Contributed by C. Claire Armagnac, B.S.
It seems as though diet and exercise are the latest celebrities when it comes to headline news. We can hardly go a few days without hearing about the newest cookbook published by a celebrity, the fad diets that are taking over Hollywood, and the number of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes each day. With so much attention focused on dieting and a plethora of information coming from a wide variety of sources, it seems as though we end up more confused than confident when it comes to what we know about how to stay healthy. Sorting through all of the publicized information and separating fact from fiction can turn into a full-time job, if not an obsession.
You can drive yourself crazy trying to analyze all of the diet and exercise information that’s publicized by the media, or you can decide to be more selective about where and how you get your information, which is what I prefer to do. For example, many college campuses and health departments have nutritionists who will speak to students for free or at a reduced cost. Over the course of a few meetings, a nutritionist can provide you with unbiased advice, assess your current diet, and create dietary guidelines that are safe, concise, and easy to follow.
If you prefer to get information online, look for articles that were written by medical doctors, certified personal trainers, or nutritionists who display their credentials in the article’s byline. The FDA’s new website, www.mypyramid.gov, is interactive and is also helpful if you’re trying to determine how much to eat. Other useful websites include www.cdc.gov and www.mayoclinic.com, which have a “search” function that can quickly get you to the information that you need. If you’re looking for healthy recipes, my favorite websites are www.hungry-girl.com (it has recipes that guys will like too, I promise!) and www.cookinglight.com.
If you’re new to exercise or if you’re looking to revamp your workout routine, taking group fitness classes is a great idea. Group strength-training classes will teach you moves that you can later do at the gym by yourself, and group cardio classes (such as Zumba, spinning, and step aerobics) can provide a much-needed break from the treadmill. Group classes can also help you to challenge yourself and are often included as part of a normal gym membership or are available for free at gyms on college campuses. If you’re looking for a more targeted workout plan, a few sessions with a personal trainer can help you to set goals and get on the right track. Personal training sessions can be expensive, so you may want to ask a family member to give you a gift certificate for a session as a birthday or holiday gift.
I hope these tips are helpful. If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
“Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.” – Joseph Pilates, fitness expert and creator of the Pilates workout program