Editor’s Note: This is the second story in a series about setting fitness and diet goals for the new year and how to be successful. This article will highlight more specifics on how to tackle the fitness and diet goals, while Friday’s article was about tips on being in the right mindset as one works toward starting those goals.
Beginning a healthier lifestyle can mean focusing first on fitness or diet or by tackling them both at the same time.
“I don’t think there’s one way that is more of a right way,” said Josh Vogler, exercise physiologist and manager of the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Wellness and Aquatic Center. “If it helps, start with one first. Say you start with the gym and you start seeing little differences, and then you can incorporate a good diet in the routine. Or if you start with a good diet, then you see changes that push you to incorporate the [fitness].
“At the same time, if someone is in the mindset, go ahead and do it with a good workout routine and diet at the same time,” he said as a treadmill being used in the center could be heard in the background. “The main thing is not just jumping in 100 percent, get your feet wet and progress as you go.”
He said for those first starting off, one of the best things to do is visit a gym, like the wellness center, which provides an exercise physiologist or trainer who will do a machine orientation and set an individualized training routine. “They can sit down and tell us their goals, what they want to work on, any injuries or other things that might hinder their workout, and then we will work with them to set up a training schedule. If gyms do have that, it is good to take advantage of that,” said Vogler.
Being oriented to the machines and arranging a proper rotation of machines and cardio is very important when people have not worked out in forever or don’t know how to use the machines, Vogler said. The best thing to do is to learn how to use them to make sure they are getting the best benefit out of the machine and not cause injuries.
He said a good combination of strength machines and cardio is beneficial for anyone. “If you have someone to show you how to set it up, it makes it easy,” Vogler said of using the machines, which might be intimidating to those who aren’t familiar with them.
“If your goal is losing weight or inches, you need a combination of cardio machines and weights,” he said. “Cardio is a good way to keep your heart healthy and endurance at a healthy level, and strength training is a good way to maintain muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.”
He said, unless someone is a body builder wanting to lift large weights, anyone can benefit from a gym such as the wellness center, because the machines will allow weight from 200 to 300 pounds to be lifted. “We are a more personalized gym with staff always walking around to help,” he added.
Another suggestion for those tackling health in the new year is to participate in group fitness classes. “A lot of times people are not motivated on their own. If you do group fitness it keeps you motivated and will help push you and you develop friendships with people in there who will support you and push you,” Vogler said.
“It is always a good workout, and you will get a better workout than on your own,” he added of group classes, which include yoga, turbo kick, tai chi and rotating Saturday classes in addition to the aquatic classes. Also, boot camp classes will kick off this week at the wellness center.
When diet becomes a focus of those looking for a healthier lifestyle, Vogler said it is always a good idea to talk with a nutritionist about a diet routine. But he also said exercise physiologists have within their scope to do nutrition plans.
“Our boot camp includes nutrition in each meeting,” he said.
But the right diet depends on what a person is looking for in their goals.
“When you are first starting out, it is better to go on a general type diet where you are trying to decrease fats, calories and especially transfats,” said Vogler. “If you can’t speak to someone [like a nutritionist], it is always a good idea to cut out things that aren’t low fat, compare your food labels on a few similar items with different brands. You want to look at the fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories.”
He said an overhaul of a diet may not be necessary all at once. “Just cutting little increments here and there make a good difference.”
But if someone prefers a more specific, written out diet, Vogler said fad diets like Atkins or South Beach will work for most people.
“I’ve done diets in the past where I try to cut out carbs, but you still want to try to cut fats and calories,” he said of diets like Atkins, where an emphasis is placed on very low carbohydrate intake is encouraged.
When it comes to carbs, he said there are simple carbs, like candies and sweets, and complex carbs like oatmeal, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit and Greek yogurt. The complex carbs provide longer energy to help make it through the day. “It is a good sustained energy through the day and decreases your appetite,” he said.
“It is a lifestyle change. Dieting is the same as exercise. You have to have the right mindset and stick with it. Moderation is a big thing. It is very important, if you can control the amount you are eating that will help.
“If you have a choice of grilled meat or baked or broiled, it is always a good option as opposed to fried,” continued Vogler.
Meal planning is another tip Vogler encouraged for those wanting to stick to healthier diets. “It takes a lot of effort, but it pays off, and it is worth it,” he said.
Another suggestion was instead of going for two or three big meals a day, it helps to eat several smaller meals throughout the day to keep one’s metabolism higher, therefore burning more calories. Also, when snacking, he said to substitute apples or bananas in place of cookies and crackers.
“It always helps to cut out late night snacks,” he added. “Pick a time to cut off eating. And if you can get a good source of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, it boosts your metabolism.”
Another tip is when one is looking at protein, stick with leaner meats like turkey, chicken and fish. “Breakfast sausage is one of the higher fats you can get,” said Vogler.
Water. “If you can keep a cup filled up and drink water throughout the day it is a good way to keep hunger down, and it is good for you,” he said, adding that zero calorie fruit drinks are a good substitute, but not sodas, diet or not.
Vogler said to be sure to reward one’s self too. “Try to do good through the week and be disciplined and strict, and then when Sunday comes eat something you like,” he said.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.