Why Your Diet Alone is Not Enough

Why Your Diet Alone is Not Enough

Imagine standing on one side of a very large room full of furniture, and you must walk through it to get to the opposite side.  There’s no straight path, and you have to do it blindfolded. You’ll eventually get there, but not as efficiently since you’ll probably be bumping into things along the way.

Or, think about driving a car down the freeway and blowing out a tire or two. You’ve got to make it to the service station off the next exit, so you slow down and drive with the rims grinding on the pavement. The vehicle is operable, but at a significant handicap.

These are the types of disadvantages our bodies experience if we aren’t incorporating exercise into our daily lives.  It’s like operating at more or less, 50% capacity, depending on your age, diet, lifestyle, and physiological disposition.

The overall increase in raising health consciousness has been an incredibly positive and exciting movement of recent years.  But, the total picture of wellness and longevity is by no means one dimensional.  Even within the raw and natural foods sectors, there seems to be such an intense focus on diet alone that other crucial factors fall to the wayside. I’ve spoken much less on that aspect and more on the “digest of a natural foods gourmet”.

Modifying your diet is certainly an ideal place to start, not matter what your goals might be.  You can jump right in by following a juice cleanse, getting into raw foods, or get on-board with one of the many, MANY detox programs out there.  But to neglect moving your body is like leaving the house with just one shoe.

And while we adults have lit the fire to heal our ailing bodies with major changes, our children are now at greater risk for health issues at a younger age than ever before.  The industrialized, sugary foods marketed at kids are even more visible and toxic.  This technological age of computers, video games, and smart phones combined with the deterioration of school physical education programs keeps kids off of playgrounds and bicycles.  When children aren’t introduced to consistent physical activity, implementing an exercise program as an adult can be considerably more challenging.

As Nike said it best, “just do it”. You should do it for more than what may appear to be obvious reasons. It’s not about spending two hours, seven days a week in the gym.  Nor is it about looking like a fitness model or achieving a rock hard body (unless that’s your goal of course 🙂 .

Do It For Mental & Emotional Well-Being

Stress overload does some serious damage.  The collective stress alone that our world has experienced as of late has caused a lot of people to just lose it. Gone unchecked, mental and emotional instability can have serious health implications. High blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, adrenal overload, emotional eating, and depression are among these consequences, made even more complicated with a sharp rise in prescription drug “band-aids”.

Stress at some level is a part of life. You cannot control every event and circumstance that occurs, but you can control how you deal with it.  In addition to a positive attitude, regular exercise has a natural medicinal effect on the brain, with which the rest of the body will in turn benefit.  During exercise, those “feel-good” endorphins are released from the pituitary gland, creating a feeling of euphoria. Getting your body into a groove also raises seratonin, a brain chemical responsible for regulating mood and preventing depression. (Psychological trauma is another matter that should be treated under the care of a mental health professional.)

Getting yourself on a regular exercise regimen also involves setting goals.  When you set and accomplish goals, the mental and emotional gratification is extremely rewarding.  This helps us stay positive!

Do It For Weight Control

So you’ve got a little bit of weight to lose, or a lot.  Anxious to start shedding pounds, you might start an all-juice diet. Within the first few days, some weight loss is imminent.  But if you’re not including exercise to your plan, the chances of falling into that dreaded yo-yo scenario are much greater. Why?  Our bodies are pretty darned smart. We’ve got a built-in metabolic calculator that keeps track of movement = daily calories burned.  There are variables depending on female to male, and age.  Same is true for dietary requirements, but I’m attempting the general idea here.

Over time, the body’s metabolic calculator averages intake calories to calories expended through physical activity.  The more physically active, the more the metabolism kicks up and uses the intake calories more efficiently.  If you’re sedentary, a surplus of calories results in weight gain and body fat.  If you’re sedentary, and decide to go a “cleanse” type diet for a temporary period of time, the metabolic calculator thinks you’ve gone into starvation mode. The calories that were once coming in daily have suddenly ceased, and the calculator doesn’t recognize that you’re just sweeping house.  So at the end of the cleanse and back to regularly scheduled programming…boom!  The body frantically starts storing up all it can to protect itself from future perceived starvations = gaining weight back + a little more.

Getting your body moving is the vital helping hand for weight loss, no matter what diet you choose.  While some pounds shed is a direct effect of a change in caloric intake, daily exercise trains the metabolic calculator to burn calories and fat more efficiently, increasing metabolism for the long termHealth.com has an article about this in more details, along with additional cautions on cleanse dieting.

There is a reverse scenario. Ever see someone who’s always working out, but their diet consists of empty calorie junk and fast food?  Likewise, their fitness goals and overall health would improve ten-fold by eating nutritious whole foods.

Do It For Inside-Out Cleansing

As I’ve just mentioned, yoga is a star for achieving this. But it really doesn’t matter how you work up a sweat, exercise keeps the body operating efficiently in every way.  The skin is the body’s largest organ, and through perspiration, you’re also kicking out toxins. You will also achieve a healthy, glowing complexion!

Do It For Your Heart, Muscular Strength, & Bone Health

Aerobic exercise is the king of keeping the heart muscle in shape. Cardiovascular work-outs are absolutely essential for weight loss and burning unwanted fat. Your present fitness level and goals determine the amount of cardio is needed in a week.  If the thought of running on a treadmill is dreadful to you, no worries! There’s so many ways to get your heart pumping like brisk walking around the neighborhood, playing some sports, or jumping on a rebounder.

Resistance training is obviously going to benefit strengthening and building muscle, but it also strengthens bones. Women especially should take care of their bones to guard against osteoporosis, and one of the easiest ways to do this is through a strength training regimen. It’s as simple as using your own body weight, or purchasing a simple set of weights to use at home (no gym membership necessary)! WebMD explains what a woman should do to get started with resistance training, and how this can curb osteoporosis in her future.

Just DO It:  Tips For Getting Started & Sticking With It

1.  Find something you like to do. Yoga and running are for me, but bicycling and Pilates may be for you. Try out different activities to see what works best.

2.  Variety matters. Make it interesting. Even for the most disciplined die-hard go getter in the gym, incorporating a variety of activities in different settings is a must.  Who wouldn’t get bored staring at the same walls every day around an elliptical machine, or the same exact weight training routine week after week? Change it up, your body will appreciate it too.

3.  As with diet, what works for one may not for another. You might see more results doing a circuit training program, versus a few weekly spinning classes. Find the magical combo that tells you your efforts are working.

4.  Don’t overdo it! And be careful of burn-out. Slow and steady wins the race! Always listen to your body, and don’t push to hard or too fast no matter how excited you are that results are rapidly appearing.  This is also where tip #2 comes in handy. You don’t want to get bored or burned out.

5.  Don’t give up. Even the most successful of regimens, those that have dropped you 15 pounds and you’re seeing your abs and biceps define before your eyes, can halt to a plateau. Suddenly you’re wondering why those few pounds left over won’t come off, you wonder if your efforts have been futile.  Whatever you do, never give up. Hitting a plateau is normal. Remember that your uber-intelligent metabolic calculator is just temporarily making adjustments to all the good deeds that have been happening. Exercise should be for life, and maybe think about changing things up just a little. That could be all that’s needed.

6. Keep an exercise diary. I have kept an exercise diary for 15 years. Nothing could be more helpful, especially when beginning any new program. Logging your activities and your progress shows you in black and white your accomplishments, your growth, and keeps you on track.

7. Build a home gym – in your bedroom. You don’t need a gym membership, complicated equipment, or even a lot of space. A balance ball, a chair, ab wheel roller, and a rebounder are really all you need to be on your way to fitness.  Plus there’s such an abundance of home work-out programs than ever before, there’s really no excuses! There’s even cable network programs just for exercise.

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