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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

I’m not an athlete. Well, I’m not an athlete anymore, but if you had known me in high school. Like a lot of young men, I thought those high-metabolism days would last forever. Then I turned 40. Just because I’m not hitting the tennis court regularly doesn’t mean I’m content sitting around allowing extra calories to cling to me one holiday after another. The comic Steven Wright summarized my discontent pretty succinctly when he said, While some people are afraid of heights, I’m afraid of widths.

It’s my body, and I want it to stick around for a long time while functioning fairly smoothly in the process. I don’t think I’m asking too much, do you? The big trend these days seems to preach a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein. I like a steak as much as the next carnivore, but every day? Are we having steak and eggs for breakfast? Or perhaps we’ll have a steak and cheese hoagie for lunch? No thanks! That just seems excessive to me – probably because it is excessive.

5 Pro Tips about Protein – Without a Shake in Sight
Access to protein really isn’t a problem for me, nor most other Americans. In fact, if I eat what most restaurants consider a serving I’ll end up with more than enough protein for one day and too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing at all. On the other hand, as I continue building up my fitness level and replacing fat with muscle, I will need more protein. The kind of protein I’m reaching for that makes a big difference in how I feel. This isn’t a guarded secret or anything, when your body is functioning efficiently you can’t help but glow and feel great.

I prefer fresh fruits, vegetables, and pretty much anything else I put into my body are not foods that are processed, canned, or bogged down with artificial preservatives, dyes, and flavors. A protein shake could give my body what it needs but it would give it a lot of things I don’t need too, and besides, the flavor isn’t to my liking. I’d rather make my own from fresh berries, a banana, honey, and yogurt. It’s delicious! Here are some other ways to get the most out of the protein that goes into your body.

It’s All Greek to me – Not all yogurts are created equal. In fact, some are packed with more sugar than nutritive value. It’s well worth reading the label and to know what you’re buying. My teenage sons have actually started using the phrase, “Go Greek or go home.” Aside from enjoying a happier, healthier intestinal tract, you’ll also consume half the calories and twice the protein compared to traditional yogurt.

Skip the Shake, But Not the Powder – Protein powder does have its merits, and while I hate it in shake form, I absolutely love it added to waffles, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, or even birthday cake. It’s a great way to sneak extra protein into normal foods, making my guilty pleasures more pleasure than guilt. Be sure to use a flavor that compliments the dish. For instance, when baking I like vanilla because it rounds out the other ingredients.

Eggs, Not Just For Easter – People hear “eggs” and think “cholesterol” all too often. Eggs do possess some cholesterol, it’s true. But there’s a such thing as good cholesterol. Eggs, those unassuming ovals, possess nothing but the good stuff, so crack one open and enjoy that golden treasure for all it’s worth. If you’re still unwilling to eat the yolks, egg whites are still an excellent source of protein, and with a little pepper for flavor they’re delicious.

Go Nuts with Your Salad – Adding a handful of unsalted nuts, dried or fresh fruits, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, hard-boiled eggs, or slices of grilled chicken to a bed of mixed greens can take a salad from pale to potent. Experiment with adding proteins to your salad, boosting the flavor with fresh ingredients instead of heavy dressings filled with empty calories. My favorite includes sprouts, chick peas, raisins and raspberry vinaigrette. Yummy!

Lean is Great but Fish is Better – If your main source of protein must come from meat, make sure it’s something lean, like chicken or turkey. Lean meats are fantastic for getting protein into your diet but can sometimes take a while to digest, taking precious energy away from your muscles and focusing it into your belly. Often after a steak dinner I feel a sense of lethargy and fatigue compared to an energy boost. Fish, on the other hand, is a fantastic source of protein and is an extremely healthy addition to one’s diet. A six ounce serving of tuna is packed with about 40 grams of protein, and depending on its quality, this versatile fish can be baked or eaten raw.

I don’t really remember which came first for me upon turning 40, the diet or the exercise. I just know that when I noticed one factor starting to pay off, then I started taking the other more seriously. Exercise I could feel the next day, but slow progress is hard to measure in the mirror and can be frustrating.

My family researched plenty of treadmill reviews, including ones for Precor treadmills. We finally settled on one that fit not only our budget, but our various, individual needs. The addition of a treadmill in my home really keeps my family on track with our goal of leading a healthier lifestyle.

We’ve found that it’s more difficult to skip workouts after a snack of fresh fruits and veggies, or a dinner of grilled salmon. Besides, the variety of programs offered by our Precor treadmill adds spice to our workout routines and keeps them from becoming too bland. If spice is good for a salad, then it’s also good for a cardio workout.

About the Author
Freelance writer Jason Munroe is always on the lookout for ways to keep his family fit and healthy. His current project is a series of articles on the topic of Yowza treadmills and all the benefits they provide for families trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Along with his wife and two teenage sons, when not working, Jason enjoys traveling, playing board games, and attending live music events.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to stay healthy.

Image courtesy of rbbaird via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.