Heading into the off-season (at least for most) can be a huge relief. Taking the pressure off yourself to do everything right and allowing yourself to indulge a bit can be very rewarding. The off-season can also be a great time to figure out your goals. Do you want to run faster, build lean body mass, or acquire a better swim technique? During this time of reflection and evaluation, you get to choose what is important to you. With those choices comes motivation (and vise versa).
Nutrition is certainly one thing that can help all areas of your life. Good food affect your performance, and it affects your mood, immune system, and your ability to focus. Nutrition is an important component of your goals and the off-season is a great time to renew your commitment to improve in this area. Typically there is less training and more time for cooking.
Following are my top ideas to help you get focused on what you are eating.
Part of eating well is setting your self up for success, and the other part is choosing optimally. No matter which it is, knowing quicker, easier options for meals and snacks are essential for getting on track and staying there.
Following are 7 reminders about healthy eating when life gets busy:
• Use crockpot meals with lean proteins, lots of vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates. Freeze extra portions for future meals.
• Make a smoothie with protein, fruits and veggies for post workout. Utilize thermal containers as they are great for taking drinks on the go.
• Fresh fruit, nuts or seeds can be a quick, portable snack.
• Choose wisely in restaurants. For example, at Chipotle chose the ‘bowl’ vs. a tortilla and avoid dairy items, chose vegetables and organic rotisserie chickens when you can, consider brown rice, spinach, canned beans (BPA free can) as options too. Choose the protein entree and a vegetable side, or get beans, chicken or fish to go on top of a salad, and choose olive oil based dressings.
• Drink plenty of water throughout the day, thirst and hunger have similar mechanisms of action.
We are inundated with sugar and indulgences all the time. It’s not only hard to get on track, but staying on that path is challenging. It’s key to know your self. Are you someone who has a bite of sugar and then can’t stop eating it? Are you someone who wants to indulge occasionally the more strict you are with your diet? These things are important to know because for some, moderation is key, and for others, avoidance is most helpful.
A strategy for staying consistent with good choices is to keep your goal(s) in the forefront of your mind. See it, envision it happening, feel it, get excited about it. This alone can increase your motivation to make good nutritional chocies. Our minds are powerful, so give it great fuel with nutrition and with quality thoughts.
Choosing fruit over potato chips, or nuts/seeds over a cookie is a significant difference. Take for example this scenario: if you chose a cookie, and if it is not homemade, it likely has trans fat and/or saturated fat, sugar, and white flour. This combination not only raises insulin and blood sugar but it also increases inflammation in your body and increases free radicals. Nuts and seeds on the other hand, provide a balanced mix of fat, protein, and carbohydrate. They also are rich in phytonutrients, minerals, and antioxidants (the things that combat free radicals). As you can see, the choice is not just about not letting something bad enter your diet, it’s about replacing your bad choice with something good so that it nourishes your body and spirit. We will always have choices to make and the more frequently you make the correct choices to nourish your body, the easier it becomes.
We all know there are times in our lives when we indulge more then others, and of course we want to live fun and fulfilling lives, but striking a balance of good choices can make all the parts that much better.
Enjoy your fall, experiment with your goals and practice making good choices.
Megan Forbes is a Registered Dietitian who received her degree from Colorado State University in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Her post grad work was done in Boulder, Colorado through the University of Delaware. She has had a private practice for 9 years displaying a vast diversity of clientele seeking her expertise. Megan has also has a passion for sport. Her clients include professional and amateur athletes, people with cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, allergies, autoimmune disease, weight imbalance, etc. She enjoys the diversity that exists among her clients; some are fine tuning, and some are starting fresh.