Nutrition and fitness: A little planning goes a long way

Issue June 2005 By Tricia Curtin

Want to feel better, more energetic and maybe even lose a few pounds? Of course, but wait…you already have a million deadlines, appointments and commitments on your calendar. Finding more time to sleep, relax and exercise seems inconceivable. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Thousands of successful lawyers, businessmen and women, doctors and other professionals have found ways to trim their waistlines and manage their health — while still working 12-hour days.

The key to fitness and nutrition is planning ahead and scheduling time for yourself. As a lawyer or judge, you probably hear this excuse over and over: “I didn’t plan to do it. I just wasn’t thinking straight!” Yet, the other side always has a counter argument as to why the individual should have stepped back for a split second before choosing to break the law.
It is the same with nutrition. Just because you’re accustomed to buying the biggest burger and fries your favorite fast food restaurant offers doesn’t mean you have no other choices. If you took a moment to step back and look at the fast food menu — or at other restaurant options — you would give yourself the opportunity to make better decisions for your health, without much thought processing.

Nutrition doesn’t have to be your enemy. Just be prepared — just as you are for client and court appointments. A few steps can help you on your way to better nutrition, improved energy and enhanced health.

1. Resolve to stop skipping meals. When you skip meals, your body fears famine and becomes accustomed to using stored energy to get you through the day. When you do eat, instead of immediately using the nutrients you consume, your body stores them as fat — just in case you miss a meal or two down the road. Who wants extra fat around their mid-section? To prevent this, remember to eat three meals and at least two snacks each day to keep your body and mind well-fed. Plus, consistency in meals continues to remind your metabolism to burn calories and it helps prevent you from ever feeling desperate hunger and the need to over eat!

2. Try to have a protein, carbohydrate and fat at each meal or snack. This is much easier than it may seem. A slice of whole wheat toast with some peanut butter and off you go. The bread offers complex carbohydrate (and fiber) and the peanut butter offers both protein and fat. And, since your body digests all three nutrients differently, you will feel fuller and more satisfied longer. Carbohydrate is digested immediately because it serves as the major energy source for your muscles, organs and brain. Proteins and fats are “spared” by carbohydrates, and they digest a little further down the digestive tract, serving to keep your blood sugar and energy at a moderate level longer.

Other snack ideas for on-the-go proteins, carbohydrates and fat include granola bars or fruit and yogurt (available at many convenience stores, sandwich shops, and even fast food outlets); nuts and a piece of fruit; an ounce of cheese and some crackers; protein bars; homemade trail mix (cereal, pretzels, nuts, chocolate or dried fruit); instant oatmeal with milk and fruit; baby carrots and hummus; or tortillas rolled with turkey slices and low-fat cheese.

3. Moderate your portion sizes. If you try to keep watch on your portion sizes, you can eat pretty much anything you desire. (Plus, if you are eating regularly, you’ll never feel starved by smaller portions!) With the exception of fruits and vegetables, try to portion foods that fit into the palm of your hand — a half cup of cereal, rice or pasta and three ounces of meat would be the diameter of the hand of a person with a medium frame. However, feel free to load up on the fruits and vegetables — they are a low- calorie, fiber-rich punch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have been found to help reduce risk of various cancers and heart disease.

Try not to swear off certain foods or treats, because you will wind up craving them more. Instead, choose a smaller taste of those forbidden foods on special occasions.

4. Last, when you’re on the go, remember to hydrate. Thirst is most commonly mis-recognized as hunger, and “filling up” on even the slightest snack of 100 calories a day instead of sipping on water can add 25 pounds in just five years!

In short, you can enjoy what you eat as long as you prepare to watch your portion sizes (remember the palm of your hand), eat often and eat to maintain sustained energy (combining carbohydrates, proteins and fats at each meal).