Wow. I can’t believe we are on our last day of 2014. Both personally and professionally it has been a great year for me. I got to witness the birth of my first nephew in February, traveled the world over the summer (or at least South America), I’ve already gotten in two snowboarding trips this winter, and I won my first recipe contest for this soup! Not too shabby.
Twenty-fourteen was also a good year for the health industry. It’s finally known that Dr. Oz is a quack and we need to stop taking his medical advice (over 50% of his recommendations have no truth to them according to scientific studies), my wonderful blog is now floating out in cyberspace, and a few of those silly fad diets (Master Cleanse, Sensa) are finally on their way out. The following is a list of some of the best diet trends of 2014. You should give these trends a try in the new year if you are looking to fulfill some of those “lose weight, get healthy for real this time” resolutions.
1. Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based diet centered around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Fish and seafood consumption are encouraged twice per week and red meat is limited. Drinking wine in moderation is encouraged. That means one (4 ounce) glass per day for women and two glasses for men. This eating pattern has consistently been linked with lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. A new study from Harvard even suggests that a Mediterranean Diet has the power to lengthen telomeres which is a biomarker of healthy aging. In a nutshell, following the Mediterranean diet can help you live longer and healthier. Want to learn more? Check out this book The Complete Mediterranean Diet.
2. Vegan/Vegetarian. There are a lot of reasons to go veg. You can do it for health, you can do it for the animals, for the environment, or some combination of all three. Vegan and vegetarian diets have been studied for years and are routinely linked to having a lower body weight and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Generally vegans fare even better than vegetarians. If eschewing meat all together is not your cup of tea, try Meatless Monday or The Flexitarian Diet. If you go vegetarian, there is one thing you are going to hear a lot. I bet my vegetarian friends know which question that is. “How do you get enough protein?” It’s simple: beans, nuts, lentils, and soy. Dairy and eggs if you’re not vegan. A poorly planned vegetarian diet may be lacking in protein, just the same as a poorly planned omnivorous diet would be lacking in protein.
3. Write it Down. Keeping a food journal is a pain in the butt. But you gotta do it for effective weight loss! Whether you go old school and keep a paper journal or use one of the many fitness apps out there that allow you to track your calories, journaling is a proven tool to help you be more mindful of your eating habits. I recommend not only tracking what you eat, but also how hungry and full you are. Use a scale from 1-10, just like the pain scale they use at the Drs. office. If you’re at a one you are ravenously hungry and could eat a cow. A ten is uncomfortably full, why did I eat so much, let me go get my stretchy pants. Ideally, you want to keep your hunger between a 4-7.
4. Foam Rolling. I foam rolled for the first time this year. It was heaven. Foam rolling is essentially giving yourself a massage to work out the tightness and knots in your muscles. Or in personal trainer jargon self-myofascial release. Foam rolling will probably hurt a little the first time, but if it’s hurting a lot you should stop and ask a professional for help. I don’t know about you, but at my gym they tend to hide the foam rollers and covet them like they are some secret weapon, so I suggest buying your own. This is the Foam Massage Roller that I use.
5. Weights/Strength Training. Every time I have turned on the news for the past two days there is some fitness expert talking about how strength training is better for you than cardio for weight loss. Muscle burns more than fat is the mantra that is constantly being touted. I agree, muscle is more metabolically active than fat. But a half hour of cardio is going to burn at least double the calories of a half hour of weight lifting. One problem with “muscle burns more than fat” is that it’s assumed you are actually going to gain substantial muscle from lifting weights. Yes, if you are a man, particularly a young man, you will have hypertrophy (muscle growth) from lifting weights consistently. If you are a woman over a certain age, say thirty, you’re not going to gain that much muscle (unless you have an Olympic athlete training schedule). It’s not your fault, its your lack of high levels of testosterone.
I’m not saying weight training isn’t good. Weight training is very good. It’s effective for decreasing osteoporosis and sarcopenia (muscle loss), and now its even better than cardio for losing weight. Personally, I have been on top of it with cardio this past year (thanks Zumba) but have been a bit lacking in the strength training department. One of my resolutions this year is strength training at least twice per week. Whether its fifteen minutes of weights added to my cardio session or an hour-long Body Pump class, I’m getting it done this next year!
What are your New Years Resolutions? Fitness related or otherwise? Happy New Year to all my readers out there! I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a great year!