So You’re About to Start A New Diet?

I can appreciate all the sides of the “dieting” arguments out there, and it’s no secret that many in the health and wellness community would disapprove of any form of a constricting diet regimen. I, on the other hand, strongly disapprove of closed-mindedness – on condition. When I think about restricting what you consume, I frame it more as a way of preservation. I don’t remove things from my diet to punish, or torture myself – I choose to remove what I believe (based on research and communication with my own body) actually causes more harm than good. Ideally, once these foods are removed, they stay removed. Therefore, I am not simply participating in an elimination diet, but I am embarking on the first step of a journey toward understanding more about my body.

I strategically plot to improve my overall wellbeing by structuring a dietary regimen that will support the areas through which I define such a state: stable mood, quality sleep, energy level, comfortable digestion…to name a few.

To be perfectly honest, I think it would be difficult for me to support any kind of diet-altering plan that wasn’t backed by some kind of research, be it personal at the very least, but I can whole-heartedly and confidently stand behind any well-organized and thought out attempt to feel better.

With the new year off to the races, and many of us “trying new things,” read on for my top 5 tips for switching up your diet/nutrition, not just for a moment, but in order to cultivate a serious change in your relationship with nutrition + everything else. After all, food is fuel – might as well customize what drives you.

1.     Make Sure It’s Healthy

A healthy eating plan should include foods you enjoy, along with plenty of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, etc. And take note on what ‘healthy’ means in that previous sentence. It depends greatly on your overall goal of dieting as to what ‘healthy’ might mean to you. If you are attempting to lose weight, maybe these healthy foods include low-fat diary, and whole grains. If you are attempting to uncover potential trigger foods that could be the root cause of a perpetual discomfort in your body, maybe you stick to all natural substances like nuts and beans, instead. The only way to actually feel good is to make sure you are consuming a healthy amount of nutrients that your body needs in order to survive, and the only way to make sure you are in tune with this information is to read, and learn, and be open to the discovery. Don’t start a new diet without knowledge of how it might affect you.

2.     Take Baby Steps/Track/Prepare

Change is hard. The ideal approach to creating new habits it replacing them gradually, and experts agree, this is actually the best way to overhaul your diet. If a goal of yours is to simply drink less soda, then maybe the goal today should be to drink less than you did yesterday, and so on. Don’t stress yourself out by attempting to quit something you love cold turkey – spoiler alert: it’ll be incredibly difficult to maintain, and you’ll likely end up feeling disappointed and discouraged if you’re not successful right away. I wanted to stop drinking coffee, which I LOVE, and averaged 2-3 cups of every day. It took me almost 6 weeks to even completely ween off of it, and every single day that I turn down a cup is a successful day to me. I’m still taking baby steps, even after it seems the goal has been reached. Track your progress using your phone, or a note book, or even a handy tracking app like My Fitness Pal or Fat Secret. Even if part of your diet is not necessarily focused on calorie/macro counting, having the ability to actually see what you’re consuming and how it adds up can be extremely powerful, and encouraging. Write everything down! From how you’re feeling to what you did that day. You will be surprised looking back at the progress you’ve made internally from improving your diet. Consider it like progress photos for the mind.

Overall, the most important part of this step is to be prepared. Similarly to doing your research ahead of time, make sure you are prepared for any potential obstacles that may present themselves to throw you off course. Have a company happy hour coming up? Know ahead of time what you can get from the menu, or pack a snack/eat before you go and politely sip on soda water at the event. Plan your shopping trips so that you have plenty of time to get everything you need, and then plan your meal-prep day so that you are not stressed out, or end up going hungry because you didn’t make enough food for lunch AND dinner one night. Prepare until you feel over-prepared and then prepare some more.

3.     Set Realistic Goals

It often seems that those who wish to change their lives the most are the ones who set the most lofty, unrealistic goals. What you may not realize is that even a 5-10% change may make a huge difference in how you feel. Set realistic goals so that you can feel accomplished when you reach them. If you are attempting to lose weight, keep in mind that it’s recommended to strive for shedding no more than 1-2 pounds a week. Slow and steady…or rather, focused and consistent wins the race in developing habits that you can sustain for the rest of your life.

4.     Clean Out/Start Fresh

As it reads, if you’re attempting to switch up your diet, then you might as well actually do just that. Not only will cleaning out your kitchen prevent you from feeling tempted by the sugary snacks you’re used to having, but it will support the overall fresh start that you are attempting to give to your health. Donate the foods you don’t want to a food bank, or neighbor. Don’t put them in the bottom of a closet – get them out of the house! Eliminate the possibility of having a crutch, and simply dispose of anything that doesn’t fit into your new lifestyle. This will be HUGELY impactful to making changes that remain consistent, and not just for a phase.

5.     Experiment and have fun!

Finally – the most important of all – have fun! If you find yourself miserable, hating the idea of every new day, you’re definitely doing something terribly wrong. Use the new opportunity to get in touch with yourself – try new things, explore more about yourself and your surroundings. DON’T sit at home on the weekend sulking because you can’t go out with friends due to your new diet…instead, use the opportunity to see if there are any cool restaurants around town where you can enjoy healthy options. Invite friends out for a movie instead of drinks. Experiment in the kitchen – maybe buy a new cookbook and play around with recipes. Whatever you do – take advantage of this time. You’re not just doing a thing, you’re creating a chapter of your life which has the potential to affect the entire rest of the story. Make it your own, be proud of yourself, and enjoy it!

Good luck!

Hello Hydration!

If you know me from Adam, you know your girl lovesssss her water! Ever since I was wee little, I remember the inquiry as to how much water I had drank in a day always being the first question my mom would ask me, regardless of what it was that ailed me. Even when I was older and off at college, if I would call and explain I had developed a cold, a cough, had been feeling sluggish, or lazy, or even if I mentioned I was feeling really hungry (!), “how much water have you drank today?” followed by a suggestion of drinking more (usually regardless of my answer), was always her go-to response.

Naturally, this was one lesson that stuck with me. Being my curious self, I’ve logged a lot of hours of research regarding water consumption, and not surprisingly, mother knows best!

The truth is, whether you’re a serious athlete, exercise here and there, really are not all that active at all, in great health, or poor – it’s so so important to stay hydrated! Think about it? Our bodies are made up of about 55-60% of water. It serves as a vital nutrient to keep your body functioning properly, regulates our internal body temperature, and metabolizes the carbohydrates and proteins our bodies use as fuel. Just as well, water assists in flushing your body of wastes and toxins, acts as a form of shock absorption for your neural system, and helps to lubricate your joints.

You can learn more about all of these specific functions of water in your body by visiting the Water Science School.

I’ve been specifically interested in the role of water in my body recently for a number of different reasons. While the focus of my research recently has been primarily on the anatomy of the human body, I’ve been supplementing that information with proper treatment of the body during exercise.

Pre-Workout Hydration: Hydration is major key to developing a healthy work-out routine. As mentioned, water serves as a lubricant to your joints, i.e. drinking enough can help prevent soreness, and ensure you are developing your muscles in a healthy way!

To encourage a healthy digestive system, as well as to prepare myself for a long workout, I have been drinking at least 8oz of water every morning (sometimes a full 17oz bottle), AS SOON as I get out of bed. This fires up my body’s metabolism, immediately replaces any hydration lost over night, fuels my brain so that I actually do feel awake, and halts any potential immediate morning hunger.

During Workout Hydration: Now, just to be clear, everyone has different hydration needs! While drinking plenty of fluids is important to anyone, the amount of hydration needed to optimize your workout routine will likely vary from mine, even if we are similar in height, weight, and activity.

I started estimating the volume of hydration needed for myself a few months ago when I was training for a half-marathon. As an example, I feel as if I spend a bit more time in the gym than the average person (usually 1.5-2 hours). I try to drink 17oz (my full Sip Swell bottle) for every 20 minutes of exercise. This usually ends up being 3-4 bottles completely finished before I leave the gym.

So if you’re keeping track, I should have already drank 85oz of water by about 8am!!

But my day hasn’t even started…

Post Workout (Daily) Hydration: After the gym, I still have a full day ahead of me. And, being summer in New York, it’s probably a hot one. This adds in a couple additional hydrating factors.

I aim to drink about 0.8oz of water per pound minimum each day. That’s 95oz without exercise, i.e. ounces drank at the gym don’t count toward this total. So once I’ve finished a workout, I still know I need to drink at least 5-6 bottles of water throughout the rest of my day. However, this doesn’t factor in the heat of summer.

Summer can be conducive for bacterial infections, and New York is always conducive for germs! For this reason, I usually up this intake goal in the heat to at least 1 x my body weight, which adds an additional 23oz, or about 2 more bottles. No problem right?

Drinking water can be tough if you are drinking other fluids throughout the day. So after all of this, I want to leave you with some alternative options to work into your snacks and lunches! Don’t get me wrong – I still encourage you to drink as much water throughout your day as you can! But if you find you are struggling, try some of my favorite hydrating foods to quench your thirst, and replace the electrolytes your body needs to thrive!

Celery: 96% water, good source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc

Watermelon: 95% water, and rich in vitamin C

Bell Peppers: 92% water, also rich in vitamin C

Cucumbers: 95% water, plus provide calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium

Strawberries: I can’t eat these due to an allergy, but they are 92% water and rich in potassium!

Cantaloupe: 90% water, and also rich in potassium

As a final note, make sure you’re remaining aware of the volume of sugar you’re drinking/consuming! Sugary sports drinks, for example, can be counterproductive to proper/necessary hydration.

Finally, please note I am not a doctor. There is such thing as over-hydration, so if you’re unsure, you should consult with your physician to learn more specifically about your body’s necessary water intake.

Happy summer, and happy hydrating! 💦