January marks a fresh start in many ways, including how to manage our own health. To help those who want a little guidance, the NRI recently presented a Wellness Workshop by partnering with High Performance Training, a privately owned gym in Kannapolis.

Faustina Jeyaraj, a PhD candidate in the Voruganti lab at the NRI, walked through sensible and achievable nutrition guidelines that focus on taking charge of how and what you eat. The #1 tip: cook at home rather than dining out or ordering to-go meals. Most restaurant and fast foods contribute unnecessary calories, are lacking nutritional value, or are filled with additives that can be harmful to your health over time. When cooking at home you can not only save money, but you can be in charge of the ingredients you eat. The best way to get and maintain control over your own diet is to make meal plans and shopping lists and work to stick to them.

Take the time to learn about commonplace foods that contribute to excess weight or other health issues and what a healthy swap might be. Here are some typical foods to try changing out:

Jeyaraj’s other top tips:

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

  • Try for 4-5 servings a day
  • Eat a rainbow – fruits and vegetables of all colors
  • Purchase pre-sliced fruits and vegetables to keep your fridge stocked
  • Purchase canned and frozen vegetables that are easy to quickly cook and eat

Avoid Dehydration

  • Mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired
  • Adults need between 2.7-3.7 liters of fluid a day
  • Keep a pitcher of water in your fridge (add fruit for extra flavor if you need it)
  • Snack on hydrating foods like watermelon, strawberries or oranges

Avoid Mindless Snacking

  • Stay in tune with your body’s hunger cues
  • Balance your meals, so if you are snacking it is for a purpose
  • Stay hydrated! Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger
  • Schedule your meals
  • Include more protein in your meals

Think Improvement, not Perfection

  • Changing the way you eat does not need to be an all-or-nothing effort
  • Start with small goals
  • Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely)
  • Think of healthy eating habits as a way to change your lifestyle
    not as a limiting diet

Click here for a downloadable handout of our nutrition tips.

For many more healthy eating and cooking ideas, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Sondra Merrill, a certified trainer with the International Sports Sciences Association and co-owner of High Performance Training in Kannapolis, led workshop attendees through a series of short exercises that can be done anywhere. These included squat jumps, crunches, jumping jacks, planks and sit-ups.

Merrill who is also a specialist in sports nutrition says that nutrition is 80% of any fitness goal. A healthy diet reduces inflammation, gives energy, restores your muscles, and so much more. But consistency is vital. Your body is not going to respond to something you do on occasion, but it will respond to something that you make a habit of. Schedule your gym or workout time to make sure you go. Good form is essential to be able to keep going. Never jeopardize form to rush through your workout, to try to keep up with someone else, or to lift a heavy weight. An injury just isn’t worth it. Watching yourself in the mirror can help, or asking for a form check at your gym is a good idea if you don’t know.