Eating: Advice from a U.S. Olympian
Over the last two weeks, I offered you running and sleep as the first two ingredients in a recipe to success for serving your country by starting a positive ripple effect with your family, co-workers, and neighbors. This ripple effect starts with healthy decisions that you make for yourself.
Last, but not least, the final ingredient is eating well.
Proper nutrition plays such an important role in achieving a sound body and mind. Nutrient-rich foods help build strong muscles, empower your trillions of cells, strengthen your immune system, elevate your mood, and sharpen your mind. What you eat causes a chemical chain reaction in your body, so the food decisions you make directly impact who you want to be.
Notice the difference in your entire day when you begin with a vegetable and fruit smoothie, two eggs, and piece of toast, as opposed to starting with a donut and a cup of coffee, or worse, nothing at all.
Eating well gives you sustained energy and fuels how you think, cope, react, and function throughout the day. Poor choices not only welcome irritability and stress, but they also boost your risk of diabetes, depression, cancer, and heart disease. Good choices, on the other hand, empower your body and mind to be healthy and flourish. You have total control when it comes to what foods you purchase and select for snacking and meals.
- It is important not to follow any fad diets that restrict certain foods or eliminate entire food groups.
- Add fruits and veggies in wherever you can.
- Shop predominantly along the outside of the grocery store for fresh, non-processed foods.
- Purchase quality protein sources, such as lean meat and fish.
- Select fruits and veggies in a variety of colors.
- Choose high quality whole grains like couscous, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Have fun putting together pretty meals that take very little time to prepare.
- Try to keep healthy snacks readily at your disposal. Nuts, fruit, and kale chips are favorites at my house.
Deena’s Kale Chips
High in calcium, iron, and vitamin A
- Olive oil
- Tuscan or Lacinato Kale, stems removed
- Sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay kale out on a baking sheet and brush both sides of leaves with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, and bake until crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Note: I keep these on the counter, but if you live in a humid place, you may need to store them in an airtight container to help maintain the crunch.
Putting it All Together
Run. Eat. Rest.
Good rest is possible with good nutrition and exercise. And seeing drastic progress in your running is possible with good rest and nutrition. The nutrients in your food, combined with the hormones released in your sleep work to build muscle strength (Remember, your heart is a muscle too!).
Eating nutrient-rich foods fuels the one trillion cells that make up your body, allowing them all to function optimally. Your brain, your muscles, your mood, your relationships and your self-esteem are all affected by how well you nourish your mind and body.
Again, what if going out for a 20-minute run in the morning, having more nutrient-rich food on hand in the house, and snuggling into bed 30 minutes earlier made you more productive, a better wife, a better friend, and a better mom? Making these smart choices builds a better family, which builds a better military community, which builds a better country. Running, adding more nutritious foods to your diet, and sleeping work together to optimize who you are and how you’re perceived by those around you, and this principle can be carried with you anywhere in the world.