It’s 9 o’clock on a Saturday (the regular crowd shuffles in… no, no just kidding. I’m in my kitchen, not a bar in a Billy Joel song.) and here I am, working on a post. Well, ok here I am:
I frequently get asked about how I stick to my “diet” with so many temptations out there, so today, I thought I’d do a follow up on Livin’ La Vida Saludable (The Healthy Life) and give you a pictorial breakdown of what I do. If the dogs could just be quiet for one minute, that is. Sigh.
First off, a healthy lifestyle has several, equally significant facets:
1) Food, 2) Exercise, 3) Sleep, 4)Relationships, and 5) Mentality.
Since I love to do everything backwards, I’ll start with number 5:
5) Mentality Your mentality, your mindset- is really the first step in, well…. everything. Ask yourself; Am I being kind to myself? Am I being fair to myself? Am I being too easy/too hard on myself? These are serious questions, really reflect on them. In being kind to yourself, you should be making it a daily practice to refrain from negative self reflections (“Ugh, I look disgusting” or “God, I’m so stupid”) you’d be surprised how often and quickly we unconsciously make these internal statements. There’s a quote that I love:
This applies to not just your treatment of others, but to first and foremost, yourself. For a healthy lifestyle, your mind must become as free as realistically possible of those negative thoughts and words. Obviously, we all have our moments. That, too, is healthy and normal. But if your overwhelming instinct is think positive, you’ll find it easier and easier to rebound from the negative mood/ mindset. Now conversely, we need to know the difference between being hard on our selves, and being objective. That comes with true introspection. I’ll use myself as an example. Currently, I am 120 pounds (5’3, 43 years old). It’s a good healthy weight for me, and I know this. I fluctuate between 117-122 in any given week. When the scale says 117, I’m happy, and when it says 122, I’m a watchful. This can be construed as either: awareness or obsessing. I go with awareness, simply because I am conscious of how I feel, or more specifically, how I feel at different weights. I stay mindful of my fluctuations because I want to feel my best, which in turn, helps me behave/think my best. Know yourself, and know when and where you feel your best, and let that guide you. Barring any struggles with anorexia, bulimia, or body dysmorphic disorder, this is a reasonable guideline for anyone to follow.
Being kind to yourself is often confused with, and labeled as being selfish. So be it. I mean, really? Who cares. My healthy lifestyle includes monthly therapeutic massage, regular pedicures, taking long relaxing baths (with candles), and a gym membership, so I’ve actually had women say to me, ” Oh, well aren’t you special, Miss Thing” and a snide, ” Oh, well isn’t that nice” . To which I’d say, “Listen, honey- retract those claws cuz you’re acting catty.” Now, maybe you can’t fit those methods into your budget on a regular basis, but these things are NOT “luxuries” they’re self maintenance. You are absolutely worth maintaining, and treating well. As we all know, you don’t need a gym, there’s plenty of DVDs and apps and online tutorials for every kind of exercise out there. As for massage and Pedi’s- try Groupon or Living Social or any other deal based website for great discounts. It’s not out of hand, or ridiculous to treat yourself well, because how you feel directly affects how you act.
4) Relationships How are your relationships? Spouse/partner, family, friends, acquaintances…? Are they overwhelmingly tense, or unsatisfactory? How often do you feel angry at, or let down by those in your circle? Again, love for others starts with love for yourself. You can’t be your best self any other way. A bad relationship takes two, so think about what you are sending out as a message about who you are. Having a good relationship with yourself, and thereby exuding peacefulness and joy, will attract like mindedness. Never mind what “they” are doing or saying. What are you doing? How are you acting? A healthy person eliminates those who bring negativity into their space. My husband has a phase that fits our lifestyle to a T, ” You can do whatever you want, just don’t bring I over here.” And let me tell you- we mean it. We live it. Home is our haven, or rather, we are each other’s haven. We guard it, protect it, and nourish it. We are each other’s biggest fans, and we keep each other humble. I would say, yes, we are fortunate, but we are not ‘lucky’. Luck is falling into something good. Being fortunate is finding someone to share a mutual respect, trust, love and admiration of, and then building a life together based on that foundation. Fortune is cultivated. So cultivate your own fortune from the inside out.
3)Sleep Ah, sleep. The toughest one for us all. I do so love my sleep, and am a disaster without it. I can’t possibly tell you anything you haven’t already heard of to try. I’m grateful to say that I generally sleep well, averaging 6-8 hours. I tell all new moms, sleep when your baby sleeps! The laundry can wait, as can the dishes. Just get your sleep, and nothing even seems so bad once you do. And, if you can’t get to sleep, use that wakefulness to try meditation. A peaceful state of mind is the goal here, restful and relaxing quiet time, so nice.
2)Exercise Listen, I fall off that wagon so often, I shouldn’t even write this paragraph. Right now, I’m back in gym mode. It’s winter, it’s cold, and it sucks getting there, BUT once I am, I feel so glad I did. The great news here, is, a healthy lifestyle for an average person is given a ratio of 80/20%. Meaning: 80% of a healthy lifestyle is from your eating habits, and only 20% needs to come from exercise. That’s not so bad, now is it?!
1)Food Woo-hooo! I couldn’t wait to get here! Ok, finally, here’s my breakdown of what I do:
So here is a shot of my shopping cart. I always hit produce first, and load up the front of my cart so that this is what I see as I shop the rest of the store. I purposely arrange my fruits and veggies in an appealing manner, it serves as motivation to not spoil the image of such beautiful healthfulness by adding boxes and cans of garbage food. (I avoid the aisles as much a s possible, too, and stay on the outer perimeter of the store.) Every grocery trip, I kid you not, someone stops me and says how lovely my cart looks. This week, a woman asked if she could come over to my house for dinner. I love when that happens!
I wont try and disillusion you: this is not inexpensive. Your cart will look only half full, your grocery bill will be they same, if not more, than it ever was, when you were buying boxes and bags of processed food. BUT:
Here’s the end result. With a little work and effort, your refrigerator will be full, I promise. My method is simple, really. Before my shopping trip, I’ve planned my meals, cleared the fridge of anything that was past peak, and prepped all of my containers, as well as my cooking /cutting area. Once I’ve gotten everything home and sorted it all, the oven goes on ( as does the apron- I love wearing an apron, it feels so professional!) and I prep all of the fruits, veggies, and meats for their roles. That entails washing, peeling, cutting, whatever. Music is on, as is the coffee (or, if it’s an evening task, a glass of wine). You’re going to be in the kitchen for a while, make it enjoyable. Now, so you know- though I make this sound so organized, and tidy, I am actually like the mad scientist- there’s stuff everywhere, and it looks like a bomb went off, but for most people, it’s best to be methodical and orderly!
That’s how I lay out the containers, as the food is cooking. Typically, I’ll make a pork tenderloin, a chicken dinner, and a seafood dinner, all portioned into single lunch sized portions, as well as grab and go snacks, like fruit and yogurt, veggie sticks and dip, hard boiled eggs, as examples. The idea here, is preparedness. I almost always have food in my purse- homemade fruit and nut mixes, kale chips, homemade beef jerky, coconut chunks, and so on.
Some great kitchen helpers to have:
Food dehydrator. I love my dehydrator. From fruit and veggie chips, to beef jerky, it’s a great kitchen aid. Besides the obvious uses, I also ultra dry my greens that I know I won’t use in time (before they turn) and turn them into a powder that I can add to almost anything. I’m a big Amazon shopper, and found a well priced dehydrator that I’ve been happy with. Shop around for what fits your needs.
Juicer Again- I love my juicer. I bought an inexpensive one, with the thought that I wasn’t really sure how much I would use it. You can check it out here on Amazon. For being on the cheaper end of the spectrum, it has held up very well. Much like my dehydrator, I find the juicer comes in very handy with fruit and vegetables that are nearing over ripeness. You never want to juice fruit or veggies that you wouldn’t want to eat, of course, but if you have some that you know you won’t get around to in time, juicing is a great alternative.
Spiralizer I LOVE this thing. Since we don’t eat pasta anymore, I’ve taken to making zucchini “spaghetti” with this gadget, as an alternative to spaghetti squash and Shirataki noodles, the spiralizer makes your zucchini ( or sweet potatoes, for that matter) in either spaghetti, linguini, or fettuchini sized strips. Fun and healthy!
Food Processor I actually love chopping and slicing food the old fashioned way, just a personal preference, but food processors are simply a great step saver and worth having in the home.
There’s lots of gadgets and tools out there, but I always feel that a great knife is your best friend in the kitchen. Invest in a good one, take care of it, and keep it sharp!
Lastly, around the home, particularly in the kitchen. Get rid of the cookie jar/candy jar. Out of sight, out of mind. Instead, keep your fruits and veggies visible- at least the ones that don’t require refrigeration. Purge your snack cabinet/ drawer/cupboard. Boxed/ prepackaged (processed) foods? Donate then to local food shelters. Make them gone. Removing the things that encourage you to take shortcuts forces you to be more mindful and prepared.
I think it’s really important for you to know that I live a completely average life- I budget and save like everyone else. I say this because there’s a misconception about Paleo/Clean eaters that they have expendable income and that it’s not something “regular” people can do. This couldn’t be further from the truth! My grocery bill was $149.68 this week, for two people. Fairly average, I think. I made 30 meals, including snack bowls. I also clocked my time today, as I made all the food for the week.- including prep and clean up- It took me 4 1/2 hours. This means that from four hours work, on one day, I will not have to make a single dinner, or lunch for that matter, for the rest of the week. For me, considering that I have a ten hour workday, this is a lifesaver. I come home, and can relaxxxxxx. So, so nice.
Stay tuned for my video blog (vlog, lol) showing you just how a weekly food prep looks like!