Vail Daily health column: How important is nutrition to your health and fitness? |

Vail Daily health column: How important is nutrition to your health and fitness?

There is an old adage in the fitness industry — you can’t out exercise poor nutrition.

This has become increasingly true as the food industry has created highly addictive, nutritionally-void foods. People looking for optimal health and vitality must be careful not to fall into the trappings that lead to lethargy, chronic illness and weight gain.

Regarding weight management, it is estimated that 75 percent of the equation is really about food intake. It becomes very easy to over-consume, especially with the habit-forming foods that flood most grocery stores and restaurants. These foods are non-satiating and are designed to create over-consumption and with high frequency! We all know that feeling: You eat something sugary and keep eating it until the bag is empty. You feel sick, listless and guilty, then several hours later, you’re hungry again. This is a cycle for many people. This chain of actions is at the root of the chronic disease and obesity epidemics in America.

The Vail Valley does not have the high percentage of obesity that is typical in the rest of the country. Our population is health conscious and interested in how they improve their nutrition. Goals range from better athletic performance to having increased energy. Working to consistently improve your nutrition is the number one thing you can do to achieve your health goals.

To improve your nutrition, it’s important to identify and understand the foods humans are designed to consume. Protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats that come from natural sources are designed to fuel the human body and repair cells and tissue. These natural foods don’t create addictive tendencies, and they have fiber and nutrients that trigger our natural leptin hormone response to indicate to our brains that we are full. These foods have a high satiety factor and release glucose into the blood stream at a controlled rate. If people eat like this consistently, the extra weight tends to fall off and nearly every measure of health and quality of life improves.


When I start working with a client, we discuss their nutrition regimen. I begin by helping them recognize true foods that their body will understand as well as non-foods that produce inflammatory responses, cravings, energy crashes and weight gain. I teach them that making healthy meals is not about deprivation. I help them create meals that are delicious and satisfying, and I teach them techniques to overcome cravings and habits.

Almost always, clients see dramatically positive effects. Better sleep, clearer eyes, improved mental acuity, elevated athletic performance and, yes, significant weight loss are the primary results.

A cycling client of mine, Dr. Russell Hirsch, followed a clean eating protocol that was designed to help him lose weight and support his cycling goals. He dropped 22 pounds of body fat while improving his power output on the bike.

“I am a completely different rider than I used to be,” he said. “This has been powerful for every aspect of my life. I don’t crave the little bites of this and that, which were impeding my health. I sleep much sounder now, and I don’t take in foods that create this cascade of unhealthy events in my body.”

I have other clients whose goals might not be about athletic endeavors but who want to feel healthy. This can alleviate flare ups for clients with autoimmune diseases or improve parameters for clients with cardiovascular issues.

We have created a powerful 30-day nutritional program at Dogma Athletica, and during the past year, we have offered it five times. The average fat loss for male participants was 17 pounds and for female participants, 12 pounds. This program comes with strategic information to help understand the food industry, how to alleviate cravings and how to eat consistently in a way that leads to a healthier body and mind. Many participants have had significant improvements in their blood values with their doctor after completing the program.

The next Dogma Athletica 30 Day Lean Out Nutritional Plan begins Wednesday. The program comes with complete shopping lists, menus and recipes, body composition tests, informational meetings, strategic workout plans and a 30-day membership to Dogma Athletica. To reserve a spot, call 970-688-4433 or email elenak

Rod Connolly is an exercise physiologist, cycling coach and owner of Dogma Athletica, a comprehensive fitness center located in Edwards. Visit for more information.

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