The other day I was watching “The Doctors” and someone asked which was better: exercising or eating well? Despite being an avid exerciser, I immediately shouted, “Eating well!” As a certified health coach, personal trainer, and running coach, it has become increasingly clear over the years that what we put into our bodies is far more important than exercise. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is essential to a healthy life. But you can’t out exercise a poor diet, and you can’t outrun unhealthy eating.
Sure, we have all put in an extra hour at the gym before, or run a few extra miles after a less than stellar day of eating. And while that is a great way to bump things up when we fall behind, you certainly can’t rely on doing that every day.
Truth is, we need to eat well most of the time and exercise too. There should also be some time for rest and relaxation, along with enjoying some indulgence as well. I prefer the 80%/20% rule with this. Keep it healthy 80% of the time and enjoy and indulge the other 20%.
When it comes to diet and exercise, what you put in is what you will get out. If you eat poorly, you will get poor miles or poor results. You can’t outrun a bad diet.
This has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. While I have been busy Netflixing, I spent a few hours watching documentaries. Last year I had a client who told me she watched “Food Choices” and it changed her life. She was focused on a plant based diet. I watched the documentary and it hit me hard. But it didn’t completely change my mind.
Earlier this fall I caught a bit of a segment on NPR where a doctor was discussing how Americans eat far too much meat. He said that if you eat meat every day, you should work to go one day without meat each week. If you eat meat once a week, you should aim for once a month….and so on. Basically, he discussed how it causes inflammation in our bodies and Americans consume much more meat than most other countries. I was intrigued, but still didn’t do much about this.
I don’t recall why, but I ended up watching “Forks Over Knives” on Netflix a few weeks ago. This documentary emphasized again how we eat too much meat and showed a correlation between weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other issues. As a health coach, I also know that if any diet can be recommended to clients, the Mediterranean Diet is the heart healthiest.
This information continues to show up and it was starting to make me consider what might happen if I adopted not a vegetarian lifestyle, but more of a plant based emphasis each day. So while Rock was out of town for work last week, I set about finding recipes.
Here is what I found: My grocery bill was so cheap! I thought it would be much more expensive to just buy fresh fruits and veggies. But the reality was, between produce and some canned and dried options, I was leaving the grocery store with a lot more money in my pockets.
While this wasn’t my main goal, I ended up dropping a few pounds almost immediately. It was a pleasant surprise. One day I was walking by a mirror and noticed that my face looked a bit more thinned out and my muscles looked more noticeable.
A few days in, I was cruising along on the treadmill and found myself bumping the pace up because it felt good! I was hesitant to run at this pace because I figured I would hit a wall. However, I suddenly noticed that I was maintaining this pace and I wasn’t tired. I really did just feel good.
It didn’t end there either. I was watching the new season of “Grace and Frankie” and I was having such a fun time that I didn’t want to stop running. My mileage soared and I felt so good, I didn’t even realize that I forgot to take a day off. I ran eight days in a row and averaged 8-10 miles each day. I didn’t have a super long run in there, but there was some really great mileage and my muscles weren’t complaining. In fact, I made a mistake in an earlier post this week. I actually ran 58 miles last week!
The Verdict: I still love meat. I’m still going to eat meat. But we as a family have agreed that we are going to focus more on plant based meals. My body felt good and I enjoyed what I was eating. I made a delicious Indian curry that warmed my body and had some awesome anti-inflammatory spices added in. The whole house smelled amazing!
Chickpeas, Onions, Tomatoes, Spinach, and spices over rice. So fast and so good!
Everyone needs to do what is best for their own lifestyles. But there is a lot of evidence that adding more fruits and veggies and enjoying even a little bit less meat can make a big difference in your health. I highly recommend checking out “Forks Over Knives” and “Food Choices” if you are curious about this.
Do you love a good burger like me? Any thoughts on eating a little bit less meat?