You can’t out-exercise a poor diet.
Those words are repeated often by fitness buffs, and I’m here to vouch for that.
Over the past few months, I had really let my diet deteriorate from whole foods and home cooking to fast food and junk. And it showed.
As I’ve eased myself back into exercise, I also cleaned up my diet, and a few issues (like really swollen feet) went away immediately.
Recently, both of my daughters decided to adopt a vegan diet. I spent about 15 years as a vegetarian, and raised my kids on a vegetarian diet, so what that has meant around my house is a return to some of the goodies that used to be staples in our kitchen.
In preparing meals to share while my mom was visiting from Tennessee for the past month, I spent more time thinking about the fuels I put into my body on a daily basis.
One of the reasons I started on this journey was to avoid diabetes, which runs through my extended family. A whole food diet very low in refined carbohydrates (the dreaded white foods: white sugar, white flour, white rice, etc.) is really helpful for controlling or eliminating some diabetes.
In my book, whole foods, raw foods, and a mostly (or entirely) vegetarian diet is looking very good right now.
It’s hard to know what to eat with new diets and fads coming quicker than we can keep up, but I feel it’s hard to go wrong when you start with fresh and wholesome ingredients and home cooking.
I wish there was a magic wand to wave. I really do. But instead, we are left with balancing changing dietary needs (based on health, age and level of activity) with time available to cook and a whole host of other things that fall under the heading of “having a life.”
The good news—cleaning up my diet and moving my body around for the past month has had immediate results on my waistline. Of course it has. And despite the inevitable soreness, it feels great.
A month or two back, I featured my daughter Trish in this column, and have continued to be inspired by her “BHAG,” a term that means “Bold Hairy Audacious Goal.” Hers is to do a Jackie Chan push-up, and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with an idea that excites me as much as that one motivates her. This week, I hit on it!
You read it here first: My BHAG is to do 10 push-ups and 10 pull-ups by the end of the year.
Currently I can do zero “real” push-ups and zero pull-ups, so there is nowhere to go but up. And down, but let’s not get too silly. Working on push-ups will be easy, because you can practice anywhere, but pull-ups will be more challenging.
Inspiration is what keeps me going, I’ve come to realize over time, and I really love being inspired by my kids, all of whom are very active, and great cooks.
Returning to some of those family favorites has been a walk down memory lane into a more nutritious diet. (Side note: If anyone wants my famous recipe for tofu tacos, hit me up—I invented it 30 years ago, and make them for people who say, “Ewwww, tofu.”)
Ultimately, I feel that healthy living is self-care, and one of the ways I’ve tricked myself into it (necessary because like many of us, I’m the last person I think of taking care of) is to think of myself as a small child.
When my kids were little, I restricted sugar, used virtually no white flour, and didn’t buy them soda. Why? I knew those things were bad for them if they were part of their regular diet. With my own empty nest bachelor diet, however, I allowed those standards to slip, especially when things get busy.
And I run a newspaper. Things are always busy.
It is necessary to carve out the time for food prep, for exercise, for all of it, even in the face of the shifting sands of life. Finding inspiration in my children and the things we did together when they were young made my week!