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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nine things I learned about diet and exercise from a personal trainer

I am fresh back from my second ever visit to a personal trainer (the fantastic Kandice King. I have always wondered about personal training, but been too intimidated to shell out the cash to try it. I've had friends who went to personal trainers and swore by them. I recognize intellectually that exercise is the other side of the foodie coin, unless some day you want to be someone who has to be fork lifted off your couch. So when Groupon offered a deal to try three sessions with a personal trainer, I jumped at the chance to see what all the fuss was about.

So what does this all have to do with food? Well, aside from the not inconsiderable "avoid the forklift" benefit, working with a personal trainer has also meant putting a microscope to my diet. I've learned a few new things, both about exercise and food, that I thought were worth sharing. Because most of them are pretty easy and painless to implement into your life, and don't require anything weirdly radical (like the misguided kelp and algea detox diet I tried for all of 24 hours, but that is another story).

Nine Things I Learned About Diet and Exercise

1. Be willing to compromise, because something is better than nothing. My trainer understandably wants me to commit to the very reasonable task of doing the 25 minute workout she set out for me three times a week. I want that too. But I have realized over the last two weeks that some days what I can manage is half of that workout in the morning while getting my toddler ready for the day. I do push ups while the oatmeal is cooking. I do leg lifts and have him lay on the floor next to me and pretend we're both swimming. It may only be 15 minutes, but something is better than nothing (and the guilt that comes with nothing).

2. Refuse to compromise. That said, gosh darn it I deserve those 15 minutes, even if I have to multi-task to get them. I can talk myself out of deserving an hour of selfish me time at the gym, but 15 minutes? C'mon. I've earned at least that. So no making excuses and wishing that time away.

3. I will feel more rested, with more global well-being, if I get up 20 minutes earlier so I can have my 20 minute work out. Sleep is not the only ingredient in feeling rested. And working out improves the quality of the sleep that I do get.

4. I am a carb junkie. Before talking to Kandice about my diet, I would have readily confessed that I was a chocolate lover. I would have admitted a certain penchant for potatoes in all manner of preparation. But when I charted my diet for two weeks and she broke it down for me, it was there plain as day: too many carbs not enough protein.

5. To estimate my target daily water intake, my trainer divided my body weight by half. And it turns out that as a legacy of high school and college sports, I still drink a ton of water daily, so I got a gold star in that department.

6. Its all protein, carbs and fat. She asks me, "Whats an apple?" and I blink stupidly like this is some trick. But as we talk, I remember high school biology. Because an apple might be a "fruit" to your teacher, but once it is in your body, there is no biological building block called "fruit." Instead that apple is converted into more essential building blocks, and mostly it will convert down into sugars, which are a kind of carb.

7. Eat five times a day. Spacing out your eating into more regular intervals keeps your metabolism revved, and prevents the huge swings in your bloodsugar that lead to bad eating choices.

8. Its not just when you eat, but what you eat. Now that I have realized how much of my diet are sneaky carbs, it is obvious I need to add in more protein sources.

9. Make your mental categories work for you, not against you. Instead of thinking of your day as three meals and two snacks, think of those snacks as meals as well. Why? because when we mentally think of "snack" we immediately associate with a category of foods that are carb-heavy treats: Crackers, pretzels, even apples. But if we think of those as mini meals, without a ton of conscious effort, we will tend to include a better balance of protein, carbs and fat.

But as we're talking about food I am in some sort of moderate panic, because even though I'm trying to think of my snacks as meals, I'm unsure. I could bust out a chicken breast with broccoli at 9:30 for my snack, but that seems wrong somehow. And even if it weren't wrong, it feels wildly inconvenient to have to essentially pack three lunches that I will take with me to work. I need some convenience mini-meals that are high protein. So I ask her, what sorts of things are easy simple-to-assemble snacks (meals) that won't be a pain to bring to work. And she immediately suggests cut vegetables with dressing, cottage cheese with fruit, or yogurt.

And so it is that while I write this, my hair still wet from the gym showers, I am chomping down on some delicious yogurt. And amazingly, the yogurt is (sort of) quelling the wolf inside me that really just wants to consume an enormous post-workout steak.

If you are interested in a coupon for a dollar off Weight Watchers new high protein yogurt, head on over to my Skinny Gourmet Reviews to download your printable coupon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just found your site and am enjoying the posts and recipes! As I blog my family's attempts to eat a "rainbow a day," I'll no doubt turn to you for inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

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