a special feature from * Debra Orringer, Clinical Exercise Physiologist


The reasons there are so many overweight people are vast and complicated on both a psychological and hormonal level, but surprisingly simple from a practical point of view.  Practically speaking, people are overweight because they eat too much, and they eat disproportionately from the food groups.  But the good news is: there exists plenty of good information out there and it’s here for sharing. Understanding food is the key ingredient to a healthy recipe for life, and I’ve shared some simple steps to follow:

First step

When you hear absolutes like, “dairy is good for you” or “fat is unhealthy,” just remember it doesn’t apply to everyone. One person’s food is another person’s poison, and that’s why fad diets tend to fail in the long run.

Working on this principle of individuality, you have to make positive changes based on your unique needs, lifestyle, personal preferences, and background.   Instead of prescribing one fix for all people, I like to use a personalized, holistic approach that is based on your individual needs.

Second step

Focus on eating real food – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, healthy oils, nuts and seeds in proper combinations and proportions. Choose foods that were raised, fed and grown naturally, and foods that are nutrient-dense, such as dark, leafy greens like kale and broccoli, which are super packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more.

Here’s a power packed snack I recommend to keep on hand:  KALE CHIPS! They are super easy to prepare. Go to the store and buy a bunch of fresh, organic kale. Wash each leaf and separate from the stem. Mix in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, season with your favorite seasonings and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. You can also do the same with Chick Peas. Totally scrumptious.

Third Step

Get your carbohydrates from produce. Rather than reach for the breads, pastas and crackers, instead reach for an apple or a bowl of broccoli. Sometimes I’ll buy a bag of premixed vegetables from the store to keep on hand for snacking. Or I’ll buy fruit like strawberries, raspberries and kiwi and keep them prepared to eat.

Fourth Step

Understand this:  ‘fat’ is not a bad FOUR-letter word. It’s actually quite good!  Fats make our cell’s membranes stronger, regulate hormones, and support a healthy immune system. The wrong kinds of fats are bad such as saturated fats and trans fats. They raise LDL (the bad cholesterol), which sticks to arteries and cause heart attacks. But, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the beneficial fats found in fish oils, flax seeds, nuts, avocados, and olive oils. Good fats help our bodies run smoothly and improve brain function.

Go ahead and make yourself a trail mix of healthy granola.  Mix 3 cups oats, 1tbsp cinnamon, 1/4-cup organic honey, 3 egg whites and a myriad of raw nuts.  Bake for 30 minutes on 300.

Remember – moderation with serving sizes, and portion control is a key.

We all know as adults and the grown-ups we are supposed to be, that we are totally in CHARGE! No matter how much life seems to get away from us we can choose what to eat, when to eat it and how much of it to eat. That being said, the physical and psychological benefits of healthy eating include improved body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, attention span, and mental attitude.

Remember this: life is not a “diet” – we should eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight, so let’s aim for a well-balanced nutrition plan. Eating like this will help you to look, feel, live and perform to your best, and reduce the risk for a variety of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.”

*Debra Orringer, MS from Naples, FL is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with 20 years in the fitness industry. She has managed the wellness programs at the Kennedy Space Center as well as consulted for several national fitness companies, authored articles, and retains a myriad of advanced level certifications. Debra works as a Wellness Coach for Isagenix.

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