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Nutrition on the Bench

Thanks to a nagging injury, my workout shoes were grounded for an extended period of time. Although I am an immense advocate for regular physical activity and all the benefits associated with it, I also realize that life sometimes throws you a curve ball and you find yourself benched on the sidelines for a period of time. Whether the cause is an injury, illness, work and/or parenthood responsibilities, or something that is just a prominent priority, this is the time when your nutrition intake becomes 100% responsible for weight management.

If you are currently benched and not happy about it… first let me say, I know it’s not easy. The truth is life was never meant to always be easy. But there is a God that cares about your pain, your struggles, your fears, and He is good. You can trust Him in the storms and struggles of this life. He can bring good from the hard times, and I promise you will be stronger and wiser in the end. In a nutshell Jeremiah 29:13 says… If you seek Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him. That is one of His great promises to you. He is just waiting on you to run to Him.

Before you were benched, it was easy to say… I will run an extra mile tonight or spend an extra 20 minutes in the pool to burn off that extra portion of food I consumed at lunch. But now that’s not an option. So how do you maintain a healthy weight when you’re unable to do physical activity?

Let’s look at some facts… We all need calories and adequate nutrition to survive. The number of calories we need to consume daily depends on a lot of factors. Feel free to make an appointment with me for a full, personal nutrition assessment. You can also calculate your basal metabolic rate, or BMR — the number of calories you burn just lying in bed all day — using an online calculator. Men usually need more calories than women. Larger people need more calories than those who are smaller, and younger people usually need more calories than older individuals.

For example, a 5-foot, 4-inch tall, 30-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds has a BMR of about 1,415 calories per day, and a 5-foot, 10-inch tall, 40-year-old man who weighs 190 pounds has a BMR of about 1,992 calories per day.

Once you know your BMR, you can monitor your caloric intake yourself and add, maintain, or subtract calories to gain, maintain, or lose weight depending on your own personal weight goal. I am also available to help in this area if warranted.

Attached is a table that lists the calories burned by doing specific activities for 30 minutes for people with three different weights. Activities are listed from least to most calories burned.

As you can see, if you do any of these activities for 30 minutes or more, you will burn calories. Consequently, if you stop doing these activities, then you will no longer be burning calories and will have to adjust your caloric intake to prevent weight gain.

For example: If you weigh 125 pounds and like swimming laps vigorously for 30-60 minutes, you will burn 300-600 calories. If you stop swimming, you will also have to stop consuming those extra calories if you want to maintain your current weight.

Subtracting calories sounds easy, but it can be harder than it sounds. For instance, cutting out 300-600 calories can be an entire meal worth of calories for some people. Here are some healthy tips to keep your weight in check and prevent you from having to skip meals.

Schedule Eating

Believe it or not, the best way to stay satisfied and consume adequate nutrients is to eat with a routine. Try to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at about the same time each day, and work in healthy snacks in between. Never skip meals, as this may promote hunger and lead to poor food choices and overeating.

Balance the Food Groups

A variety of foods are important to a healthy diet. Make sure to include dairy or other calcium-rich foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein foods in your everyday eating and at each meal. Load up half your plate with fruits and veggies and you’ll naturally downgrade the calorie impact. Remember, a balanced diet not only offers up necessary nutrition, it may also help you feel more satisfied.

Trim Away the Fat

Fried foods such as french fries and potato chips carry a lot of calories because they are high in fat. Instead, choose a baked potato and you’ll cut unneeded calories from your diet.

Tackle the Treats

Foods such as soda, candy and other desserts with added sugars carry lots of calories but few nutrients. And, if you’re trying to lose extra pounds, cutting back on treats will help you get the job done.

Eat Smart Snacks

Foods that contain carbohydrates and protein are good bets for keeping your body fueled. If you are snacking more than once or twice a day, you may be getting too many calories from snacks. Be smart with snacks — let them top off your energy tank, offer important nutrition and, above all, don’t let them take over your diet. Try these healthy snack options: an apple and peanut butter; Greek yogurt; whole grain cereal and low-fat milk; a protein bar; or raw vegetables and cheese.

Watch Food Serving Sizes

When you’re hungry, it’s easy to overeat. Test yourself and your portions by checking the serving size on food packages. Eating appropriate portions will help you stay on track with your overall calorie intake.


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