As I approach 50, I am reflecting even more on my nutrition and lifestyle. When many of us reach this age, the desire to lose weight and take charge of our health becomes a much bigger priority. With so much information out there, many of us feel overwhelmed on how to even begin. Unfortunately, some people opt for a 'quick fix' with false promises. In this article, I'm going to share some insights on how I take care of my body at age 50, and how I've helped countless clients in my private practice do the same. You can also use this same insight to help you jump-start your health.
Over the years, I've developed the idea of a nutrition reboot. Using balanced nutrition, I've used the nutrition reboot to help thousands of clients reboot their bodies and reach their goal. The end results of the nutrition reboot led me to write my latest book, Whole Body Reboot.
Rather than just cleaning up your eating for a few days, a nutrition reboot is designed to get your eating habits back on track, so that your whole body -- your organs, skin, brain, heart, immune system, and your mind -- are all feeling renewed.
Here's the idea: You fill your body full of nutrient-dense foods, rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. All of these nutrients help restore your entire body's system for optimal function.
You feel better physically because you are consuming fulfilling, satisfying, and healthy food instead of junk food. You also feel better psychologically because you know you're taking care of yourself with good and balanced nutrition with prolonged, detoxifying effects.
Therefore, my nutrition reboot is anti-aging but please note, I don't use "anti-aging" to mean a wrinkle solution or some sort of superficial promise. Rather, I am talking about a whole array of disease fighting, immunity strengthening ingredients that contribute to overall vitality and longer life.
Here are three ways to get you jump start with your nutrition reboot.
1. Lose Visceral Fat
Now, to get serious about feeling energized and preventing several chronic diseases, you must reduce your waistline. As we age, fat redistributes in our bodies and unfortunately goes and sits around our midsections. As our waistlines grow, so do our health issues. The fat that is found around the waist is called visceral fat, which is the worst fat and it is a pro-inflammatory, pro-aging fat, which can be the cause of many different health issues.
Research suggests that when it becomes large enough, it becomes a glandular system producing hormones known as cytokines, which are potent inflammatory hormones. Therefore, excess visceral fat has been shown to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and many metabolic disorders. In particular with women, it is also associated with breast cancer.
So how can you determine if you are at risk of having too much visceral fat? As far as the medical profession is concerned, if your waist circumference is more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women, you are at a higher risk.
Take Action & Know Your Food: The best way to lose the excess visceral fat is to get your customized eating plan and control your portions. Trying to reduce your waistline can seem like a daunting task and quick fixes like tummy tacks or liposuctions will not, I repeat, will not remove visceral fat. At the end of the day, it all boils down to diet and exercise.
These two options are the only solutions to combat visceral fat and its damaging effects on the body. Many of my 50 + year clients were ready to throw in the towel because they felt that there wasn't much they could do due to their "old" age. This is just simply not the case. A few months ago, I met a client named Stephanie. I remembered as she walked into my office and told me "You are my last resort. I am 65, I have been exercising, eating healthy and I can't seem to drop a pound."
Sure enough, after only 2 months of work, coaching and rebooting her body, Stephanie lost 12 pounds and 2-inches from around her waistline. In the beginning, I told her that 80% of her efforts is her nutrition and portion sizes. Even though she was eating healthy and organic foods such as salmon, quinoa, and avocados, she needed to control her portions because they were way too much for her age and lifestyle.
Ultimately, you do have to take a look at your caloric intake, portion sizes and the quality of food you are eating. To make it easy for her, Stephanie started using my online and mobile app program, Whole Body Reboot.
The program not only gave her a customized eating plan, but it also provided her with the amounts of food she needed to eat throughout the day and week. It is important to track your calories, but just as important is knowing what foods you should be eating to maximize your health. Looking at the overall quality of the food can make a significant difference than just cutting calories alone. Stephanie was able to track and count the different kinds of foods she consumed like grains and starches, fruits, healthy fats, meats, and yes, even her alcohol.
Like countless others, Stephanie came with the same complaints about not being able to shed her weight. After truly understanding what her body needed in respect to food and portion sizes, she began to shake off the extra visceral fat. Remember losing visceral fat through my nutrition reboot is a process and for many, it may take a few weeks to learn. Once you do learn how to, it will be your real solution to once and for all maintain a healthy waistline.
2. Eat up antioxidant and anti-inflammatory superfoods
Free radicals are a real problem. A free radical is an unstable molecule that latches onto healthy cells making them unstable as well, creating a chain reaction. A free radicals number one characteristic is their ability to contact our DNA and mutate the strains, which can lead to faster aging, cancer or other chronic diseases, and the chronic inflammation caused by these free radicals is almost as bad. The antioxidants in anti-inflammatory fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, and fats can help reduce the number and effect of free radicals by neutralizing free floating free radical throughout the body.
Therefore, including these foods in your daily meals is important and the best way to do it is by simply think about color. The colors in fruits and vegetables are caused by phytochemicals, which have been shown to have a range of healthy properties from heart health, boosting your memory, to increasing vitality. So I recommend you eat blueberries, strawberries, purple potatoes, black rice, sweet potatoes, broccoli and all the other colors of the fruit and vegetable rainbow.
Take Action & Make a Smoothie: I can't say this enough. The key to healthy nutrition is variety. The way to help your body repair and restore itself is through a full range of healthy foods. Some of the clients I see in my private practice feel overwhelmed by the challenge of incorporating into their daily eating all the fruits and vegetables I recommend. You can imagine what they say, because you might be thinking it yourself: "Oh my goodness, I have to eat all these vegetables? I don't have time! I can't cook!"
Here's what I say: We know eating whole fruits and vegetables is best. However, a good and simple way to start incorporating fruits and vegetables is by making healthy smoothies. A healthy smoothie brings together a colorful variety of fruits and plenty vegetables. A rule of thumb for the fruit is to keep the proportions balanced by limiting them from 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup per serving. You also balance the fruits and vegetables by adding some healthy fats rich in monounsaturated and omega-3, which are known to be anti-inflammatory, such as avocado, chia seeds and flaxseeds, among others. To make it a complete meal, I love to add protein powder.
3. Get cooking
As I always say your health care starts in your kitchen not your doctor's office. If there's one incredible thing you could do for your health it's to cook your own meals.
You can't really get control of your nutrition and your health until you know exactly what you're putting in your body -- and restaurants and packaged foods are all about hiding that information from you. If you are preparing your own food you are in control of your own nutrition. Remember that cooking isn't just about dinner; prepare and pack your lunches as well. Once you get in the habit you won't believe you ever did it any other way (Bonus: You'll save money, too!).
Take Action & Meal Plan: Pick a day in the weekend to do your shopping and cooking. As little as 1-2 hours of cooking, allows you to prepare for the busy work week. The other days of the week are simple assembly days. Say for instance, that you decide to make roasted chicken for the week with one of you favorite recipes on hand. Start the chicken and while that is cooking, you can have a variety of other side dishes fired up like roasted vegetables or my Quinoa Butternut Squash salad. Once you finish all the cooking, you should have enough food to last you for a few meals throughout the week. Simply just take them out of the fridge and divide it up.
To help you get started with your with your weight loss efforts, here are two recipes that I'm sure you will love.
Ruby Red Vitality Smoothie
In this smoothie recipe, I use maca. Maca is a Peruvian superfood that enhances energy.
1 cup fresh strawberries
½ cup pineapple, cut into chunks
1/3 cup raw beets, chopped
¼ cup carrots, sliced
1 cup cucumbers, peeled and sliced
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon maca powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
25 grams protein powder
1 ½ cups coconut water
Gather all ingredients and place in a blender. Blend until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add more water if needed for desired consistency.
Butternut Squash & Quinoa Salad
Bursting with flavor, this hearty salad is a complete meal in one - full of proteins, carbs, and fats.
Servings: 10 Serving Size: 1 cup
Olive oil spray
4 cups diced butternut squash (about 1 pound 4 ounces)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shelled edamame, fresh or frozen
1 cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups red quinoa, cooked
1 large celery rib, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a small baking sheet with the oil spray.
Place the squash on the baking sheet. Lightly spray it with the oil spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and tender. Set aside to cool.
Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the edamame and peas and cook until tender, for about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Combine the quinoa, celery, and oil in a large bowl. Add the cooled squash, edamame, and peas to the bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Manuel Villacorta, author, Whole Body Reboot