Diet, exercise, either / or; neither / nor…

Hundreds and hundreds of people, from all walks of life, believe that diet plays a role in losing weight.  Coupled with exercise, you not only reach your goals, but also maintain it…or so they say!  Other people say no to dieting but yes to some form of exercise and they, too, stay fit and healthy.  So, what is the answer then?  The verdict is still out, but I am going to give you some feedback of what I read, studied and experienced, over the years.

I, for one, has never believed in any strict form of dieting.  As a Nutritionist, I can honestly say that I believe that we need to eat balanced meals that consists of all the different food groups.  The secret, I believe, is to reduce and/or cut out refined sugars and starches, processed (junk) food, alcohol-intake and soda-drinks.  Even the so-called “diet” cooldrinks contain artificial substances that is very unhealthy.  It is also a good idea to take food allergies and/or intolerances into account.  One can rather up one’s intake of fruit, vegetables and salads, eat lean meats and less starch / carbohydrates, than overindulging in, for example, carbohydrates or protein. 

Many, many years ago people were far more active than what they are today.  Balanced meals, consisting of all the different food groups, were eaten without any problem.  The secret was that they were active.  So yes, being active and doing some form of exercise plays a crucial role in losing weight and maintaining a healthy body.  However, don’t think that exercise can take the place of eating processed food / junk food, for example, 2 – 4 times a week!  To perform at its optimum level, your body needs balanced meals in order to get in all the important vitamins and minerals.  Not to mention enough water intake as well!!

Another interesting lesson from the past, so to say, that we can learn from, is that people only ate what was in season.  Nowadays, with trade, freezers, and so on, one can eat almost anything anytime of the year.  In the olden days people ate what was in season, thus their bodies kept to their natural rhythm and was more in tune with nature. 

You don’t have to be a gym-bunny in order to exercise; going for a walk or a jog in your area, is just as good as going to a Pilates-class or pushing weights.  The main thing to remember is that we, as humans, were made to move.  From a very early age we, instinctively, know that our bodies want to move around.  Weight-bearing exercises are always important from the age of 30 onwards, but again, it is not necessary to lift heavy weights.  Swimming, for example, is fantastic as you work with and against the gravity and weight of the water. 

All in all, the best advice I can give you, my readers, is to listen to your body.  Although you might not be as active as your grandparents were, you can still do some form of exercise – even when going to the shops!  Parking your car further away from the door or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, for example, are an easy-to-do habit.  I personally eat smaller meals throughout the day, instead of 3 big meals:  I have my breakfast, then come home after teaching my Pilates- and other classes and have a snack.  Then I will have lunch, have a mid-afternoon snack again and then dinner.  My snacks will vary; it can be a fruit, some nuts and yes, even a rusk with a cup of tea after classes!  I make sure to drink enough water throughout the day and if I eat processed / junk food, I limit it to 1 – 2 x per month.

Exercising, for me, has never been a schlepp – instead, I always enjoyed doing something – my favourite being ballet, swimming, Yoga and Pilates!  I also enjoy being out in nature and love going for walks. So, wherever you are, I truly believe that you can find something that you like and start moving! Instead of dreading exercising, make it a fun-outing or do it with a friend or partner. Instead of following one diet after the other (and rarely getting the long-term results), why not just change what you eat, the amount you eat and enjoy what you eat. The proof, they say, is in the pudding…so, my dear readers; put on your walking shoes, grab an apple and don’t forget to drink enough water too!

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