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8 Rules We Can Learn From the Greek Diet and Lifestyle

8 Rules We Can Learn From the Greek Diet and Lifestyle

The Greeks have given the world many gifts, ranging from politics to science as well as architecture. The Greeks have been drivers of so many important fields that are still so relevant today. While all of those things are wonderful in their own respect, let’s put Aristotle aside for a second and discuss Greek food.

Greek food belongs to the now-popular Mediterranean diet. The Greek diet emphasizes nutrition and lifestyle changes, such as engaging in physical activity, eating meals in social situations, and eating a wide range of foods. Many have studied the effects of a Mediterranean diet, leading the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to endorse it in their 2015 Scientific Report.

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Since the Greek diet exemplifies many different aspects of the Mediterranean diet, it got me thinking about the 8 things that we can learn and appreciate from the Grecian lifestyle and diet.

1. Eat meals in social settings and gatherings

There was a reason that My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Mamma Mia became such cultural sensations. Who could resist the Greek approach to food in these movies? Though I have only been to Greece once, what I most remember from my time there is how social their meals really were. Wandering through small towns, it was so common to see large groups of people coming together to enjoy their meals each and every day.

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2. Enjoy red wine (in moderation!)

The Greeks are really onto something here. Red wine is rich with phytonutrients, which support a range of cardiovascular and cognitive benefits. Several studies have shown that moderate consumption has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. If you are already enjoying wine in your diet, know that a small glass a few times a week is doing good things for your overall health.

3. Eat a variety of foods

Try to eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables! The Greek diet also emphasizes protein from fish, eggs, and poultry as well as legumes. For carbohydrates, choose whole grain options like bulgur, quinoa, and barley. Get your healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds. Switching to these foods have been shown to have significant health effects.

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4. Get your probiotics

Don’t forget about the gut-promoting probiotics that is found in yogurt and cultured vegetables. Additionally, making the switch to Greek yogurt will not only ensure you get your probiotics, but also guarantee that you get an extra boost of protein in your diet.

5. Embrace healthy fats

Healthy fats help you look your best by promoting healthy hair, skin, and nail. Additionally, healthy fats support heart health. A recent study showed that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts significantly reduced the risk of combined heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease in people at risk for heart health problems by about 30%.

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6. Slow down and appreciate your meals

We are all on the go these days, and it directly impacts how we eat. We scarf down breakfast on our morning commute, eat lunch at our computers, and then collapse on the couch to eat dinner in front of the TV. I totally struggle to take a break from my computer and enjoy my lunch at work. However, this is so important. Paying attention to what you eat will help keep you from mindfully noshing on that bag of potato chips.

7. Engage in moderate physical activity

A morning run or evening walk are common place in Greece and in the Mediterranean in general. I mean, Greece was the birthplace of the Olympics after all! It isn’t too difficult for people in this region to reach the 150 minutes of recommended physical activity. While 150 minutes of cardio or resistance training per week may seem overwhelming at first, it breaks down to 30 minutes five times per week. Does 30 minutes seem like to much of a commitment? No worries. A variety of studies have shown that even 5 or 10 minutes have positive effects on health and cardiovascular risk.

8. Have a healthy relationship with food

It seems like everywhere you turn, there are negative discussions about food, leading to fear and anxiety being associated with food. It doesn’t help that fad diets distract us from fully developing a healthy relationship with food, but that is what’s so great with a Greek approach to food. A Mediterranean diet isn’t just another fad diet that forbids various food groups or encourages consumption of specific foods. Gluten-free or acai berry diets, anyone? Rather, the Mediterranean diet is holistic lifestyle that encourages a healthy relationship with food.

In this case, it really is “all Greek to me” is the way to go. Embrace the Greek approach to food and you will be on your way to a more healthful life.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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