Dr. Dena competing in the grueling Bulldog Challenge
Why SIX tips? Dena Garner, Ph.d, health and human performance expert, researcher, professor for The Citadel's Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Science, and Bulldog Challenge advocate happens to be the mother of six! Though she denies it, many consider Dr. Dena the unofficial superhero of fitness at The Citadel!
- Drink a cup of tomato/vegetable juice when making dinner. It can be hard not to eat while preparing food for our families. I drink a cup of tomato/vegetable juice (low sodium) while cooking which takes away the urge to munch, and provides an infusion of veggies without a lot of extra calories.
- Don’t eat your kids’ leftover food. If you have a child who does not finish their meal, wrap it up immediately and put it in the fridge, rather than feeling guilty about wasting food and gobbling it down. Every bite matters – even when overeating things like veggies. When I get the “I am not in the mood for broccoli today” attitude I save it for the next night so they can enjoy their broccoli before they dig into what they view as the “good stuff.”
- Find a friend who can be your accountability partner and focus on training for a fun event. Fitness goals such as completing an athletic event or race motivate people to be active and having a partner keeps you committed. Register for an unusual event such as a color run or a mud run. Train and complete the event together and you’ll be looking for the next one!
- Eat more whole foods to help minimize your intake of high fructose corn syrup. Watch for it to be “hidden” in foods that aren’t sweet like soups, sauces, and marinades. The syrup-laden foods raise blood glucose levels which can strain energy levels and metabolic rates and lead to fat storage and weight gain. Many processed foods have added sugars and trans-fat which can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Can you pronounce the words on the ingredients label? Then it is probably a safe choice.
- Keep a constant reminder of your resolutions attached at the hip (or arm, or wrist). Compete against yourself by purchasing an inexpensive pedometer to count your steps every day. Shoot for at least 10,000 steps per day, which may take some strategizing to fit into your schedule. In one of my studies with breast cancer survivors, I found that just wearing the pedometer motivated the women to be significantly more active.
- Write it down! Research shows that if you take just a few minutes a day to log your food intake and exercise, you are more likely to stay on track with your fitness and eating goals. So take advantage of free technology such as the MyFitnessPal app which tracks your exercise and food intake effectively with only a small investment of time required.