I just got my acceptance letter in the mail.

Starting next month, I’m going to be a holistic nutrition student. A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was studying towards my Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (athletic trainer). This is the other half of the education I’m pursuing.

As far as fitness and general health go, nutrition is highly underestimated. Our bodies are complex machines. What we get out of them is directly proportionate to the quality of fuel that we feed it. Nutrition affects everything from our moods to our life expectancies. It’s amazing that we don’t always make that link.

Eating is not as simple as it used to be. Now that the food industry has realized that consumers are growing more health-conscious, we are bombarded with products that scream LOW FAT! O TRANS FAT! LIGHT! Unfortunately, few really understand what it all means. Labels can be hard to read. Ingredients can be complicated. Mass confusion ensues. Sometimes the products that brag the loudest are actually the worst. (There’s an interesting article in this month’s Toronto Life about this.)

I’m big on making good health more accessible, and this program is an important part of that. In one year I’ll be a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. The focus is on natural nutrition, so the connection between mind, body and spirit will be part of what I study. I believe that our mental and spiritual wellbeing affect our physical health. I see it all the time. Also included in my program are courses in anatomy, physiology, bio-chemistry and cellular biology.

My favourite holistic nutritionist is Julie Daniluk, the nutritional consultant at The Big Carrot. You may also recognize her as the co-host of Healthy Gourmet or the author of Meals That Heal Inflammation. Back when I was working as Assistant Editor at Vitality Magazine, I had the pleasure of editing many of her articles. The best one, in my opinion, ran in March of 2009: Dine Well on a Shoestring. It’s all about saving money while shopping healthy. It achieves a level of practicality that may have you bookmarking it for future reference.

If you want to read a great food magazine, visit Spezzatino. Not only is it relevant and well written, but all proceeds go directly to the Healthy Food Bank.

Another online resource that I love to check is twofoods.com. It gives you the nutritional information of any raw ingredient that doesn’t normally come with a nutrition label. So you can compare a banana to an apple. Or butter vs margarine. Anything you can think of, it’s there. It even covers brand names and restaurant/fast food chains. Which is healthier, a Tim Hortons chili or a Wendy’s chili? Starbucks or Second Cup? Twofoods will break it down. The first time I found this site I played with it for hours.

In my training, I managed to reduce my recovery period from 2-3 days to 0. Because of what I eat, I have yet to feel sore despite intense daily workouts. And my progress has tripled. My trainer asked me last week if I was faking my first workouts because she has never seen anyone progress this quickly. But then again, I’ve never eaten this way before.

I’m taking this program because I’d like to help others experience the same benefits I have. There are no secrets. There is only knowledge. And with good nutritional knowledge, you’re set for life.

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