It’s almost natural to think about making changes at the start of a new year! But before I get to changes — please bear with me through the backstory!
Backstory Part I – Several years ago I started thinking about regret. Specifically I wondered if there were some simple rules to follow that would allow me to live (and therefore die) without regret. Regret leads to bitterness and while I love my strong black bitter coffee and very hoppy bitter beers I can live without a bitter soul!
I started reading in hope of finding something simple… some guardrails… that could guide me on a regret-free path. I stumbled upon some writings by a Tibetan poet whose name sadly escapes me. His premise for living regret free was simple and to the point (right up my alley): do not harm, do not miss opportunities, and do not waste time.
Backstory Part 2 – One of the annual benefits at my work place is an opportunity to participate in a free health screening. For the past several years the screening was a blood draw to check cholesterol and glucose levels. Happily I report that my numbers are GREAT! While my numbers are great, I’ve been overweight for years.
This year the health screening took on a different complexion. It was more … touchy feely. Range of motion testing, questions about personal nutrition and mental health, and a body fat measurement. During my consultation everything was going fine until the counselor confronted me with my body fat number and tells me that I am obese. Not overweight… obese! I was NOT consoled by the fact that my number falls on the low end of the obese spectrum.
So why the backstory? Well the point is this… I’ve been wasting time – the health screening was in April of 2015! I have not yet taken positive steps toward losing weight. I’m causing harm – to myself by carrying around the extra pounds. And I’m missing an opportunity – to be the healthiest version of myself.
It seems natural as the new year begins to make some changes. When I’m talking about changes I’m not talking about a halfhearted resolution made on New Year’s Eve but serious choices, alterations, modifications in my everyday behavior to improve my health and well being.
In general, I eat healthfully but I do have a few areas that are my pitfalls:
- Salty crunchy! I love things like chips and cheese and crackers.
- Portion control. I flat out eat too much.
- I eat when I’m bored.
What an opportunity this is for me!!! I will not waste any more time and miss out on this opportunity thus causing myself further harm. No regrets!
So what’s my plan? I know that to break bad habits you must replace the bad one with a good one. Having been on several diets in the past 40+ years I know that most diets don’t work for me. I don’t want to over complicate things which will sabotage my efforts from the start. I don’t want to deprive myself of the things that I love (cooking and eating). Deprivation will also sabotage my efforts. The changes I choose must be made with the long haul in mind. I must make a sustainable shift in my lifestyle and the changes must address my challenges.
As I was pondering this opportunity I began looking for inspiration. How can I change my lifestyle and still be able to do two things that I love – eat and cook yummy food. I ran across Mark Bittman’s VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 – To Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good. Wow… what a great subtitle! His approach makes sense to me. Eat plant foods before 6:00 and be flexible after 6:00. He makes his living with food and has been very successful with his approach.
Additionally and in a most timely fashion a couple of days ago I watched Michael Pollan’s documentary, In Defense of Food, in which he speaks very authoritatively on the subject of obesity in this country. Through his research he has developed a very simple approach (again right up my alley) — Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.
Between Bittman and Pollan I have confidence that I’ll open the door and greet a winning strategy.
Here’s how I’ll start to address my personal challenges:
- I will address my ‘addiction’ to salty crunchy foods by replacing the chips and cheese and crackers with crunchy raw vegetables and for the salty element I’ll add plant-based dips – say romesco or perhaps roasted red pepper hummus. Who doesn’t love crudites and dip? I believe I’ll find several options.
- To address portion control I’ll start at work. When I don’t take my lunch I make a trip the salad bar. I will exclude the hard boiled egg, turkey and blue cheese dressing and I will start making my salads on the $2.99 small plate instead of the $0.80 per ounce option that I heap into a bowl. Sounds like this strategy will have the added benefit of saving money…. who doesn’t love that? Mindfulness will be the key at home as well as at work.
- Eating when I’m bored could prove to be my biggest challenge. I’ll have to figure this one out over time. But I’ll start by diverting my attention by taking a walk, dancing or hooping . Again mindfulness will be the key.
These are just a springboard for my much needed lifestyle changes. As with my life in general, I’ll make it up as I go along keeping the notion that change is indeed in order to avoid regret. I’m promising myself that I will not let minor setbacks entirely derail my efforts to effect long term changes. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Opportunity’s knocking… I wish you health and happiness in the New Year. Thanks for visiting Palatable Life!