My workouts this past week focused on arms, shoulders and my back. I have discovered a few muscles that I had no idea existed; apparently I’m going to be strengthening them in the coming weeks and look forward to being able to wear short sleeves (and possibly sleeveless) this summer. Learning that small deliberate moves to an isolated area is beneficial to muscle development I found myself feeling the “burn” after this week’s training sessions; I know that feeling it means I’ve done it right.
One of the best things about working with my trainer, Alfred, at Anytime Fitness is not only am I learning how to work my body efficiently to get in shape and lose the weight but I am also learning a lot about nutrition and overall wellness. When I started the journey toward improved health and fitness I had the idea that fruits and vegetables were equal and as I wrote last week they are not. Learning how to read the glycemic index table and choosing the best options have led me to another conversation with Alfred about carbohydrates. The idea that all carbs are bad has convinced folks to give them up all together; that’s not necessary. Some carbs are essential to your overall health and well-being.
In the past several years, carbohydrates have been given a bad “rap”. Some of the more popular fad diet plans eliminate all carbs promoting high protein instead. While protein is important, it is also important to incorporate good carbs into our diet as well. The difference between good carbs and bad carbs is quite simple. Good carbs are plant foods that deliver fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals along with grams of carbohydrate, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. You can’t judge a carb as “good” without considering its fiber content (unless it’s a naturally low-fiber food like skim or low-fat milk). Our bodies can reap the benefits of good carbs that get absorbed slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans are a few examples of good carbs. Your body uses these carbohydrates as an energy source to support brain and body functions and to exercise muscles. We can minimize the damage to our physical health by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. Examples of these bad carbs are white bread and white rice. The more refined or processed the food the less benefit it is to your body. Consuming large quantities of these refined carbs increases the sugar released into your body often causing sluggishness, fatigue and decreased body function.
Learning to make appropriate substitutions for the bad carbs I have found that not only have I lost quite a bit of weight in the past 129 days my body is working more efficiently (sleep, digestion, etc.) because of the incorporation of good carbs in my diet. Switching from white bread to wheat or whole grain, and brown rice instead of white are two of the ways I have added the good carbs to my diet. Fiber rich vegetables that contain lower amounts of sugar (remember the glycemic index) are raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, applies, blueberries, cantaloupe and apricots. Of course, fruit is a great choice just be mindful to keep the carbs and sugars “in check”.
Incorporating good carbs into your diet along with regular exercise will produce a both a healthier physical and emotional self. For me, I find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep longer. My energy level has increased dramatically; with the weight loss I have not needed my arthritis medicine for my knees and my strength and endurance has greatly increased. I encourage taking charge of the carbs and becoming the healthiest you possible. Eat well, move your body and rest well…it’s all part of a healthier happier you!
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