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The following is an excerpt from the book The MomsTown Guide to Getting It All: A Life Makeover for Stay-at-Home Moms
by Mary Goulet and Heather Reider
Published by Hyperion; August 2005; $15.00US/$20.00CAN; 1-4013-0787-6
Copyright © 2005 Mary Goulet-Rendler and Heather Reider

You Show What You Eat

If you make a regular meal out of bread, potatoes, and sugary treats you might as well duct-tape them to your behind, because they will follow you wherever you go. At MomsTown we like to remind women that what you put in your mouth is 80 to 85 percent of the fitness equation. This can be a shocking revelation for many women, and usually is for our MomsTown ladies. That doesn't mean go on a diet. It's just a matter of paying attention to what you eat. Following are some tips for watching what you eat more closely.

Eating better foods is a sure way to boost your energy. Surrounding yourself with more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is one way to make a positive change to your daily energy levels.

Refined sugar, white flour, and a lack of vegetables won't keep you going for very long. In fact, eating junk food will actually decrease your energy. One great way to judge your pantry is to see how many processed and packaged foods you eat. Having a Pop-Tart in the morning instead of oatmeal and fruit is one way to kiss your valuable energy good-bye. Eating an apple instead of a cookie or candy bar for a snack will increase your energy level. A healthy diet boils down to using common sense.

Here are a few GAL tips for building a healthier lifestyle for yourself.

  • If it's not there, you can't eat it. Following the simple healthy lifestyle tips of more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is as easy as throwing those junk foods out of your pantry and kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. When you're making lunch for your kids, you may forget to make it for yourself. By three o'clock you could eat a horse -- or half a bag of potato chips, for that matter! Make sure you don't have anything on hand that will tempt you. Have a bowl of fruit at the ready. If you surround yourself with healthier snack options, you'll eat healthier snacks. And guess what? So will your kids. One of our moms, Diane, says, "Now that I make apples available for snacks instead of Chee·tos, my kids and I have developed a taste for them. I actually find myself craving an apple! It's a good feeling not to want the junk food."
  • When you shop, stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. Have you ever noticed that the best foods for you are around the edges of the grocery store? For the most part, the fresh produce, fish, chicken, meat, and dairy surround the inner aisles. These inner aisles are where you'll find processed, sugary snacks, junk cereal, canned high-salt foods, soda, frozen foods, ice cream, and candy. Why tempt yourself when you're in a hurry? Avoiding the central aisles will save you calories and time!
  • Don't take your kids grocery shopping if you can avoid it. They'll just con you into buying junk.
  • Don't grocery-shop when you're hungry. You'll end up impulse buying, and chances are it won't be healthy -- and may even be chips or munchies, sugary snacks you can open when you get in the car. Have a piece of fruit before you go to the grocery store if you don't have time to eat a meal. If you can't get anything to eat and find yourself there, go to the produce section first and pick a piece of fruit you can eat after you check out.
  • Avoid big meals. Little meals are more fun, because they are more frequent and they fit into your busy schedule. Don't fill up on a huge meal at breakfast, lunch, or dinner; it zaps your energy as all of your blood goes to your stomach to digest the food, rather than to your head where you need it. It's also nice to allow yourself to eat more often in smaller quantities.
  • Avoid artificial energy boosters. Caffeine can be terrible for your energy level. It feeds on itself -- the more you drink, the more you want. If you drink coffee or iced tea all day long, you are constantly being pumped up by an outside substance, and then deserted once the substance is out of your system. This stress-induced condition occurs when the adrenals -- glands vital to maintaining energy, metabolism, and a strong immune system -- are overworked.
  • Get in the habit of reading the nutrition facts at the grocery store -- before you bring the food into your house.
  • Fourteen super foods: One of the checklists that we use to stock our pantry is the list of the 14 Super Foods created by Dr. Steven Pratt in Super Foods RX: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life (HarperCollins, 2004). They are beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea (green or black), tomatoes, turkey (skinless breast), walnuts, and yogurt. To learn more about why these are super foods, check out the book.
  • Try to buy vegetables and fruits that have vibrant, natural colors, like green (lettuce, spinach, broccoli, asparagus), red (tomatoes, peppers, red lettuce, beets, apples), and orange (peppers, citrus fruits). The more bright colors there are on your plate, the more fresh, non-packaged foods you will have.

As moms we've all experienced exhaustion, mood swings, and joyous chocolate cravings; however, they are taxing to our bodies. To boost your energy, consider the following:

Find natural energy boosters. If you need an energy boost, reach for natural herb teas and green tea instead of coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Green tea has terrific antioxidants and boosts energy levels without leaving you feeling drained. The late afternoon is a good time to have some to get you through dinner and the evening.

Eat breakfast. Make sure your meal includes protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates. Try a few egg whites, a slice of avocado, and a slice of whole grain toast. This meal will fire up your metabolism and get you ready for the day. If you don't have time to coordinate all of that and need a quick fix, choose oatmeal or fruit.

Taking vitamins is a good way to boost your immune system and energy. Next time you have a checkup, ask which vitamins your doctor recommends. Calcium is a must, and vitamins C, E, and B-12 are great. See if your doctor recommends a good, trusted multivitamin. Ask before taking vitamin E. Studies show that the oft-taken dose of 400 milligrams increases risk for hemorrhagic stroke.

H20 is the way to go. Drink your water! Live by it, allow it to cleanse your body and rehydrate you. We often eat when we are actually just thirsty. Next time you want to eat when it isn't time for a snack or meal, drink a glass of water first and see if you feel as hungry. Start your day with a glass of water. Being tired all the time or not having enough energy can be signs of chronic dehydration. How much you drink depends on how active you are. If you're beginning a new workout, consider yourself active. For the amount you should drink, multiply .04 by your weight and then double it; that's how many glasses you should drink per day. Here is an example. Say you weigh 150 pounds: 150 x .04=6 and 6 x 2=12 glasses of water. One basic way to monitor if you are drinking enough water is to watch the color of your urine. When it is clear or light yellow and there is a lot of it, you've had enough to drink; if it's scant and dark yellow, you are most likely dehydrated. If it's too much to figure out the pounds-to-ounces equation, then just go grab a gallon of water and you're well on your way (to better health, and the bathroom several times a day).

Developing energy-boosting habits will help you fit more into your schedule, and will leave you feeling more enthused and passionate about what is possible. You deserve more energy, your new routine and your new life will call for it, and let's face it: When you have more energy, you feel great. You have leftover energy to do things for yourself, to make your workout, to put in time in your home office rather than just collapse in a heap on the couch every free minute you get. Boosting your energy through a series of lifestyle changes will ultimately change your overall attitude for the better.

Excerpted from MOMSTOWN GUIDE TO GETTING IT ALL by Mary Goulet and Heather Reider. Published by Hyperion. Copyright (c) 2005 Mary Goulet-Rendler, Heather Reider. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.