You open your pantry door and the contents resemble aisles 18 and 19 of your local Vons Market. You know those aisles. The aisles of temptation. The ones that house chips of all varieties: Doritos, both ranch and original, Sour Cream Pringles, Wavy Lays, and of course your old go-to, Cheetos. The aisles that have helped you ride the waves of bad breakups with boyfriends, your father’s third marriage and multiple class reunions. The aisles that always offer consistency even when everything else seems like an endless tornado of chaos. You know exactly that the Double-Stuf Oreo’s are always fully stocked and sit reliably next to the Chips Ahoy. Why couldn’t your date on Thursday night be this trustworthy right? Seriously, Nilla Wafers are never an hour late and you don’t have to pick up the tab for them because their debit card was declined. So as we bid adieu to 2011 and welcome in the bliss of baby new year, I want to offer you some straight-up nutrition advice and talk about creating some realistic expectations for 2012. This is going to be the first in a series of blogs over the next month where I discuss setting realistic goals for the new year. I’m not going to insist you go on a radical juice cleanse for 35 days and will lose a pound per day. I’m just going to help you look past the chaos and get a little clarity on what is part of healthy, balanced lifestyle. Who knows, in the process you might just learn to skip past aisles 18 and 19, decline the call from Mr. Unreliable and welcome in a new thought process that affords your best interest. Because after all, you do deserve better.
The biggest mistake that most women make when setting goals for the new year is that they set unrealistic expectations for themselves. Hence, when the goal isn’t reached and disappointment sets in, they revert back to their old habits and tend to stay there longer than before without trying to set new goals. They forget to readjust. Why we women tend to set unrealistic goals for ourselves is, in my opinion, part of our modern-world feminine syndrome. Women by nature are care takers and want to make everything right for everyone which tends to drive us to overdo. We over-book, over-schedule, over-promise and over-commit to a fault. Sure I can be the perfect wife, mother, soccer mom, employee and/or boss and oh by the way I will have a phenomenal roast done for dinner that will put Martha Stewart’s culinary talents to shame. All while volunteering to bring snacks for the Girl Scout outing on Saturday just right after I drive the entire junior varsity water polo team to their weekend tournament and I write the budget report due at work. I’m such a great mom. I’m exhausted and think I have my right contact in my left eye because I was in such a hurry this morning but who cares, I am getting it all done right? Plus, to further the syndrome, women in our modern, fast paced society now have the social capacity to run billion dollar companies and hold equal status to men in business. So, the modern woman paradigm really encompasses all facets of life from motherhood, to bread winner, to care taker, to confidant. The woman’s perceived role has jumped from 45mph to 125mph over the past two decades. So how can a modern woman who has so many responsibilities still take care of herself, her diet, her nutrition and her personal exercise goals?
The first thing to remember is to prioritize. That means prioritize yourself and your health. Once you put yourself as a priority you will be making less trips to the store for granola bars and oranges to bring to the Saturday game and more trips to the gym. Also, once your health is a priority your waltz’s down the aisles of temptation won’t seem like the escape they used to be. Instead you will take more joy in spending more time on the perimeter of the store picking up lean protein and organic produce. The less stressed you are the less likely you will be to rely on the old standby’s of sugar and carbohydrate-rich sweets. So a pretty simple goal, prioritize yourself and your health.
The second key to building a healthy you is to simplify. Let’s face it, we live in a fast-paced world that can seem pretty complicated with all the downloads to do, software updates to get done and instant messaging to keep up with. But when it comes to nutrition, keeping it simple still works best. Build the core of your diet around whole, nutrient-dense foods. This includes whole grains such as brown rice, millet and quinoa, and fresh fruits and veggies in their natural state and lean protein. The less packaging the better and the fresher the better. If you can get your produce from a local farmers market you are guaranteed that the time it took to get that food from farm to your table is a lot less than it took to fly it from South America, get it through customs, truck it down from Los Angeles and deliver it to your chain supermarket. Hence, you will be getting a greater nutritional yield from what you are eating. As you are simplifying your diet and keeping it low in fat, low in sugar and moderate in carbohydrates, don’t forget to simplify your life in general. The appointments that you “have to” make…well take a second look at them and see how important they really are. Take inventory of the things that are really creating the biggest stress in your life. Is it financial, is it a relationship, or is it lack of time for yourself? Try to come up with a realistic plan on how to resolve the situation. Sometimes we avoid confronting a stressful aspect of our life because we are able to “deal with it” via coping methods we have put in place. But staying stuck in a destructive pattern is also stressful. So by dealing with it head on and staying steady in dealing with it a little bit at a time will eventually bring you to a better and healthy place that is free from dysfunction.
Lastly, re-committing to the realistic goals and priorities you have made for yourself will ensure that you reach your desired outcome. Frustration only happens when a goal is thwarted, so by setting goals that are within your reach, simplifying your approach to achieving them and then re-committing to your desire, you will avoid the stress, frustration and disappointment that comes when you push for too much too fast. Forget about rivaling Martha Stewart and hang up your angel wings for the winter. You will lose that twenty pounds for good if you do it steadily and still allow for the occasional cha cha through the Twinkie zone. Just as long as it is occasional and you don’t over-extend your stay, you will be on the way to your ideal self in no time. And believe me, next time you open up your pantry door and see that Chester Cheetah and Fred Flintstone have been replaced by brown rice bags and boxes of Kashi you are going to be much happier because you can fit into that sexy plum purple dress that you are planning to wear out on Friday with the fun, sexy and reliable guy you met while perusing through the Fuji apples at Whole Foods. Happy New Year to you, best wishes in creating those realistic expectations, and look for my next blog about increasing endurance during your training and decreasing fatigue in 2012.