Introduction to Golf Fitness

October 12, 2010

One of the many things that golf has  given to me is an appreciation for the value of good physical health.  I will leave at this for the personal anecdote:  Prior to golf, the heaviest thing I cared to lift was likely a beer keg.  Thankfully that is no longer the case.

Rather than extol the virtues of good fitness for daily life, I hope to convince the reader that it is incredibly useful in the quest to lower your score.  My goal is not to lay out a workout plan for the average golfer (not possible);  Instead, I will approach this series of posts from the perspective of accomplishing one of a number of goals.  If you should find that one of your goals is mentioned, hopefully you will find the content helpful.  Future posts will include Power, Consistency, Endurance, and Longevity.  This post, however, will focus on the single most important factor for getting into (or maintaining) good golf fitness: Diet.

Diet, like the short game, is the one thing that we actually have a hope of achieving the same level of perfection as the professionals on TV.  Much like the short game, however, whenever we get a chance to work on one thing, it’s never at the top of our list.  I made a conscious effort when beginning my own fitness regimen to take note of the reasons why certain changes in my lifestyle seemed more difficult to make than others.  Diet was one of those that was most difficult.  I didn’t want to eat less than I was used to because that particular change was not one that I was willing to make in my quest to lower my scores.  More importantly,  when I started going to the gym, I became hungrier than I had ever been before!  I realized that the only way for me to make a difference was to change WHAT I was eating.  Truth be told,  when I was fully committed to the diet, I was eating more than I ever had before.  The craziest part of the whole change is that I lost more weight and gained more muscle than I have had at any point in my 20’s.  How is this possible?  Glad you asked.

Before you stop reading,  I’m not peddling a book or a program.  I’m telling you to eat everything your mom told you to eat when you were a kid:  green veggies, fruits, nuts, milk, and lean meat.

Like the other posts in this series, any changes in your diet should be guided by your ultimate goals and your physician.  Think about what it is you want to accomplish.  Do you want to lose weight?  Do you want to hit the ball farther?  Do you want to be able to walk 18 without being winded at 9?  All of these choices will impact your decision.

I personally took my cues from a diet that worked exceptionally well for other members of my family: the Abs Diet.  (Amazon)  The premise of the diet is to change the types of food you eat to maximize the nutritional content of what you consume.  It further recommends consuming a greater quantity of meals during the course of the day and controlling portion size.  What I liked about this particular plan was that it was very flexible (more like suggestions for how to eat well) rather than a strict regimen.  The author appreciates the difficulty of maintaining a diet with a hectic lifestyle and makes simple suggestions for how to maximize your food’s benefit to your body.  He also provides a very simple list of foods that you should attempt to eat on a regular basis (great for restaurants).

Some of the suggestions, however, did not work so well for me.  The amount of milk, for example, that the author suggests was not possible for me to maintain.  As stated before, use your common sense to figure out how a particular diet can work for you.  As far as recommendations go, change your diet only in ways that you can maintain.  Only if you can commit to the changes will you be able to see (and maintain) results.

Regardless of your particular goals, however,  the following suggestions will not lead you in the wrong direction:

1) consult a nutritionist – most are trained in sports nutrition and will be able to help you define and achieve your goals.

2) increase your protein intake – protein shakes aren’t just for the meatheads at the gym.  Try adding protein powder to oatmeal or making a smoothie.  These are simple and tasty ways to increase your protein levels.

3) increase your fiber intake – fiber is incredibly important to weight loss.  Eat more whole grains or whole wheat pasta.

4) decrease fat and sugar – this one is important regardless of your goals.

5) take a multivitamin – maintaining high levels of nutrients and minerals will help maximize the effort your are putting into your diet and exercise plan.

6) enjoy your regimen – this point cannot be made strongly enough.  If you are not enjoying exercise or are feeling terrible because of your diet, make sure you figure out why and fix the problem.  Results will only come if you stay committed long enough to see them, so make sure you are enjoying the journey.  For me, this meant cheating one day a week.  I ate whatever I wanted one day a week just so I could stay committed to the diet.  I eventually got to the point where my new goal was to skip the day off because I felt terrible the next day.  Make sure you feel as though success is possible.

Remember, there will be several posts in this series.  Next up:  Exercising to maximize Consistency.

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