When I was reflecting on my fitness journey lately, I realised that I've always been a bit of a health fanatic.
I committed myself to focusing on the aspects of my health that would keep me from getting overweight from the time I was ten years old in fourth grade and felt a bit fat.
This became more of a preoccupation as I grew older since I raced track and needed to keep my weight low enough to maintain good race times.
As a result, I realised I needed to make a few adjustments to my daily routine in order to give myself the greatest chance of success in this effort.
As my fitness expertise and dedication increased, this resulted in a few minor adjustments here and there, as well as some major lifestyle changes.
Over time, I've realised that there are a number of sacrifices that require a lot of dedication and effort but yield big results in this lifestyle, such as waking up at 4:15 a.m. every morning and working out, and that there are other smaller sacrifices that don't seem like big sacrifices but can yield extremely effective results.
In this week's post, I'd want to talk about the "little" adjustments you may do to aid your fitness journey.
I'll give each modification a switch factor value of 1–10, which essentially indicates how simple or difficult it will be for most people. The grading method is based on a scale of one to ten, with one being no problem at all and ten being something you'll have to work on over time.
These scores may vary depending on the individual, however this was how difficult it was for me to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
1. Eliminate all fried foods from your diet.
This was one of the first things I did when I decided to start living a healthier lifestyle.
I'm not sure when I concluded that all fried food was terrible, but it seemed like a reasonable conclusion given all of the negative health connections with fried food.
When you consider all of the health problems that shorten people's lives, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease, fried food is often linked to the kind of lifestyle that causes these problems.
As a result, I decided this would be the first item I'd take out to test how it would effect me, and it turned out to be a lot simpler than I had anticipated.
While I thought I would miss fried food a lot, I had no clue how delicious grilled food was until I started to eat it all the time.
Not only was it just as delicious as fried food, but it was frequently simpler to consume since it didn’t leave oil streaks everywhere like fried food often did.
Switch factor= 2
(Once I made the adjustment, I didn’t miss it at all and so nearly immediate benefits in the way I appeared in the mirror in the gym).
2. Eat only reduced fat or no-fat meals
If you had attempted to make such a lifestyle shift back in the ’50s or ’60s, this could’ve been a significant issue, since there were not as many low-fat or no-fat choices from which to choose.
However, with the war on fat that took place in the ’80s and the ’90s, there were a lot of various low to no-fat choices essentially for every kind of food out there.
If I wanted some chips, I would simply search for the low-fat option.
If cake was the item of choice that day, I would seek for low or no fat.
Cheese, milk, or dairy of any kind? Low fat or non fat, please.
Basically, I got to the point in which I would constantly check labels on everything before I ate it, and if it stated anything more than 3–5 percent of your daily suggested balance for fat, I wouldn’t eat it.
Now, you don’t need to go to this extreme, but by just substituting your regular products with the no-fat or low-fat choice, you are very likely lowering your calorie consumption.
This is true since fat contains more than twice as many calories (9) as both carbohydrates and protein (4). (4).
Therefore, you could potentially consume twice as much food as you did previously in respect to protein and carbohydrates and still have a few calories left when compared to the normal fat version –a sacrifice that was well worth it if you asked me.
Switch level — 4 (
This would lead me to have to spend a little more time studying what I ate when shopping and frequently not being able to eat any time of cheese (mainly full fat) or non-vinegar based dressing when I ate out at restaurants.
Choose 100 percent whole-grain wheat bread over white
This is one that simply takes a little of getting accustomed to since many of us were raised on white bread as kids.
I recall looking at whole-grain wheat bread (be sure it's 100 percent whole wheat, since there is some wheat bread that is refined and no healthier for you than white bread) as something that only elderly people ate.
It wasn’t nearly as delicious as white bread and I recalled wondering why in the world would want to eat something with the name pumpernickel. 😝
Fast forward to now, and I’m fortunately clever enough to understand that the wonderful advantages of eating whole grain wheat bread far outweigh how odd a name may seem.
Part of the reason why whole-grain wheat bread isn’t as “tasty” as white bread is also what makes it so much better for you.
Whole wheat bread includes all the characteristics of the grain needed to create bread— the bran, the germ, and the endosperm, whereas white bread originates from refined flour that has removed the bran and the germ.
This “refinement” procedure actually destroys all the natural nutrients that bread already contains and then needs to be “enriched” to put a number of these nutrients back.
The enhanced white bread therefore includes the following nutrients: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron, and Folate–are extremely excellent nutrients that your body and mind require to develop.
However, WITHOUT this refining process for whole wheat flour, you receive all of the same nutrients PLUS Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Fiber, Potassium, and Protein.
Also, whole wheat bread usually contains more of the fibre that our body needs for optimal digestive health. White bread typically has around 1 gramme or less of dietary fibre, whereas 100 percent whole wheat bread contains about 3–4 grammes.
In a research done using clinical trials of 81 people, the group that ate whole wheat bread as compared to white bread had substantially higher-good gut bacteria, as well as an enhanced metabolism over a six-week period.
Lastly, whole wheat bread usually tends to simply have less calories than white bread, with the average white bread slice coming in at 120 calories vs 100 for whole wheat bread – not a tremendous difference but similar to this list, it’s the small things that make the greatest impact over time.
Switch factor— 3 (Now are so many various excellent whole wheat choices out there, one doesn’t have to pick between flavour and health any longer, as you can have both with the proper decision.)
4. Drink sparkling water or water instead of juice/sodas
This final adjustment may have HUGE effects depending on how often you consume sodas and juices today.
Most individuals don’t think about calculating their drinks as it pertains to monitoring daily calories. When I was younger, it would be easy for me to drink a whole Coke without no problem at all.
Also, when eating breakfast, I would drink a whole glass of OJ like it's nothing, as well as apple juice and grape juice when the chance presented itself.
Not all all juices are inherently harmful, but many of them (similar to soda) includes lots of sugar and wind up being very high in calories.
And we all know how terrible soda can be.
One two-liter bottle of coke has 800 calories –enough for a big dinner or two smaller meals depending on how much you usually eat, whereas one 8 ounce cup of OJ is approximately 110 calories.
While this may not looks like a big number, these liquid calories may catch up with you over time, as they build up with meal after meal.
When you replace these calories with water, you will immediately offer your body more of the hydration that it needs to remain healthy and bright.
If water is a little boring for you as it can be for many people at times, instead go for sparkling water of some sort that may you provide the same desired fizz of a soda but without the additional calories and sugar.
When I say sparkling water, I’m talking strictly to club soda or seltzer water and not the sparkling flavoured water that many people have come to enjoy lately to get off of diet soda.
I’m been a victim of this myself and only learned lately how harmful these beverages can be for you and your long-term health.
Similar to diet sodas, more studies are coming out to show that some of your favourite sparkling waters are just as harmful, if not worse, than diet drinks because of the artificial sugar included in them.
One of the main bad effects of different artificial sugars is they really interfere with the production of your fullness hormone and make you want to eat MORE than you usually would. This is one of the reasons many experts believe there has been a connection between drinking high quantities of diet sodas and increasing BMI in people that may be linked to a variety of different health problems over time.
This may be a little difficult at first to get accustomed to, but with a bit of time, club soda will quickly become a much health part of your regular meal choice.
Switch Factor — 5 (At first, you will DEFINITELY miss soda, but this doesn’t have to be forever or all the time. Drink water or club soda mainly and then leave the diet soda or artificial sugars for exceptional occasions. I still use it in my coffee from time to time…just in moderation).
While limiting your calories substantially or working out twice a day could be a strategy to help you reach your fitness objectives faster, there are a number of little and simples improvements that one could undertake to return large dividends to the bottom line.
And while I won’t say that all of these switches will be simple at first, you’ll be astonished at how much you won’t miss them once you realise the big effects they may bring in a relatively short period.
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