Getting up and getting active
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 01, 2013
We have all announced at some point or another that we will eat right, exercise and improve fitness. But the time frame to do so is never immediate.
If you are anything like me, and I will admit that I have not exercised consistently since late in 2012, you typically tell friends and family that your road to fitness will begin next week or next month or even worse, in the new year.
In my early 20s, I was health conscious, worked out religiously and made time to build on my 145-pound frame.
I am now 26. I weigh well over 200 pounds, and around two to three days out of any given week, you can find me hovered over a plate of cracked conch and fries.
The question after you’ve fallen off your fitness routine, if you ever had one, is where do you begin after such a long break?
In response to that question, GNC General Manager LaJuan Swain said it is important to focus on three things: food intake, exercise and a few basic supplements to get you in gear.
“The first thing you need is a good multi-vitamin,” Swain said at GNC’s Mall at Marathon branch.
“You want to get a good fat burner or metabolism booster. Something like the Hydroxycut or any one of the Abdominal Cuts for the midsection.
“And good protein because protein builds muscle.”
When it comes to food intake, Swain said the high carbohydrate diet, void of enough greens and roughage, is the main reason Bahamians put on the pounds, especially during the holidays.
“I mean it’s all peas and rice, macaroni and cheese and potato salads. Those things (carbohydrates) once digested in the body turn into sugars and that’s what causes the fat. It’s our diet,” he said.
“Those foods are not all bad, but it is also important to know when to eat those foods. You have to try to incorporate some of them at lunchtime. Eat lighter foods for dinner.
“We tend to have these foods late at night, right before going to bed. You have to change the whole frame in which you think and change the way in which you eat.”
An interesting idea suggested by Swain was to switch around your dinner and breakfast – but of course with a few adjustments.
For me, that would mean a piece of choice baked chicken, a salad and some plantains in the morning and a bowl of cereal with Lactaid milk in the evening.
In a Forbes Magazine article “6 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism”, it is said that just as you need to start your car with fuel, you need to jump start your metabolism first thing in the morning to burn the most calories possible throughout the day.
Swain may have a point. The metabolism can be described as a complex network of hormones and enzymes that convert food into fuel and determine how efficiently that fuel is used.
Advice from the dietitian
I also asked Julia Lee, a registered dietitian and coordinator of clinical nutrition at Doctors Hospital, whether a heavier breakfast and lighter dinner would jump start my system and help me burn more fat, while providing more energy to work out.
Lee said a particularly large meal at any time during the day is generally not recommended.
Instead, she said an even distribution of food throughout the day promotes better health.
The dietitian said some basics steps to improving eating habits include turning back to a diet that consists of lots of vegetables and fruits – foods that are closer to nature.
Turning away from refined or processed foods, fast foods, is key to turning your health around, though it can take some time to adjust.
It will require more planning too, Lee pointed out.
“Having a regular food procurement or grocery shopping and having foods in the house will really help with planning,” she said. “It will also help with stopping at quick food vending machines or fast food restaurants.
“With grabbing a soda, people don’t think of that as being food, but it really is liquid candy.”
Lee suggested there is a misconception that a healthier diet means a lighter wallet.
“If it’s a plant-based diet and more homemade, I think that 20 percent or more can be saved,” she said.
When it comes to working out – the third component to better fitness – Swain said what most people are missing is the right energy levels.
He said working out in the morning when your energy level is higher improves the chances of a better routine.
“Late in the evening your body is already down,” he said. “You want to work out first thing in the morning. Once you jump start that metabolism, you’re energy levels will be better. Try walking for an hour in the morning.”
For those of you who are not early birds, G-Fit President Charles Johnson said the intensity of the workout is more important than when it is done.
Johnson, who trains over 1,000 people in his program, recommended a 30-minute workout per day, which can range from walking to something more extreme, such as a cardio circuit to start off.
But he said before you even consider exercising, consult a general practitioner. After that, it’s all about getting the mind right.
“First of all, set a goal. What is it you want to accomplish? Sometimes people say they want to work out, but they are not ready,” Johnson said.
“They wait until a doctor recommends it. You need to know whether you can do extreme workouts or whether a lifestyle change is more suitable.
“What I see mostly is people are trying to get back from high cholesterol, high blood pressure and then they get into the fitness regiment.”
He agreed that eating regular, well-balanced meals throughout the day promotes good health.
What began as research for this article has become the groundwork for my own fitness regime that will begin today.