In light of the recent study indicating that lawyers and judges are among the most likely to report weight gain on the job (see previous SBM Blog post Weight Gain Study Fails To Consider Shrinkage) we asked a colleague, who is a current attorney and former fitness trainer, for a nuts-and-bolts blog post about exercise and nutrition.
Here's his advice:
As noted the previous SBM Blog post, sitting at a desk all day, eating at a desk, and eating out too often were among the top reasons listed for packing on the pounds at work. But a few simple changes, based on a little bit of knowledge and preparation, can get you back on track quickly.
You truly are what you eat, and nutrition is the key factor in maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI), which is the primary tool for telling you where you fall on the scale between ultra thin and morbidly obese. However, with the glut of information and all the fad diets out there, the basics of food science seem to be getting lost in the shuffle.
Here are 5 simple tips for shedding fat and looking great:
- Eat 5 times per day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with small, healthy snacks in between. The worst thing you can do is skip breakfast (the meal that jump-starts your metabolism) or starve yourself (your body reacts to starvation by slowing down the metabolism and storing fat);
- Combine your foods properly - each meal should have a serving of protein (eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, and low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are excellent options), a serving of carbohydrates (healthy complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, baked potatoes, or brown rice are great sources, as are simple carbohydrates like fresh fruit; fibrous carbohydrates, i.e., vegetables, are better options for later meals), and a serving of healthy fat (olive oil, avocado, and walnuts are some of the best sources); a typical meal should have 20-30 grams of protein, 30-50 grams of carbohydrates, and 10-15 grams of fat (with meals on the higher end, and snacks on the lower end). Also, choose foods that are higher in fiber;
- Drink lots of water - there's a reason you always hear doctors and nutritionists talk about the importance of drinking at least 8 cups of water per day (64 oz.)...it works! In fact, 64 oz. should be the minimum, especially if you're active. Water does everything from flushing out toxins, to helping digestion, to keeping you from having that bloated look (drinking water keeps you from retaining water). Try drinking a cup of water an hour before and an hour after every meal;
- Don't deprive yourself - the best way to sabotage your nutrition plan is to eliminate all of your favorite foods. It's okay, and effective, to slip in a slice of pizza or a burger every so often. In fact, studies have shown that by eating something you crave every fourth day or so, you not only keep your cravings down (and decrease the likelihood of binging), but you actually stimulate your metabolism (almost like shocking your body into speeding up);
- Be prepared - consider preparing your lunch and snacks the day before so that you can take them to work and avoid searching for food, which almost always results in eating the first thing that will satisfy your hunger.
An example of a healthy, well-rounded day of eating would be:
Breakfast - 2 hard-boiled egg whites (protein), oatmeal (complex carbohydrate/fiber), 1/3 cup of blueberries (simple carbohydrate), and a few walnuts (good fat);
Snack #1 - 1 serving cottage cheese and 1 piece of fruit; Lunch - grilled chicken salad (grilled chicken breast, romaine lettuce or spinach, various vegetables, 2 tbsp. olive-oil based dressing);
Snack #2 - 1 serving almonds and 1 piece of fruit;
Dinner - 1 serving fish or lean meat (broiled, baked, or grilled), 1 small baked potato, 1 large serving of vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, etc.).
A solid nutrition plan, and the will to carry it out, are key, but exercise is also critical, and it doesn't take a lot of time to make a significant difference.
Science has shown that you can stimulate your metabolism for an entire day with an intense workout as short as 10-15 minutes long. But to do enough in that little time requires a working knowledge of the different muscle groups and the exercises that stimulate them.
Here are a few tips for a great workout:
- If possible, workout first thing in the morning - when you workout, your body starts by burning glycogen (the energy our muscles store when we eat carbohydrates), then moves to fat, and finally muscle (if you workout too long without enough energy stores). By working out first thing in the morning, when you don't have large amount of glycogen in your muscles, you will get to the fat-burning phase more quickly. And with a short workout, that should be the key;
- Workout at least 3 times per week - needless to say, the more often you can stimulate your metabolism, the better. But 3 workouts per week will allow you to cover every muscle group, and keep your metabolism going;
- Combine weight-training with cardio - when you're doing a quick workout, you have to be efficient. Try a burst of cardio, e.g., 45 seconds of jumping rope, between each exercise. There are many excellent workout videos and books that will provide a fast and efficient workout.
Of course, you should always consult your doctor before beginning any new nutrition and/or workout program. The tips outlined in this blog are a basic outline for the average, healthy person. If you are considering a new plan, be sure it includes a trip to your doctor before you begin.
Posted by SBM staff