Nutrition sets the tone for any good fitness program

Penticton Western News
Jun 16 2006

It is week nine in a 10-week Learn to Run clinic. Reporter Tracy Clark has been following three women as they work toward reaching their goals. Linnea Mudge has unfortunately dropped out of the program due to illness.

The success of a fitness or running program can hinge on nutrition.

When it comes to good nutrition, go back to the basics, said Learn to Run coach Chris Durnford.

With a barrage of nutrition information people often find it difficult to wade through all of the “garbage,” she said.

Women are often the target of this information through clever marketing.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Durnford of the host of fad diets claiming people can lose weight if they just follow a set of guidelines.

But Durnford said men and women looking to establish good eating habits, whether or not they are trying to lose weight, should call a nutritionist or look to the recently updated Canada Food Guide.

The success of fad diets made people afraid to eat carbohydrates and fat. There are good and bad versions of both of these foods, she said. Similarly, Durnford said many more people are taking supplements rather than eating. But people need to remember that these foods are meant only to supplement a diet, they are not a substitute for healthy eating.

“Educate yourself,” said Durnford.

Tara Gregoire said the most important nutritional lesson she has learned is to listen to her body, not marketing experts.

“I’ve never followed any of those fad diets,” she said.

Gregoire said she focuses on getting enough fruits and vegetables and proteins in her diet. She also looks at portion control and ensures she is not eating too much or too little.

With a busy work schedule, this retail store manager said she tries to eat something on each of her three daily breaks. And while she admits her choices are not always the best, she is also conscious that she is making more healthy choices, such as nuts or soy milk to add protein or healthy fats.

She also makes sure to eat breakfast every day and admits that she sometimes resorts to energy bars as a supplement during the busiest time of the year — Christmas.

For Arnie Gash eating energy bars is an important part of her diet.

When she first started the running program Gash noticed immediately that she was losing weight. The Okanagan Falls resident has a medical condition that forces her to watch her food intake.

“I have to be very conscious with my nutrition,” she said.

After losing 10 pounds, the already slender Gash said she knew she needed to add more calories to her restrictive diet. Energy bars have helped her stabilize her weight.

Like Gregoire, Gash said she also eats several small meals throughout the day, to maintain a healthy weight and keep her energy levels high.

Durnford said eating regularly is very important.

People who fail to eat regularly will send their body into starvation mode, which can lead to many problems. It also causes lethargy and fatigue, she said.

Durnford advises women to ensure they are getting enough calories throughout the day to sustain their daily activities.