‘Healthy’ habits that hinder health

Published 12:15pm Monday, August 27, 2012

In our efforts to get in shape and stay healthy, many of us tend to stick to habits that not only hinder progress, but that can be downright dangerous. Let’s explore some of these “healthy” convictions, and why taking them to the extreme can throw a monkey wrench into our health and fitness programs.
1. “I don’t eat sweets.” While it’s true we should cut way back on simple sugars like candy, cutting out all sweets can backfire. As humans, we’re hard-wired to want sugar. That’s the way we can tell that fruits and vegetables are ready to eat. Also, people who cut out all sweets tend to binge eat later. My suggestion is make fruit your “sweet tooth” mainstay, but occasionally have that decadent dessert – it won’t hurt you.
2. “I rarely miss a day at the gym.” This is one I see a lot from intermediate and advanced exercisers. You need to spend time out of the gym, no matter what your fitness level. Rest is when your body repairs itself. Also, during rest, your body dips into its fat stores and your muscles tone and tighten. I tell clients to view rest two ways. First, think of rest as an active, not passive, part of an exercise program. Second, fitness is like a pie with three equal slices. Rest, exercise and nutrition. If any one piece is too big, that makes the other pieces too small. In other words, if your exercise piece is too big, your rest piece is too small. Remember, rest is the “glue” that holds your program together.
3. “I’ve gotten my body fat down to around 10 percent.” Sounds great, but fat plays an intricate role in the formation of hormones. Women are especially at risk for bone loss if their body fat dips too low, because their bodies don’t produce enough estrogen, which is involved in the formation of healthy bones. Dipping too deep into body fat levels is dangerous, too, because fat cushions internal organs, thereby protecting them.
4. “I’ve cut way back on carbohydrates.” Always remember, you can’t live without carbs. Carbohydrates convert to “glycogen” in the body. Glycogen is to you what starch is to a potato. It’s “animal sugar.” It is stored primarily in the liver and is converted to “glucose” when needed by the body. My advice is to cut back on the “simple” sugars like candy and choose more “complex” carbs, like whole grains and vegetables. Remember that as with many endeavors, “moderation” is the key to success in your fitness and nutrition program.
Diet or fitness question? Email me at dwcrocker77@gmail.com or visit fitness4yourlife.org. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 26 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team and the Converse College equestrian team. He has also been water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency and a teacher for four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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