Starting from zero: Body care basics

I think health and fitness is a good topic for a second post. Often times, when life gets busy say with work, marriage, children, financial concerns, or other things, our body care is the first to suffer. it’s pretty ironic because if our body doesn’t function well, we won’t be able to do any of the other things we feel are so important.

When we feel we have no time, exercise is one of the first things to go. Then we start eating more junk food. Then little by little our lifestyle catches up with us. It happened to me. Before I could eat anything and my body would stay the same. But as i got older, my habits of eating lots of white rice and sweets began to show in my cheeks, neck and belly. I also started to have back pains, knee pains, and other small issues.

Then a colleague changed my life by giving me a copy of a book called the abs diet. Its a great book that is both entertaining and informative. It introduces a complete program with both meal plans and exercise routines. I learned about what foods will help me burn fat, what good and bad fats are, and what kind of carbs to avoid.

Since then, me and my wife have done a total lifestyle change with respect to nutrition and exercise. In roughly 8 weeks I’ve recovered 2 notches on my belt, without skipping meals, and exercising for only around 2 hours a week. my wife sees the difference. I’ve also somehow turned into a health nut in that I now love to research about good healthy foods and new exercise techniques.

You can actually google all of this info, but here’s a nice list of the most useful things I’ve learned. I hope you will find it helpful. I’m still not an authority on this stuff, but so far it’s working for me.

Switch refined carbs for whole grains. Refined carbs such as white rice, white bread, sugars should be avoided. once consumed, they will produce a spike in your blood sugar, creating a lot of excess energy, which quickly turns into fat. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and oatmeal, have low glycemic index, meaning they take longer to digest and have a slow, gradual release of energy into your body. In this case, there is no spike, energy is consumed as it is released.

You burn calories just to digest your food. It takes a lot more energy to digest protein than it does carbs or fat. As an example, it takes 30 calories just to digest 100 calories of protein, compared to 10 calories to digest fat. So just by eating lots of protein, you are burning more calories. Good sources of protein are Non-Fat Milk, Beans, Eggs, Lean meats (Turkey, Chicken Breast, Fish)

Trans fat is really bad for you. Trans fat does not occur in nature. Food companies put regular oil through some kind of hydrogenation process to make it more solid at room temperature. The result is a fat that stays in your system. I don’t really remember that much about it. But I’ve read enough horror stories to steer clear. Good fats are the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated kind like Omega-3 and Omega-6 that you can get from fish and flax seed.

Eating smaller meals (of the right food) more often will boost your metabolism. Continuous digestion means continuous burn. Frequent food intake of low GI foods will help keep your blood sugar from fluctuating. I eat at least 6 small meals. Breakfast, am snack, lunch, early pm snack, late pm snack, dinner.

For someone who has no regular exercise, strength training is far more beneficial than cardio. Strength training is short bursts of high intensity movement. Activities such as pushups or squats, create an afterburn effect where your body will burn more calories over the next 48 hours. Strength training also promotes muscle gains, which ultimately increases your base metabolism. This does not happen with cardio, which is low intensity, sustained over a long period of time.
Here’s a great article on Livestrong about this: the-difference-between-weights-and-cardio-for-fat-loss/

I started with a light strength training routine of 3 sets each of pushups and squats with no weights. I did it 3 times a week for roughly 20-30 mins.

Intensity is more important than how long you exercise. Not having time to exercise is not an excuse anymore.
It’s better to do something really hard (like squats) for 15 minutes than to do something easy (like jogging) for 2 hours. High intensity translates into muscle gains, and creates an increased burn for the next 2 days. So if you exercise every 2 days, you get a continuous afterburn.

I’ve noticed that it’s the small changes in my lifestyle, that I do everyday, that really make the big difference in the long run.

How do you care for your body? I’d love to hear you’re own insights. Please share your own experiences through the comments below. I’ll be posting the links to some of the articles that I’ve read soon after.

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