Friday, September 26, 2014

Make It Work

I’m not an expert at anything I do. But, when I put my mind to do something, I do it to the best of my ability, and a lot of times it turns out pretty good. I make it work. I’m not afraid of hard work, because it’s always hard work. I don’t want anyone to think that all of the things I’ve accomplished in my life were easy or just fell into my lap. On the contrary, each one of them often pushed me to a breaking point before I finally saw a result I could live with. It doesn’t help I’m a perfectionist, but that’s just how the cookie crumbled.

I don’t want the struggle to be hard for you, too, but before you decide to do anything , you need to settle in your mind that some things are just going to be hard. You’re going to have to be determined to do whatever it takes to make it work. THIS is really the single most powerful element that separates winners from losers, from those who succeed and those who fail. Successful winners never give up. That’s not saying you can bitch, whine, gripe or pitch fits – by all means have at it. But, if we only accomplished the easy stuff in our lives, we’d really be pathetic people. I’ll let you think about that for a while.

While there are so many subjects I could tackle, because I’m a multi-talented diva, I’m going to stick to health and fitness for the time being. I want to give a few little tips, a few guidelines, that I use in my daily battle. These things really work. I challenge you to give them a try – for one week or one month – I promise that if you’re faithful to them (there are no short cuts) you’ll see a difference almost immediately.

Grocery Shopping/Healthy Eating –

· Clean house. Go through your refrigeration, cabinet, and pantry and get rid of everything that is processed, canned, boxed, or bagged that isn’t an ingredient meant to cook with (flour, sugar, spices, rice, dry beans, etc). Get rid of the temptation. Learn to love natural food – not manufactured. You be the creator, the manufacturer, the chef.

o Think about this: (Tip #1) if there’s a preservative in it, it’s meant to stick around, and it’s designed to do just that… stick around in your arteries, on your hips, in your heart valves, etc.

· Shop on the outside lanes of the grocery store. Avoid (other than cooking supplies like cooking oil, flour, sugar, spices, etc).

o (Tip #2) If you divided your weekly/monthly groceries into outside lanes vs. inside lanes - the ratio should be 80/20 in favor of outside lanes.. and that 20% of inside lanes should mostly be for cooking ingredients.

o The outside lanes usually consists of Bread, Produce, Seafood, Meat, Dairy, Wine/Alchohol, etc. Most of everything you need for healthy eating can be found in these sections – and yes… a glass of wine with dinner is a great ingredient – it’s good to cook with as well.

o (Tip #3) If you can, avoid the Bakery altogether. Don’t eat a lot of breads, and when you do try to make your own – breads, pastries, sweets, etc. That way you can still enjoy them without all the preservatives the manufacturers adds to them so they ship and last on the shelf. But, moderation is key. Try to get only ONE bakery item a week/month.

o (Tip #4) Stay away from the canned foods, boxed foods, prepared meals and frozen sections. All (even the diet foods) are filled with carbohydrates and preservatives. Remember: Preservatives… preserve – and our goal is to lose, to burn, to use up. Can foods, even canned vegetables, usually have a preservative in them (purposed to preserve for a long shelf life).

· Cook with fresh fruits, proteins, and vegetables. The more fresh an item, the better it is because it’s still rich in nutrients and vitamins. Also, the taste is better.

o (Tip #4) If you MOSTLY cook using fresh fruits and vegetables, you can use the real stuff that tastes good in your preparations– like real butter, real sugar, fatty meats (though try to use leaner meats), salt, etc.

o More people would eat healthier foods if they tasted good. Most health nuts have went to extremes and cut out everything good so that the food is bland and tasteless. Guess how long you’re going to continue eating bland food? The first time you pass a pizza parlor or burger joint.. and you’re done for. But, if you build a lifestyle of eating fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats, you make them taste great – the little ‘flavorful’ things you do are small compared to the amount of healthy stuff you do – and you win in the long run – because you won’t STOP eating the healthier, tastier food. Use bacon grease, salted butter, salt, real cheese, etc… if it makes you like broccoli/peas/Brussel sprouts/ asparagus/cauliflower/ snap peas/pole beans/peppers/etc.

o Food should make your mouth smile and make you sigh with enjoyment, not be a chore. Just think with rational common sense – and operate in moderation. Unless you have allergies, don’t ever say “NO”. Research your ingredient and figure out how to use it in a smart, sensible way.

· Watch your portion size. Get rid of your big plates, bowls and platters. ONLY use small dishes, even utensils. If you can, use chopsticks. It doesn’t have to only be when you enjoy Asian-inspired dishes. The key is to slowly eat small portions. Do whatever it takes to moderate your portions size.

o It’s a mind game. When you think there’s hardly any food on your plate and you woof it down in two or three bites without taking a breath – YOU’RE STILL GOING TO BE HUNGRY. Slow down, talk at the table (that always helps me).. if you’re alone (which I am most of the time) read something, text with your friends online, or Skype with someone while you’re having dinner – and TAKE YOUR TIME.

o (Tip #5) Set your table, even if you’re eating for one. Plate your food, make it a pretty display. Sit down at your table (not your couch) and use your utensils, make a pretty display, use a cloth napkin, and show your dinner respect. (It’s a mind game, remember). Sitting down at a set table (or a single place setting) tells the mind that it’s time to have dinner. Then CHOOSE to take your time, take small bites, really chew your food. Think about the tastes, the flavors, the smells, the colors, the textures. Really take the time to smell, taste and see your food. You’re going to have to make it a habit… but after a week or so – you’ll start to love your food – instead of just using it to feed your body or emotions.

That’s it for today. Have fun. Enjoy your food. Be smart about what you eat. Learn to be in control and love it – not resent it for the way you abuse it. Think about that – food isn’t the enemy – how you use and treat is your biggest obstacle. Food doesn’t jump down your throat… you open your mouth and insert. Now take charge. Be the master of your temple, of your wants, of your desires, and of your discipline.

Till next time,

~Friend and Lover of Food

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