New Year’s Resolutions: I Really Mean it This Time!
New Year’s Resolutions are always fun to think about. Who doesn’t think about New Year’s Day and not feel pressure to have some type of “change” to start the year off right?
My resolutions have always centered around diet and exercise. I am lucky to never had to worry too much about my weight. In the past, it had nothing to do with my eating habits and everything to do with my genetic inheritance. As I get older (I am 56!), eating right becomes more and more important. It has been helpful for me to have a spouse who is not only a good cook but also interested in healthy eating. Eating “healthy” or “right” does not mean bland food. On the contrary, the food that my wife prepares tastes incredible and has the bonus of being healthy for our family.
How do you figure out what to prepare and cook? There are many books on the subject and certainly tons of websites. We have gravitated to the “Yummly” app. It’s free and has just about everything you would ever want to eat with a convenient shopping list. The app can tailor to any allergies you may have or diet interests you may have. You can choose “ketogenic” or “lactovegarian” or “paleo” or “pescetarian”? Shoot, I didn’t even know what some of these were. Being a chocoholic, I even found chocolate that was good for you!!!??? If there are certain foods, you simply do not like then you can tell the app to skip those. One of the things I really love (and laugh) about the app is it can tailor its recommendations to your cooking skills. Beginner, intermediate, advanced…which one are you? I hesitate to call myself even a beginner as my cooking skills are challenged by the product I make and the mess I create.
I don’t claim to be a nutritional expert, but certainly know what works for me. I became interested in nutrition about 15 years ago. I gave blood and as a bonus they checked my cholesterol. Back then, before the days of “instant results” my cholesterol was mailed home. My wife found it and immediately called me and said shockingly “Did you know your cholesterol is 245?”. Right then I knew I had to change. My dietary habits back then were poor and loved pizza so much I actually had a slice daily. I reassured her that I wasn’t fasting and that it was elevated because of what I had been eating everyday. I told her I would repeat the test with a fasting level. Well, I did that and to my shock and horror my cholesterol was even higher…
Like most type A personalities, I immediately began reading about nutrition and diets. I was drawn to the “balanced” diets which back then included the “Zone Diet”, “Wheat Belly”, and “South Beach Diet”. The“Atkins Diet” simply did not make any sense to me! I was so determined to fix my problem that I started a super strict diet for six weeks. ABSOLUTELY NO CHEATING. NO SWEETS OR PIZZA. NO FUN! I then repeated my blood work and got my cholesterol to a normal level. BUT…. I was miserable. Was there anything else I could do? With the help of my internist, I started a very low dose of a Statin and then tried to eat better and healthy 80% of the time. I have been doing that now for nearly 15 years. Now, I won’t lie to you, I fall off the wagon at times (like the holidays and my birthday) but I always know how to get back on the right track.
Not everyone needs medications to help them, but some do, like me. Regardless, we can all be cognizant of what we eat particularly when we go out to eat dinner saying “ no bread for me” and “can I substitute broccoli for those mashed potatoes?”. Eating at home is actually easy and I am lucky to have a “chef” at home who really enjoys cooking and trying new things! Eating out is challenging part. You may think that nice piece of fish and veggies are super healthy, only to find out that they are covered in oils and butter as part of the cooking process. Do not be afraid to ask the chef to modify how the meal is prepared.
Lastly, do not be afraid to go off of your diet at times. Life is short, and sweets taste good! When I have a day that I indulge on sweets or pizza, I know I have to get back on track and what I need to do to accomplish that. Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time eat healthy, 20% of the time allow yourself to enjoy the food you wish to keep satisfied. Moderation is key! Eating is good for your body, brain and mental state. Eating healthy makes me feel better, with more energy and less tired. Couple that with the activities of choice and you have the perfect New Year’s Resolution. If you simply cannot figure out what is best for you nutritionally, get some help. At UT Southwestern, our nutritionally services often target disease states. You can find out more information here.
I also tried this program and enjoyed the educational part of it and awareness it raised. There are many programs out there to choose from, so find the right one for you and your needs and you will reach all of your resolution goals for the new decade!
Many patients have shared their goals with me and it is a wonderful thing to see when they have reached them successfully. I can’t wait to hear about your accomplishments! What are your resolutions for 2020?