Continuing on our journey of seeking health and wellness, digging deep to find motivation, we take on the task of “everything in moderation”. Note, this is part II of the series so scroll down if you missed part I.
How do you eat an elephant? The answer is…one bite at a time. Making a move toward living well can be a daunting prospect. I think the quickest way to derail your effort is to think it’s an “all or nothing” deal. You don’t have to make every change on the first day that you decide to live well. I find that it’s easier to make small changes over time, and before you know it, you’ll have made lots of changes.
- One example is your eating. If you’ve been a group of cheese worshipers and vegetable novices, you might benefit from easing into a new way of eating. Instead of trying to choke down a wide variety of food that is foreign to you and your loved ones, start small. Instead of macaroni and cheese, try steamed broccoli or cauliflower and cheese sauce. It’s yummy! Each vegetable can be introduced this way if you need to convert even the pickiest eaters from age 2 to 82. Each time you have it, try backing off on the sauce a little at a time. Turkey bacon can make string beans a tasty side dish as well. Your ultimate goal will be to eventually appreciate a vegetable for tasting like a vegetable, but you have to start somewhere. Even if you do like veggies on their own, there is nothing wrong with changing it up once in a while. Life is too short to eat something the same way every time.
Making a big production out of trying a new food tends to backfire on me. I tend to just tell the family what’s for dinner and why it’s good for them (it’s a Super food, new lean meat, different kind of grain). We don’t bribe them to try it. That just makes them think it must be awful. I try very hard to make it tasty so that first “chew and swallow” is a successful one. I don’t heap a huge amount on the plate. I start off with just a spoonful and encourage them to start with that. Some things have been huge hits and others have been duds. They won’t like everything, but they will at least try everything.
Remember to have something that is “forbidden”. The reality is that nothing is forbidden. You can have whatever you want…just watch how much and how often you have it. It never fails. All you have to do is tell me that I am not allowed to eat something and I crumble. Instantly I will have a craving and obsess about it. Maybe you are not as weak as I am- that makes you lucky! I now know that I won’t implode if I have 3 potato chips. The old me would say “another potato chip will never cross my lips!” I could keep this charade up for a time, but a bowl of chips would materialize at a party and I became very unsure of the term “never”. I’d position myself near the snack table and have a few, feel guilty, have a few more and then I was licking chip crumbs off my fingers and looking at the empty bowl. If I just had let myself have a couple of chips at some point, I probably would’ve been able to resist the pull of the bowl. I was thinking that I would never see a chip again so I just threw in the towel. You can eat just 1…or 5. This is life. Bowls of potato chips will not fall off the face of the earth. You will see them so make sure you snack mindfully and that it is something that you really want at the moment. Put a few on your napkin and walk away. Of course, this is what works for my family. I let my kids have a sweets or treats from time to time. We don’t make a big deal about it. They can fully enjoy something without stuffing their cheeks like chipmunks. Only you know what works for your life. What will keep you from stuffing your cheeks like a chipmunk?
If you can’t bring yourself to make your entire meal healthy, something is always better than nothing. Be sure to visit the posts on healthy food choices. If you haven’t been able to make the change to whole grain pasta, wait until you are used to the grilled chicken vs. chicken fingers and the carrots vs. fries. Perfection is highly over-rated in my book. This helps me sleep at night. This is my truth only because I can never achieve perfection and I’m good with that. Remember that your goal is to live well so try to make choices that get you there. It’s a journey worth taking. You are trying to make changes that last a lifetime so it should take some time.
- Another issue is exercise and activity. Again, we know that being active on most days of the week is ideal. If you have been a couch jockey for a good number of years, it may not be realistic to think you’re going to be hitting the gym 6 days a week to start. Set small goals to be more active than you have been. Start with 10 minutes a day. Make it 15 minutes the next week. If that was easy, go for your three 10 minute chunks a day. Even if you’ve been somewhat active recently, it wouldn’t be such a good idea to go bananas with your workouts right away. Wherever you are in terms of fitness…bump it up a bit! A sure fire way to kill a workout regimen is to over-do it. I have been known to return to a kickboxing class that I have abandoned for a while. I thought I would just do the class without doing any of the suggested low-impact modifications (options that require no jumping), using the heaviest hand-weights (we could use them if we wanted a challenge), and paying no attention to letting my heart rate recover at any time (you aren’t supposed to feel like you are going to die for all 60 minutes). The next two days were pathetic or highly entertaining depending on if you were me or if you were observing me. Bending ANYTHING was not an option. I had a permanent grimace on my face. I was not in a hurry to return to that class or to the gym. That was the end of that start towards fitness. You are supposed to feel good after you exercise. “No pain, no gain” is very old school in my opinion. A little tightness in your muscles can be expected. You are supposed to be able to walk the next day. My goal is to do a little more or something a little different every week. This keeps my body moving in the right direction and keeps me out of a rut. Now I’m at a point in my fitness where I like to challenge myself a bit more. I’m willing to push a touch past my comfort zone for the sake of improving. I do know that pushing too hard could result in unnecessary pain or injury. I will not risk that. Know your limits and push yourself a bit, but don’t sabotage your efforts.
That’s it for part II. I’m hoping that you are starting to see a pattern to my message. Please share tips that have worked for you too. No fair keeping that knowledge to yourself. Someone out in the blogosphere is waiting to hear your ideas. It may be the thing they need to read to get them moving in the right direction. You may be the one to help someone eat their elephant one bite at a time. See you soon with part III.
Until next time…Live Well! – Toni Kuhel