The proven benefits of exercise are endless — so why don't we do more of it? One of the most significant barriers dietitians often hear is: how do I fit it in? We all have busy lives, so first and foremost, remember some exercise is better than no exercise. Moving your body doesn't have to entail a full-hour session at the gym. The best way to exercise is to find something you enjoy and to do it consistently! Walking or short movement sessions throughout the day might be an excellent place to start if you haven't exercised for a while. If you can't designate a full half hour of movement, break it into smaller pieces throughout the day that add up to a half hour.
Here are more ways to properly fuel your fitness goals:
Pre- and post-workout nutrition are key players in keeping you fueled up, your movements smooth and replenishing your body for your next sweat session.
Think carbs before any movement — but keep it light on the fat and fiber. Carbs give your body the energy to complete the workout without your stomach feeling too full. Examples include applesauce, a banana or a sports drink. If you're an early bird gym-goer struggling with eating before your movement, eating a balanced dinner the night before, along with a little something in the morning, will do the trick.
Post-workout nutrition is all about the three R's: Refuel, Repair and Rehydrate. Start by refueling with healthy carbs because your body uses them most during exercise. Then, include some high-quality protein to repair those hard-working muscles. Finally, it's important to rehydrate your body to replace the fluids you lost through sweat during your exercise.
Hydration might seem simple, but it's essential to hydrate properly and understand what happens when your body isn't hydrated. Being dehydrated can be a primary culprit behind early fatigue and the risk of injury during movement. Given that your body is about 60% water, with muscles soaring close to 75%, it's safe to say that water plays a vital role in every function your body undertakes.
Here are some tips to ensure you don't fall victim to dehydration-related issues. First, focus on fluid intake throughout the day, not just when you're in motion. The trick is always having your water bottle with you throughout the day. You are more likely to drink more water if it is handy and filled. Another great trick is paying attention to your bathroom breaks; if your urine is light and clear, you're likely on the right track to being hydrated.
Remember, water is not always the best option. If you're engaging in intense movement or sweating more than usual, it might be time to bring electrolytes into the picture. Consider your favorite sports drink to ensure you're replenishing more than just water.
Hydration is your unsung hero when it comes to staying active and healthy. So, keep that water bottle handy, monitor your bathroom color palette and consider a beverage that goes beyond just water if you're breaking a serious sweat. Your body will thank you for it!
While the New Year can bring abundant motivation for improving health and movement goals, many may return to square one only a month or two later. Unrealistic diets and workout regimens can lead to short-term success but are often not sustainable for long-term health goals. It's encouraged to take it slow. You can find long-term success with your health and fitness by setting small, attainable goals and focusing on the little victories — especially outside of the numbers on a scale.
When thinking outside the scale, consider your non-scale victories — focusing instead on other factors that can be a sign of improved health, such as:
- Improved sleep
- Clothing fitting differently
- Improved energy throughout the day
- Less pain with movement or in general
- Improved lab values
- Fewer cravings/binging behaviors
These little victories can keep you going even after you reach your goal, so stay focused on making movement enjoyable and sustainable.
No matter how you decide to get your body moving, it's important to provide your body with a good balance of fuel before and after. And just like movement — only some meals are going to be perfect. Remember to aim for consistency over perfection. If you consistently provide balanced plates with carbs, proteins and healthy fats, you can give your body the fuel it needs to perform.
Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session to learn more. Hy-Vee dietitians offer various services to help you meet your weight loss and nutrition goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.