This guest post was written by Johannie M. This post was first posted on her blog, Pathways to Fit.
It’s been three years since I began my fitness journey and although I may have my routine down now, I didn’t always know what to eat or what to do in the gym. I grew up in a Latin household eating plantain, rice, beans and meat. I was accustomed to eating large portions of food of very little nutritional value. I wasn’t exposed to healthy foods or encouraged to participate in physical activity, I was completely oblivious to what real food was and how to exercise.
Because I didn’t know anything about nutrition when I began my new lifestyle I felt displaced and was overwhelmed with questions. In efforts to find answers I read books, watched documentaries and explored my city and began to develop an entirely different perspective on food and exercise.
Through the years I have learned the truth about many misconceptions which I held when I began my journey. I thought salad was a meal (this is false) I ate tofu because I thought meat was the enemy (I hated tofu) I ran everyday because I assumed that was what I needed to do to get TONE. (totally false) I thought lifting weights would make be bulky (false) I thought doing crunches would get me abs (abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym).gradually I discovered that many of the assumptions I made were false , and slowly I learned what worked best for me.
I have learned many things, here are 5 of the most important lessons I have learned about nutrition and exercise through my fitness journey. I have learned that …
- Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body.
Food can do one of two things prevent disease or cause it. The purpose of eating is to nourish your body. Many people are walking around over weight and mal nourished. I have learned that If you keep healthy foods around you that is what you will eat. I have learned to eat with purpose; I have developed the ability to do this because I educated myself about what my body needs to function properly as well as what nutrients are in my food.
- Not everything that is edible is food.
My definition of food has completely changed since I started eating healthy. I refrain from highly processed foods. If you can not pick it from a tree or from the ground is it really food? If it’s made in a factory and has a long shelf life I will not eat it, it’s not food to me. Boxed and canned foods are full of preservatives and chemicals that your body doesn’t need. Give your body what it needs.
- Just because it says “organic” doesn’t make it healthy!!
There is this huge misconception that if something is labeled “Organic” it is healthy. This is false! Please learn to read labels, not with the intention of counting calories like an obsessed dieter but to know what ingredients you are putting in your body. I shop in Trader Joes where most products are organic but I do not purchase items that only say organic. There are specific items which I prefer to be organic because I can taste the difference. If you don’t believe this I challenge you to try comparing an organic strawberry vs. a regular strawberry. Or try organic chicken vs. Tyson chicken. The size, texture and taste are totally different!
- Get Off the Cardio Machines!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I wish I had stopped running so much sooner than I did. If you want to burn fat, build muscle and “tone up” (I hate the word TONE) START LIFTING ! No! you will not turn into a body builder when you start lifting. Unless you are supplementing and eating a very strict diet which is created for the purpose of gaining massive amounts of mass you will not gain massive muscle. Steady cardio on machines elongate your muscles. Lifting compacts muscles and burns more fat than running. The best form of cardio in my opinion incorporates your body weight. You should never stop performing functional movements with your own body weight. Calisthenics, Burpees, squat jumps, pull-ups, push-ups, jump rope, HIIT training and plyometrics in my opinion are the best forms of cardio. The answer is always yes! Use weights!
- Never stop Learning.
Different things work for different people. If you don’t know your options how will you make good choices? Reading expands your knowledge and allows you to have a larger frame of reference. If you don’t know something look for the answer. And don’t settle for one person’s opinion, RESEARCH. There are so many foods to eat in the world and so many solutions to disease through diet but people don’t know because they don’t make the effort to find out. Read about nutrition, read about anatomy, and read about exercise. Remember that being healthy is a lifestyle decision, there are a ton of things you and I don’t know and learning them can make a huge difference. My main point is Knowledge applied is power! You have the power to change your circumstance, that being said i hope you take what you have learned here and apply it.
I hope the lessons which I have shared can help you on your own path towards fitness and healthy. If you feel lost seek answers, never stop perusing health and happiness.