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Healthy living – making better food choices in 2011

In one of my last posts in 2010 “ A Beautiful Day” I made the following statement.   “Healthy living means good eating habits, regular exercise and balanced living”.  In 2011 I would like to dig into these three items and see if I can relate to them in a way that will be helpful to all of us.

How many of us want to be unhealthy?  How many of us struggle with health issues?  I would dare say that most people I know struggle with at least one health issue if not multiple health issues.  Some of those health issues are inherited through the gene pool and some of them happen because of poor life choices.

I have high blood pressure.  I am adopted from an orphanage in Germany so I have no clue what my biological health history is.  Maybe my biological family had high blood pressure and I just inherited it.   Maybe, and this is more likely, I have high blood pressure because I am over weight and out of shape.  In 2009 I made a decision to do something about being over weight and being out of shape.  I believe that through regular exercise, blood pressure medicine and healthy food choices that I can lower my blood pressure.   I have proven that to be true over the last two years.

The first item on the “healthy living” list is “good eating habits”.  When I was a teenager I could eat everything in sight and never gain an ounce.  I will need to dig out a picture of me when I was a teenager, you won’t believe that I was skinny as a rail.  At some point in adult life, I let myself go, my metabolism slowed down, and then I woke up to the image of “Muffin Man”.  That process was a gradual process that happened over a period of years. The only way to learn how to develop good eating habits is to gain knowledge in that area and finding out what the experts have to say about it.

A dear friend of mine paid for me to go see a nutritionist and to take a fitness exam.  This was back in 2008 before I made the decision to be more healthy and lose weight.   I took the fitness test and it was confirmed that I was horribly out of shape, and that if I did not make some radical changes and soon, that my only option was an early death. In other words, with my weight and blood pressure issues, I was a candidate for a heart attack or stroke.

At the time that I took the fitness test I was eating a 1500 calorie diet, and I was not losing an ounce.  The nutritionist gave me a strict list of what I could eat and things I absolutely should not eat.  He also told me that by eating a low calorie diet, that my body was storing fat because it thought I was starving myself.  He told me that for my weight, and life style , that he recommended that I eat a 3500 calorie diet. That consists of lots of vegetables, lean meats , some fruit and lots of water. It also required lots of aerobic exercise to help start burning calories.

Even though I have not followed the strict diet suggestions from the nutritionist, here is a list of things that I know I should stay away from.   Most of these items can be listed under the category of  “processed foods”.

  • cheeseburgers
  • French fries
  • Fried foods of any type
  • mashed potatoes
  • white rice
  • bread (especially white)
  • sugar
  • candy and sweet soda pop drinks
  • sweet tea
  • red meat
  • ice cream
  • pastas
  • cookies and pastry
  • cheese

As you can see this is not an all inclusive list.  Everything on that list however, I love to eat.  In order for me to lose weight I have to make healthier choices and not eat as much of those items as possible.    Here is a list  of substitutes that I am trying to consume instead.

  • lean meat
  • fish
  • whole wheat wraps
  • Splenda instead of sugar
  • un sweet tea
  • Diet Dr Pepper (with moderation)
  • more water every day
  • fat reduced ice cream (on occasion)
  • lots and lots of vegetables (steamed if possible)
  • whole wheat bread ( when I must have a sandwich)
  • fruit for breakfast
  • oatmeal
  • 8  80z glasses of water or more (very important)
  • Crystal light to flavor the water
  • tuna fish

I guess you could say that I have been following a very loose Atkins diet for the most part.  Once a week I have a cheeseburger and fries.  I do my best to eat healthy and I also do not think of this as a diet.   Diets are meant to be broken and once you fall off the diet bandwagon you can put the weight back on.  The whole idea is that there has to be a life style change. The food choices have to be made for the right reasons and it has to be something that you stick with over a long period of time.

My hope is that this article will spur you on to finding out what works for you.  We are all made differently and not everything will work for everyone.  The key is to eat better and more healthy foods.  Do the research and start your healthy choices at the grocery store the next time you go to shop.  If you know you should not eat it, don’t buy it.  If the junk is in the house then you will be tempted to eat it.  Use a menu system and plan out your meals.  You can visit Heather Solos at Home Ec101 for help in that area.

As much as possible make your meals and take them with you to work and stay away from fast food restaurants as much as possible.   If you are forced to go to McDonalds get a chicken wrap or a salad instead of a greasy cheeseburger and fries. Get a diet soft drink instead of a regular soft drink or un sweet tea.

One tool that you can use to help yourself stay accountable is to find an online support web site that can help you track your progress and count calories. I will list a couple that I have found to be helpful.

SparkPeople

Calorie Counter

My Fitness Pal

Weight Watchers

If you can educate yourself as to the right choices to make on what you eat then your body can start to mend itself over time.  I would highly recommend a trip to your family doctor and getting a full physical done so they can do blood work and make sure that changing your diet will not impact your health in a negative way.   Your decision to eat right, get plenty of exercise and live a balanced life has to be a permanent life style change.  You can do it!

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