Accent on health & fitness
In keeping with the theme of the issue this month, I thought it would be fun to provide you with ideas on how to renovate your home for optimal fitness and general well-being.
It has been my experience that when it comes to eating, most of my clients are very well-schooled on what NOT to eat, but struggle with what healthy items to stock in their homes.
When it comes to fitness gadgets, there is the opposite problem. My clients seem to constantly purchase fitness gadgetry designed to totally revamp their bodies with one device.
Finally, closets and drawers full of fitness clothing are areas that are usually sorely in need of upgrading.
So, let’s get started…..
First thing’s first: get rid of anything that you have in your cabinets that you haven’t used in over a year. The metals in canned goods leaks into the food. So, get a box, put those old canned goods into it and toss them.
Same thing with your refrigerator – old condiments in the door should be checked for recommended usage dates and anything ancient should be emptied and the containers recycled.
Once that is done, upgrade your cabinets with healthy foods that are quick and easy to prepare meals with. Staples to have on your shelves include: high quality carbohydrates such as 100 percent whole wheat pastas and pastas made from rice, corn and other grains; quinoa (a high protein ancient grain), brown rice; orzo (a rice-like product made of corn); couscous; oats; 100 percent whole grain cereals; and bean dips in glass containers.
Proteins like canned light tuna in water (look at labels and stay away from vegetable broth or hydrolyzed broth; both are high sodium and some people are extremely sensitive); a protein powder made from whey or hemp, or rice protein if you are dairy sensitive or vegetarian should be kept in the pantry for quick use when cooking protein isn’t timely.
Semi-perishable items that are also high-quality carbohydrates include: 100 percent whole wheat bread, 100 percent whole wheat English muffins; 100 percent whole grain crackers and flat breads; 100 percent natural almond, cashew or peanut butter; raw chopped nuts and ground flax seed; green teas; and organic soups such as Nature Valley or Imagine brands (they are low sodium and organic).
Perishable items should be stocked in your refrigerator and include all fruits in their whole, natural form; all vegetables including: broccoli, carrots, pea pods, zucchini, cauliflower, tomatoes, celery; leafy greens such as Swiss chard, kale and spinach; starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, acorn and butternut squash and parsnips; bean- based dips like hummus or black bean dip; organic condiments such as Annie’s dressings and Aunt Millie’s spaghetti sauce; 100 percent whole wheat tortillas; polenta; organic eggs and egg whites; 100 percent organic dairy products such as Greek yogurts (high in protein), cheese sticks, kefir (a yogurt-like drink that is high in probiotics) and cottage cheese; and bottled spring or distilled water.
Protein sources to stock include: organic (hopefully grass-fed, free-range from local farms) chicken breasts and tenders; ground turkey (93-97 percent lean because even these are still 40 percent fat by calorie volume. Eighty-five percent lean is over 50 percent fat by calorie amount!); lean beef cuts such as filet, New York strip, any round cuts and 93 percent or higher lean ground beef; white fish such as tilapia, flounder, sole or wild Alaskan salmon; shrimp and scallops (all fish listed are lowest in mercury).
If you are sensitive to wheat or dairy products, there are products made with alternative ingredients, such as rice or potato flour (Vann’s is a product line of wonderful wheat and wheat-free breakfast foods such as waffles, pancakes, etc). To replace milk, there are almond, rice, soy, oat and hemp milks which are easy to find in the health food section of our area supermarkets.
In order to cook quick meals with the healthy foods listed above, we need to renovate your countertops a bit. Get rid of the cookie jar and replace it with a steamer that has a timer. You can put produce into the steamer during the day and it will steam and shut off so that your vegetables are cooked when you walk in the door after work. You can then start to munch on them as you prepare the companion foods.
Another kitchen necessity is a blender or food processor. Many a quick breakfast can be made with Greek yogurt, a scoop of protein powder, any green vegetable or variety of fruit and a tablespoon of ground flax. Put all ingredients into the blender/food processor and in one minute you have a healthy breakfast or snack on the run.
As with the kitchen, get a big box or a U-haul as the case may be. If you haven’t used the equipment in over a year get rid of it. Donate it to a local shelter or charity. List it on Craig’s List. Put an ad in Buyers Guide. Just get it out of the house! Why? Because as long as it is there, you will delude yourself into thinking that you will start to use it one day. If you haven’t this past year, you won’t, so out it goes!
What you DO want to get are the following: three different levels of resistance tubes along with a door handle; an exercise ball that can double as a bench (they come in three sizes and are based on height so read the box); three pairs of dumbbells ranging from 3-5 pounds, 10 pounds and 15 pounds for women; and 5-8 pounds, 15 pounds and 25 pounds for men (heavier if you already have been working out). This is enough equipment to get a full-body workout at minimal expense.
All you really need for cardiovascular fitness is a pair of sneakers (go to Fleet Feet on Wolf Road or Absolute Fitness on Route 9 in Latham to get your gait analyzed and learn what type of sneaker your foot needs. Wrong sneakers equals injury.) A treadmill or elliptical machine is wonderful, but sneakers and a nice, safe neighborhood or local track is all you need to either walk fast or jog/run for cardiovascular fitness!
Finally, take up yoga. You can buy a beginner DVD or tape a yoga workout off the Fitness channel. Doing this a minimum of once a week will counter-balance the tightening of everyday life. Invest in a yoga mat to avoid slipping, but a carpeted floor will do to start.
Once again, get a box or a garbage bag (notice a pattern?). Follow this rule of thumb: If you have been wearing it for over a year, throw it out! Fungus and molds get into the fibers from being frequently wet and produce odors that even WIN detergent (touted as odor-busting) can’t get out! You can keep the clothes you use frequently longer than a year if they are made with carbon fibers (it stops the odors from getting into the fibers of the clothing).
Go through your socks – holes and thread-bare heels….out they go! Sneakers – six months or 300 miles is the limit. They may look fine, but they have been pounded down and can cause injury to leg and feet joints. T-shirts from races – how many do you really need before they take over your closet and drawers? (Mine keep reproducing and no matter how many I give to the Salvation Army, every year I still have 25! If I didn’t pay them forward to charity I would have to move out of my house!)
Just like the annual cycles of life where things die in wintertime in order to make room for new life in spring, so, too, do your fitness clothes have to be cycled. Holding on to old items takes a lot of space and leaves you feeling energetically suffocated!
Along with the bigger renovations you may be doing or planning for your home, follow the renovations outlined above for your kitchen, workout space and closets to keep your health and fitness habits fresh and alive for 2010!
Judy Torel is a USAT coach, personal trainer, nutrition consultant and psychotherapist. Her office is located in Planet Fitness, Loudonville. She can be reached at 469.0815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.