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Guest opinion by Gina Cousineau

In the sports world, we clearly understand that without a good defense, games will be lost. As a nutrition professional and sports enthusiast, I often use this concept to motivate clients on their health journey.

As we move into the new year, resolutions and proclamations abound, most with the goal of modifying one’s weight and improving their health. But why should the results of 2022 be any different than in years past? Below, I will outline my game plan, starting with using real, wholesome food as our first “defense” against all that ails us.

The issue we run into with our desire to make change is wanting the end result quickly and easily. Just like with your favorite sports team, every single game matters to actually get to the “big game.” So, I appeal to your desire to win, aka achieve your goals for good, and consider employing a good defense with food leading the way.

And when I speak of food, I am not talking about a punitive and restrictive diet that eliminates major food groups. I’m talking about eating a variety of foods, finding exciting ways to prepare them, and really understanding the value of eating a mostly plant-based diet.

Such meals should include lean protein and healthy fat mixed in, which can allow you to extend your life and limit your risk of lifestyle diseases that are the leading cause of death in this country.

In 2022, food choices are limitless, not only in terms of getting what we desire, but getting them at any time of day or night. This poses a risk to all of us with over-consuming calories, and the fact is, whether you want to believe it or not, calories count.

Choosing foods as close to how they were grown/raised will always be the best choice, as this allows us to limit the addition of excess salt, sugar and fat, which are most typical of more processed foods that are easily consumed, are highly palatable, but have less nutrition, causing us to over-eat calories.

The old adage, “You can’t eat just one Lay’s potato chip,” should resonate with many of you who understand the inability to be satisfied with these options.

With the ability to get information with the stroke of a keyboard, I encourage you to do your research that is based on science and evidence, looking to health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Kidney Association, Colon Cancer Foundation, and the International Osteoporosis Foundation, which all share the same defensive strategy I am speaking about.

No need to look for the latest pills, potions, or crazy diets, as these represent a temporary solution to weight loss and will not allow you to get to the big game of life, which should be to increase your lifespan and decrease years of disability.

Here is the game plan I suggest:

  • Get enough sleep (experts recommend 7-8 hours a day).
  • Stay hydrated (drink a water-based beverage with every meal/snack).
  • Start a walking program (work up to 150 minutes/week).
  • Reduce stress.
  • Socialize.
  • And eat a wide variety of foods, mostly plants, with lean protein, nonfat/lowfat dairy (or other foods rich in calcium/protein), and healthy fats mixed in.

Start slowly, choose one task to practice, and allow that to become part of a healthy routine, then add another.

Defense does win championships. And in the game of life, having a strategy that incorporates all of these items should be the ultimate goal for living that long, healthy independent life we all desire.

Gina Cousineau sees clients virtually and in person out of her San Clemente office. Her extensive education—a BS in dietetics and MS in integrative and functional nutrition—chef training, and 30-plus years as a fitness professional allow her to help clients lose weight and improve their health. You can reach her at mamag@mamagslifestyle.com, 949.842.9975, and on Instagram and Facebook @mamagslifestyle. Register for her complimentary weekly newsletter at mamagslifestyle.com.

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