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Eating clean, workouts key to overall health

May. 16, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

It should come as no surprise that you need both a healthy diet and an effective workout plan to reach your health and wellness goals. As the old saying goes, "You can't out-train a bad diet." If you want to be healthy inside and out, you have to eat clean and train mean. Some people take this mantra very seriously, but even small lifestyle changes will go a long way. Use these tips from Life Fitness to clean up your diet and step up your workouts:

What is eating clean? Eating clean involves not only choosing the right foods to eat but also avoiding junk foods and processed foods whenever possible. Try eating more plant foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also consider choosing grass-fed and free-range meats and poultry, fresh fish, low fat dairy products and raw nuts and seeds.

Shop the perimeter. At the grocery store, stick to the outer perimeter where you will find fresh fruits and veggies, fish and other lean proteins. Avoid processed foods, boxed food and packages that are full of ingredients you can't pronounce. Opt for foods closest to their natural state as possible and with the least amount of ingredients. Read nutrition labels and look for ways to reduce your intake of sugar, salt and saturated fat. Swap soda and juice for more water and switch from refined grains (white breads and pasta) to whole wheat.

Get back to cooking. Instead of buying frozen or boxed meals, cook meals from scratch. Clean, whole foods are easy to prepare and you can make extra to take for lunches and use for leftovers. It may take some extra planning upfront, but there are many blogs dedicated to sharing clean, homemade recipes that will fit into your busy schedule. Extra bonus: Avoiding processed foods and cooking from scratch can save you money in the long run.

Mix up your exercise. If you truly want to train mean, don't keep doing the same old routine. Challenge and surprise your body with a different workout, heavier weights, a new class or an exercise machine you never tried before. Change happens when you push your limits.

Take the intensity up a notch and try some intervals. Are you sweating or just reading a magazine while you drone out riding a machine? Make sure your workouts in and out of the gym make you sweat. Go high intensity for short bursts during your workout to get in some interval training. If you are on the treadmill, try running at your fastest pace for a minute, take it down to recover for a minute and repeat. On the elliptical? Bump up the resistance level to work different muscle groups and increase effort. Track your workouts and make consistent plans to increase intensity and you will see progress.

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