12 Months of Wellness: April

This is the fourth in a series by Brawlstar skater Just Wingett, continuing each month of 2016 here in the A2D2 blog.

Many of us set lofty New Year's resolutions that are forgotten by March. This year, I'm hoping to change that by taking on a different health challenge every month in a series I'm calling "12 Months of Wellness." The health challenges can be cumulative, so that you continue doing the challenge from month one into month two, and months one and two into month three, or you can just focus on each different challenge as it comes along. Either way, I welcome you to join me for a healthier year! In this fourth part of the series, I will be focusing on cooking at home versus eating out.

Image via The New York Times. Learn more in the story, "Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?".

Taking Out the Take-Out

I’m a busy person. I skate for a competitive WFTDA charter team, I co-train our home team, I’m the head of PR and marketing for my league, and that’s only the derby stuff. Add in off skates training, work, school, and a social life, and there’s barely time to breathe, let alone cook. The last few months I’ve been reaching for the take out menu a little too often, despite the fact that I never feel great afterwards.

The average American eats out 4-5 times a week. Generally, I try to be a healthy person, but lately I’ve felt more like the average American. It’s been taking a toll on my health AND my wallet. So join me this month as I take out the take-out! For me, this means I am going to cut back to eating out once a week. For you it might mean cutting back from eating out every day to three times a week, or eating out once a month. Choose a goal that works for you, but challenge yourself to eat healthier, save money, and improve your game!

How Does Eating Out Affect Your Game

The general rule for healthy eating is to choose foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories. Restaurant foods tend to be the exact opposite of this rule. They have more sugar, sodium, and unhealthy trans fats, and contain less water, fiber, and vitamins. Healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, are naturally full of vitamins, water, and fiber. The excess sodium in restaurant foods coupled with the lack of water can lead to dehydration if you’re only eating prepared foods. Even mild dehydration can cause detrimental effects on athletes, as I talked about in the first monthly challenge.

In addition, the lack of necessary nutrients in take-out foods can cause your body to crave more food to get those nutrients, and you may get hungry faster than if you were eating healthy, home cooked meals. Since prepared foods also tend to be higher in calories than what you would make at home, this can lead to weight gain and lethargy, making working out more difficult. The bottom line is eating fast food and take-out all the time will likely end up leaving you dehydrated, feeling crappy, and not living up to your roller derby potential.

Saving Money

Roller derby can be expensive, and so can eating out! If I had to choose between playing roller derby and eating out, you would never see me with a take-out menu again. Luckily, I don’t have to make that choice, but reducing my take-out habit will help me save up for skating equipment, workshops, traveling for bouts, and all the other derby spending I do.

The average prepared meal costs $13, while a meal cooked at home costs around $4. Packing lunch instead of buying it saves an average of $2000 a year for American workers, enough to fund my derby addiction for the whole year. If you want to save even more while cooking at home, check out Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown, a great free ebook with recipes designed to eat a day’s worth of food for under $4 a day.

Armed with all these reasons to step up your cooking, I hope you’ll join me for this month’s challenge!

Just Wingett is not a doctor, but she is passionate about healthy living and how it relates to roller derby.

Posted on April 6, 2016 .