New Year-New Decade-New Beginnings

We are entering a new year and a new decade with a fresh new perspective on life, an attitude of gratitude and a healthier eating style. Personally I am poised to not only have a prosperous year financially but mentally and physically too! If you are like most of us, these items are top on the list of things we want to improve as we enter 2020.

Hopes and wishes will not get us to our goals. In order to make this last more than the first few weeks of the month, we will need a plan. So first up is to recognize and appreciate all of last year’s challenges and successes. Start with what worked? Did you try something new and it worked? Did you learn something and apply it? Did you stick to something you set out to do? Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate yourself. Giving ourselves kudos is not being boastful, it is a way of being kind to ourselves about our achievements. 

Secondly, we need to find out where the glitches were in our previous year. What did we find the most challenging last year? What took away from, rather than helped us enjoy our time, our peace or our health? Note these things so as to not repeat them. If you have a habit of rushing to a fast food place in between a hectic schedule, note it. If that same schedule kept you from working out or going to the gym, note it. If that one or two extra glasses of wine during the week made you feel sluggish the next day, note it. If you have been eating pizza and drinking beer with the boys, note it. Has dessert snuck in as a habit after dinner? Note it. We have to get real with what our challenges are. Yes, what I am saying is we create our own environments and if we are serious about starting with a clean slate then we need to be honest with ourselves about the things we can control. 

Next up is to create a plan to manage all of those situations. I will use myself as an example.  I experience the topic of food and document it, from food trucks to restaurants, to fairs and my own kitchen. I need to taste it and to experience it in order to do my job properly. Even when I am editing I look at food all day in pictures, and video. In order to put a plan into motion, I will need to think about how to best manage my lifestyle. That means selecting healthier options, seeking out opportunities to write, video and experience less calorie-laden options. 

I am not saying, I will never eat fast food. Today I have to cover a food truck opening for the Naked Empanada and it will be empanadas and cheese for lunch. Did I mention it is at Bond Brothers Brewery? Yikes!

So acknowledging my reality is the first step. The second step is to have a plan, so my plan will be two-fold. Work out in the morning focusing on cardio, drink a pre-maid homemade smoothie for fiber and sugar balance. Plan a dinner tonight that is based on greens and protein, with fewer carbs. Without a plan it would be easy to overindulge in meat pies and alcohol. Then come home to crash on the couch and write my article. 

What are the challenges you faced this past year when it came to eating more healthy? Be honest with yourself, write them down. 

Next up for me was the challenge of exercise, In my home, I have a treadmill, yoga mat, free weights, etc. I kept it in a spare room that no one used, literally, no one used this room or the equipment. It was easy to walk right past it. It was out of sight and out of mind. I recently moved it front-and-center near my master bathroom. Why? Since I have to walk by it and get naked right after to shower, it makes me more aware of what I need to be doing. I let it mock me and no, I have not used it as an extra towel rack to hang my wet towel and clothes over, not yet anyway. 

The next challenge around exercising is carving out that time. For me this is two-fold, I need to arise at least 50 minutes earlier each day and I need to fall asleep at least 50 minutes earlier each day. Again, this involves planning. Being aware at what time I need to start winding down my evening activities in order to become sleepy earlier is part of the plan. Using an alarm clock will be imperative even if just for a while until my body gets into the natural rhythm of waking earlier. Laying out a set of workout clothes next to my alarm clock so that they are the first thing I see will mentally prepare me to get dressed to exercise every morning. If I do not do this it is too tempting to put on my comfy robe and sit down on the couch with a cup of coffee and my phone.

What about boredom with the exercise routine? How will I ensure I keep that going? My plan to tackle that challenge is to try some new classes, yoga, boxing, etc. I plan to walk the dog in new parks and go kayaking and take drives to the beach and trips to the mountains to hike. All of this will add up!

What About Mental Health? What Can Be Done About Reducing Stress?

The exercise actually does help you deal better with stress so exercising is a two-for. Dealing with stress for me means being realistic with my time. Not putting too much on my plate.  Learning to say “no” was something that has helped in the past. No, I can not serve on a board. No, I do not have time to meet for coffee. No, I do not want to go to this social engagement or business networking event. Yes, I have to do some of this, but I am much more selective with my time. I have to learn to listen to my body when it says, “You need a break”. I have to learn to not try to be perfect when no one else really cares if I am trying to be. 

Writing is reflective and healing for me and being able to write from my heart aids tremendously in my mental health. I can’t always write in this style, however, if I plan to write once a month in order to just purge my thoughts this will help me. Search for what helps you? Perhaps it is dancing, singing or journaling.

How Can Daily Eating Habits Help Shape our Future?

We all know what we are supposed to eat. We know what foods we are supposed to avoid. But for some reason, we don’t always eat right. We as humans like to indulge in things that we know can hurt us in the long run. Like fatty foods, sweets, and bread. This can be blamed in part to lack of planning. Experts tell us fatigue, boredom, depression, anxiety and sometimes social pressure from someone else who wants us to indulge with them can all lead to poor eating habits. I eat and drink socially and am guilty of dragging my husband and friends along with me for some harmless wings and a beer and then when they reciprocate how can I decline? I read an article many years ago in The New York Times called “ Are Your Friends Making You Fat?” This totally resonated with me as a social eater.  People joke that if you need to gain weight, just hang around with me and I will get that ten pounds on you easily.

Learning new coping habits can help such as more healthy meal planning and preparation. One of our guest authors, Laura Murdof just wrote an amazing article where she shared her story and her recipes about how she and her husband lost 60 pounds by meal prepping. Read the Article Here

Making healthier selections when I do go out socially can really go a long way. I just recently tried buffalo cauliflower at a restaurant instead of wings, but since they were flash-fried I am not sure how much healthier that is if at all. I read in the food blog called Real House Moms “traditional buffalo chicken wings weigh in at around 430 calories and 29 grams of fat per 1 cup serving.  Their baked cauliflower buffalo bites are a measly 150 calories and 6 grams of fat per 1 cup serving! Plus, they are fiber-filled and antioxidant-rich! You can even turn these into vegan chicken wings by substituting melted coconut oil for the butter!” Thanks, real House Moms, this is one I will try in my test kitchen. Readers, I will share with you as I discover and modify any new tasty healthy recipes.

Speaking of which, I recently went to a local smoothie shop in Wake Forest called the Juice Bar. I had a delicious, nutritious smoothie that certainly jumped started my digestive system. I think I lost weight after just a single smoothie, seriously. Read the review of the Juice Bar here.

Getting off the cycle of having alcohol as part of my diet is another change to make. I see a lot of people abstaining from drinking for the entire month of January and that is good in theory. I once gave up all alcohol for a year and did lose weight. I may try to limit my alcohol intake to weekends only and cut out rich IPA’s or sugary cocktails. I recently tried a pickle beer be sure to watch the fun video. It was a pilsner cut with 4 ounces of pickle juice. It was wonderful, contained less alcohol per drink and I have read that the pickle juice is good for balancing your PH. I am not a nutritionist or a health professional so please take my words as layman advice. I am also exploring the new mocktails craze. There are so many cool products out in the marketplace that infuse herbs with citrus zests and spices, this will be fun to explore. Remember if you do a mocktail avoid the use of sugary juices as this will not help your calorie count.

Change is never easy but it is the most natural way of life. Embrace this opportunity for change. Head into this new decade with all the enthusiasm and gusto you can muster. Be realistic, have a plan and go for it. Remember to be kind and celebrate your successes along the way. So what will 2020 bring for you in terms of changes to your health? What new routines will you try in order to be the “best you”? We want to hear from you. Join us on social media at www.facebook.com/groups/loveoffoodnc

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