I need to change my mantra when it comes to my health from "tomorrow" to "today!" Note the exclamation mark. That's very important.
Maybe it's the sun streaming in my window at the moment, or the tiny yellow flowers that have just begun to bloom by the stoop outside my front door. Maybe it was finding and picking winter carrots from the garden with my four-year-old niece as I played outside with all four little girls the other day (my two and my brother's two, who spend four days a week together). Those little carrots had been growing there for months, a surprise for this moment. I told her, "Leftovers! Let's wash them up and leave the tops on so we can munch like bunnies!" Just like we had in fall, when the girls were younger and smaller. The sun is waking in my heart as it wakes the earth beneath my feet. I have such a good life, and so much to be thankful for!
The point to the whole life celebration thing is that I have everything to live long and be healthy for. And it isn't that I'm unhealthy. I have a bit of leftover baby weight, and twenty pounds I should have lost long before the babies. I don't have any medical conditions, and I'm young and strong and able. I just know life would be better without the extra weight, with stronger muscles so I can feel younger, and with more energy to appreciate all I have and accomplish all I desire. Changes I make to my habits now will pay huge dividends down the road.
In the stress of the day, I usually choose a bit of pleasure now (in the form of yummy foods, of course!) over my weight loss goal, which feels so long-term. It isn't long-term, though. I should plan to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, with a healthy combination of a better diet and much more physical activity. That's measurable.
With my weight loss goal of 28 pounds, at a rate of 1.5 pounds lost each week, it will take 19 weeks to reach that goal. I looked forward on the calendar, and that date is July 6th. This strikes me as more than coincidence: I'm the matron of honor in one of my best friend's wedding on July 7th. I may have to pay a bit more in alteration fees for my dress, but wow, to feel sexy and energetic at her wedding? What a blessing that would be!
Changes to diet, starting with the hardest (which also happens to be the most important):
- Minimize processed sugars.
- Don't eat after nine at night. (This goes right along with sugars, above. Late evening snacking is my downfall.)
- Minimize high-fat dairy and meat.
- Maximize whole grains and high-fiber foods in an array of gorgeous colors.
- Don't eat bread with every meal. (This one makes me sad.)
Changes to physical activity level:
- Walk the dog almost every day (20 minutes).
- Hit the exercise bike at least twice a week (30 minutes).
- Hike, run, swim, dance and/or exercise with the kids at least three times a week (30 minutes).
- Do toning exercises at least twice a week (20 minutes).
A couple of things I already know, and that have worked in the past, that I'll be applying to this effort:
- Eat with the children. Their meals are healthy and balanced; it's when I choose something else for myself that I'm in trouble. I even told my three-year-old if she catches me with something sweet she gets to "tax" me.
- Drink lots of water! It keeps me more energetic, looking better, and helps flush my body of toxins to always keep a full glass or bottle of water nearby. Refilling your glass is also a great reason to get up and move for a minute, which is needed with a job and hobby that revolve around sitting on my behind.
- Replacement foods are a must! I've recently tried greek yogurt, which has amazing benefits in that it is low- or non-fat, but has tons of protein. In fact, it has 23g protein in a one-cup serving, compared with 8g in plain yogurt. That makes it a filling snack. I've been mixing it with granola, cereal, dried and fresh fruits and berries, nuts, and a little bit of honey to sweeten -- basically, whatever I have on hand. That's a satisfying breakfast for me. Also, I'm committing myself to salads for lunch: maybe not every day, but most days. If I cut out bread at that meal, and get greens instead, that frees me up to indulge in bread with one of my other meals. To fit in whole grains, I'll pick up another bag of wheat flour and when I bake I'll go half and half. I just don't like the flavor of biscuits, pancakes or banana bread with all whole-wheat flour, so I find the half and half mix gets me part-way there. Whole-grain pastas are definitely different than the refined-flour varieties, but they do have a place, with some adjustment of what you add to them. This is a matter of personal taste. I'll also pick up sorbet or frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
- Cook at home. When time's been short, this has fallen to the wayside. I know it's great for us to cook and eat together, but juggling toddlers and work and trying to minimize child care means we often eat at different times. When I take shortcuts, I often make bad choices. The fresh food season is just around the corner, it's time to de-rustify my kitchen skills and get back with the ballgame!
- Cut up at least one fruit or veggie to go with each family meal. I'm a total weirdo (like you haven't noticed) and it really galls me to put a plate in front of my family with fewer than three courses on it. Since we've had little kids, we really like putting fresh stuff in front of them, and it's a way for my husband (who is less drawn to fruits & veggies than the kids and me) to make sure he's eating the fresh stuff. It also takes less time to prep something fresh, and it often adds a nice splash of color to our plates, which is great for the soul.
Okay, so that's what I'm about in terms of my health and securing my long and healthy future over the next several months. It's really a lifestyle thing, and sometimes it can be really easy to fall back into old patterns. Now I have this blog to return to to check myself, and I think that will help. If you have any tips to offer that have worked for you to get more physical activity in during your busy days, or to turn the other cheek when it comes to the "bad" foods, I'd love to hear them.