As the new year presses forward millions of people will be, once again, placing emphasis on their health and physical wellbeing, and many will attempt to make these changes drastically. Is that a long term achievable goal though? There is much to suggest that smaller changes in diet and exercise in daily routines may result keeping your resolution and a sustainable lifestyle.
Before an individual steps into a gym or onto a cardio machine there is the initial step of nutrition – what we put into our body.
When it comes to long-term health, nutrition plays a vital role,” says Lowrell Bellard, a Senior Public Health Educator with the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC). “No matter how much effort you put into your exercise routine, if you continue to have unhealthy eating habits, you will not see the results you are looking for.” Bellard also added that straying from healthier options should never make you feel guilty because we are all human. “Instead, look at ways you can prepare your favorite foods in a healthier way, swapping out certain ingredients which can help with reducing calories, sugar or unhealthy fat,” says Bellard.
Examining your food intake may be something to strongly consider based on what you want to achieve. Consuming carbohydrates may be a good thing if you’ll be scheduling a lot of time in the gym, or readjusting the intake if you’ll be spending less time working out. The same could be considered regarding other nutritional choices. Balance.
“Many fad diets have you remove or greatly reduce food groups and that is not sustainable over time,” Bellard says, “There are many healthy options when it comes to the big three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. A balanced nutritional plan will contain all of these in healthy amounts.”
About 45-65% of calories each day should come from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein based on your activity level and 20-35% from healthy fats.
Ms. Marisa Brunett, a Senior Athletic Trainer with NMCPHC’s Physical Optimization program states that “preparing your own meals at home also aids in having balanced nutrition, not to mention you know exactly what you are putting into your body.”
Before spending your hard-earned money on a gym membership, there are some options that might be worth exploring, such as: Are group classes and sessions that are offered, are trainers available to help you individually.
Weight loss and gaining muscle both ultimately come down to calories consumed versus calories burned. No matter what your goal is, a combination of both strength training and cardiovascular (cardio) activity will get you to your goal. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that to stay healthy everyone should perform about 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio activity each week. For weight loss, you can go up to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. Examples of cardio exercise include cycling, dancing, hiking, jogging, long-distance running, swimming and walking.
“All too often, people are eager to jump into their new exercise routines then end up injured and no longer driven to continue safely working towards their goals,” Brunett says. “Ease into your exercise program starting out slow by setting small goals and focus on your core to build up your strength and balance from the inside out,” she adds. “Planks and bridging exercises can help build core strength and decrease injuries. Balance your fitness activities by including strength training, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility exercises in your workouts to lessen your chances of injury and avoid boredom.” Brunett also suggests varying your workout by changing up your exercises or activities to allow your body to strengthen more muscle groups.
Mental strength also plays a large role in achieving and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a positive mental attitude is vital to success in every aspect of your life. Throughout our lives there are times when we find ourselves self-doubting our capabilities or focusing on what is perceived as negative.
“Exercising positively combats this as it releases the body’s natural, “feel good” chemicals called endorphins which trigger positive feelings throughout the body, often referred to as a “euphoric” feeling leaving us more energized and positive,” says Brunett. “We see athletes that find themselves trying to work through “mental blocks” affecting their performance thus creating more self-doubt and frustrations. Overcoming mental blocks takes reflection and not letting that block control you. Your reflection should lead back to why you have the block,” she adds.
To overcome mental obstacles, Brunett recommends positive reinforcement or placing continual focus towards success.
“Remind yourself it is “Ok” to make mistakes and keep working as most of the time you are your own worst critic and others don’t notice your mistakes,” said Brunett.
Ms. Bellard states that discipline has everything to do with sustaining a healthy lifestyle and to remind yourself that you are not only working towards a goal but want to live a long and healthy life. For many, it could take six weeks to make something a habit.
“Push through and before you know it, it will all become second nature,” says Bellard. “If you ever have an off day, it is okay, just get right back on track tomorrow.”
Ms. Bellard said that she would encourage people to set goals outside of weight loss or muscle gain because it does take time. Setting a goal of building endurance such as reducing how long it takes to walk or run a mile or gradually increasing how much weight you are able to squat. Focusing too much on the scale may discourage you, so you want to make smaller, more manageable goals.
According to Cmdr. Susan Mojica, NMCPHC’s Director for Population Health, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical for sustaining mission readiness. “Proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise are important factors in helping ensure that our Sailors and Marines are able to do their jobs,” says Mojica. “Those of us in the public health profession stress the importance of adopting these resolutions as lifestyle changes that will positively impact service members and their families for the rest of their lives.”
Marisa Brunett, Master's of Science, Florida licensed, Nationally Board Certified Athletic Trainer
Lowrell Bellard, Master’s of Public Health and Certified Health Education Specialist
The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) develops and shapes public health for the U.S. Navy and Marines Corps through health surveillance, epidemiology and analysis, disease and injury prevention, and public health consultation. Learn more by going to www.nmcphc.med.navy.mil. Follow NMCPHC on social media at https://www.facebook.com/NavyAndMarineCorpsPublicHealthCenter http://twitter.com/nmcphc and https://www.instagram.com/nmcphc/