The real meaning of eating healthy - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

The real meaning of eating healthy

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Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 10:00 am | Updated: 3:22 pm, Fri Sep 16, 2011.

I got to thinking the other day (dangerous, I know) - just what the heck does "I'm gonna eat healthy" mean?

We all say it - and it usually has something to do with weight loss. We talk about needing to lose weight and our plan is "eat healthy and exercise more." What exactly does that mean?

No, I haven't lost my mind, nor am I about to inundate you with a laundry list of healthy foods. I'm asking because I hear it all the time from soon-to-be dieters. I ask "what are you going to change?" They usually say "I'm going to eat more healthy foods and try to exercise more."

"Eat healthy and exercise more" is a horrible goal statement. You can't measure any of it and it's not time bound (among other problems). But I digress. I want to focus on this notion of "healthy eating" as a means to lose weight and get fit.

Weight is all about calories (sorry, it is). If your body needs 2,000 calories per day to maintain its weight, those calories can come from just about anything digestible.

Nutrition is all about how you spend those calories. If you need 2,000 calories but eat 1,300 in only Twinkies, you will lose weight - but before you get too excited, you might become malnourished. You won't be taking in things your body needs to perform its phenomenal functions. If you take in 1,300 calories in complex carbs, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and a little fat - you'll lose weight and take in good nutrition.

The reverse is true. If you need 2,000 calories and take in 3,000 via Milky Ways, you will gain weight and lack proper nutrition. If you take in 3,000 calories from a raw, whole food, vegan diet, you will gain weight. You read that right. You can eat "healthy foods" and gain weight - if you eat too much of it.

So depending on your goal, just aiming for "healthy eating" might not get you where you want to go. If weight loss is what you're really after, you've got to keep your calories in check. In a perfect world, those calories would come from all those foods public service announcements keep hammering us about. If you can't be perfect, I say a cookie now and again isn't the end of the world.

Me? I love an apple fritter. Ask anyone. But I also know it's a 400-calorie hit when I chose to eat it.

NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit

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