The smell of flowers blooming, the warmer temperatures, more fresh seasonal fruits and veggies becoming available: All of this puts us in the mood to start our health journey and make a true commitment to ourselves.
Just a few short months ago, we all tried to have a health renewal of sorts with our New Year’s resolution. In many cases, that resolution withers away until the end of the year, when we make another pact with ourselves to get healthy.
Perhaps our resolution to get healthy should really come in the spring. The stress of the holidays has worn off, and we tend to be more focused on the day to day aspects of life.
I won’t talk about a “diet” plan, but I will talk about a “lifestyle” plan. It’s not about quick fixes. It’s about nurturing a sustainable, long-term lifestyle change. As you revisit your health goals this spring, keep these tips in mind:
Eat “right” – not “less” – for better health. That means enjoying a healthy combination of proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates. That’s what we need to fuel our bodies so that they function optimally. You’ll probably find that you feel better, too! You’ll have more energy, sleep more soundly and have a clearer mind.
Slow and steady: Take it one day at a time. Remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare? Take your time as you make changes. Start by adding in some fresh (preferably in-season) fruits and veggies. Make simple swaps with healthier alternatives you enjoy. For a lasting change, try not to overthink it or many too many changes too quickly.
Read your food labels. You might be surprised to find that many foods you thought were healthy actually aren’t so. Many touted health foods pack added sugar or saturated fat, or are so low in calories they actually have little nutritional benefit at all (which is why you eat them and still feel hungry!). Some health foods pack a lot of calories, so a little goes a long way. Learn and be aware of what you’re putting in your body, and pay attention to your serving sizes.
Buy leaner cuts of meats. Animal proteins serve up a ton of nutritional value, but in some cases, certain cuts can also pack a lot of fat and cholesterol, too. Lean cuts of beef include round, chuck, sirloin and tenderloin. The leanest poultry is white meat from the breast with no skin. Lean pork or lamb includes tenderloin, loin chops and leg. Try to integrate more fish and seafood into your diet. Meatless meals are delicious, too!
Have fun experimenting with new foods and flavors. You might be surprised by the foods you enjoy. Just because you didn’t like something as a child doesn’t mean you won’t like it today. I used to tell my daughter that she had to take a “no-thank-you bite”. If you still don’t like it, move on – but there’s a chance you may have had a change of heart. And oh, by the way: Eating healthy is good for your heart, too!