This morning when I was buttoning my pants, I couldn’t help but notice they had shrunk…just around the waist. This same pair fit perfectly last week but today I had to suck in my gut and really work to get them buttoned. Hmmm, must have dried them on high. No, that’s not it. Maybe someone moved the button. No that’s not it either. Maybe, just maybe I put on a few pounds over Christmas.
Ok, full disclosure…I have little self-control when it comes to sweets. I try really hard all year long to eat a good, healthy diet and avoid junk food. However, when I have piles of cookies, bars, candies, fudge, caramels, or my mom’s famous “Dolly Bars” sitting in front of me…yep, I’m a little boy again and I just can’t help myself. Just thinking about mom’s bars makes my mouth water. So how do I avoid eating any of this delightful bounty? I don’t! I dive in and love every second of it…all of it. The big difference now is that I’m fully aware of what I’m doing so I might only eat a couple treats instead of several. I might only have a treat after I eat something healthier. Hopefully.
Do I feel guilty or beat myself up when I do this? Absolutely not! Instead, I try to compensate for the junk I’m eating by getting a little extra exercise and taking a couple extra supplements. I’m not saying it’s fine to eat junk food and load up on sweets. I’m not saying eat what you want and don’t worry about it, as long as you exercise and take vitamins. What I’m saying is what my dad has said my whole life—everything in moderation! If you eat really healthy most of the time and reward yourself every once in a while, you shouldn’t feel bad. Healthy lifestyle is not about perfection…believe me! As much as I like to think I’m perfect, anyone who knows me will tell you I am far from it. But I keep trying to get better.
I have a little rule of thumb I call my 80/20 rule. I honestly believe that most Americans eat a diet that is AT LEAST 80% junk, like empty carbs from pasta, breads, fast food, junk food, crackers, soda or sweetened drinks. That leaves 20% for healthy proteins, dairy, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, etc. Let’s be honest, I’m being kind to many people. I know a lot of folks that would be more like 95/5…but whatever. If you can turn that around and make 80% of your diet healthy food and only 20% bad stuff, that alone will improve your life, increase your energy and make you much healthier and prepared for the foreign invaders that we encounter every day. Once you are comfortable making 80% of your diet healthy, try for 90%. It really does get easier. You will learn ways to prepare vegetables so you like them. You will enjoy fruit as a dessert instead of ice cream. The less sweet food you eat, the less you crave. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t even think about eating Brussels sprouts or cauliflower; now I crave them both. A little butter, some garlic and onion, and some of my favorite seasonings go a long way.
Sure, I still enjoy a little candy treat from time to time, but I don’t make a habit of it. For many years, I had some type of candy for dessert after every meal. Now, it’s a rare treat so I don’t beat myself up when I enjoy a piece of cheesecake or a little ice cream. Again, moderation. Now I’m going to put on my snow shoes and run around the woods for a while. It’s the way I exercise – you do what works for you. If I can burn a few calories while I’m enjoying nature, maybe my pants will unshrink.”
Want a New Year’s resolution? Shoot for a better diet. Don’t think you will eat perfectly. Unless you can walk on water, there’s a pretty good chance you will cheat. Try for 80/20 (good/bad). And just keep trying to get better. That’s my rant for the day. Have a happy, healthy 2017.