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Get Fit Installment #4: Nutritional Focus

Posted Oct 15, 2013

For those who have joined the UnitedHealthcare Get Fit! initiative, fitness-minded Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson provides advice on sticking to the nutritional aspect of the program

[Editor's Note: Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson is part of a rotating panel of Buccaneer experts who will be providing advice all season to those who have taken the UnitedHealthcare Get Fit! Pledge. In the fourth of our weekly installments, Watson emphasizes the importance of proper nutrition in any fitness program and provides some pointers to help stick with a dietary plan.]

Over the last three weeks, some guys I see every day here at One Buc Place have helped you get started on your fitness program.  I think they've given you excellent advice, and if you've followed it you are well into this program, you're committed to it, and now you're trying to get some results.  Right?  We want to see some results!

I'm a football player and I'm in the weight room three, four, five times a week, so I know what you're expecting to hear from me.  You probably think I'm going to push you to work harder or run farther or lift more weights.  But that's not what I want to talk to you about.  I want to focus on nutrition.

I think what everyone needs to understand is that nutrition is probably 70% of the whole effort when it comes to working out and getting your body into the shape you want it to be in.  Without that, it's pretty much not going to happen.  A lot of people think they can just go to gym and work, work, work, work, work, and they're going to come out being "swole."  They'll say, "My stomach needs work; I'm going to do some work on my abs," and things like that.  But the key is what you do at home.  What are your eating habits when you're at home?  You can't go to the gym and get in a good workout and then come home and eat a whole pizza.

-- LB Dekoda Watson believes nutrition to be the 70% of the effort to get in shape
Like the guys before me have said, you need to have a plan.  What's important is not only what you eat, but how often you eat it.  My suggestion: Don't eat just three meals a day.  Plan out four or five meals, because you want to get your metabolism burning.  Depending on how often you're working out, you can possibly even go up to six meals.  Now, when I say that, I don't mean six full-fledged dinners.  You need to have some kind of small meals in between your breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the best options are proteins or fruits.  Think of these as snacks.  When you get into a routine like this, you may feel like you're eating more than before, but I'm telling you it works.  It really helps your body react.

I honestly think most people don't understand this: You need to eat more often, and you need to eat healthy.  You can work your butt off all day every day, but if you're not eating the right way, it's really for nothing.  Once you get your body into a regular state of mind, so to speak, where it just continues to burn energy and fat, then you'll really see results from your workouts.  When you work out, you're burning a lot of fat already, and that gets your metabolism working.  Keep it working by eating right, and eating at the right times, and you will get results.  I'm a personal witness that it works.

Of course, I know that people are busy and you can't be whipping up a new meal every few hours.  Personally, I'm really lazy when it comes to cooking, but I get around it by getting stuff ready ahead of time.  You can go to Publix and get a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cook it all up at the beginning of the week and have it ready to heat up at a moment's notice.  If you don't want to go to the trouble to have chicken or fish for one of your in-between meals, fruits are pretty good.  If you want protein – which is a great choice because it's going to feed your muscles – it can be something as simple as a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich.

Speaking of grocery shopping, the best way to approach that is to shop on the outer edges of the store.  That's where they're cutting the meat, where the fresh produce is, where the fresh-baked bread can be found.  It's the middle aisles where you're going to find a lot of the artificial stuff.  As much as you can, try to keep your food pure and avoid the additives and the artificial colors and so on.

Then, when you get home from the store, get some of your proteins and your snacks ready ahead of time and be ready to stick with your plan throughout the week.  I can't stress this enough, and I hope it really helps you make the most of your program: Nutrition is the key when it comes to getting your body right.  Good luck and I'll talk to you again in a couple weeks.

- Dekoda Watson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker