Health Tips from a Complete Non-Expert

As January winds down, I keep encountering people who have resolved to live healthier this year. Exercise more, eat better, slow down, the usual. To those folks I say, good for you! But do you have to take up ALL the parking spots at the gym? Some of us have boatloads of kids and diaper bags to carry, you know!

And also? I hope I’m not standing behind you in line at Panera when you special-order your lunch and ask for everything on the side. Just GET THE SALAD!! If you really want to save calories, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Sorry, went off on a tangent there. What I meant to say was, I would like to share some healthy living tips with you all. I am by no means a health expert or a model of fitness -- “Why run when you can sit on the recumbent bike and read People?” is my motto -- but I have been a vegetarian for a couple of decades and I’ve never been on “The Biggest Loser.” That qualifies me in some small way, right?

Just to be clear: I am not a medical professional, just a mom who forces her kids to eat vegetables and go to the gym with her. Got it?

Take the “ex” out of “exercise.” What do you think of when you hear the word “exercise”? Extreme workouts? Sweat, pain, discomfort? Then find something you don’t hate. I can ride a bike 10x longer than I can run, for example, simply because I enjoy it more. And I do yoga because it’s relaxing and I feel taller and looser afterwards. Whereas body pump (weightlifting) classes just make me sore. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable to count as exercise.

Sneak it in. Forget Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook. (Unless you’re craving this.) There are MUCH easier ways to sneak healthy stuff into your kids’ food. I mix carrots into any baby food my 11 m.o. turns up his nose at. (Like green beans.) I sprinkle wheat germ on my 3-y.o.’s yogurt and call it “crunchies.” I mix flaxseed into pancakes and muffins, and have been known to add pureed spinach to spaghetti sauce.

We try to buy unsweetened everything (yogurt, oatmeal), and add our own dab of sugar, honey, or jam to it. We also buy wholegrain everything—bread, pasta, tortillas, cereal. There’s no excuse to buy white bread. EVER. If you must, use Rachael Ray’s trick of making a sandwich with the wheat bread on the bottom and the white bread on top. Sneaky, huh?

Go veggie. Vegetarian fare has come a long way since tofu and soymilk. At any Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and ordinary neighborhood supermarket you can find a huge variety of frozen veggie entrees. My favorite product is Morningstar Farms Grillers Recipe Crumbles. Substitute them for ground beef in tacos, chili, spaghetti sauce, and countless other recipes. The soy chicken, on the other hand? You can skip. (Except the nuggets. They’re not bad.) And remember: anything meat can do, beans can do better.

Swap out the coffee. You know those too-much-coffee jitters? I’ve started switching to green tea after one cup of coffee in the morning. If you think it tastes like boiled vegetables, try Lipton Green Tea with orange, passionfruit, and jasmine with a squirt of honey. Yum! It gives me enough of a pick-me-up to get through the day but won’t keep me awake past “The Daily Show.”

Make it a habit. You wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth for a day, would you? Or washing your face? OK, well, definitely not for 2 days straight, right? Because you’re in the habit. And you’d start to feel gross. And your friends would avoid you.

Well, it’s the same with exercise and eating healthy. Start by just showing up at the gym, or going for a walk, or eating a fruit or vegetable with each meal. Before you know it you’ll be running 10k’s and downing shots of wheat grass. Or not.

Look, I can and sometimes do eat a bag of BBQ potato chips for dinner, but I pair them with a side of carrot sticks and ranch dressing. It’s all about balance, people. Good luck with those resolutions! Save me a Stairmaster, would you?

TIP O’ THE WEEK: I never could get into V8. These Apple & Eve fruit & veggie juice boxes are MUCH tastier. I steal them from my son all the time.


Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

I could not agree with you more! I've just recently jumped back on the workout bandwagon, and I am SOOOOO glad I did. I'm feeling pretty great. But I think the fact that I'm pregnant takes a lot of the pressure off regarding weight loss. Whatever. I feel good, I eat well...that's what matters.

BTW, I totally hear you on the recumbent bike/People exercise model. That's is the way to go in my book. :-)

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Some great advice here. I especially like the part about choosing a form of exercise that you find enjoyable. And I do the same thing with green tea and coffee in the a.m.! I just do it the opposite way from you. I start with the green tea, then do the cup of coffee. Nice post!

katie said...

Ha! I love it--anything meat can do, beans can do better!

I'll have to try that Lipton Green Tea. I like Green Tea okay, but my favorite is the iced green tea at Panera...they mix is with papaya juice or something. Yum!

Esther said...

Nature's Own has white wheat bread that has the 3g of fiber plus it is free from high corn fructose syrup. Tastes great and is still wonderfully healthy.

Jennifer Roland said...

The Morningstar chicken isn't that bad! :)

The Morningstar sausage patties are a great substitute for regular sausage in the morning or in spaghetti sauce. Even my confirmed carnivore of a husband prefers them to pork sausage--they taste the same, but they are way less greasy.

Mom2Miles said...

yeah, the sausage IS awesome! But the chicken breast thingies made us gag. Something about the texture...

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