(The following post is a guest submission from Ashley Skelton, who’s not only a Registered Dietitian, but a total fitness fanatic. We expect to see more from Ashley in the future!)
I’ve learned many things over the years as a practicing dietitian. The one thing that I never realized I’d experience in my career is the fact that everyone is an expert on food. In fact, almost every time I tell a stranger that I’m a dietitian this piece of knowledge is followed by a question about the latest diet fad, or a request for me to make them a meal plan, OR a snide remark about the beer I’m drinking. I find food and nutrition to be so important, but I’m not always interested in debating the importance of organic produce or gluten free options. And although I feel my best after a long run and a balanced meal I might not always want to discuss the details. However, I understand and respect why people have strong opinions in regards to diet. We all eat. Most of us eat at least three times a day. When you participate in anything with that amount of frequency of course you’re going to have a view or two on the subject.
In an element like this blog where the focus is fitness and health I am very happy to share with you my knowledge and expertise. I find that when talking about diet my favorite audience is the one that is motivated. I know the reader of this blog already has a component of motivation because they are looking for information on nutrition and fitness. Let me start by telling you where the foundation of health lies in my opinion. To me healthy eating without exercise is unbalanced and vise versa. And health is not defined in numbers. By that I mean, health is not described by the sum of calories ingested in a day or by the number staring back at you on a scale. But living a healthy life is a decision that you have control over.
So how does one define the phrase, “healthy lifestyle?” I think this is a question you have to answer yourself. As a dietitian I can define what a living a healthy life means to me, but this is an important question I encourage you to answer yourself. And don’t just answer it… WRITE IT DOWN. Once you see your definition on paper you can start asking yourself how you’ll achieve this lifestyle. I meet my health goals by following 5 simple rules:
- Be active at minimum 4 days/week.
- Eat nutritionally packed breakfasts and lunches daily
- Limit alcohol intake to 3 days/week
- Don’t eat after 8 pm
- Allow myself one, small sweet a day
Now these goals might not work for you, but they keep me in check. And if you need to be more specific to hold yourself accountable than BE SPECIFIC. For example, I know that my definition of being active is a 45 minute exercise routine at the gym or a run that is between 5-10 miles. I could go on and on, but let’s leave that for my next posts.