Nutrition First. Fitness Second.

Eat right. Exercise. Simple, right?

Not so much. I see and hear this all the time when people talk or write about health. It seems so simple in principle, but it is so hard in practice. It’s hard to learn about nutrition and fitness all at once, you’ll most likely overwhelm yourself with information, and the drastic change in diet and exercise (if you’re not fit already) can make it difficult to start forming good habits.

About 2 years ago I tried to do everything at once, and learn as much about fitness and nutrition as I could. I did ok for a couple of months, but I was so overwhelmed that I felt helpless to do everything I was supposed to in order to truly be healthy. That’s why I chose to focus on nutrition first. I put exercise on the back burner for a while, as well as many other things, like sustainability practices in my home. I read books, research articles, watched a lot of documentaries, and started taking action.

But I took small steps. The first thing I did was switch out my conventional produce for organic. I knew at the time that wasn’t going to be everything I needed to do, but it was a good start. Here are some other small steps you can take to start making nutrition and health an important part of your daily life:

  • Start reading. Get your information on a topic from more than one source. If you see a lot of good evidence for something, put it into practice, don’t just ignore it.
  • Find local farmer’s markets. Many cities don’t have these, but if you can find one, try going once and getting something yummy and nutritious for yourself.
  • Start making rules for yourself when you go out to eat. Eat half of what you order and take the rest home, order salad if everything else looks super high in calories, choose fish over other meats, etc.
  • Many farms will ship or deliver their products to your home if your city doesn’t have farmer’s markets, or they may sell their local products at grocery stores near you. Start with some internet searches.
  • Start keeping a food journal. Keeping track of what you’re eating will help you understand where your calories are coming from, and how many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains you’re eating every day.
  • Try to add vegetables and/or fruits to every meal. If you really want to challenge yourself, try to eat nine servings a day. It may seem tough, but the reality is that even our fruit has gotten larger over time. Many apples nowadays can actually be 2-3 servings of fruit, and bananas now are usually 2 servings of fruit.
  • Don’t give up if you slip up! I don’t always eat with nutrition in mind– no one does. The difference is that you get back on track as soon as you can, and don’t be down on yourself if you have a meal, a day, or even a week that you get off track.
What are your challenges to eating more nutritiously? 

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3 responses

  1. You have inspired me to get back on track – I feel so much better when I eat fresh, healthy and organic. And, it’s time for all of us to embrace all things ORGANIC – just one acre of organic crop pulls up to 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year!! Great blog – I will visit often!

  2. This sounds a lot like me! I would get so bogged down at the mere thought of trying to lose weight, I’d give up before I even started. And it had to be all or nothing – restrict my diet and exercise like crazy. Of course, that’s not realistic.

    Well, I lost 50+ lbs through diet alone (though raising two active kiddos helps, I’m sure, as does going up and down stairs every day to vacuum and do laundry).

    When I hear friends say they need to exercise more to lose weight, I try to encourage them to re-think their eating habits first – but I think most peole don’t want to be inconvenienced.

    These days, I’m maintaining my weight loss. I already get outside a lot with my kiddos, I don’t feel like adding anything extra (even though I have more to lose). Even though I eat healthily, I struggle with serving portions/seconds and snacking. I’ve also been trying some different techniques – soaking grains, using a sourdough starter, fermenting foods – and having to plan ahead all the time can seem overwhelming.

    Because I know how much healthier they are, how much they will benefit my family, making the decision to buy pricier organic/natural foods hasn’t been as difficult. When you make your foods from scratch, cut out junk foods, minimize eating out, it’s really not that bad.

  3. Congrats on the weight loss and on your journey to a more nutritious lifestyle for you and your family! That is truly amazing. I can’t say that I am quite there yet, and a couple of months ago I began a fitness program because I do think exercise is incredibly important as well. But, on the other hand, exercise, in my opinion, is not as beneficial to us if we are not practicing the right nutrition.

    It’s really been quite an interesting and life-changing experience to cut-out the highly processed foods from my life. It’s difficult at first, but once you get there, it’s totally worth it– in the way you feel, how you live, and how you develop a sustainable culture of food and traditions within your family and communities. I love it!

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