I have found that it is not enough to know all the right things to do. I need something to remind me, keep me on track, and hold me accountable.
No other person can remember all of this stuff for me, so I need a tool. The tool that I think works best is a checklist. I actually put this list on a white board with a black marker, and check off everything I do on it with a dry erase marker, daily.
This list could also be printed and stuck in a notebook or day planner for those of you with on-the-go schedules.
Here is the explanation of the items on my checklist. You may choose to create a different list, but feel free to use mine. I have included it as a PDF in the photo gallery.
If you are new to the world of nutrition and eating for health, you may want to take the nutrition class that is being offered at the Lyceum Wellness Center. It is eight weeks, and a spring course is starting soon. Call 267-417-0417 or visit online for details.
Vegetables are probably the most important things to eat every day. For dieters, they are especially great because it is extremely difficult to overeat calories if you’re eating piles of vegetables. An entire 16 ounce (1 pound) bag of frozen spinach is only 120 calories. The same sized mixed vegetables bag is about 350 calories. Corn is the worst, weighing in at 550 calories for the whole 16 ounce bag. But that would still be better for you than a Big Mac or a hoagie, and just as filling.
What kills veggies is dressings, butter and sauces. But as long as you go light on those, eat as many veggies as you want. Personally, I love roasted veggies. The sugars in the vegetables caramelize and really make the flavors pop. Here is a I created in a previous article on that.
Though I have eight checkboxes for veggies, (one cup = one checkbox), it is not necessary to eat eight cups of veggies in a day. However, the more veggies you eat, the fuller you’ll feel and the less likely you will be to consume things that are higher in calories and fat and such.
If you have a killer sweet tooth, this is going to be your salvation. Force yourself to have four servings of fruit per day. A study, (which I read long ago and cannot now cite), said that sugar-addict participants were asked to eat four servings of fruit per day and see what happened to their sugar cravings. The overwhelming response was that people’s craving for sugary treats diminished significantly, or all together. So any time you want to reach for candy, or a donut, or Danish … choose fruit instead. Your heart, brain, liver, kidney, spleen and lungs will all thank you.
This only has two checkboxes, because bread kills diets. Bread products usually pack a lot of calories into a little space. So unlike the pound of veggies weighing in at 350 calories, a pound of bread is nearly 2,000 calories. I’ve included bread products in the checklist simply to monitor myself. Each box should represent about 100 calories of bread products. When you’ve checked off both boxes – no more bread.
A healthy body needs protein for muscle health. But many Americans eat crappy animal protein, filled with nitrates, antibiotics, and steroids. The only way to avoid this is to eat free range (preferably organic) chicken and grass-fed beef whose label says no antibiotics or steroids; choose fresh water fish, (not farm raised), or eggs (yes eggs – the WHOLE egg), or choose another source of protein, like tofu, protein shakes, edamame, peanut butter, beans or cauliflower.
Here’s a quick explanation of why the rest of the items are on my list.
Multi Vitamins – a good multivitamin is essential these days, since our food is not grown in the nutrient rich soil anymore.
Calcium/Magnesium – for bone health, regularity, and much more.
– many of us do not have healthy digestive tracts. We ingest antibiotics by choice, in our water, and in our meat. Antibiotics kill the good and the bad bacteria so we need to assist ourselves by giving our gut the good bacteria so our bodies can properly digest food and absorb nutrients.
Fiber Drink If you don’t pass your bowels every day, you should look for ways to add fiber to your diet. Vegitables are a great way. A good fiber drink is another. I like this brand.
Protein Shake For vegetarians this is a great option, and on days you workout with weights or do more than 20 minutes of cardio, a protein shake helps you keep the muscle and burn the fat.
Veggie Juice (like V8). This is just a super absorbable form of vegitables, and makes a great snack at night if you’re starting to get night cravings. Add some hot sauce, a shot of Worcestershire, and a celery stalk and pretend you’re drinking a Bloody Mary.
64 to 92 ounces of water – would you clean your car with juice? How about with soda? I think not. Neither should you expect your body to be clean without enough water.
– stimulates metabolism
5 minutes bouncing – a great metabolism boost during TV commercials, or during the office work day.
5 minutes stairs/walking/light exercise
5 minutes stretching - Your muscles store toxins. Stretching (yoga, or your own stretching routine) spreads the fibers of your muscles out so that blood can flow through them and cleans them. That's why stretching feels so good. I have worked on many people in severe pain who if only they would stretch on a regular basis would be pain free.
weight lifting workout – weight lifting doesn’t just build muscles, it helps bones become denser, which is especially important the older you get. Also, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn even when you’re at rest. Weight training should be included at least once a week.
20 to 60 minutes cardio workout three times a week. If it is simply impossible to get 20-plus minutes a few times per week into your schedule, you really need to take four, five-minute health breaks (instead of smoke breaks) throughout your day to exercise in one way or another.
Check Off When You Successfully Avoid:
Highly processed packaged foods like frozen dinners, canned foods, and deli meat.
“Fast Food” McDonalds, Burger King, and most take out should just not be in your vocabulary. Not only is the meat low grade factory mess, but it is full of fillers. And, that's just the beginning.
sugary or fatty snacks
Here’s to your Health!