Another of the most commonly made New Year’s resolutions, and one I’ve heard from members this year, is to eat healthier. Obviously, this bar changes a lot based on what you are already eating. I personally am going to cut way back on soda this year. I didn’t realize how used to it I had gotten, and I don’t think it’s doing me any favors with my complexion, my weight, or occasional heartburn. So, I haven’t had any since New Year’s Eve (Two days down! Woo!) and will be reserving it for special/festive occasions and ginger ale or 7-Up if I have a stomach bug, and otherwise am cutting it out of my diet.
A couple of weeks ago, I was half watching an overnight news program that was talking about liquid diets, and how they’re a good idea, but people are doing them wrong. They said instead of doing the diet where you ONLY consume liquids, what people should be doing is eating normally but drinking healthier liquids. Really, we all know artificial sweeteners are bad for you, and so is all the corn syrup disgustingness that tastes so good, and even the carbonation in flavored water is still going to bloat your stomach.
So, we’re issuing a challenge to you to get off the soda train with us. Special occasions, festivities, stomach ailments, or once we get into trying out some various recipes then those days are okay in moderation. But the day to day normalcy of soda has to go. Water is such a healthier and under-appreciated beverage and we need it to stay healthy and to let our body clean out toxins properly. Of course, there are other options to soda. Fruit juice in moderation has a nutritious side even if it is still high in sugar, it is at least natural sugar. Tea is my best friend. Iced tea, hot tea, chai lattes, black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, red tea… it’s pretty rare that I meet a tea I don’t like. When I do it usually involves licorice root ^_^ Or some kind of weird pyramid shaped teabags that I ended up being wildly allergic to. But I digress. Beverages. Milk is an important soda alternative as well. It gives us vitamin D and B12 and calcium to help keep our teeth and bones strong. I encourage organic skim milk, but do what’s a good match for you and try not to add chocolate to it too often.
Many people will also think they are hungry when they are actually thirsty. As an everyday rule of thumb, you can use your bodyweight to determine how much water you should be drinking in a day. It IS possible to drink too much water and get water intoxication, which can lead to death, so we’re not saying carry around milk jugs full of water to chug daily. What you should do is take your weight, (for the sake of example 200lbs), divide it in half (in this case 100) and then that number is how many ounces of water you should be drinking daily. It helps us when we’re being especially health conscious to have a measured liquid container that holds the water that we need to drink for the day and to fill from that so we make sure we hit our mark. It takes a lot of water to achieve water intoxication, several gallons, or if you’re younger several liters, and all rather quickly. So don’t be scared that you’re overdoing it, unless you’re really chugging it down to where you’re virtually drowning, you’re going to be okay. Tea does count toward your daily goal of how much water you should be drinking. If you’re not a water fan and need help transitioning to it, or even if you are a fan and just want some extra luxury, feel free to add fresh citrus slices to your water. Or cucumber even.
Of course. you can do your three meals a day at regular intervals (properly portioned), but for any in-between meal snacking and grazing and indulging, drink a glass of water first. Put a sticky note or magnetic dry erase board on your refrigerator door reminding you “Drink water first!” It takes your brain 20 minutes to recognize that you feel “full”. So, if you drink a glass of water, wait 20 minutes, and are still hungry, then absolutely grab a healthy snack. The 20 minute wait will not kill you 🙂 Because of that 20 minute interval before your brain acknowledges fullness, you’re also going to do yourself a huge favor if you slow down the pace of how quickly you eat, and give yourself that buffer before you go for a second helping of anything.
Most of us put a lot more into our bodies than it wants or needs. I personally am 5’4″, and I weigh very close to 250lbs. When I am in good shape I weigh 117 lbs. I am doing the equivalent of giving a full-grown adult a piggyback ride everywhere I go all day, every day. My body doesn’t need that kind of stress. If anyone else tried to do that to me I’d tell them where they can stick it, so it’s not acceptable that I’m doing it to myself. We do recognize that not everyone is starting from a place of overweight, or even a place or average weight, some people need to gain weight to achieve healthy, and we’re here for you to help with that process too. We are absolutely all in this together.
Suffice to say today’s big project is to eat healthier than you normally do. The whole day. If you’re used to toast in the morning make it with wheat or whole grain bread. It’s a great time of year for starting the morning with some oatmeal, which is heart healthy, gluten-freen, whole grain, and full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, and it can be sweetened up with some fruit. We wouldn’t dream of asking anyone to give up their coffee (yet), but watch what you put in it, and try to keep it down to no more than 2 cups a day. If you feel like switching it up from coffee to tea, there are great breakfast teas to start your morning with. Other healthy breakfast components can include eggs (prepared pretty much any way but fried), bran muffins, cottage cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt, Cream of Wheat, high fiber cold cereal, or substituting some Canadian bacon instead of regular bacon or sausage.
For lunch we recommend considering a salad. Whatever you do today fit salad into the plan somewhere, whether it’s lunch or if it’s with dinner. Don’t go for heavy dressings (unless you’re in the needing to gain weight category, then feel free to go all out with some ranch or thousand island), choose a vinaigrette that speaks to you (my very favorite is red bell pepper vinaigrette, my mother’s favorite is strawberry vinaigrette, Balsamic vinaigrette is amazing too, just choose something that pairs well with your salad’s contents), or if you’re feeling really gung-ho, skip dressing and use a little bit of olive oil and squeezed lemon. Apart from salad for lunch consider a sandwich made with lean meat (like oven roasted turkey or chicken) on whole grain bread, or maybe some tuna salad. Soups can be wonderful and convenient, but be careful about which ones you choose. Lots of premade soups are high in sodium. Look for low sodium options or make it yourself so you know what you’re putting in. If you’re used to a side of fries or chips, substitute them out with some baby carrots or some hummus and pita chips or crudités.
Dinner has so many options we don’t even know what to tell you other than if you got it out of a window in your car it’s wrong. Cook yourself something special but healthy. Make that salad now if you didn’t for lunch. Braise a nice piece of fish or cook a lean steak or a broil a chicken breast. If you usually have white rice with dinners change it up today and have brown rice or quinoa. Make a stir-fry with lots of veggies and chicken or lean pork or firm tofu in some sesame oil.
If you’re someone who is used to having dessert and don’t feel like the day is complete without it, go with fruit. Fruit is sweet and satisfying while staying healthy. To make it extra special or if you’re on the end of the spectrum where you need to gain some weight dip it in some Greek yogurt. Tastes great, feels nice and light, and still satisfies that sweet craving.
If you find yourself needing a snack throughout the day, be prepared with healthy convenient options to reach for. Some Cheerios or fiber cereal in a plastic baggy, a handful of trail mix or GORP, a few almonds, or some cleaned and sliced celery sticks that you can top with peanut butter or laughing cow light cheese. Keep portions small and only reach for them when you’re truly hungry. Remember to go for water first!
That’s your big mission for today, but here’s your small list of tasks:
Deep Condition your hair: When’s the last time your hair really got some love from you? Whenever it was, make it happen today. Hair affects how a person looks so much, and when we look better we feel better, so treat it kindly. Heavy, weighty hair can also just drag you down and make your head feel heavy and achy, so give it some love to up its volume so it doesn’t pull on you the same way. Deep conditioning isn’t just for hair that’s been damaged by over coloring, it’s also for hair that’s gone too long without a cut, or has been exposed to too much heat, or that you just want to be healthy and look nice, so guys it includes you too (entirely bald people are off the hook on this one and can settle for just giving themselves a nice scalp massage.) After you choose a deep conditioner or a hair mask (a step up from a deep conditioner) it should be used twice a week, applied over all of your hair, tucked under a shower cap, and allowed to stay there for ten minutes before rinsing.
Clean Out Your Closets: You might’ve gotten a jump start on this yesterday if the do something for charity you chose involved donating clothes and shoes, but really go after your closets today. All of them. Your front coat closet, your broom closet, your linen closet, your bedroom closets. Any closet you’ve got, get in there and find out what’s in it, if it’s where it belongs, if it’s folded or hung properly, if it should be organized better, and if it would serve a better purpose somewhere else. For all the different ways you can donate clothing, shoes, accessories, and household goods (even the clothes and shoes you think are beyond use to anyone anymore), check out yesterday’s post. Do go into your closets armed with trash bags and boxes if you’ve got them so that donatable items can be sorted out and recyclable or trash worthy items can be tossed. Be prepared to tackle any laundry that has made it to your closet floor. If the closet you’re in is home to your holiday decorations think about whether today might be the right time to take them down and put them away nicely. Technically you have until February 2nd before it really HAS to come down, but if you’re feeling motivated and in the right place and don’t feel a need to keep it up anymore, go ahead and get things down so you don’t have to worry about it later.
Put on a Dance Video and start moving. That can be anything from a Wii or Xbox Kinect dance game to a fun music video from your youth or a dance aerobics video. Just get some music going and have fun getting your groove for at least the duration of a song. As many songs as you want if you’re really having a good time 🙂
Listen to a Guided Meditation or Subliminal Track to calm your stress levels. I personally am autistic and can get overwhelmed easily by routine change, or by too much sensory input, and while I HATE when people say “Everyone’s a little autistic” the less demeaning, less invalidating, more accurate version of that is “Everyone has some symptoms of autism.” It’s the combination and severity of them that make the diagnosis, but for the fun of it today I linked to audios designed to help autistic people cope, because I do think that they may have benefits for the rest of the world too, and would be interested in any feedback on that.
A word about music: We include songs for a reason. Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much. Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason. If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Healthy Food
Album: Sesame Road