Put away the decorations. (Please, put them away). Dust off the Reeboks. It’s time the No. 2 heaviest state in America channels its Hatfields and McCoys ways into a skirmish against poor health habits.
“Fitness is two-thirds what you eat and one-third exercise,” reveals certified trainer and southern West Virginian fitness enthusiast Dewana Waters Grillot.
Mountaineers, especially, could use a primer in balancing input (calories from what’s eaten) and output (calories burned in a day).
Where many begin the year back on the treadmill, an attitude of “Well, I worked out enough to prepay for this heart-shaped brownie” can quickly sabotage a commitment to fitness.
“You can overeat your exercise. You can go into the gym and spend two hours and blow it with one meal at McDonald’s,” explains Grillot.
Over her years of promoting health in these hills, Grillot understands what will and won’t work in strengthening squishy waistlines and mushy inner-resolve. As expected, there’s a yin for every yang, a perfect stance of right eating and purposeful sweating that goes into achieving sustainable fitness goals.
- Stabilize your blood sugar to fight off hunger. “Always combine a protein with a carb and fat together. You never want to eat a carb (bread or potato) by itself. I tell people the perfect meal is something like this: a chicken breast, with avocado slices (for healthy fat) and a side of broccoli,” Grillot says.
- Choose only 100 percent whole grain breads, pastas and rice.
- Eat more, weigh less. “There isn’t a bad veggie or a bad fruit,” Grillot tells her clients. “For example, you can eat five large asparagus stalks for 20 calories. With those, you get fiber (which fills you up), calcium, A, C, E and K. Five large strawberries are only 30 calories. You can eat a whole bell pepper for 31 calories.” A snack of a bell pepper, strawberries and asparagus is not only more filling than a bag of chips, but better by a nutritional mile.
- It takes 3,500 calories to make 1 pound. “If you give up one large sweet tea a day from McDonald’s (on the dollar menu,) that’s 280 calories. You could change NOTHING ELSE and lose 24 pounds in a year.” Sound too good to be true? Grillot’s sister gave up her daily sweet tea and lost 30 pounds in one summer, without changing anything else.
- You can still ALMOST have it all. “When you go to dinner, choose what one extra thing you want — is it the bread, a sweet drink, a glass of wine or dessert? That’s very do-able, and you don’t feel like you’re doing without.”
- If your body is not eating, it’s storing fat. “People come into class all the time and say, ‘I’ve had nothing to eat all day. I’m like, ‘That’s horrible!’” When we don’t eat, our blood sugars drop and the body goes into fat storage mode. Cravings start (driven by hormones beyond your power), and food gets stored as fat, just in case there’s more starvation ahead. So unless you’re on a deserted island or your jaws are wired shut, food abstinence is the least effective technique at weight loss. The body handily overrides it. “People don’t understand. They should eat within an hour of waking up, then every three or four hours throughout the day.”