A New Year has begun with all that "new" suggests. Perhaps you envision new work endeavors, stronger family ties, and convictions to be more involved with community. Many resolve to become a healthier person.
Whatever your goals, I suggest you take small bites. Small bites are sustainable.
The mistake many make is to set unrealistic goals like "never again will I eat ice cream!" This rarely works, as most people cannot sustain being in a depravation mode for long.
Let's concentrate on making small positive changes for our personal health, our family's health, our community's health and our planet's health.
We need to begin with ourselves.
If we are healthy beings we feel better and have more energy to share. As adults it is our responsibility to set a good example for children, your own or others.
Create health and vitality by consuming a healthy diet and regularly exercising. Set the tone. When you concentrate on additions and not subtractions bad habits often fall away as we feel healthier and stronger.
We simply don't crave unhealthy food anymore. I'm sure you already know the bad food choices you sometimes make, so here is a list of additions to make to your diet.
Let's focus on these:
Begin each day with breakfast. Ideas include oatmeal with nuts and seeds, cold cereal with fresh fruit, omelets with vegetables, yogurt with granola, leftover soup (try it sometime!) and whole grain muffins with blueberries.
A mid-morning snack might include 10-15 raw almonds and 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds, a piece of fruit or a fruit cup, carrot and celery sticks or whatever vegetables are in season.
A sandwich is always an easy lunch, but please be sure to vary the ingredients; add lots of veggies and use whole-grain breads. Salads are a wonderful choice for lunch with some kind of protein such as garbanzo beans, sliced chicken or tuna.
A mid-afternoon snack would be along the same lines as your mid-morning snack, but please vary your selections. If you had nuts and seeds for your morning snack do not have them for an afternoon snack, choose vegetables instead.
A hearty bowl of soup makes a wonderful winter dinner with a lovely salad. Use a crock-pot and when you get home after work, dinner is made! Baked chicken with roasted veggies is easy as is a bowl of chili stuffed into half an acorn squash. Keep it simple and keep it varied.
Make a goal to get some kind of exercise every day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just do something. Keep moving and you will feel so much better.
If you try to start a big diet goal and a huge new exercise regime, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Small bites to health; small steps.
If you yearn for simpler times with family, make a vow to have at least one meal a day with your family. Again, start with small goals and work up to every night being family night. The goal of course is more family time and less television time.
Community is a very important aspect of good health and well-being. There is always a local cause that needs either your funds or time and more likely than not, both. Choose some way to give back. It can be something as simple as attending your local firefighters' breakfast or serving a meal at the homeless shelter.
Our Earth needs all the help it can get. Be sure to recycle, reduce and reuse. Just these three R's alone will make a big difference.
If you try to make too many changes at once it can be overwhelming. Do your best to take small bites for health!
Patty James. M.S. is a Vital Health Educator and Nutrition Coach who founded the first certified organic cooking school and nutrition center in America.