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Nutrition and Exercise: A Primer

photo of young Asian woman selecting produce from a fridgeAlthough ads for products promising rapid weight loss are everywhere, most of these products do not deliver their promises. Any immediate weight loss is often regained in a number of weeks because it was not sustainable weight loss.  Good nutrition and regular exercise are proven ways to stay at a healthy weight. 

What are some tips for improving nutrition?

Eating nutritiously is relatively simple given some creativity and some simple lifestyle changes:

  • Eat regular meals.
  • Start your day off with a good breakfast (like instant oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, granola or whole grain cereal).  Eating breakfast ensures that you will not overeat later in the day.
  • Eat small meals every 3-5 hours.
  • Carry healthy snacks (like granola bars, nuts, or string cheese) with you.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.
  • Eat foods high in calcium including low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheeses, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Include one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables with every meal.  These have lots of nutrients and lots of fiber, which helps you feel full and keep your digestive system running smoothly.
  • Get color into your diet.  A brightly colored fruit or vegetable has more nutrients than their dull-colored counterparts.
  • Check out MyPlate for a personalized food pyramid.  MyPlate is the new version of the Food Guide Pyramid.  On the MyPlate website, you can enter your age, sex, height, weight and activity level. The website will then provide personalized daily food and serving size suggestions. 
  • Read nutrition labels well.
  • Get enough water.  Aim for 48-64 ounces (4-8 cups) per day.
  • Alcohol, espresso drinks, juices, milk, and regular soda pops all have calories in them.  If you're looking for a no-calorie option, try water.
  • Download a nutrition app for your phone or computer to track the nutritional content of what you eat.

What are some tips for getting regular exercise?

Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to lower the risk of many chronic diseases.  However, exercise often falls to the bottom of our list of priorities. The Centers for Disease Control recommends spending a minimum of 30 minutes every day doing moderate-intensity physical activity. Here are some easy ways to fit exercise into your day:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk quickly between classes. You should be breathing more heavily than normal, but should still be able to comfortably carry on a conversation.
  • Park your car further from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier than you typically do and walk the rest of the way.
  • Sign up for a class at the IMA or Experimental College.
  • Wear a pedometer so that you can track your steps. Experts recommend getting 10,000 steps per day. Purchase a pedometer through Hall Health Center's Wellness Resource Center.
  • Purchase an exercise DVD or stream one online.  Watch and practice the exercises on your tape in the comfort of your own home.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep. Lack of adequate sleep has been linked to increased blood pressure, increased blood glucose levels, and puts you at increased risk of obesity.
  • Download a fitness app for your phone or computer to track your exercise and keep you motivated.

Additional resources

At UW-Seattle

Increasing your activity and nutrition levels will help you live a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. If you have any questions about what changes to make in your diet or what exercises should be part of your routine, please schedule an appointment at Hall Health Center

Visit the UW IMA (University of Washington)

Browse Hall Health Center's online health resources.



MyPlate (U.S. Department of Agriculture) (National Food Safety Information Network) (American Dietetic Association) Smart Nutrition Starts Here (National Agricultural Library, USDA) 


Exercise is Medicine™ (American College of Sports Medicine)

Ace Fitness (American Council on Exercise) (American College of Sports Medicine)


Authored by: Hall Health Center Health Promotion staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Sports Medicine Clinic staff (LH), February 2014