“Just where you are- that’s the place to start.”
– Pema Chodron, Buddhist Nun
First things first: what I hope to accomplish this year. I read blogs where people have 50 goals for the year and I think, no way. I am keeping it simple this year:
1. Be healthier.
2. Be happier.
I wish it was just this simple but of course there must be sub-steps and mini-goals and game plans. But really just two goals, health and happiness. They feel like really smart goals to me. Today we will talk a little about the health side.
I read a lot of books last year about diet and exercise and being healthy and have done a lot of thinking these past few months about what I really want. I want to age gracefully. I do not want to run a marathon, I just want to be able to walk the dog. I do not need to touch my toes with straight legs, I just need to be able to pick up something off the floor. I need to survive menopause.
One of the most surprising things I read last year was how it is not normal to gain weight as you age. Your appetite should adjust itself naturally as your metabolism slows. Our appetites no longer do this because of all the processed foods we eat: large amounts of sugar, fat and salt are messing with our brains.
I need to relearn how to eat because I am hungry, not because I am bored or it is a certain time. I also need to listen to my body and stop eating just before I am full. What the French say is “Je n’ai pas faim” or I am no longer hungry. Not quite the same as eating until you are full. And while I am not making weight loss a specific goal I must confess I am hoping it happens as a happy by-product!
Here are my initial steps for my be healthier goal:
- I can eat anything I want but I have to make it from scratch. No processed foods unless all the ingredients listed are what I would use if I were to make it myself. This means no palm oil or xanathan gum or soy lecithin. While there will be a few things I can buy at Trader Joe’s the plan is I will be eating a lot more fruits and vegetables because it will be easier than making a bagel or some crackers. I think of this as the “Little House on the Prairie” diet. Think about it, they ate fresh, local, seasonal foods. Yes they ate bread and biscuits but seldom cake or candy. Remember how big a deal it was for Laura to get a glass of lemonade one 4th of July? I am going to try and make Ma Ingalls proud.
- When we eat out I am going to stick to local restaurants as much as possible. We don’t eat out that much and when we travel this could be difficult but I am going to give it a go.
- I am writing down everything I eat. Not weighing or measuring or listing individual ingredients but just a note of what I eat each day. My focus is on monitoring my snacking. The hope is as I become more aware of bad habits it will make it easier to change them.
- On the exercise front I am not changing what I already do too much. Swimming or 10k steps depending on the season, yoga, qigong and I am going to try pilates. Hey, pilates worked for Shonda Rimes and they recently opened a Club Pilates just up the road. The least I can do is take the free class.
- Re-read “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan, one rule a day as a gentle reminder.
I have twelve months to revamp my eating habits with the hope of making improved, life long eating practices. Once a month I am going to make a summary blog post to track my progress. No, you will not have to read everything single thing I ate for the whole month. But the hope is having to write down what went well and what went wrong will help keep me aware and on track.
I will talk about the be happier aspiration in a separate blog post. Until then, Keep Calm and Eat Well. 🙂