5 Expert Tips to Help Any Woman Lead a Healthier Life

Diet, fitness and sleep advice from a top dietitian

When it comes to health and fitness, it seems you can never have enough information from the experts. Good health information can be hard to come by, so in honor of National Women’s Health & Fitness Day, which is taking place on Sept. 30 this year, we turned to diet and fitness expert Elle Penner. A registered dietitian and head of the nutrition department at MyFitnessPal, Penner shared her top tips on diet, fitness and fitting in some much-needed sleep.

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1. Ditch fad diets for good. Chances are at some point, one of your girlfriends told you about some crazy diet, detox or cleanse she did to quickly drop a few pounds. While the promise of rapid weight loss might be enticing, fad diets do little more than leave you feeling both hungry (or worse, hangry) and deprived, an unpleasant combination that is by no means sustainable for any amount of time. Rather than spending day after day resisting temptation, focus your energy on eating a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats and, of course, occasional treats. You'll find this to be much more pleasant and something you can sustain in the long run.

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2. Turn sweat sessions into a social outing. Sweating it out at the gym day after day can be a total bore, even for those of us who are perfectly happy watching 30 minutes of trash tv on the elliptical machine. Break up the routine by scheduling at least one workout with your girfriend(s) each week for a little good-for-you girl-time.  

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3. Eat one iron-rich food every day. Women are more susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia which can leave you feeling sluggish, weak, and easily fatigued, especially young or very active women. Incorporating iron-rich foods into your diet on a regular basis is an easy way to prevent this common nutrient deficiency. Some of the best sources include meats and fish (particularly lean beef), beans, lentils and fortified grains like breakfast cereals.

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4. Cook a new meal each week. On top of saving you money, cooking at home can be a great way to relax, spend time with the family and eat more nutritiously. In fact, we’ve found that on days MyFitnessPal users didn’t cook and log a recipe, they were more than six times more likely to go over their calorie, carbohydrate, fat and sugar goals and seven times more likely to go over their sodium goals. Mastering just one new dish every week can make learning how to cook less daunting and be an easy way to incorporate more healthful meals into your diet. 

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5. Stick to a sleep schedule. Not sleeping enough not only leaves you feeling tired and irritable, it messes with your hunger hormones too. Not sleeping enough has been shown to increase levels of ghrelin, your body’s hunger hormone, and decrease levels of leptin, an important appetite suppression hormone, making it all too easy to overeat in a sleep deprived state.  To minimize sleep-deprived snacking, make sure you're getting at least 7-8 hours per night most nights of the week. 

More Reading:
Surprising Facts All Women Need to Know About their Health
Why Are Women Going Commando at the Gym?
This Woman Will Completely Change the Way You Think About Weight Loss

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