You’ve probably heard that you need to diet and exercise to be healthy. But which one is more important? Is it more essential to watch what you eat, or is it more crucial to get moving? It’s a tricky question to answer, but we’ll do our best as we explore diet, exercise and their importance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We’ve got you covered, from exploring activities that will keep you fit to discussing the benefits of sustainable eating methods like the Mediterranean diet. So, let’s get started.
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Let’s Talk Diet
Let’s start with diet. You might’ve heard the saying “Abs are made in the kitchen.” But what about the rest of your body? Are all your muscles and bones really built in the kitchen? How can that even be a thing? Let’s find out.
The word “diet” can mean different things to different people. For some, dieting might involve trying to lose weight by eating less and going into a calorie deficit. For others, it might mean eating specific foods to manage a medical condition. And for others still, it might simply refer to the types of foods they regularly eat.
When we talk about diet in relation to health, we’re referring to the latter definition — the kinds of foods someone typically eats. And when we talk about a healthy diet, we’re talking about one that includes a variety of high-quality foods that fuel and power your body.
What you eat provides your body with the nutrients it needs to function correctly. These nutrients give you energy, help repair cells and allow your body to perform all of its many functions. Eating a healthy diet is crucial because it can help reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
Here are the dos and don’ts of an optimal diet to help you reach peak fitness, health and immune function:
The Dos of Diet:
Eat Sustainably – The way you eat should be something you can sustain or keep up for the long term. This means daily, regardless of how busy you are with work or family, and even through significant life events like moving or traveling.
Research – Investigate different diets and find one that suits you. This is especially good if you have food allergies or food sensitivities or simply see your body does better with certain foods than others. You should explore some diets, including the number-one-ranked Mediterranean diet, the low FODMAP meal plan developed by researchers at Monash University and the anti-inflammatory diet.
Balance Is Key – Allow yourself some indulgences while still maintaining a healthy diet. Remember, no food is inherently evil, and we need to break our negative associations and relationships with food.
Get Help – Use resources to help you. One excellent option is working with a registered dietician or nutritionist to develop a plan that meets your unique nutritional needs. Another is to use meal delivery services to get the ingredients and recipes you need to eat healthily.
- Choose a Mediterranean meal delivery program if you enjoy eating delicious and healthy foods like olive oil, fish, vegetables and grains.
- Choose a low sodium meal delivery service if you need to watch your salt intake for medical reasons or simply want to eat fewer processed foods.
- Choose a gluten-free meal delivery program if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity or have dealt with unexplained chronic inflammation and pain in your body and want to see if gluten is the culprit.
Listen to Your Body – Last, always listen to your body. Suppose you’re feeling tired or sluggish or have low energy levels despite eating a nutritious diet. In that case, it might be time to see a doctor, qualified nutritionist or holistic healthcare practitioner to further diagnose issues.
The Don’ts of Diet:
Don’t Deprive Yourself – Eating should be enjoyable. If you’re constantly depriving yourself of your favorite foods, it’ll be harder to stick to your diet in the long run.
Don’t Overindulge – Eat what you need, not what you want. This doesn’t mean depriving yourself of your favorite foods. That’s not sustainable. Still, it means being mindful of portion sizes and not overeating. If you find you have uncontrollable and emotion-related urges to binge eat, it may be time to reach out for professional help.
Don’t Ignore Your Body’s Signals – If you’re feeling full, stop eating. If you’re feeling tired after a meal, take note of what you ate to track food sensitivities. Our bodies are good at giving us signals when we need to stop eating or take a break.
The Case for Exercise
Exercise is vital for several reasons. First, it helps to keep your body healthy and functioning correctly. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. It can also help to increase energy levels and promote better sleep.
Next, exercise can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight. This is because it helps to burn calories and build muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, even when you are at rest. Therefore, by increasing your muscle mass through exercise, you will be able to burn more calories and lose weight.
Exercise will also help improve your overall fitness level, increasing your quality of life, especially as you age. This means that you will be able to perform daily activities with ease and without becoming tired or winded. Additionally, exercise can help improve your balance, coordination and flexibility, which can help prevent injuries.
Last, exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health. It can help reduce stress levels, improve mood and promote feelings of well-being. Exercise can also help increase self-esteem and confidence, and it can be a great way to meet new people and socialize.
The Dos of Exercise
Set SMART Goals – Setting goals is key when it comes to exercise. However, it’s important to ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). This will help to increase your chances of success.
Choose an Exercise You Enjoy – If you hate running, don’t force yourself to do it. There are endless exercises to choose from, so find one that you enjoy and stick with it.
Start Slow and Build Up Gradually – It’s essential to start slowly when beginning a new exercise routine, especially if you haven’t been moving for a while. This will help to prevent injuries and allow your body to adjust gradually. Then, once you’ve built up your stamina and strength, you can start to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Work with a Certified Trainer – Working with a certified trainer can be incredibly beneficial. This is true whether you have no idea what you’re doing, want to navigate an old injury or simply need a refresher course. They can help you create a safe and effective workout routine that meets your needs and goals.
The Dont’s of Exercise
Don’t Overdo It – When starting a new exercise routine, it’s important to go slow and easy at first. If you try to do too much too soon, you’re more likely to get injured or become discouraged.
Don’t Neglect Warm-ups and Cool-downs – Warming up before you exercise and cooling down afterward are essential for preventing injuries. A good warm-up should consist of light cardio and dynamic stretching. At the same time, a cool-down should include static stretching and light cardio.
Don’t Forget to Rest – It’s important to allow your body time to recover after a workout. This means taking one or two days off per week and getting enough sleep each night. But rest days don’t mean being a lazy couch potato. Instead, engage in some activity recovery like going for walks, heading to the pool for a swim or doing light yoga routines at home.
The Verdict: Diet or Exercise?
So which is it then? Diet or exercise?
The bottom line is both diet and exercise are essential for overall health and fitness. The best approach is to focus on both simultaneously. This means eating a nutritious diet that meets your individual needs and being active regularly. Remember to listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. Start slow and build up gradually, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy lifestyle in no time.