Having been both a competitive bodybuilder and Olympic-style weightlifter in my mid-twenties, I began learning how to manipulate my diet in order to obtain the desired effect. I think that’s when my interest (my friends would say obsession) in food and nutrition began and then later led me to obtaining degrees in both Exercise Science and Sports Nutrition. So, for the past 25 + years, I’ve read countless research articles and studies, attended conferences and seminars and personally implemented tons of diets to see how effective they were and how they could impact one’s health. While I don’t necessarily proclaim to be an expert on the subject, I would consider myself fairly knowledgeable on the latest research and have a good grasp of the science relating to health and nutrition. When I look at the enormous amount of time I have spent during my adult life trying to understand and learn best practices, I can see how so many people are overwhelmed and confused as to what is safe and effective, and actually healthy.
If you spend any time on your phone or computer browsing the internet, it doesn’t take long to be bombarded with some type of ad related to the “latest,” “greatest,” “clinically-proven,” “most popular,” “star-studded” diet.
And if you’ve ever done an internet search for diets, you’ll pull up an infinite amount of them ranging from the Paleo, low-carb, low-fat, high-protein, Atkins, DASH, Mediterranean, vegan, pescatarian, flexitarian, Intermittent-Fasting, and the list goes on, and on…and on.
All, of course, touting to be the “best” and “most effective.” With the amount of contradictory info from one diet to the next, or from one year to the next, it’s no wonder people are so confused and unsure what to eat. In 2019 it was reported that over $72 billion was spent in the weight loss market in the US alone. It was also reported that same year, that 2/3s of all Americans are now overweight or obese.
We appear to spend more money than ever while having access to the greatest amount of science-based research available, so, where’s the disconnect? Why are we so overweight and unhealthy? Could it be that we are all on information overload and becoming so inundated with confusing information that we can’t even act and make a change toward better health?
While there will always be opposing camps trying to state their claims and prove their points, there are some consistencies woven within the frame-work of most eating plans that will promote health.
- Eat “real” food. Limit foods that are processed and those containing additives and preservatives, while also limiting fast food and snack foods. I like to use an 80/20 rule, where 80% of all meals are made up of whole food items, preferably those prepared by you where you have control of the ingredients;
- Make sleep a priority. Focus on going to bed the same time each night and shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep; and
- Move your body.
While there’s as much info out there as to the “best” and “most effective” workout as there is on diets, the most important thing to focus on is movement. Just move your body.
This can be as simple as committing to take a 20 minute walk each day. Walk with your dog. Park your car further away or take the stairs. Mow the lawn or do some gardening. These are activities of daily living and all add up and can have a positive impact on not only your weight but also on your health, especially if you have not previously been active.
There’re a couple things I’ve come to understand during the time I’ve been in the health and nutrition industry. The first is, diets are like fashion. Wait long enough and they’ll come back in style. The second is the KISS principle or, “keep it stupid simple.” Most people can improve their health by following a few key steps. So, instead of being so focused on the type of diet or activity, just commit to take action on a regular basis, and keep it simple.
One option I’d like to recommend in your quest to being more active and keeping things simple is a brand-new product called The Mirror.
It is literally a Mirror that allows the user to see their form while a certified instructor in the background takes you through a class. Minimal equipment is required, mostly you and a mat, and it takes less than 2 feet of wall space.
There’s over 20+ different types of classes available, ranging from 15-60 minutes, with over 10,000 On-demand classes available 24-hours a day. It is great for those who don’t like gyms or have a hard time carving out time to go to the gym.
You log in, choose your class, and workout. It’s that simple! Go to: www.mirror.co or www.usfitness.com to find a retail location near you where you can check out The Mirror, up close and personal.
A native of North Carolina, Gina currently lives in Charlotte, and has been in the fitness industry since 1990. During that time, her roles have included strength coach, personal trainer, college instructor, and competitive athlete (both bodybuilding and Olympic-style weightlifting). Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University she relocated to CO where she interned at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Her primary role there was to instruct resident athletes on the Olympic lifts. She relocated to Charlotte in 1996 where she worked for the YMCA and then later began her career in 1998 as a fitness equipment consultant. She holds a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Sports Nutrition and holds multiple certifications through NASM, NSCA, and ISSN. She enjoys camping, mountain biking, working out and hiking, all of which she does with her dog Pia.