By Rachel Welch
We are halfway through 2021, and hopefully, still focused on accomplishing the resolutions that we made six months ago! For many of us, those resolutions included health, wellness, and fitness goals. With this motivation comes necessary adjustments in diet, exercise routine, and supplemental nutrition. If you've hit a slump halfway through the year, you're not alone! Let's revamp that New Year's motivation and take some time to revisit the importance of proper nutrition for fantastic fitness.
Fitness comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes! Contrary to what society and social media would have us believe, there are many varieties of fitness and nutrition that will look different for all of us. We are each on our own unique fitness journey for the body and the mind. So, before we start pasting models onto our vision boards, let's evaluate what fitness actually looks like for us each as individuals.
When thinking of physical fitness, many of us automatically think of the people on diet commercials or in gym ads. Or, maybe physical fitness makes you think of getting a health issue under control, regaining mobility after an accident, or feeling strong enough to do your favorite activities! Physical fitness goals are different for everyone, and each one is as valuable as the next.
Mental or emotional fitness is less commonly advertised. While meditation and mindfulness techniques have become more popular, mental fitness remains a bit elusive to most of the general population. Mental fitness and emotional fitness go together. Mental fitness goals may focus on controlling symptoms of a mental illness or sharpening cognitive performance. Maybe your mental fitness goal is centered on finding more joy in your daily life or staying in the present moment. Just like with physical fitness, one person’s mental fitness goal may look different from the next.
The key to both physical and mental fitness lies within our nutrition. What we eat, drink, and consume has a direct impact on how healthy our bodies and minds feel, and how well they perform. This is not to minimize the impact of greater health issues, of course. We each have different situations, and you ultimately know what is best for you. But, nutrition undoubtedly has an impact.
Nutrition is the scientific term used to explain how our bodies use and benefit from what we consume. When we eat and drink, our bodies turn the nutrients into energy, and chemically breaks it down.
It is common to see parents urging their children to eat their vegetables, not have too much sugar, or consume too many snacks. For some reason, as we grow from children to teenagers, and finally to adults, we seem to "go rogue" with this. Many adults abide by less-than ideal eating habits, relying on fast food for quick meals, and overindulging in unhealthy foods and beverages as a means of stress reduction.
The act of turning to high-calorie comfort foods to feel better is so common, but also counterintuitive. Junk food actually contributes to an increase in stress! This is partly due to blood sugar spiking and dropping as a result of the sugars or refined carbs. Also, the brain gives you a rush of happy hormones when you indulge in eating to relieve stress, which makes damaging habits like these even more difficult to break (1). If we are going to prioritize nutrition for fantastic fitness, we need to avoid emotional eating.
Eat for Fuel, not Feelings
Food is something that our bodies need because of the nutrients that it provides. It is important to select a healthy balance of food for your daily meals. Ideally, you need a balance of fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables (2). This will ensure a daily value of vitamins, minerals, and pre/probiotics that keep the body nourished and healthy. The amounts of nutrients you need varies based on a number of factors (age, activity level, overall health, and more).
When you choose your food, choose wisely. Remember that nutritious food can taste good and make you happy, but the food that makes you happy may not be nutritious. If you focus on eating for fuel and nutrition, instead of for your feelings about what's easy and quick, you will feel better mentally and physically.
In the average diet, most Americans severely lack many vital nutrients. In this case, it can be valuable to supplement nutrition where it is otherwise lacking. If you know that supplements are a good choice for you and your unique health journey, here are some helpful ones to consider!
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a nutrient that roughly 50% of people worldwide are deficient in (3). This nutrient is crucial to helping your mood, energy, mental health, and immune system (4)! Consider supplementing with natural, organic supplements like what we offer at Health by Principle!
There are many other valuable nutrients that play a role in fitness as well —and supplementing them is a helpful way to get closer to your fitness goals! Otherwise, the key to meeting your resolutions from six months ago is remembering to make healthy choices in what you consume.
Remember to prioritize both your physical and mental fitness and to be kind to yourself! We each are on our own unique journey, and with that comes different priorities, speeds, levels, and details. Make your health a priority in the way that suits you best, and your list of fitness goals will soon be checked off, one by one!
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