Getting into spring shape the healthy way

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Terragon, tomato and bean salad with grilled salmon sided by a green smoothie made with spinach, kale, lime, almond milk and blueberry pomegranate juice is a favorite meal of Dr. Kantor. Meals like these are a healthy choice for students during the spring. (Photo courtesy of Ari Davis.)
Terragon, tomato and bean salad with grilled salmon sided by a green smoothie made with spinach, kale, lime, almond milk and blueberry pomegranate juice is a favorite meal of Dr. Kantor. Meals like these are a healthy choice for students during the spring. (Photo courtesy of Ari Davis.)

Veggies, fruits, proteins, water and sleep. Those are the good guys; they battle with the bad guys, salt and sugar.

The characters in Keith Kantor’s new book, “The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice” may seem a little odd, but the message is one worth noting. With spring right around the corner, people are especially aware of their health and fitness levels, and many are searching for ways to shed the extra winter layer and get into shape before warmer days arrive.

According to Kantor, CEO of Green Box Foods, when it comes to dieting, many people go about it all wrong.

“When people rush to lose weight or get in quick shape for a trip or event, they end up cutting their calories too low and increasing their activity excessively,” said Kantor, who has a master’s degree and Ph.D. in nutritional science. “This ultimately results in a poor metabolism, meaning the amount of calories your body burns at rest decreases, resulting in weight gain.”

Not only that, but the chronic stress put on the body during intense dieting can damage the thyroid and adrenal glands, making it more difficult to burn calories and get in shape.

To prepare for spring the healthy way, Kantor recommends eating a balanced diet that is not drastically low in calories along with daily activity incorporating a variety of intensity levels.

“All three components of fitness should be used,” Kantor said, “including strength training, cardiovascular exercise and flexibility work.”

As for what to eat, avoid things marked specifically as diet foods because they tend to contain preservatives even if they are low in calorie and fat. The chemicals in these foods can harm the body’s metabolism and make it harder to lose weight in the long run.

“Instead, focus on eating a diet rich in vegetables, some fruits, healthy fat from nuts, seeds, avocados and high-quality protein sources like wild fish and all-natural poultry and meat,” Kantor said. “Those are the best things for getting back in shape.”

Many students think eating a healthy, well-rounded diet means breaking the bank, but exercise and wellness major Michele Murphy has found a simple way to eat right on a tight college budget.

“I like to take advantage of fruits and vegetables that are in season,” Murphy said. “Produce that’s in season usually goes on sale because of its high availability.”

For some seasonal spring staples, try adding things like arugula, rhubarb and sprouts to the shopping cart, as all contain high amounts of vitamins and detoxifying properties while remaining low in calories.

In addition to sticking to seasonal produce, Kantor suggests buying foods in bulk and splitting the cost among several friends. This way, everyone can still get the “bulk” price without having to have an extra freezer to store the food in the limited space of a college dorm or apartment.

“I go grocery shopping with my roommates all the time,” said Camille Green, a BYU soccer player and exercise science major. “It keeps the prices reasonable, and it’s good because we can buy lots of fresh and healthy foods without having to worry about them going bad before we get a chance to eat them.”

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