Eat For Health

Begin at the beginning. Wake up. Every action and everything you eat should lead you to vitality. There’s no secret to what makes you feel good. Your body tells you. You might gormandize on something that tastes exceptional–like leg of lamb or lobster–but an hour later it might leave you feeling drab and worn out. If this happens, don’t eat that food quite so often. Be aware of how you feel after you eat. If you find that certain foods or spices leave you feeling heavy, moody, or–in some cases physically uncomfortable–avoid that food or spice. If, however, you eat something that invigorates you, put that food on the table more often. 

You might also find that certain foods mix well together, while others don’t. For instance, corn might be great alone. So might beets. But if you eat the two together you might get an upset stomach. Be aware of how you feel after you eat. Watch your moods. Your body speaks to you. When you eat right, your body treats itself right. Health, on all levels, is all about awareness. Listen, feel, watch and, most importantly, live right!

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Shopping To Vegetate

Forget your TV, laptop, and iPad with their commercials for greasy fried chicken or visually trumped up but palatably mediocre burgers–because piles of freshness await your cart: peppers, collard greens, romaine lettuce, carrots, cilantro. The list goes on, and if you’re lucky enough to live near a market that gets its produce from fields close to its doors, then you have no excuse. It’s time to vegetate away from your TV, computer, or hand-held device.

You’ll want to pick produce that’s priced to sell. Why? Because good prices show that the produce is in season. If you’re shopping in a market whose prices for produce don’t fluctuate according to supply, well then, you might want to do some research. Find out when crops are in season in your area. Buy accordingly. The food will be fresh and won’t leave a large carbon foot print. 

At home, explore recipes you’ve never tried. Go stir fry crazy, roast and grill and sear. Or, simply slice and serve. If you’re into french fries, pull out a pan, slice up Idahos, sweet potatoes, and yukon golds. Drizzle with olive oil, shake on some salt and pepper or other herbs/spices you enjoy, and bake until crisp outside and soft inside. Roast green, yellow, orange and red peppers by following a similar approach. Carrots and other root vegetables are similarly delicious when roasted. Between the oven and the stovetop there’s a world of delight for the person hankering to vegetate. Enjoy food like this on a regular basis and you’ll thrive!

The Trader Joe’s Dilemma

You walk the aisles, faintly hungry, tired, and harried by the craziness of the parking lot. MUZAC-appropriate lyrics drizzle over the line-up of cellophane veggies: iceberg lettuce, broccoli, shredded carrots, broc-o-slaw. In the freezer section you’ll find faintly exotic items like the veggie dumplings and everything tamales. These are warm-up and eat items. And like much in Trader Joe’s, everything is packaged–apart from bananas and apples. Even limes get a netting of containment, leaving you with the sensation that nothing need be messy or in disarray. This German-owned chain is the office worker’s dream. It’s truly the greatest market to hit the earth, because no mess means no headache. And everything can be microwaved–or almost everything. Even the “10 minute” barley packets that recently slapped the shelves are no-brainers. What a dream. And still, amid all that fantastic convenience, one wonders why kale–the wonder vegetable which has risen to an all-time high in local markets from $0.89 to almost $2.00 a bunch–should be packaged as a “wasabi” or “cheeze” drummed chip. Do we need every healthy alternative to become another packaged alternative? If this kind of commodity grabbing continues we’ll no longer be able to purchase our daily vegetables from the fresh bins at our local stores. Everything will cost twice or three times as much, all in the name of convenience. Meanwhile, those kale chips–inside bags made to look and crinkle like potato chip packaging–will certainly fall short of “healthy.” Because, let’s face it: once you mess around with nature to improve shelf-life, you’re going to mess up the whole-healthy-point.

So, we all love Trader Joe’s, but come on. Let’s keep the fresh stuff fresh for everyone.

Next time: shop for fitness.

 

Bring Down The Scale! Walk!

Time to get out for some exercise. You’ve sat at the desk most of the morning. Lunchtime is just around the corner. You don’t need a gym. All you need is the great outdoors!

Outside it might be raging sunshine, or it might be raining. No matter the weather, bring your sunglasses or your umbrella. It’s time for some fresh air. Put on your walking shoes–and if you don’t have walking shoes, put on your walking feet. 

If you have the choice, take the stairs and bring a friend. Find a ten or twenty minute circuit, and as you walk, enjoy the sounds of life around you. Find something interesting in your environment– Whether you’re in a parking lot or on a busy street, there’s plenty to observe. Keep a steady pace. Walk with a straight back. Take deep breaths. Remember how it felt to be a child, walking towards something you wanted to see or do. Make every walk into an adventure. What will you see next? Are flowers blooming or have the leaves just fallen? If there’s snow on the ground, watch for ice and enjoy remembering how you felt as a child, playing in snow. 

There’s nothing like a walk. Walk your way to fitness. Take office meetings and lunchtime outside. At the end of your walk, stretch your legs by leaning, face forward, against a wall and flexing your calf muscles. Don’t forget to take another deep breath of fresh air! Do this every day and it will wake you up and bring down the scale. Walk!

 

Baby Steps

Getting into shape doesn’t mean you have to abandon life’s comforts. In fact, over time, fitness and good nutrition provide the active person with more comfort and relaxation–not less. With this in mind, begin to change your habits by defining what you’d like to change.

To begin, determine your long-term goal. For instance, in the next year you would like to: cut out sugar, lose twenty pounds, start jogging every other morning, grow your own vegetables, etc. etc. Write these large goals down.

Now get more specific. Pull out one of your goals, and decide which one you will focus on today and the next day. If you’re really ambitious, commit to the rest of the week. By chunking down your long-term goal, you are giving yourself a realistic game plan.

So, let’s say you decide to tackle the goal of cutting out sugar. After you’ve written down today’s date and the goal for the day, take action. To break the habit of pouring a packet of sugar into your frappuccino or of munching on M&Ms at work, provide yourself with an alternative. Bring some Baby Carrots to the desk. Fill a thermos with coffee and milk. Avoid the sugar bowl at every junction. Don’t go near the M&Ms. If you can get through a single day without sugar, reward yourself with a $1–which will be put towards a new outfit or a vacation you’ve never been able to afford because you’ve spent so much on frappuccinos.

When the urge to down sugar becomes too great, distract yourself. Go for a short walk, or listen to a song you love. Getting some fresh air is an excellent way to overcome craving, but if these tricks don’t work, call someone dear to you and tell them you love them. Do whatever you need to do to rid yourself of this craving. If you can get through day one, then you can get through day two. There’s no end to your strength!

To be continued!