It is the day after my annual physical, which always brings home the realities about what it takes to maintain a healthy weight and nutritional eating habits. It also makes clear the fact that I have not been doing what I know is healthy. After all, I love baking and cooking, which generally means I also like eating yummy things. I often think to myself, if I could just stop eating after one or two little bites, but that one bite always leads to a second, a third, and before I know it the entire lemon loaf is gone. Okay, so eating lemon loaf, instead of a vegetable salad, may also be part of the problem!
My physician said, “Did you know that you have gained two pounds since your physical last year?” Because I am who I am, I had to admit to her that I also lost twenty pounds this year and then put them all back on, plus the extra two! In my 60-plus years, I have experienced this many times. I am the classic yo-yo dieter. However, observing a healthy lifestyle also means I need to keep a positive outlook. With that in mind, I am still below my highest weight, I have not given up on my goal to eat and exercise sensibly for my metabolism, age, and current health, AND most of all, I am not alone!
The arrival of spring and the thought of bearing abs, wearing short-sleeved shirts, capris, shorts, and (God help us) a bathing suit, leads many people to face the fact that we have been eating more food than our body burned through activity. A friend of mine just began a blog called Fat Blasters, and invited friends and neighbors to support each other in practicing good nutrition habits, getting moderate exercise and pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Thanks, Sarah! Together we can get healthier!
As I have said, I know what I need to do. The fact is, I don’t do it often enough or consistently enough to maintain a truly healthy lifestyle. In the past, I have had success using the computer applications My Net Diary and My Net Diary Running. They are terrific (and inexpensive) apps. My Net Diary allows me to record food by using a huge database or scanning a UPC code! However, the success factor, like most things in life, depends upon using the app consistently and honestly. I have resumed that practice today!
The My Net Diary Running app is great for recording almost any activity. It allows you to record strenuous activities like washing your car or running, but it also lets you record the time you were strolling through a mall, doing your grocery shopping, and other less “athletic” activities. Still, it needs to be used to really be helpful. Therefore, I also resumed that activity today!
If you are not a person who is comfortable with computers, just keeping a hand-written food and exercise diary can be very helpful for people who respond to those visual aids.
No single diet or strategy is perfect for every person! It is really important to understand your own health needs and cravings, and how your body metabolizes food. That is why it is important to seek your physician’s advice for any food or exercise plan you would like to begin. For example, with my physician’s approval, I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for about ten years. However, as my body changed, the excessive dairy consumption began to drive my cholesterol up. I added fish and soy products to my diet, again at my doctor’s suggestion. After about five years, my husband’s health changed and he developed diabetes. When we examined our meal plan, we realized that the soy alternatives we were eating were very high in carbohydrates. We then began following the “My Plate” plan, suggested by the diabetes dietician, along with a consistent walking plan. That worked, both of us lost weight and our health improved significantly. Now, after almost two years of retirement, we have become careless about our snacking. As the doctor reminded us, “Grazing can be a very healthy way to eat, but only when you eat six to eight small snacks per day NOT three full meals AND six small snacks.”
Maintaining a healthful lifestyle can sometimes be a serious challenge, I realize that as much as anyone who is reading this post. Please know that whenever you take the time to have your doctor monitor your health, plan a nutritious meal, improve your knowledge about food, shop for wholesome food, read labels, take a walk, or participate in active play, you are improving the quality of your life. I know that from experience! Eating healthy does not mean you have to give up every pleasure. You just have to develop a new relationship to food and exercise. I am, once again, examining that relationship anew. My mantra, in the days and months ahead, will be “Moderation in all things!”