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Fitness blog: eating energy

Associate Editor Carolyn Enting reaches a milestone in the third week of her fitness challenge. Find out how she achieved the result.

Fitness blog: eating energy

As part of my programme to get fit and well and lose weight, trainer Gaz Brown of Get Running has got me filling out a weekly food diary.

A big contributor to my putting on weight and lack of vitality was what I was putting in my gob and the empty calories I was consuming. Deep down I knew this, which is why a week before seeing Gaz, my eating became virtuous.  He was very impressed as he went through it with a highlighter pen ready to mark my bad choices. I assured him I’d been making plenty of bad choices up until then but hey, it’s human nature to suddenly tidy up your camp when you know someone will be examining it. Much like when we tidy the house before the cleaner comes!

Well this, week Gaz and I high-fived, because I’ve lost 2kgs since my last weigh-in.

Yes, I’ve been exercising – jogging, walking and strength exercises – but I’ve been watching what I put in my mouth too with increased awareness. Interestingly, it’s this awareness and education that is motivating me as well as the new vitality I feel (I have so much more energy) and this is because I’ve begun to feed my body with nutrients that it needs to perform properly. This may seem obvious, but how many of us think about what we’re putting into our mouths consciously and the value it’s providing us? I know I wasn’t. I was eating far too many “treats” and that ratio got out of balance.

As Gaz says: “It’s what we do most of the week, not parts of the week, so for example, if someone was to eat healthily all week and then have a crap day, that’s not going to make much of a difference to the body. It’s the same as saying if somebody eats crap all week and has one healthy day, it doesn’t do anything to the body. It’s what we are doing all the time that matters.”

In other words, if we eat healthily for six out of seven days, it’s all good. I was kidding myself I was doing that but the real picture was more the reverse.

But back to energy. Yes, we know lean meats are good for you, and spinach, coloured vegetables and leafy greens etc, but why are they good for us?

I love how Cameron Diaz describes it in her new book, The Body Book: Feed, move, understand and love your amazing body, which she has written with Sandra Bark. She explains that our body began as a tiny cluster of cells and how nutrients in the food you eat determine the way your cells develop, grow and thrive (or not). As a grown human made up of trillions of cells, your health depends on the nutrition you offer your body every time you eat. If you don’t, you become deficient in vitamins and minerals from which any number of conditions can arise including depression and muscle degeneration.

This got me thinking and over the past four weeks, I’ve cut out empty calorie foods (sweet treats including these macaroons, pictured, that seem to arrive in a continuous stream at my desk) and have instead fed it lots of leafy greens made into delicious salads mixed with protein.

I can’t believe how I feel. I have so much more energy, my head feels clearer, my concentration levels have improved, I feel happier and I’m sleeping better too.

This is what I’ve been eating:

Raw oat organic muesli, Pro-biotic yoghurt with bush honey, the odd slice of rice bread topped generously with avocado, lots of salad – and not just lettuce, but with coloured vegetables including tomato, pepper, radishes, carrot, sheep’s feta cheese and avocado. Zucchini quiche – eggs, olive oil, grated cheese and grated zucchini. Almond, vanilla and chocolate protein shakes mixed with milk for snacks. Lean meats – mostly grilled chicken (though sometimes fried), venison, lamb. Fish – smoked salmon or tuna – all eaten with salads, or vegetables – spinach, kale, kumara and broccoli, and a small amount of rice. A piece of fruit in the morning, if I remember. Scrambled eggs with spinach or spinach and tomato omelettes (sometimes with feta), and water in between meals.

Anti-pasta treats  – olives, organic corn chips, smoked salmon and kumara dip.

I haven’t given up coffee. I have one a day, in the morning, and I’ve cut my wine consumption down to drinking one glass a day too.

As Diaz says in her book, if you respond to the feeling of hunger by eating high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods like processed foods, fast foods, and overly sweetened desserts, you’re not “indulging” – you are denying yourself the nutrition you really need to thrive. Nutrient-dense foods power up our engines.

Now when I go out to restaurant I try to order the healthiest thing on the menu knowing that I’m feeding my cells with nutrients and energy, and my engine is definitely revving up.

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One Comment on Fitness blog: eating energy

  • Alison
    February 12, 2014 10:58 pm

    Sounds like the Mediterranean diet. Yummy!

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