Friday, January 02, 2009

The Veggie Queen's Healthy Resolutions 2009

I'll start by saying that I don't make resolutions, I set goals. Here are the goals that I am suggesting that people adopt for 2009. They are all related to health but not necessarily eating because we are not only about what we put in our mouths (even though sometimes it seems that way).

1. Give Up Bottled Drinks to Save the Planet and Your Waistline

The only thing that I drink in a bottle is the water that I put in it. While this doesn't make me perfect (darn), it helps me maintain a healthy weight and I feel good about not contributing to the massive number of bottles going into the waste stream. I am also not consuming the extra calories from sweetened drinks. The current estimate is that Americans are getting one-third of their calories from drinks. That fact amazes me. So switch to water, and put it in your stainless steel or glass bottle. Or make your own tea and put it in there. At home or work, drink tea or Teecino. One cup of coffee a day is probably OK (but not for me).

NOTE: According to my RD friend and colleague, Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD/N, the 1/3 of calories may be an overestimate. Jeff says that it could be anywhere from 250 to possibly 600 calories a day consumed from drinks. Just one 12 ounce soda, and most these days are in the 16 to 24+ ounce range, has 140 high fructose corn syrup calories. You can do the math.

2. Pay Attention to What you Put in Your Mouth, and Forget the Diets

In a few weeks I will be presenting a program called Diets Don't Work. I truly believe this. I also believe that we are all different, and that what works for me, not might work for you. I can tell you, though, that choosing unprocessed food is always the best choice. Since life isn't perfect, sometimes you'll have to make choices other than the best ones. In those cases, do the best that you can. Planning helps a lot. I notice that I tend to eat whatever is in the house. So, pay attention to what you buy on a regular basis. You know that I am always going to recommend that you have lots of vegetables around -- fresh or frozen are best, except for corn and tomatoes, in which case canned is OK.

3. Change Your Attitude (if and when you need to)

What you think about what happens is your only reality. If you think something is bad, or you cheated, or ___________ (fill in the blank), that's how it is. Take a deep breath and step back to assess the situation. I often realize that things could often be worse. And I told myself this even when everything was wiped off my hard drive on my computer (twice last year). If your glass is half-empty, get a new glass or a new way of looking at your glass. We are all lucky, just not every day. My favorite saying, "Things always work out, they just don't always work out the way that you thought that they would."

4. Learn to stretch

I do yoga on a regular basis. The stretching that I am referring to has to do with both my mind and my body. Even if you start by devoting just 5 minutes a day to warming up your muscles and giving your back a good stretch, you will benefit. After 13 years of doing yoga every week, my back is in pretty good shape, and when it gets out of alignment, a good twist will often get things back to "normal" (eliminating a trip to the chiropractor). So, really the recommendation, is change your "normal" so that it includes stretching every day.

5. Move, Learn, Love and Laugh More

Very few people exercise too much so if you can squeeze in a little more movement, do it. But don't fall into the trap of saying, "I worked out so now I can eat ice cream, cookies, have a beer, or ??" That doesn't work. You're not fooling your body.

Learn something new as often as you can by reading, listening, watching and interacting with others. The interaction is good no matter how you get it but if you're just sitting at the computer, it can be a pain in the butt. Live interaction is good.

They say that the people who live the longest after chronic illness such as heart disease are the ones who have the best support systems. So, connect with other people in whatever way you can. There are a few older men that I see at the farmer's market twice a week. I know that they go there as much to socialize as to shop. And that's good. I always stop and say hello and have a conversation if I have the time. (Now I know why a trip there takes so darned long, it's all those men...) Appreciate the people in your life, have gratitude for what you've got and spread the love.

I almost forgot laughter but I believe it may be the best medicine since it's free and you decide whether or not to take it. Figure out what makes you laugh and find it. Read jokes, comic strips (Dan Piraro is not only a nice guy but a vegan artist who writes the strip Bizarro. Many of those make me laugh.), movies, watch comedy, listen to my friend Jeff Novick give one of his nutrition presentations, laugh at yourself, watch You Tube videos -- or whatever gets your funny bone twitching. I always feel better after I laugh, especially at myself or from a funny movie (sight gags really get me). Whoop it up today.

For more specific eating tips, check out this newsletter by friend and fellow dietitian and health coach Kathy Nichols.

I hope that your 2009 got off to a great start, if not start over.

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