I will stand up and admit that Snowpocalypse or Snowmegeddon or whatever we’re calling the Great East Coast Blizzard of 2016 has DESTROYED my New Year’s health resolutions. The days of being stuck inside, the vacation-like atmosphere created by everyone being home, and the primal imperative to layer on the fat have vastly overwhelmed the call of my Fitbit or my WeightWatchers points tracker.
But it’s one week in a lifetime. Rather than looking at the past week as a crater sinking my health goals, I have to look at it as a minor divot in a lifetime of healthy-choice opportunities. I’m beyond the age when I can look at my health as a diet or an exercise class or a jeans size.
My father was plagued with ill-health connected to food, weight and inactivity for the last 25 years of his life, and last year I started dealing with some of the back issues that affected him. It was a chilling wake-up call. To have a life without pain, a life where my body is empowered and not restricted, I have to view healthy habits as a lifestyle, not as something I do for a month. Or just after the new year. With that in mind, here are six simple steps and tools I use for a lifetime of good health.
1. Plan meals.
It’s so much easier for me to eat healthy when I know what I’m making that evening, and I have all the ingredients in the fridge. I grocery shop once a week using Peapod grocery delivery service, and I keep a consistent theme to make planning meals easy -- Meatless Monday, crockpot or salads on Tuesday and Thursday, Mexican on Fridays, we eat out on Saturday, and I double whatever I make on Sunday for lunches and leftovers. My friend and client, parenting coach Paige Trevor, has an awesome blog about making meal planning easy.
2. Be mindful of what I eat.
I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers online since I turned 30. Weight Watchers works under a simple premise -- you can eat whatever you want. You just have to "track your points." Be accountable for it. Woman up. And when you realize that the cookie has the same amount of points as an entire healthy meal, it changes your opinion about how often you need that cookie. Weight Watchers offers me a simple, painless, common-sense way to be mindful and responsible for what I'm eating.
3. Do something active every day.
Everyday, I try to walk the dog, weight lift at my gym or go to my kickboxing class. These are not heroic acts; the dog is used to getting gyped, the 5-pound weight gets a lot of use at the gym, and I often hear "Hey, you're back!" when I show up at kickboxing. But when I cannot push myself to leave the house -- say, during a blizzard -- I have Daily Burn. Daily Burn is an app that provides one gazillion workout videos featuring knowledgeable trainers leading every workout style you could want. From dance to high intensity tabata to weight lifting to yoga to prenatal exercise, Daily Burn offers a workout that meets every interest and ability.
4. Be mindful of my activity.
Weight Watchers helps me keep track of what’s going in. Fitbit helps me keep track of what’s going out. When I first got the step-tracking device, I was astonished how far away from the recommended 10,000 steps-per-day I was. The average American only gets 2,000-2,500 steps-per-day. And I, like many Americans, spend a lot of time sitting on my butt typing. I don’t always hit the magic number, but my Fitbit makes me mindful of how much I'm moving, of the necessity to take a quick walk around the block or to park at the back of the parking lot.
5. Get help with healthy meals.
So when I get too busy or the after-school chauffeuring gets out of control, Step 1's meal planning and cooking goes out the window. This is when I turn to Blue Apron for help. For about $10/meal, which is less than we spend when we eat out, a Blue Apron box shows up at my door with the recipe and all of the ingredients for two healthy meals for my family of four. I'm still cooking, but all of the thinking, deciding and buying has been taken care of for me. Sometimes, the simple relief of not having to make a decision is all I need to stay on a healthy course.
6. Partake in the occasional cleanse.
For me, a cleanse doesn't mean cayenne water or juicing — those are unrealistic for my lifestyle and family. But there are times when I need to right the ship, in terms of my food intake. I found the 17-Day Diet several years ago, and it's my go-to source whenever I need to enforce some healthy eating. Essentially, the 17-Day Diet focuses on lean proteins (chicken, turkey and fish), vegetables, two servings of fruit and probiotics for 17 days. No bready carbs, no sugar, no alcohol. I always lose weight and I always see quick results, which makes me continue with healthy habits.
What are some of your favorite tools and tricks for maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
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