It’s 7pm and you look down at your fitness tracker, hoping to see that you have taken the recommended 10,000+ steps during your busy day at the office but the numbers that flicker at you say 8,485… You glare at the screen for a moment and tap it with your finger, hoping that it maybe just forgot that you took the stairs to the meeting today or that you were marching up and down on the spot while waiting in line for your coffee. But, no matter what it does not change. So you decide that it’s a good time to walk around the house and check that everything is in order. You check on the dog, you check on the kids, you check on your spouse, and you even check on the car – until you look down with satisfaction to see that you are at 10,000 steps and counting. You grin at your wrist and nod to yourself with the confidence of an Olympian just having set a world record.
We all know that we can improve our daily fitness by taking the stairs and parking further away while running errands, but do we really know why being active during the day is important? And what about pairing those healthy activities with proper nutrition to get the optimum results? Taking 10,000 steps per day or attending a regular spin or aquafit class is a great start to your goal of moving more, but it is only half of the challenge. The other half is supporting that activity with healthy and nutritious food. We could do a spin class every night, but if we are following up that spin class with a burger and a soda on the way home, we are not giving our bodies the right messages or proper support. Some people will choose the other extreme and not eat anything after they exercise because they believe that will help them manage their weight. However, if your muscles are not given the nutrition they need to rebuild, you will not get the maximum amount of benefits from your activity. Your body will even start storing fat because it is unsure when proper nutrition will come.
Ideally, we want to include protein in our meals regardless of whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner or a mid-day snack. Protein is a building block to many components of the body. Think about your skin, hair, nails, muscles, organs and tissues… all of those require protein to be at their best! Even our hormones and enzymes are supported by proper protein in our diet. You can find protein in foods such as lean meats, organic tofu, quinoa, and beans. If you are on the go, there are plant based protein powders that can be blended with greens, fruits and seeds to provide a nutritious meal or snack. Or you can try mixing them into a healthy muffin batter and baking to create a protein rich snack!