As a D-I distance runner in college, I found nutrition to be really important to how I felt and performed at races. I often struggled to eat well, and because of my experiences I believe that our weaknesses can be turned into strengths and used to help others. I hope that this post will help you along the way to meeting your own goals and living a fulfilling life.
Every single one of us has “performance” goals, just like athletes have times they want to beat or championships they want to win. Some of my main goals in life are loving the people around me well and helping others to feel healthy and confident. I find that exercise and diet can be helpful allies to us on our way to reaching these goals – I know that they have been for me! Self-care, exercise, nutrition, and even hydration are simple tools that help us make the most of what we’ve been given and lead satisfying, fulfilling, and inspiring lives. Especially now, in these stressful times of dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19.
It’s important to me to make time for self-care – when I do, I always show up better for others. That often looks for me like grocery shopping once a week, taking the time to eat three balanced meals each day, and waking up an hour earlier to drink coffee, read my bible, and work out each morning. I also love a short lunch break walk – that’s something so easy to do that makes me feel good immediately! Journaling is another good one – it’s great at helping me empty my brain before bed. Self-care looks different for everybody, but it just needs to be three things – enjoyable, simple, and helpful.
I know it might sound crazy, but I love exercise. I don’t always feel like doing it, but I’m always happy that I did, because it yields physical, mental, and emotional benefits that serve me well in other areas. I really enjoy cycling, walking, and dancing while I clean the house, but there are so many other things you can do. Along with cardio, it’s also important to incorporate muscle strengthening activities like weight lifting or body weight exercises …trust me on this, I’ve been the girl who couldn’t open heavy doors or peanut butter jars! Here’s a great tool I found recently that helps with planning an exercise schedule – it has tons of different ideas you might like. And remember, exercising can help to keep our immunity levels up.
Eating well supports our bodies so we can exercise, feel good, and do all of the things we want to do in life. We need foods with carbohydrates for energy, protein for rebuilding and repairing, and fats for hormonal and brain health – among many other functions. We also need vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in food to stay healthy and perform optimally in life. The easiest way to get all of these is to eat balanced meals and plenty of whole foods. A great example of a balanced meal is a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomatoes. The bread gives you fiber and carbs, the turkey provides protein, and vegetables provide color! If I were making that sandwich, I’d also add a slice of cheese, and have a piece of fruit on the side, too. Preparing these kinds of meals is simple and doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s fun to get creative! If you need help coming up with ideas, check out eatright.org.
In addition to eating well, hydration is key! I try to drink half my body weight in ounces daily, and an extra glass or two if I’ve been outside in the Alabama heat. Water is great, but if I’m not feeling water, I sometimes drink sparkling water, flavored water drinks, or add some lemon to my water. Drinking enough helps me to feel alert and function properly, and it also supports an active lifestyle.
I’ve found that focusing on my purpose in life is the most important factor in motivating myself to choose healthy behaviors. I think that it’s key to have a “why” statement – a reminder of why you want to be healthy. Mine is, “I take care of myself well so that I can love others most effectively.” What’s your why? You contribute something special to this world that no one else can – let that knowledge encourage you to love and care for your body well. Support your dreams and goals in life with healthy habits, and you’ll be one step closer to making them come true!