One Small Change
Clean Out Your Fitness Fridge
Throughout this month, I’ve been throwing out one exercise-related item each day. By making this small effort, I’m hoping to not only open up some garage space, but also make my training less cluttered and more efficient. I figure if the whole concept of spring-cleaning can make us feel more fresh and free in other crummy corners of life, then it should work with fitness, too.
So far, I’ve pitched boxes of old sporting equipment, plus outdated exercises, gym habits and training methods. This week, I’m turning my attention to sports nutrition. Here are 9 things that I (and maybe you) no longer need:
1. Chewing breakfast
I realize breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that it’s key to weight control and energy regulation, but I’ve been trying to choke it down for years and I’m neither hungry at that hour nor do I have the time. So I’m finally compromising. From now on it’s smoothies for me. When made right, they deliver all the horsepower of a conventional breakfast more efficiently.
My new favorite: Blend 1 cup skim milk, 2 tablespoons frozen orange-juice concentrate, 1 cup strawberries and 1 kiwifruit. I get 210 calories, 1.5g fat (0g saturated), 11g protein, 41g carbohydrate and 6g fiber. Who needs oatmeal (or molars for that matter)? (Check out more smoothie ideas.)
This is just my convenient excuse to eat heaping plates of linguini with white clam sauce. The cruel fact of the matter is I don’t need to carbo-load for the annual Little Sisters of the Poor Charity 10K. Instead of throwing all that pasta into my stomach, sleeping fitfully and then having the runs on the run, I’ll eat normally and then snack as necessary during the event. At my age, the only thing I should be loading up on is insurance.
3. Drive-thruing on the way to the gym
I’m running late, and I haven’t had anything to eat all day except that smoothie. But since I need to get in a good workout, I order something pseudo-nutritious at the fast-food drive-thru and wolf it down on the causeway. Not healthy. From now on I’m instituting a simple rule: Eating is prohibited in my car. Not only should this dramatically reduce the garbage-truck smell, but it’ll also force me to plan (and eat) better. (Check out our primer on pre-workout fuel.)
4. Guzzling energy/performance drinks
While staying hydrated is certainly vital, I don’t need all these expensive, psychedelic-colored concoctions. A glass of water and a banana or a spoonful of honey (which, incidentally, has been found to help muscles store additional glycogen) is just as effective for short bouts of exercise in my opinion, and more organic. And if I need a kick late in a workout, some defizzed Coke is heaven-sent. It’s an old Tour de France trick. (Learn how and when to use sports drinks here.)
5. Eating energy/performance bars
Most of these are either glorified candy bars or—the ones that aren’t—taste like wallboard. I was once part of a taste-test panel that blindly sampled an assortment of energy bars and dry dog food. In some cases, I was actually partial to the Purina.
6. Buying bottled water at the gym
I used to think that my body/machine demanded purity, as in water from springs in France or Fiji. But then I learned about an island of discarded plastic the size of Texas that’s floating in the Pacific. It makes no sense to dirty the earth while trying to keep our systems clean. Remember the water fountain?
7. Taking vitamins
Although athletes who work out hard need extra vitamins and minerals, the scientific consensus is that these are better derived from a bountiful diet than a handful of pills. I used to take vitamin C, vitamin E and a multi. That is, until the research started flip-flopping, and I had a body scan that showed these pills in my lower intestine. Seems some of them weren’t even dissolving. To test yours, drop them in vinegar; if they haven’t broken down significantly within 30 minutes, they’re bypassing the first part of your small intestine where most nutrients are absorbed. (And if you’re not a model eater, check out the two supplements you may need.)
8. Binging on fat-free or low-fat foods
I like pie, cookies, cake and ice cream, but because I want to keep my belly from folding over my bike’s top tube, I always bought the “healthy” alternatives and, subsequently, ate much more than I normally would because my conscience was clear. Not any more. Now I’ll buy the best, most expensive incarnation of my weakness, which will cause me to savor it and (hopefully) eat less. “Nobody has a perfect diet,” says nutritionist Amanda Carlson-Phillips. “Eating the right foods and planning your meals 80 percent of the time and eating for all the other reasons we eat the other 20 percent of the time will help you eat your favorite foods in moderation and stay on track.”
9. Drinking light beer
This is similar to the mentality that had me scouring the pastry aisle for low-fat Ding-Dongs. But what’s the difference between drinking two or three Lites because they’re less filling or one higher-calorie (but much more satisfying) microbrew? Life is short; let’s not clutter it up.
About The Author
Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.