Monday, June 25, 2012

Confessions of a Healthy Eater

      There are so many articles, infomercials, personalities, and schemes about dieting and exercising, it honestly drives me bonkers.  There is no magic pill, special exercise equipment, or overnight solution to lose weight.  To me, some of the most ridiculous diet solutions include the "gluten free" diet, sprinkling something on your food to curb hunger, leaving out vital food groups like carbohydrates, and drinking shakes rather than eating food. Staying on topic, exercise gimmicks are just as foolish in my opinion, and vibrating belts do not make you skinny.  Being a healthy weight, and having the right amount of body fat is a lifestyle, and requires nothing more than choosing the right foods, and being active in some way.
      I will start with my healthy food theories, because, quite honestly, you cannot be healthy if you eat fast food and chips on a regular basis.  Eating involves colors, textures, flavors, and varieties from all of the important food groups to ensure you get the proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.  I believe that one of the best ways to provide yourself with a healthy diet, is to stick to whole foods as much as possible.   My definition of "whole foods" is an edible product that is not altered dramatically on its travel from nature to the supermarket.  Whole foods in my world include: produce, fish, meat, brown rice, whole wheat flour, oats, honey, milk, eggs, and cheese.  I do the best I can to keep my diet as close to whole food choices as I can, however, this is a modern world of convenience, and one must change with the times.
       If I did not eat some packaged products, I would not be realistic with the way of today's fast pace world.  There are of course foods I eat from the other aisles in my grocery store, and I will share with you how I decide that the food fits into a healthy diet.  First I try to purchase food items with as few ingredients as possible, and I prefer to recognize and understand what each ingredient means.  I buy cold cereals for a breakfast choice, and most of them contain between four and eight foods or additives on the ingredient list.  Similarly, my peanut butter contains two ingredients, like my yogurt and rice cakes, and the crackers I buy have three foods in them.  Getting familiar with ingredients helps tremendously, so that I am not ruling out a product without knowing all the information.  For instance, ascorbic acid is simply vitamin C, so when I see it in applesauce, it does not deter me from buying a particular brand.
      Also, the first ingredient should be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, fish, or meat.  This is an important rule, and I find it most useful in the packaged bread aisle.  There are not many brand choices where bread contains very few ingredients today, so I at least make sure that the first ingredient is a sound choice.  Whole wheat flour is the best choice as the first ingredient.  This rule also works well when choosing granola bars or cereal bars, crackers, and canned goods.
      It would be nice if food alone could keep us healthy, fit, and toned, but in truth, humans need to stay active and flexible in order to maintain a healthy life.  Lucky for me, I love to get moving, but I do understand that this can be difficult, even I can feel lazy at times.  In general, I am a motivated exerciser, and I have developed certain theories over time, which I think help me stay focused, and active.
      Most importantly, one needs to like the exercise in order to stick with it.  Running is not for everyone, in the same way that not everyone wants to learn downward facing dog.  Finding out what your love is can take time, but simple trial and error works well here.  If using this approach, do not spend 500 dollars on the newest workout infomercial guru only to find out you hate that particular exercise.  Personally, I love kickboxing, Pilates, yoga, total body weightlifting, and circuit training; I hate running, the treadmill, dancing, and plyometrics.  It is difficult to get motivated when you do not like the task at hand.  Every person is different, and for some, it might take a little "thinking outside the box" to figure out your workout personality.
      The burst of energy that comes after or during a loved exercise or activity is like being on a natural high.  On days when I am not motivated, it helps enormously if I think of that feeling.  It seems to at least get me started, and once you start, it is likely you will continue.  Another tip that benefits me is to do something everyday.  By this, I mean that if I do not have time, or I am not in the mood, I still make sure to fit in some level of activity for a specified time.  Examples are doing a quick 10 minute workout session, or taking my dog for a long walk.  I do this because it keeps me on track.  For me, completely skipping a day makes it easier to have an excuse for the next day.
      My next tip is somewhat corny, but I find it useful so I will tell the world.  While exercising, I focus on one part of my body that I love.  Many people look in the mirror and stare at some aspect of thyself that is not perfect, and I find that to be demeaning, contradictory to healthy living, and unproductive.  Instead, I find something I like, whatever it may be, and I concentrate on it during my workout.  For example, I like my calves, so if I am doing squats, I watch my calves in the mirror as I complete the exercise.  Doing this makes me feel confident, empowered, and happy, which is the ultimate goal!
      Being healthy is about choices, knowledge, movement, and lifestyle.  Listening to the newest fad will let you down, and decrease your motivation. In any event, it is not a long term solution; you cannot sprinkle a magic solution on your food forever.  In order to be fit, one needs to make smart food choices, and get involved with daily activity.  I am a believer in whole foods, nutritious ingredients, and physical exercise to stay healthy and maintain a healthy life.


  1. you are so motivational! here i was, sitting on my butt after work, debating whether to take a nap or work out. after reading this, now i've got to work out!

  2. You are an inspiration to us all!

  3. You truly are an inspiration. I am so proud of you.