Beginning to Exercise
If you are new to working out, and feel very confused about how to exercise or take care of nutrition, here are a few things that should get you started right.
First, become active. This means visualizing an active and fit person, and doing everything that you think that person would opt to do. Walk to everywhere possible. Climb stairs even when the lift works. Walk faster while running errands. Get creative and add to the list. Make this an everyday thing for a long long time to come. Point is, keep doing those things and you will eventually become the person you were imitating.
When you begin exercising your body, what you are trying to do is akin to taking out a long unused creaky machine out of storage and getting it to work. That is going to take some effort. Sustained effort, until the machine does what you want it to do. So be patient.
Unless you are someone who gets a kick out of beginning with formidable challenges, begin small. For example, warm up with 20 jumping jacks and 10 high knees. Repeat thrice. Do some mild stretching. Then do 7 burpees, 7 squats and 7 mountain climbers. Catch breath. Repeat. Five times. Stretch some more. Then head out for a long walk if you can. Come back and stretch some more. Stretching reduces fatigue and soreness, and keeps you supple. If you can’t do that much, do as much as you can.
Google for exercises, stretches etc. Any and all the information you need is already there on youtube and lots of websites. Look for something you can do, and stick with it for let’s say, a month or two. See how you feel. If you need more challenge, find something more. If you need less, cut down on repetitions, or find something altogether new.
Eating and Exercise
When you begin working out, you are bound to feel hungrier in general. Eat. Your body needs this to meet the increased energy demands. If you hold a hard and fast diet rule when you being exercising, you will simply tire yourself out and stall at making progress with the exercise. Remember that food control should never happen at the cost of compromising strength and energy.
Eat a small meal one or two hours before your workout so that you feel strong and full of energy through your session. Some foods work better than others. For example, an apple and a tablespoon or two of peanut butter evaporates into thin air by the time I am half way through my workout, whereas a one-egg omlette and two slices of wholewheat bread keeps me a beast through my whole workout. This meal is light enough to digest and feel light on my tummy in an hour, and yet doesn’t leave me wanting before I finish. Now that I’m trying paleo, I eat a two egg omlette with a cup of leafy greens and a quarter onion diced, with about half a cup of cottage cheese, made in plenty of olive oil/butter. You experiment and find out the best eating window and food for your workout. These are also the things that keep planning your food and workouts interesting. My suggestion: NEVER GO HUNGRY. Eat. But choose what you will eat, and make sure it is ready before hand, so you don’t realize you are hungry only when it shoots through the roof and by then anyone who takes that chips packet from you is a sure-fire assault victim.
Cook your meals yourself, or get it cooked by a source where you have control over the ingredients. When you mindfully cook your meals yourself, you have full control over the ingredients you put in there. Restaurant meals mostly have way more going on with them than you’d imagine. The fat content might be rocket-high, sugar will find its way in many masked ways, and the pairing of food items usually make it difficult to go low carb. Now, eliminating all these may not be your food requirements. I mean, if there is no fat, sugar or carbs, what are you supposed to eat, just protein and fibre?! Hahaa. Of course not. That will depend on what you’ve chosen to be your style of nutrition. If you are unsure about which style of nutrition to chose, you’ll have to decide on that first. As a rule of thumb though, everyone benefits from lowering excessive intake of carbohydrates.
Reducing food makes me hungry!
If you are some one who has trouble with portion control, then this will work like a charm: Eat in small portions to just mitigate your hunger. Initially, this will be difficult. Here’s the carrot: you can eat in the next 2 or 2 1/2 hours. Determining when to eat and how much to eat depends on your eating habits. If you are someone who is chronically habituated to eating huge amounts of food, often more than you can digest before the next meal, then you will feel hungry and deprived when you begin portion control. Just suck it up and stick with it for two months. Once your body begins to adjust to the new routine, you’ll be fine. By the way, don’t think there wont be episodes of binges, or over eating. They will be there. If it happens, think of it as a slip-up, and begin immediate efforts to get back to routine portion control. Remember this, if you make a mistake, and then continue to wallow in self-pity, that is all there will be to it. For you to get your health back and your body into shape, you have to forge a healthy eating and exercising routine. This takes effort, again and again, every time you veer away. Think of yourself as a child you are trying to toilet-train. Yea, that’s exactly what I said.
What to Eat?
As a general principle, make most of your meal some kind of protein, and minimize the amount of carbohydrates you eat. Of the carbs you eat, let it all be complex carbohydrates. Point is, eat things that will keep you fuller for a longer time. When you eat a cookie, a slice of cake or chips, you usually eat for taste. Unless you eat a whole lot, these things don’t keep you fuller for a long time. So you end up eating sooner. Not to mention that what you already eat could be a full meal’s worth in terms of the energy it brought to your body. In effect, you end up eating two meals in place of one.
If you are willing to drastically reduce your carbohydrates intake, then you can substitute it with high amounts of fat. Along with adequate protein and a reasonable amount of exericse, this nutrition style is famous for making excessive body fat melt like ice under sun.
If you d not want to go very low on carbs, simply reduce it as much as possible and substitute the missing amount with protein and adequate fat. Choose sources like ghee, coconut or olive oil and nuts as replacement for cooking sprays and hydrogenated oils.
You will usually be very hungry a little while after your workout, depending on the intensity of the workout. Expect ravenous hunger to strike especially if you weight train. Many people buy some form of protein powder to drink in the form of a shake as soon as a workout is over. This is beneficial for two reasons. One, if there will be an excessive delay until you can get your next meal, the shake will keep you going. Two, if you have trouble meeting your protein requirements from you meal alone, the shake can bring in the protein for you. The fact remains that protein powders are a highly processed form of food, and hence when you drink it, do be aware of this.
If protein powders are not an option, you can simply take along a small healthy snack to consume after the workout. Fruits, milk, eggs, a small sandwich.. anything that gives you some carbs and protein to recover from the workout and keep you from starving.
If you are back home soon, you can straight away go to a meal. The rules here are as it is for all regular meals. Post workout meals are supposed to be more efficient in utilizing the carbohydrates in the food for immediate fueling, than storing them away as fat. So eating most of your carbs around your workout, as a pre and post workout fuel, is a strategy popularly recommended.
Eat no junk?
Ideally, yes. But then, it takes time to get used to not wanting everything that crosses one’s mind. So. Moderation. Don’t set a goal so unachievable that you get frustrated in three days and get back to your normal routine. There are many ways in which you can get the better of the munchies.
- Nibble sized treats. When you have a craving, agree to yourself that you will eat what you want, but only one or two bites. You got the taste, right? Better than nothing right? Now tell yourself you can have more later, only and only if, you will stop at two bites this time.
- Defer. Once in a while, when you have a craving, put it off. Put it off till the next day. See how you feel when you do this.
- Have the treat after a meal. Often the munchies is hunger disguised as a craving. Eat a filling meal and see if you feel the same. Of course you will have to fight the temptation to skip the meal and go straight for the snack.
- Always drink a full glass of water when a craving strikes. If the craving is still there, you could go for the nibble sized treat. Or have another glass of water. Or wait after the water and have a meal and then see how you feel.
- Make your own treats. Look up recipes online using searches like ‘low carb treat recipe’, ‘low fat cake recipe’ etc. and review the recipes you find. Choose the ones with the best reviews/recommendations and make it for yourself.
Warning about Healthy Food
Often people are unable to distinguish between wholesome foods and ones laden with additives. For example, fruit juices. Store-bought fruit juices are not healthy. They contain so much sugar that they could be the single most highest contributor to your weight gain. Fruits themselves are so sweet that if you don’t expend the energy you drink in through them, that isn’t going to help your efforts. Eat fruit if you need to. In moderation. The fibre you get from doing that will also regulate the fast absorption of energy.
Energy bars are another example. The protein bars touted as health food that you see in supermarket aisles have enormous amounts of sugar per serving. Check the labels for yourself. In fact, read the labels of alll foods you buy thoroughly before purchasing them. If you don’t know what to look for, educate yourself on google on the matter. Want a fruit juice? Make it yourself with ripe fruits, and skip the sugar. Want a nutty energy bar? Buy some raw nuts and eat those instead. Even better, make it your self. There are ridiculously easy recipes online, you just need to spend a little time looking for it and then making it.
Here are a few fruit and nut bar recipe links I found:
http://everydaypaleo.com/everyday-paleo-fruit-n-nut-bars/ (this one is no-sugar, no-bake and as simple as it gets. I’ve made it, it’s awesome.)
http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/07/delicious-honey-nut-bars-dairy-sugar-gluten-and-grain-free.html (this involves heating honey, which I don’t like to do)