I talk to people all day long about health issues….their high blood pressure, their high stress level, their high cholesterol, and their pains — in pretty much every place they have a place. I notice one common thread among various types of people who don’t even know each other: None of them eat in balance or have a regular exercise program. Now, the two operative words in the previous sentence are “balance” and “regular”.
Often, there is so much lost in the process of communication because each one of us comes to the party with a different frame of reference. Please allow me a feeble attempt to explain what I mean by this.
If we grew up in a home where we ate toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and meat, potatoes, vegetables, and a roll for dinner — well — we would think we’re ‘really watching’ our waistline if currently we are only eating four slices of bread a day (two slices of toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch). In addition, rarely, if ever, did any of us grow up on multi-grain bread. I would venture to say that most of us grew up on the ‘white demon’. Although greatly lacking in nutritional value, it tastes amazing when it’s all soft and smothered in butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. Come on now! Do you THINK I don’t know how to have a good time? However, this menu item was NOT supposed to complete our ‘fiber’ or ‘grain’ food group for our daily nutritional balance. But, it did. And, now, 20 to 30 years later, we’re discovering that what we perceive as “smart eating” really isn’t smart at all. It’s just a tad better than what we practiced in our childhood and early adulthood.
So, now what? We don’t like to be told that the extra 25 to 100 pounds is causing our knee and joint problems. We really don’t want to hear that most white, starchy foods have little nutritional value at all. I didn’t say “none”…I said “little”. The truth is that every time we open our mouth to put food in it we should try to eat as few empty calories as possible. So, it would be better if we ate oatmeal for breakfast with a few chopped walnut meats or raisins (the raisins will automatically sweeten the oatmeal) and, possibly, a piece of fruit. Egg whites are also a power breakfast. You could even have one whole egg and the second egg with just the white. This helps control your fat intake and will enable you to keep your cholesterol levels where they should be. Should you choose the eggs, eat a multi-grain toast and keep it to one slice. Again, add a piece of fruit for fiber. Lunch has many options: a nice chicken stock soup with brown rice and vegetables, a healthy salad with balsamic (to avoid fats), a boneless, skinless chicken breast either broiled or seared in a little olive oil and garlic with a side vegetable. Of course, dinner can be treated much the same as lunch, depending upon what you chose for lunch. Everyone already knows that portion control is half the problem. So, wean yourself from large helpings and second helpings. It may take some time, but the changes we’re trying to make are supposed to be for a lifetime. So, don’t go so drastic that you give up your fitness goals in three, short weeks and resume all your bad habits.
Living healthy doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a piece of cheesecake or a favorite snack every now and then. But, our favorite snacks and desserts cannot be eaten on a daily basis without a consequence. Not everyone breaks out in fat. Some people break out in joint problems, poor stress-management, heart issues, cancers, etc.
Regarding exercise, just remember something I’ve been repeating pretty much everywhere I leave my mark: Find something “physical” you LOVE to do and DO IT! It doesn’t have to be the latest fad or the hottest work-out video or the flavor of the day in DVDs. It just has to be something you really enjoy doing. Then, do it consistently and give it all ya got while you’re doing it. If you can add music to the workout — all the better. Maybe, you’d rather do your power walk alone in the brisk air so you don’t have to talk or listen to anything or anyone and can just cleanse your mind in the process.
Simple strategies here. Nothing that requires brilliance or even creativity. But, it will take desire and commitment. Are you committed to looking and feeling better? If your answer is “no” or you’re not sure, the only one left hurting is you. Think about it.