Welcome to the season of post-holiday beginnings. I’m guessing that most Americans enjoy an attitude of celebration that begins sometime in November and continues into the early days of January. Fun, family, friends, and feasts are wonderful, and can lead to a new year of, “I really need to get serious about getting healthy, again.”
And so we begin. We begin by choosing one habit that will improve the quality of your life today. In a society where microwaving a cup of water to make tea takes too long, this is a tall order. Here is the secret: It begins with the proper mindset.
Today, choose the mindset of becoming a healthy, fit person. Determine what that person looks like to you. Some thoughts: exercise, drink more water, practice meditation, get more rest, eat more vegetables and less red meat, cut back on desserts, and the list goes on. Begin living with the attitude of a healthy, fit person today.
Now, choose one thing to begin today. Not tomorrow, not on Monday, not after one more feasting frenzy—today. And, choose only one thing. We’re setting you up for success, which does not mean perfection. Success is doing a little bit better, a little bit at a time.
Avoid the “I’ll do the latest diet, workout seven days a week, and give up ice cream” mentality. Did it work last year? Or the year before that? It didn’t work for me either.
One suggestion, and one I find challenging, is to eat more vegetables. I have yet to meet a person who claims that they have high cholesterol or diabetes or need to lose a few pounds because they consume too many vegetables. That response would cause me to laugh out loud.
So, if you aren’t sure how to begin your year of practicing health and fitness, join me in the habit of eating more vegetables. We do this by adding one additional serving of vegetables into the scope of our day. Easy!
What constitutes a serving of vegetables? For women, one serving of vegetables is the size of your fist. For men, one serving is the size of two fists. This may vary, according to your activity level, how frequently you eat, and your size. It is a good baseline to gauge any adjustments and easier than weighing your food or counting calories. I’m not a fan of carrying a food scale on the road.
Let’s be real here. If the vegetables taste nasty, this plan will never work. In my practice of living as a “fit person,” the food has to taste and look good or I won’t have any part of it. We get one shot at life. Delicious, fun food is vital! Growing up, my mom who was a fantastic cook, always steamed or boiled the vegetables. I ate them because I knew I’d have to sit at the table until I finished every green bean, carrot or piece of asparagus. My Irish setter was an outdoor farm dog, so I couldn’t get away with sneaking them under the table. I was doomed.
Now, for the good news! It is more beneficial to cook your vegetables in a bit of “good fat,” like virgin or extra virgin olive oil. Other beneficial fats include nut and seed oils. Extra virgin olive oil is my preference, as it doesn’t overpower the delicate flavor of the vegetables.
Without getting too technical, we need “good fats” in our diet to help us combat diseases that affect the neurons in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, other dementias and Parkinson’s. Adding extra flavor while improving health is a win-win in my book. (I’ll be addressing more about “good” and “bad” fats in next month’s issue.)
Here are two easy ways to make vegetables that are so tasty, your children won’t want to sneak them under the table to the dog. If you’re having a day that doesn’t allow for cooking your veggies, eat a nice green salad tossed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper. You’ve got this!
Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and life coach who lives in Schererville. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at inkwellcoaching.com.