A common weeknight for many women after a busy day at the office might involve calling in takeout from a favorite restaurant or picking up fast food from the drive-through.
But for many women, they may not be able to eat that last French fry without reaping serious consequences at the gym the next day. Why? Because various lifestyle changes make it harder to stay in shape, says Andrea Szebeni, a nutritionist and dietician with the Lighthouse Recovery Institute, a treatment center that helps women overcome eating disorders and other addictions.
“There are social factors such as going out to eat and staying up later at night, and now women are responsible for making their own food choices,” Szebeni says.
Women in high school and college have easy access to organized sports, and teens likely had their meals prepared for them. As a working professional, however, women actually have to put time, energy and effort into preparing meals or going to the gym, says Szebeni.
So how are women on the go expected to stay fit? Here are some of Szebeni’s simple nutrition and exercise tips:
1. Prepare for success – Choose easy-made snacks such as buying cut-up vegetables like broccoli and add a healthy protein such as nuts or string cheese. One of my favorite snacks is carrots with hummus, Szebeni says. Carrots are loaded with Vitamin A, which flushes toxins from the body and helps prevent blemishes, premature wrinkling and acne. They also decrease the likelihood of heart disease and stroke, she says. Hummus is not only yummy, but it is packed with fiber, and the chickpeas help lower cholesterol.
2. Don’t give frozen veggies the cold shoulder – Frozen fruits and vegetables get a bad rap, but they shouldn’t. They are actually frozen at their highest nutrient value. There is a study showing that fresh foods can lose up to 45 percent of their nutritional value when being transported across the U.S. to the grocery store. Add frozen fruit to a yogurt smoothie, oatmeal or cottage cheese. Frozen blueberries, peaches and cherries have some of the highest nutritional value.
3. Buy ready-made – Frozen vegetables can be added to a lean protein such as a rotisserie chicken. Frozen corn, broccoli, winter squash and green beans are a great choice, Szebeni says. Add 10-minute ready-made brown rice and you have a balanced meal that can be prepared faster than waiting in line at a drive-through, she says.
4. Plan ahead – Take one day a week to make a menu for the week. This way you already have set in your mind what is for dinner and won’t be tempted to grab an easy meal on the way home. Plus, think of all the money you’ll be saving by not eating out. New shoes, anyone?
5. Make exercise fun – Exercise classes can be more motivational for some people because you are surrounded by other people. Step outside of your comfort zone and try a fitness class that has always interested you. We love hot yoga, kickboxing, Pilates and spinning. On average, a 150-pound person burns between 500 and 700 calories in one hour of kickboxing, Szebeni says.
6. Keep it interesting – The key is to enjoy what you do, whether it’s riding your bike, swimming or walking on the beach. Have a few options that you change up every few weeks so you don’t become bored. If you are looking for exercise inspiration, check out local fun runs being hosted in your area, ask friends and co-workers what activities they participate in to stay in shape or even check sites like Groupon or LivingSocial that encourage you to try new things.
About Lighthouse Recovery Institute
Andrea Szebeni is a registered dietitian at Lighthouse Recovery Institute (www.lighthouserecoveryinstitute.com) in Delray Beach, Fl., with a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition. She specializes in eating disorder recovery treatments, wellness development and individual health and fitness. Andrea’s personal experiences, education and passion for helping people feel better about themselves make her one of South Florida’s most dynamic and successful eating disorder professionals.