11/28/12

A few small changes before 2013

Over Thanksgiving I was talking with my 89 year old Grandpa who is mentally sharp, active and living independently in Reno, NV with his wife (re-married after my Grandma passed away a while back - they just celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary yesterday).


Like many people Grandpa Joe is still interested in the "best" diet out there. I think speaking to individuals on nutrition should be a case-by-case discussion, with similar recommendations but age-appropriate information that is also practical and realistic. I have spoken with a variety of people in and out of the hospital, from all different socioeconomic background, with all types of diseases and lifestyle issues (ex. wheelchair bound, no car, living off food-stamps, etc.) which make giving advice on the perfect "diet" near to impossible. Our society reads too much about what not to do and I believe we should be spending our energy on what we can do. There are so many diet books out there as to what not to eat but if you think about it, sometimes it is the habits that we are making that are driving our actions. It isn't the food itself but rather how we eat it and why. I would guess that many people eat when they aren't hungry, overeat because they are starving and eat for emotional reasons. It's not that wheat is bad or that meat will kill you but rather why we are eating what in the first place. Think back to the last time you ate....where were you? Were you eating with others and did they influence your eating style (positive or negative)? What time did you eat? What did you eat? Simply address the questions instead of the food to understand how you are living your life.

So, when it comes to healthy living, who's to say that there is a perfect diet out there that we all need to follow?

My Grandpa has the best advice and with his amazing memory, he tells the best stories. So giving him nutritional advice at his age was a bit difficult, as you can imagine.
When he asked me my thoughts on the "best" foods out there, I politely told him that as a society, we are always looking for the next best thing. We often forget to address what we have done in the past to get us to this point. Even if you feel like you aren't as healthy as you think you can be, something is working and we should never overlook that. To point blame on any one food or habit is not helpful when you think of the many things we do on a day-to-day basis that help us get to tomorrow. For my Grandpa, he has lived 89 amazing years, free of cancer. To me, that is a huge accomplishment and he has done a lot of "best" things that have worked for him. He does have a few health issues but to reference my mission in life - he is still living a quality life and is still making memories. I find it hard to accept that our society will spend a good 30-40 years of life "worrying" about weight instead of living life to the fullest and making things happen in a positive manner. Because eventually, when you hit a certain age - health will become more important than body image and there will be a time when you will say "I wish I would have." So, why waste your energy on looking a certain way or eating "perfectly" and instead direct your energy on living the best live for yourself.

You can spend your entire life trying to be perfect OR you can spend everyday being productive for a better tomorrow. Never a day lost and many days to be proud of the small changes you are making.

Since I don't believe in being strict or extreme when it comes to my life, I am constantly conscious of the actions I am making and if they are enhancing my life. One area that is a concern to many is body image. For me, at 5-feet tall, I suppose I should be 5 -10 lbs "lighter". I am around 110lbs and Ironman peak training weight I am around 107-108lbs unintentionally. So to make dietary changes to get to a weight that I feel is not "ideal" for me would only leave me feeling restricted on life. I can't live a fun, energy-filled, active life and make memories when my body image and diet are always on my mind. Food enhances my lifestyle and for me, seeing a number on a scale is not worth it to me to sacrifice my days on earth just to weigh less. I'd rather buy a bigger size of clothes and make more memories with Karel and Campy.


 I encourage you to aim for a body composition that allows you to do-more in life, with less injuries and health issues. There is a fine line between wanting to "look" a certain way for appearance or what you feel is "ideal" versus a healthy weight that keeps you living a great life.





Because I believe in making small changes for a better lifestyle, here are a few changes you can focus on before 2013 to make for a better New Year.

1) Warm-up  - maintaining a consistent and flexible exercise routine for an hour a day is encouraged in order to live a quality-filled life. You aren't required to run an hour a day for parking far away at the grocery, taking the stairs or dancing are all great activities to keep the body moving after (or before) you sit all day. Whether you struggle with the cooler temps or just getting the motivation to get out the door the best advice is to warm-up before you "exercise". Get the blood flowing and release some endorphins as you warm the body up. Walk up and down stairs for a few minutes, walk in place and pump your arms or do a little cardio and before dynamic stretching. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to warm-up the body and to get the energy you need to accomplish the activity ahead of you.
2) Don't go into a meal starving - It's not about being good or bad or getting upset at your cravings in the evening. To prevent overeating at a meal, eating too fast, overindulging after a meal (ex. desserts, snacks) and to feel better after you eat than before, plan a small snack around 30-60 min before your meal to keep your appetite and blood sugar controlled. Last night's pre-dinner creation was sliced vine tomatoes w/ basil and Brie cheese. Other options should compliment your dinner meal. Avoid  having crackers and cheese if you are planning pasta and cheese. Veggies, fruit slices, a few nuts or a little protein are all great options to keep your appetite and cravings controlled as you find yourself better enjoying your meal prep (and meal).


3) Progress as an athlete - Whether you are training for an event or exercising for fitness, all active individuals should have goals and should enjoy seeing progress within every workout. Treat yourself like an athlete, no matter your fitness level. When working with athletes, the biggest areas of concern that are overlooked by athletes are; flexibility, strength training, recovery, mental strength and intervals. Avoid the junk miles and the boring workouts and give your training a plan and a purpose. Establish short and long term goals and as you work on your weaknesses and build off your strength, be sure that you are seeing yourself grow as an athlete, doing the work to get yourself closer to your goals. I don't believe in training more to "get better". Train smarter to train harder and then recover to do it all over again.