Because I believe diet and exercise are so important, I'm often frustrated with the recommendations I receive. Nutrition and natural health ideas are often so negative (don't eat this, watch out for that) or so rigorous (be sure to eat some raw, natural, organically grown vegetable I've never heard of) or so complicated, I end up ignoring them. And yet, I know diet is critical to my health and well-being, so I made up my own rules. My objective was simplicity, so all of you with greater will-power and more discipline, cut me some slack, OK? For the rest of us, I hope you find them useful.
1. Eat less. I used to eat until I was full, and then snack as a hobby. And, sometimes I still do. But, more and more, I decide when I've eaten enough, leave room for a treat later, and simply choose to eat a little less. I think it helps.
2. Drink more water. I used to try to drink 8 glasses a day, but I usually ended up either losing count…or just going to the bathroom a lot. Now, on my way to the table I stop by the sink and grab a glass of water. I figure that's more water than most people drink, it probably helps me eat less (see Rule #1), and sometimes it reminds me to drink even more. Close enough.
3. Eat more fruit. Benjamin Franklin said, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." I just know apples, a banana, some grapes or something "exotic" like a mango or a kiwi tastes good, and it's the fastest, most portable and convenient food I've found. A handful of those little baby carrots beats a sandwich by a good 90 seconds!
4. Eat your vegetables. Yeah, still listening to my mother. But on the positive side, they're so easy! No sauces, no mixing or blending or nothing! Raw, steamed or microwaved, they're great for adding color to a meal (greens, yellows, and beans in all sorts of colors). I know fresh and organically grown is best, and sometimes I buy them that way….
5. Eat more rice and baked potatoes. I score points with my doctor, my "significant other" and again, it's about the easiest cooking I've figured out.
6. Stretch when you feel like it. I used to follow a routine that recommended stretching and yoga for about 30 minutes every morning. Wonderful stuff! Very healthy. And someday I'm going to give it another try! For now, every morning, and several times during the day, I stand up and try to reach the ceiling. I bend, twist, shake my shoulders, breath deep, whatever seems to feel good at the moment. Then I get back to work.
7. Avoid exercise and elevators. OK, I believe jogging and sweating and lifting weights are good for me. And I do some of it. But I also find it useful to walk around the block to get the mail (the box is across the street) or take the stairs instead of the elevator. I walk the dog, push the lawnmower and play tennis and golf with my friends. That way I figure I'm exercising and leaving the gyms open for the rest of you.
8. Spend time with friends. Talking, sharing dreams, giving and receiving support, solving life's great mysteries and debating politics or religion with a friend does wonders for the soul. And, hugs are good. And if you have a life-partner, I find talking regularly seems to avoid a number of other problems, as well!
9. Laugh every day. Tell a joke, wrestle with your dog or play with the kids next door, but have some fun! Life's short.
10. Plan for dessert! At the end of the day, I really like something special to top it all off. So, I plan for a bite of chocolate or a cup of low-fat pudding or yogurt or a handful of fresh grapes. It sure seems to beat restlessly searching the cupboards and refrigerator for "something" and ending up with a big bowl of ice cream!
Finally, a few words of experience. It's OK to "slip" once in a while. At least it better be OK...I seem to do it periodically. Just get up again tomorrow, make the rules simpler, more fun or more appropriate for your situation and get right back on! I don't think the objective is perfection -- there's no point in having a heart attack getting all stressed out about the rules! Just go have some fun!