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Dr. Frank Taddeo

Your New Year’s Guide to Diet and Exercise

February 08, 2023 Posted in: Health & Wellness


Want to start a workout routine but don’t know how? Frank Taddeo, MD, primary care sports medicine physician at CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group in Lexington — and competitive body builder — is here to help.

Benefits of Diet and Exercise

“There are a slew of things that can be significantly improved by diet and exercise,” Dr. Taddeo said. “The biggest benefit is that they decrease overall mortality risk.”

Improving your diet and exercising also:

  • Boosts brain health and keep your brain sharp
  • Decreases feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Improves strength and endurance
  • Reduces your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers
  • Strengthens your bonesSupports your immune system

Carve Time for Cardio

When planning your workout routine, Dr. Taddeo recommends keeping weekly goals in mind. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular activity, or a combination of the two every week.

“Your exercise sessions can be broken up to best fit your schedule,” Dr. Taddeo said. “Some people prefer 10 minutes a few times a day, and some people like to do 30 minutes all at once.”

Cardiovascular activity is anything that gets your heart pumping, such as running, cycling, dancing and walking. Pick an activity you like, and if it gets you into a target heart rate for your age, you’re good to go. Your primary care provider can help you determine your target heart rate.

Strengthen Your Muscles

Strength training includes lifting weights and body weight exercises. Fit at least two days of strength training into your workout schedule, resting no more than two days in a row. However, rest doesn’t mean doing nothing.

“On active recovery days, keep yourself moving instead of sitting on the couch,” Dr. Taddeo said. “Maybe you’re not running a mile or two, but you’re taking your dog for a walk or throwing a Frisbee around at the park.”

Clean Up Your Diet

Although the “right” diet varies from person to person, keep these points in mind when planning a healthy diet:

  • Avoid foods with added sugars, sodium, and saturated and trans fats.
  • Focus on lean sources of protein, such as poultry, seafood, beans and lentils.
  • Make fruits and vegetables the foundation of every meal.
  • Opt for fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Switch out refined grains, such as white rice and pasta, for whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

Avoid These 5 Motivation Breakers

The stresses of daily life can make it hard to stay on track. Dr. Taddeo suggests avoiding these motivation breakers:

1. Unrealistic goals. “This is the No. 1 way to break motivation,” Dr. Taddeo said. “No one is going to lose 10 pounds in a week.” Instead, set smaller, realistic goals, such as making it your mission to go to the gym five times this week.

2. Doing too much, too soon. It’s natural to feel excited about a new routine, but pace yourself. Exercising too intensely or for too long at the start can lead to burnout and injury. Instead, build up slowly and make changes based on your improving strength and endurance.

3. Social media. “Stay off social media,” Dr. Taddeo said. “Comparison is the great thief of joy, and you can lose motivation when comparing yourself to others. Those people use Photoshop or other things that make them look that way.” Also, everybody’s genetics are different, and not everyone responds to dietary and exercise changes the same way.

4. Social pressure and family traditions. Your mom makes a delicious casserole every Sunday, but it no longer fits into your diet plan. That’s OK. You don’t have to avoid family dinners and other gatherings. Occasional splurges are fine, as long as you don’t have them every day.

5. Travel. Whether for vacation or work, travel can be tricky. Dr. Taddeo recommends planning ahead to stay on track. Most hotels have gyms, which allow you to maintain your exercise routine. You can also exercise in your room and go for walks. Before eating out, review the menu and know what healthier options are available.

If you need more help with healthy lifestyle changes, make an appointment with your primary care provider or find a provider today.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2023 print edition of Spirit of Health.

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