I am not a big fan of diets. I spent way too many years thinking that some diet or another would fix all the problems in my life, often problems not related to food or weight. The thing about a diet is you are dramatically changing the way you eat in a way that is not sustainable over time. They are restrictive, guilt and self-hatred inducing things that rarely work. I have found that tying my emotions to the success or failure of diet related weight gain or loss is a recipe for a big FAIL. You are bound to feel happy, than sad, than happy again and food should not have this type of power over people. All of that said, I do not think life should be one big free pizza, cupcake, ice cream, bread and cheese/butter free for all. Those are my favorite foods by the way. Putting superficial appearance aside, such a life would wreak havoc on your health which is the most important thing that we can actually control as humans. Without your health you have nothing. I digress. While I don’t like diets, I do believe in working towards being the healthiest version of yourself because physical health promotes mental health – read happiness. I believe that the only way to make lasting changes with regards to your eating habits is to tackle the bad ones one at a time. Instead of trying a massive overhaul, i.e. I am giving up carbohydrates, why not shift your intention to limiting refined carbs and eating more whole grains? Instead of going vegan tomorrow, try meatless Mondays. Want to run a marathon, start with a mile. Setting small, achievable goals has helped me as I try to move towards a healthy diet. Which brings me to the point of all this. My biggest vices are sweets. I can always talk myself into some coconut ice cream at the end of the day because didn’t I run an extra mile and it is not dairy anyway. Well Alexandra, it is still sugar and fat and you just cancelled out the benefits of your run (strictly from a weight management perspective). When I dine out, isn’t it a special occasion worthy of desert? Not always young lady. I know some of you are thinking, DUH, but it is my bad habit and I must own it. So for me, my next pet project is to limit dessert to once a week for the next month. We will see what happens and what shifts. Maybe my weight, maybe my emotional attachment to sweets, maybe nothing. Whatever it is, can’t hurt right?
Yesterday, Greg and I ran in the Bunker Hill Roadrace which is a great 8K (5 Mile) run through Charlestown. We did so to benefit a really fantastic nonprofit that the owner of Charlestown Yoga, one of the studios I teach at, runs. The organization is called There and Back Again and it provides yoga and other whole body therapies to any veteran of any combat. The program has proven extremely effective in easing the challenge of reintegration into civilian life for vets suffering from PTSD and the associated symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, anger, depression, isolation, inability to concentrate and many others. Please visit their website to learn more or donate!
What you can’t see in the above picture is that I ran this race in my new Vibram Bikilas.
While I love mine, the jury is still out on the benefits of barefoot or nearly barefoot running as you can see in this article from the NY Times last week. What is your favorite foot gear?
Yesterday I had the pleasure of flying Virgin America to San Francisco. The delightful 6-hour ride flew by, seriously. I saw the latest Harry Potter (so good), caught up on my favorite fashion mags, and read Michael Pollan’s new book – Food Rules.
I am a big fan of Mr. Pollan’s and an earlier book of his, In Defense of Food, really changed the way I think about food. Food rules is a short 136 pages long. It outlines 64 sensible rules that will help us move towards healthier habits while encouraging a resurrection of the joy food can bring us. The premise is simple: eat real, whole foods instead of the highly processed “edible food like substances” that abound in the western diet. Mostly plants, I hope this is self-explanatory. Lastly, not too much- moderation people. I think this book is a fabulous read if you are interested learning a little bit more about how diet is linked to health and therefore happiness. It is quick, based on common sense and easily digestible. Below is a sneak peak for those of you who are wonderful enough to read my blog:
- Rule #2: “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”. Think Gogurt tubes.
- Rule #8: “Avoid foods that make health food claims”. These first of all have to come in a box which guarantees they are processed but food marketers make health food claims to distract you from all the icky things in the food. Carrots don’t have to convince you they are good for you.
- Rule #7: “Avoid products with ingredients a 3rd grader could not pronounce”. Picture an adorable munchkin trying to say Ethoxylated diglycerides with a lisp.
- Rule #58: “Do all your eating at a table”. Eating should be a joyful, fulfilling experience. Eating while distracted by TV, a magazine or the like will diminish that experience. If we are going to eat, we might as well enjoy it.
The last line of the book is my favorite, Pollan cites Oscar Wilde stating, “All things in moderation, including moderation”.
Oh yes and since I flew here yesterday, I am now in Napa, California and it is beyond. Post coming soon.