip for almost any new fitness/nutrition client of mine is to DRINK MORE WATER. It’s one of the easiest, least expensive, MOST effective and often overlooked way to boost your health.
Cool, clear H2O. Drink steadily over the course of the day with the goal to make what comes out the other end similar to what comes in (colourless and odourless). It’s that simple. No complicated formulas, no arbitrary number goals.
How do YOU get more water? Is it flavour packs? An app? A special smart water bottle? Share below in the comments to help everyone out!
Eat More Vegetables
Again, chances are, no matter who you are, you could stand to eat more vegetables (isn’t it freaky how well I know you? There are exceptions to every rule of course; you’ll know if you’re that special case, i.e. if you have IBD or IBS and too many or certain vegetables aggravate your condition). Just like drinking more water, I’m so jazzed up about this tip that I wrote an article dedicated to it.
Look for ways to add vegetables to every meal and snack:
- Breakfast: add a handful of leafy greens to your smoothie, or some grated zucchini or puréed cauliflower to your oatmeal. Maybe have an omelette with veggies or a frittata.
- Snacks: try veggie sticks with hummus or dip. (I love snacks. I’ll bet you’re not surprised that I also wrote a blog devoted to healthful snacks, although I have to admit that they don’t ALL incorporate veggies.)
- Lunch: add some leafy greens to your sandwich or have a salad or veggie-based soup or even left over cooked vegetables from the night before. The very first recipe on this blog was a lunch choice with veggies – check it out in the archives (and you’ll probably see that my writing was just was nerdy then as it is now)!
- Supper: stir fries, goulashes, and stews are all great ways to get an assortment of vegetables into the final meal of the day. I’ve got dinner recipes, too!
- Dessert: you can even incorporate puréed veggies into many baked goods like muffins or loaves. Carrot cake anyone? I’m partial to zucchini in baked goods – one of my best friends growing up has a mother who is an amazing baker, and she was the one to introduce me to chocolate zucchini loaf (hi, Janet! Thanks!). I’ve got a high-protein version with these chocolate zucchini muffins.
Add Lean Protein
Every meal AND snack should have protein as its base, and then you ADD veggies, etc. Women are looking to have roughly a palm-sized portion of protein at each meal or snack (make it 2+ for men, or for highly-active/athletic women).
How much does that translate into in terms of food? Well, depending on the size of your palm (it’s so handy – pun intended – because our hands are generally scaled to match the size of the rest of our bodies), that’s roughly 4oz (113g) of chicken or pork or fish or steak or 1 cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese or 1 scoop of protein powder.
Prioritize Healthful Fats
Say it with me: “Eating fat does not MAKES you fat.” Got it? Fat got an unnecessarily bad rap in the 1990’s (the hey-day of the low-fat food craze) and many of us are still suffering the after-effects now, still buying fat-free yogurt and skim milk and swayed by marketing claims of “lite” “skinny” and “low-fat.” What we know now is that fat is a vital macro-nutrient. It helps us to feel full and satisfied, it’s needed for optimal absorption of certain vitamins and it is vital to our hormonal health.
So, now that we’re all on board the fat train, just how much do we need? The keto camp and Atkins crowd are reveling in bacon drenched in butter; a more moderate approach for the modern human would be 1-2 thumbs worth (~1-2 tbsp) of healthful fats at each meal.
What’s a healthful fat? Well, contrary to recent health guidance, saturated fat is NOT the devil. Grass-fed pastured butter, coconut oil (or my personal favourite coconut butter) are great choices. Also look for foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (fatty fish like salmon, flax seeds, hemp hearts) as well as Omega 6 sources like olive oil, nuts and seeds. Our current eating and lifestyle choices tend to over-emphasize Omega 6 sources; increasing our intake of Omega 3 (and/or reducing Omega 6) can help with inflammation.
So go ahead, drizzle some oil on that salad (it will help with the fat-soluble vitamins in the leafy greens), or add butter to those veggies. Snack on a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese.
Get More Sleep
This is really the big finale. I’ve written extensively about the importance of good sleep, and how to get more of it. It’s rare to find an adult getting 7-9+ hours of consistent quality sleep each night and yet it’s SO important for rest and recovery to support optimal hormonal balance (which in turn supports fat loss), digestion (ditto) and well, a good mood in general.
While you can’t always control the quality of sleep you get, you can provide a window of time on which to get it. Create a relaxing evening wind-down routine, and get in bed around the same time each night, as much as possible, with the aim to get up around the same time each morning.
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to take a nap, feel free to use “Coach Lauren told me to!”
Let health and happiness ensue!
Have a fit day!