If you’re new to healthy eating and regular exercise, the thought of “sticking with it” until it becomes a way a life may seem a little overwhelming. So do yourself a favour and every now and then just focus on the next small step you need to take which could be as simple as adding one more set of reps at gym and cutting your fizzy drink consumption in half. Every little good change is a step you’re taking for you.
Whether you’re speeding along or going a little slower with a couple of detours along the way, it’s well worth carrying on because healthy eating has so many benefits in the long run.
A strong immune system
Eating a varied diet that contains plenty of whole, natural foods will give you the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to keep your immune system strong and prevent cell damage which contributes to aging and disease. Vitamin C and Vitamin E act as antioxidants too, so stock up on citrus fruits, berries, peppers, avocado, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Improved energy levels and productivity
Eating processed or sugar-rich foods can wreak havoc on your energy levels, never mind the other negative effects on your health. By choosing healthy foods, you can get the right amount of energy you need for an active life without all the excess calories or experiencing mid-morning or mid-afternoon energy slumps. Keep an apple or some almonds at your desk – having a healthier snack available makes it less likely that you’ll grab that packet of crisps.
Getting to and maintaining a weight that is right for you
Exercise and healthy eating go hand in hand when it comes to weight loss and keeping the weight off. One of the problems with a crash diet is that as soon as you go back to your old eating habits once the diet is done, the weight slowly starts creeping back. Continually choosing healthy foods that become your preference will ensure that you are getting all the nutrients needed for optimal health without overindulging, and it will also have a positive effect on your training.
Being able to be active
It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you have the energy and ability to do a spin class, climb a mountain, cycle through a park or run around playing soccer with your children. If you treat your body right, it will do the same for you. Learning to pick up and respond to the signs of hunger and fullness makes decisions about what and when to eat a lot easier. Just keep in mind that if you’re planning on increasing your exercise time or intensity, you’ll have to make some adjustments to your eating too.
One route off the healthy eating road, which pretty much loops around and drops you a couple of kilometres further back, is shopping on an empty stomach. When you’re in the shops and feeling ravenous, everything looks tempting because that extreme hunger is your body’s cry for energy and it’s easy then to grab something that’s high in sugar just to get your energy levels back up. If you are out and about for the day, make the time to sit down and eat something before you feel too hungry. Kauai’s new Thai Green Curry Bowl made with chicken and delicious fresh flavours of pineapple, red pepper, carrot and spring onion and served with brown rice is a great meal to tuck into.
Written for the Virgin Active SA blog
Bus image sourced from Pinterest