You know those “How I lost 100 lbs” stories that you’ll find in mags like Self, Shape, Women’s/Men’s Health, or any other health and fitness related mags? You know, the articles that feature REAL people talking about what worked for them when it came to losing weight, getting fit, and changing their diet for the better?
Personally, I’m obsessed with those stories, and if the popularity of such articles in magazines are any indication, so are a lot of others. I like these features because I can study what really works for people…because a lot of fitness and nutrition related advice sounds good in theory, but may not be the most practical. An example of this might be the recommendation to eat 6 small meals/day in order to keep your metabolism revved and your blood sugar levels stable in order to achieve weight loss. This approach works for many people like myself and is especially useful if you suffer from diabetes. However, I’ve seen many people try this method, only their meals aren’t so “small” as they are frequent, which leads to overeating and excess calorie and food consumption.Therefore, it makes me a little more hesitant to dole out advice that I don’t think is practical in certain cases and to certain personality types, especially if I think the client may be prone to overeating.
Sometimes when I talk to someone about advice or techniques that I’ve used, I get a “well you’re a dietitian, you’re not a REAL person” type of response. While I can attest that yes I am indeed a real human being, I know what they’re saying: that my advice or what I do on a daily basis isn’t achievable or practical for someone without a master’s in nutrition who struggles with their eating. This is a common barrier that I work hard to overcome because I try not to give advice or ideas that I don’t think are realistic, but some people have their mind made up the second they look at me that I must be inhuman to be able to follow what they think a healthy diet and/or exercise regimen consists of.
So for all those that take my ideas with a grain of sea salt, I wanted to ask some of my healthiest friends what works for them and to spill their best health tips, secrets, and advice to share with you all. Because besides being healthy and beautiful, they also are super sweet and like to share :) So take a look at some of my “real life success stories” and get inspired!
First up: my bestie from high school, Margaret
Margaret makes this list for obvious reasons (look at her, duh). But aside from her good looks and smoking bod, I asked her for some advice since she’s one of the most naturally athletic people I know (and in case you were wondering, she was voted “most athletic” female in my high school graduating class. I was voted “worst driver”. Womp womp).
1. GREEK YOGURT: Margaret told me she eats this healthy little treat everyday, which is smart and here’s why – Greek style yogurt has more protein and is less processed than it’s regular yogurt counterpart (plus it tastes delish).
2. WATER: “I drink water all day…I try to have a water bottle with me at all times. I think it’s really important not to drink your calories, and water is cheap and the best thing for your body as far as beverages go”.
3. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: “I try to break a sweat every day, even when I can’t hit the gym. I see a lot of women who are sedentary all day and then go run for 30 minutes at the gym…that’s still not enough physical activity! Being active should be something you’re doing all day every day, not only when you go to workout. Just look at some of the other countries where people walk everywhere and aren’t as sedentary AND they are fitter than us…that’s the kind of lifestyle we all should strive for.”
Next up: my college love, Michelle
I had to ask Michelle for some advice since a.) she’s tall, super toned, and supermodel gorgeous and b.) the girl is in AMAZING physical shape – she’s an avid marathoner who doesn’t just run 26.2 miles at a time…she’s crazy fast too! Here’s what she said:
1. VEGA ALL IN ONE NUTRITIONAL SHAKE: Per Michelle, “I drink one of these everyday – I like the vanilla chai and just mix it with water. There really is a noticeable difference in how you feel after drinking it all the time! It contains a good amount of fiber, protein, probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3′s.”
2. HER DIET: “I follow a pescetarian diet with limited dairy and gluten, which I’ve found is easy to digest, and gives me enough energy to get through the day and my intense workouts.” *Side note: science also supports Michelle’s diet, as she’s consuming a large amount of unprocessed foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains (even without the gluten), and healthy fats. As for limiting the dairy, from a dietitian standpoint I can support limited dairy, especially if you’re lactose intolerance (as many of us are) – just make sure you are getting adequate calcium and vitamin D from other sources (which I know she is! The girl eats a super clean diet…obviously!).
3. HER EXERCISE PLAN – DO YOUR CROSS TRAINING: “While running is the core of my workout plan, I also incorporate lots of other forms of cross training, like spinning. I love yoga, Pilates, and barre classes for both flexibility and strength training.” This is smart on Michelle’s part, since logging lots of miles running can put you at risk for muscle depletion if you aren’t careful with your diet and make a point to do some resistance training in order to preserve lean muscle mass.
Beautiful friend #3: my BFF Sarah
I met Sarah at Michigan State while in one of our nutrition labs where I almost passed out during class (but that’s another story). Right from the start, she became my partner in crime and is one of the most gorgeous, hilarious, and fun girls I know. She gave me these gems to share with you all:
1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO RUN TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT: Ok look, running is super trendy right now which is great: participation in races such as 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons in particular are at an all time high. In recent years, plans like the Couch to 5k training plan have made running more accessible and less intimidating to take up. But what if running isn’t your thing? Sarah has told me numerous times that she doesn’t like running and probably never will, which I would like to say for the record is ok…YOU DON’T HAVE TO RUN TO BE HEALTHY! Sarah goes hard on the elliptical, walks on an incline, or hikes with her dogs and she looks damn good sooooo if you aren’t a runner and have no interest in being one, she is proof that there are lots of other effective forms of cardio.
2. DRINK LOTS OF (NO-CAL) FLUIDS: Like Margaret, Sarah reiterates the importance of staying hydrated, which is smart: our metabolism can suffer if we aren’t getting enough fluids. Her suggestions: La Croix sparking water (my personal fave! Please try the coconut flavor and be prepared to fall in love), or DIY infused water (i.e. fill a pitcher with water and slices of fruit, cucumber, mint, etc.).
3. GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE: This is one of my favorite tips of the bunch because I strongly believe in this as well. Even if it’s a few times a week, Sarah suggests walking outside with your dog, roller blading, going on a bike ride…just do something that gets you outside and active. One of my favorite memories I have with Sarah is when she came to visit me in Corpus and we would hike on the shoreline on North Padre Island while catching up with one another’s lives. Good for the body and soul, right? :)
Hottie #4: my Austin amiga, Mary
Mary and I met for the first time at a pool party in Corpus where I had to borrow a swimsuit from her and we immediately bonded after getting dressed/undressed in front of each other (the best way to meet friends if you ask me). I love Mary because she has such a very fun loving bohemian vibe, is strikingly beautiful, and is an amazing friend to boot. Her advice is as follows:
1. BIKRAM YOGA: Mary has been on a Bikram kick lately and found a studio near her crib where she can go on the regular. Mary told me that since she’s started a more regular yoga practice, she, “is much more flexible, feels stronger, and my (chronic) back pain feels a million times better.” In addition to the physical benefits of Bikram (more info on Bikram found here for those not familiar: http://www.bikramyoga.com/BikramYoga/about_bikram_yoga.php), Mary reaps the psychological benefits of yoga too, which is to help the mind relax, destress, and be more mindful in our everyday life.
2. THINK OUTSIDE THE GYM: Like Margaret, Mary also advocates for being active ALL day and to think beyond slogging through a workout at the gym as your only form of exercise. Mary not only runs and goes to yoga, but also rock climbs, swims, two steps, and goes standup paddle boarding to help mix it up.
3. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING: Mary is a great example of someone who can listen to her body’s appetite…I don’t think I’ve ever seen her overeat, and she does a great job of letting herself indulge in her favorite foods while also making sure she gets lots of the good stuff, i.e. fruits and vegetables. She is the poster child for everything in moderation, and doesn’t need to count calories, etc. While this approach may not work for everyone, especially if you have difficulty losing weight and need more structure, she shows that it can work for some and with GREAT success!
So now it’s YOUR turn: what practical real life approaches to living a healthy life work for YOU? Spill the beans and please share :)
Stay inspired and happy 1st day of August!