Local health experts share ways to start a healthy lifestyle

Published 12:26 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

Over the past several years, Americans have become more concerned with leading healthy lifestyles – few things are as important to that mission as maintaining a healthy diet.

No shortage of dieting trends have cropped up to serve the public’s desire to lose weight or increase their health and vitality – vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, keto, paleo, gluten-free, raw and more.

“These days, there are tons and tons of different diets and training programs out there that all claim to be better than the last one, so I can see where all of that information can become overwhelming for someone just starting out,” said Phillip Hemphill, Certified Fitness Trainer at InShape Fitness in Selma.

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Hemphill has been helping people reach their fitness goals for six years and says the answer to healthy diet and lifestyle may be much simpler than people think.

“Most people already know what a healthy diet should consist of but just hate to hear it out loud,” Hemphill said. “I like to tell my clients, when starting out on a healthy diet, to keep it simple, don’t overcomplicate things. The more you overcomplicate it, the less likely you are to stick to it.”

Hemphill says that, first and foremost, it’s not so much what you eat but what you don’t eat.

Avoiding foods and drinks high in sugar and staying away from fast food restaurants and fried foods is the first step.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a typical 12-ounce can of soda contains approximately 9.5 teaspoons of sugar and a 20-ounce soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugar – only 12 teaspoons of added sugar are recommended daily, so a person who has two 12-ounce sodas have already consumed more than the recommended amount.

According to the CSPI, overconsumption of sugary drinks can lead to a variety of health concerns: adults who consume one or more sugary drinks a day are 27 percent more likely to become obese and 26 percent more likely to develop diabetes.

Further, soda consumption nearly doubles a person’s chance of having tooth decay and, in men, it creates a 20-percent higher risk of having a heart attack.

Aside from sugar-heavy beverages, eating too much fast food can have a number of negative side-effects on a person’s mental and physical condition. According to Healthline, a person who regularly eats fast food is at a higher risk of repeated headaches, depression, heart disease or stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more.

“Not observing a healthy diet and leading a healthy lifestyle can impair our daily health and well-being and also reduce our ability to lead an enjoyable and active life,” Hemphill said, noting that such habits can also lead to osteoporosis, eating disorders and even contribute to some forms of cancer.

In addition to cutting out sugary drinks, Hemphill recommends that people drink more water throughout the day and eat more clean proteins, which are proteins produced with low carbon and low eco-footprints like vegetables, legumes, soy, nuts and more.

“Keep it as simple as possible starting out and you’ll have a way better chance of making a legit healthy diet and new lifestyle stick for the long run,” Hemphill said. “The further you go into a newer, healthy lifestyle, the more you’ll lean and start to pick things up.”

For optimal results, Hemphill recommends that people couple a new, healthy diet with a basic exercise regimen as simple as going outside a few days a week.

“As far as the exercise, if you’re just starting out, then go to a gym or get you a little equipment and go outside three to four days a week for at least an hour and just sweat,” Hemphill said. “Nice and simple.”

For his part, Hemphill avoids carbohydrates and sugars as much as possible and keeps a calorie deficit for each day. Some weeks, he employs a 16/8 intermittent fasting approach, which means that he limits food and calorie-containing beverage consumption to only eight hours a day and abstains from food completely for the next 16 hours.

“I have seen great results for myself and my clients by using it,” Hemphill said. “But I suggest that you do your own research on that method before attempting it.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a myriad of health benefits associates with maintaining a quality diet and leading an active lifestyle, such as controlling weight gain, combatting health conditions and diseases, promoting better sleep, improving your mood and boosting energy levels.

“So, go out today and start to swap those poor eating habits and that sedentary lifestyle for a better, healthy diet and a more active lifestyle and I promise that you’ll start to feel better,” Hemphill said. “Remember to not overcomplicate any of this and just keep it simple.”