Resolutions

It’s the time of year that we start talking about our new year’s resolution. Last year I resolved to do something new every day, even if it was something small, like going a different way to get to the same place. I can’t say for sure that I followed through every single day, but it is on my mind most days. Change and new experiences really make me feel alive. I’ve certainly done a lot of things differently when it comes to health and food. I get more sleep. I’ve tried many new foods and still try to find something I’ve never eaten before every time I shop. That resolution, to try something new everyday, has graduated to a principle.

This year, I could make the resolution to get back on track with our healthy lifestyle. It wouldn’t be the first time for me and it’s probably the most popular resolution in America. I’ve really loosened up on the food rules too much this holiday season. We’ve been eating too many carbs and sugary foods and not enough fruits and vegetables. That has something to do with traditional holiday fare, but it also has a lot to do with eating seasonal. This time of year starchy root vegetables like carrots and potatoes are plentiful. There are some winter greens available (mostly kale now), but there isn’t much variety here in the winter. So I’m going to go a little unseasonal and take advantage of modern conveniences (i.e. unseasonal vegetables and fruits available at the grocery store) for the winter months. However, getting back on track is a given for me, not really a resolution.

If you do decide to go the “diet” route with your new year’s resolution, I have a few suggestions.

  • Don’t resolve yourself to fad diets like Weight Watchers, Atkins or the Mediterranean Diet. These diets are all really the same –  less food (especially less refined carbs) and more healthy, whole foods. Nothing new there really. Just good common sense. But there’s a lot of marketing and false nutrition information in these and other fad diets. Some of them even peddle their own wares – highly processed food (microwave dinners and energy bars), books, dvds, kits, tools, subscriptions, etc. Instead, do what you probably already know is right for good health and learn the truth about food. I suggest one of these books instead: Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food or The Omnivore’s Deliemma, Nina Planck’s Real Food: What to Eat and Why or The Conscious Kitchen by Alexandra Zissu. You can check them out at the library and it won’t cost you a dime. If, however, you think one of those diets is the only thing that can keep you motivated or get you started, then go for it. But don’t sell yourself short. We all have the strength and will power in us to make healthy choices. But sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and be sure to take baby steps. Don’t try to change everything at once. Relax a little when it comes to food. Eat slowly and savor every bite. Food should be nourishing and satisfying, not just good for you.
  • Consume less food. Caloric intake is the key to losing and maintaining weight. Even if you eat well, you won’t lose any weight if you don’t burn more calories than you consume. Read this story about a college professor who lost weight on a Twinkie diet. Start by really adding up the calories you consume with a calorie journal. There’s really no shortcut here. I don’t like the point system that weight watchers uses, because it isn’t universal and is self promoting. To check the calories in foods without labels you can use TheCalorieCounter.com or NutritionData.com. You can use this Calorie Calculator to find out what your caloric intake should be if you want to maintain, lose a little or lose a lot of weight. But once you’ve done this for a few weeks and realize how quickly calories add up, abandon the journal and just let the calorie counting happen naturally.
  • Avoid  processed food and restaurants (and Twinkies). They’re loaded with empty calories and bad nutrition. A single meal at a restaurant can cap or exceed (sometimes even double) your caloric intake for the day. Eating junk food makes cravings worse. If you don’t believe me, pay attention the next time you eat something as simple as processed cereal for breakfast. You’ll probably find yourself craving a salty or sugary snack before lunch. When you do, just know that it’s the corn flakes talking – and ignore it. Restricting food completely will set you up for failure. Just keep it out of your house. There will still be plenty of junk food elsewhere. As long as it’s not a part of your usual diet, it’s okay to indulge. But don’t underestimate the gratification you’ll feel after saying “No thank you.”
  • Exercise. This is my new year’s resolution. Exercise is a cornerstone of good health, yet I cannot find the motivation to stick with it. I’ve been active – parking as far away from the door as possible, taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, gardening and yard work, chasing and playing with the kids, etc. – which is better than nothing. But it’s time for me to stop making excuses. Busy people find time to exercise and so will I. I’ve always enjoyed yoga because it combines exercise and meditation, so I’ll start with that. And when the weather is nice, maybe I’ll take Izzy or London for a walk. One hour a day. Three or four times a week. That’s my commitment for now. Baby steps…
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About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

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