by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
With 2013 half history, it’s time to check on those New Year resolutions. Where are you in your journey to a healthier life? Re-evaluate and be accountable. See what’s working, what’s not, and learn how to reignite that New Year spark (even if it was champagne induced) ….
Congratulations! By reading this article, you are making a statement. You are committed to your health, or at least trying to be. With that in mind, stop berating yourself for any shortcomings. Now, that must be a relief! No one wants to be considered lazy, even in the privacy of his/her own thoughts. However, this does not explain failed attempts at better nutrition, skipped workouts, and too much couch-time.
Making healthy lifestyle improvements often requires tremendous effort. If better nutrition was tempting, such foods would be on store end-caps and displayed at the cash register for impulse buys. Eliminating foods that make your taste buds happy can be a challenge. Crunching on carrots in place of chips doesn’t always hold the same nighttime-snack appeal. Combine it with primetime TV commercials, and your diet is doomed. How many angles of chocolate can the camera capture?
There are two approaches to better eating: all-or-nothing and moderation. Some find cutting back on sweets and fattening choices does the job. Reference the svelte trim on the ice cream truck customer. He’s enjoying, but he’s getting a kid’s size cone. For others, a taster is more of a teaser. This is the person who can eat a whole bag of cookies in one sitting. Cutting down to two, or even four, just doesn’t satisfy the habit. Solution: Step away from the junk food, turn around, don’t look back.
Deciding which approach works best for you may be determined by your success. If minimizing intake of junk food helps get the results you crave, proceed. For others, sweets can almost be an addiction. Studies prove the addictive power of sugar. If you find it difficult to wean yourself from the junk-food habit–and other undesirable foods like bacon, cream sauces, and processed products– it might be time for total elimination.
Whichever approach you take to healthier eating, planning ahead and healthier substitution are essential. Always keep fresh vegetables and fruit in stock and easily reachable. Go for your favorites. If you don’t like spinach, try a different green. It may not be a “super food,” but it’s also not a trans fat-saturated donut.
Everyone has a food weakness, even your personal trainer, physician, and dietician. Most allow occasions to cheat; some even build in a cheat day of the week. Focus on the big picture: the lifestyle adjustment. Recognize you’re in it for the long-term, and a slip or extra bite won’t take on unrealistic proportions. You can’t suffer a diet disaster, if you aren’t dieting. Rather, you are eating overall better for life.
Without improvement, it is easy to become disgusted. Why continue to sacrifice, skimp, or deprive yourself? Your waist isn’t dwindling, you are still tired all the time, or you do not feel overall healthier. Nutrition alone cannot accomplish a healthier lifestyle. Complement your efforts in the kitchen with those at the Center.
Member John Karns achieved the feat of healthy eating. Instead of burgers, fries, pizza, and cheese sticks, he ate egg whites, chicken, turkey, seafood, and lean pork. These high-protein choices filled him without the extra calories found in high-fat options. He replaced low-value carbs, like white bread and chips, with fresh produce. He increased water consumption. The outcome was a lost pound or two every week. More importantly, John managed to feel better overall, with increased energy. This motivated him to exercise daily– a benefit equal to his new habit of better nutrition (with each propelling the other).
Four years later, John is the person he aspired to be. Daily exercise and better food choices helped him drop 65 pounds of body fat. John recognizes daily workouts are not required to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “Not everyone needs to exercise every day. Four times a week is enough for many people. Fitness has made such a difference in my body, so I hit the Center daily. I am completely absorbed in this new lifestyle, which has helped me so much. I’m hooked!”
Do not let your mind get in the way. Your body requires good nutrition and activity. You don’t need luck, excess time, or a frightening health condition to accomplish this. (Though John had his share.) John’s successful journey affirms his belief: “Attitude, determination, and a willingness to change are relevant. Age, body limitations, current conditions, busy schedules, and old habits are all irrelevant.”
Exercising More (Or At Least Some)
Better to work out once a week and call yourself an “exerciser” than nothing at all. With many things in life, it is the start-up that overwhelms. Allow yourself to exaggerate a little. Consider yourself “already in the game.”
Think of recent physical activities you performed. Grocery shopping might not qualify as a sport, but it does require physical activity. Heck, done under pressure of time-constraints, it can supplement both cardio and strength training. Taking the stairs, parking in the lot next-door, adding a few extra canned goods per bag– these are small steps of a mini workout. You are en route to becoming an athlete! Sometimes, we need to trick ourselves so we feel ready to tackle more.
Rely on others to keep you accountable. It only takes one fitness session or class to make contact with a trainer or other members. For most, a workout is part of their routine that falls within the same timeframe throughout the week. Connect with at least one person who will look for you next time. If it’s a class you enjoyed, tell the instructor you’ll see him/her again soon. As humans, we want to make good on our word, especially when our word is something ultimately good for us. In other words, you might think twice about blowing your workout for an extra hour of sleep.
Do what you love. The Center offers an exceptional variety of fitness options. Experiment. Keep it fresh. The fitness guru is susceptible to hitting a plateau because of monotony. Muscles develop a “memory” of your usual routine, which diminishes challenge. The mind gets bored and performance becomes sloppy. Under these circumstances, the exercise adrenaline that rushes you to the Center fades. The buffest bodies become atrophied. Don’t let it happen to you. Meet with a personal trainer. Check out the latest programs and class listings. Keep adding zing.
Be Good to Yourself
Feelings of deprivation are unacceptable. When you crave the unhealthy, whether a pile of cookies or skipped workout, treat yourself to something compatible with your healthy lifestyle. For improved quality-of-life, which includes maintaining your ideal weight, work to enjoy proper nutrition. You will find joy in your new way of eating. It takes patience and a retraining of personal taste, but it develops over time.
With a nutritious diet, fitness comes easier and so do the results. Food doesn’t have to be your ultimate craving satisfier. Eating should give pleasure while energizing you to better enjoy all aspects of life. Treat yourself to a massage, tickets to a sporting event, a movie (unbuttered popcorn rules!). Learn to appreciate the flavors contained in a single cup of tea. Pet a dog. Cuddle a child. Run through a sprinkler. Run from a sprinkler and laugh. Laugh some more.
Life is deliciously succulent. Look for sweetness, and indulge.
“Why You Don’t Exercise: Maybe You’re Not Just Lazy,” by Paige Waehner at www.about.com.
Getting over the hump (introductory photo): http://www.flickr.com/photos/icrew/7256730312/
Berry plate: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/8110122610/ (epSos.de)
Baseball game crowd: www.flickr.com/photos/mkumm/2449761154/
Sprinkler run: www.flickr.com/photos/silwenae/2730343918/