This is the year of teaching an old dog new tricks.
The old dog is me and the new trick, well, there are many tricks I need to learn, but one that comes to mind first is eating healthy.
I just finished reading an article in Woman’s Day magazine — standing at the counter nibbling on an Oreo — that informed readers that about 90% of women out there have at least one risk factor for a heart attack.
So of the six risk factors listed, I actually had two. Yikes. Because my mom had a heart attack and I had pregnancy complications — gestational diabetes twice — I am now at a much higher risk than the average female.
Talk about a reality check. This one just hit me smack in the stomach.
I dropped my Oreo and looked over at my husband and said — “I am so completely oblivious about this it’s not even funny.”
Yes, I realize that I can’t actually know I am oblivious to something.
However, subconsciously (okay, consciously, too) I know I suck at eating. Maybe it’s a matter of knowing that some day down the road I will likely not be able to eat crap and therefore I am hoarding junk now like a squirrel does nuts in late fall.
Sure, I could actually use the holidays as my exception. Over-indulging during the month of December is not uncommon. For anyone. (That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for, right? )
I partook on all fronts there — too many cookies, too much red wine, too much red meat. Too much.
But for the other 11 months out of the year, well I really have no excuse for eating all the crap I do.
It’s laziness, maybe, but there are some days I find myself in the kitchen at 10:30 a.m. realizing I have not eaten breakfast. I meander around my fridge not finding anything to tickle my fancy or not wanting to fuss, so it’s over to the pantry I go and grab a cookie. Or three. This is sadly the norm even when there are no Christmas sweets in my house any more.
Aside from sugar, butter and salt are two of my closest friends. I admit, I like the flavor of salted butter. It makes my broccoli taste better. The carrots seem prettier slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt and dill.
I know. I am my own worst enemy.
But wait, I can eat better. I really can.
When I was pregnant with my son 10 years ago, I thought I would come home from work and park my big ol’ pregnant butt on the couch with a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I was looking forward to that pickles and icecream and sending my husband out at 3 a.m. for fried whatever to satisfy my craving.
I had nary a clue that my blood glucose test would come back positive for gestational diabetes.
Out went the ice cream and in came the steamed spinach with garlic. Out went the sugar, salt and butter. In came Splenda or nothing.
And it was the healthiest I have ever eaten. I didn’t even have a single craving for some funky combination.
When I came home from work, I cooked up a healthy meal for my husband and myself from a cookbook for diabetics. And I got used to it pretty fast. My baby’s health depended on me keeping my sugar and carbs in check. I had to prick my finger three times a day and check my levels. Other than sore finger tips, it was not bad.
Sure, I caved here and there near the end of my pregnancy — a chocolate milk shake from a nearby dairy bar. But my husband and I (and my son) ate super healthy.
My second pregnancy was the same. I guess once you have gestational diabetes you are prone to getting it again. It also makes you prone to getting actual diabetes down the road.
And apparently, makes your heart attack risk go up.
Well, since I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions — I never can keep them — I will try to use that article I read as the catalyst for a healthier me. And a healthier family.
Out with the white bread and white rice and processed foods and chips, dips and sweets.
Red meat, my fair friend, I will see you on a rare occasion and you will not be that fat juicy piece of steak. You’ll be a leaner you. I won’t smother your friend baked potato with sour cream and butter and I’ll skip the salt and use garlic or Mrs. Dash instead.
It will be chicken or turkey that I will choose and I will skip butter or cream sauce on any pasta I use. I will try the whole grain variety. More cous cous, more beans, more greens.
Goodbye cheese. Brie, it’s been wonderful. Cheesecake, even more so.
Ah, but sugar. I’ll try to keep a smaller you in my one cup of coffee along with your good friend whole milk. I need you to start my morning. If I have to, I will try raw sugar. Or agave syrup if I can bear it.
And veggies, I will invite more of you and your friends into my home. I promise not to disguise your taste with butter or salt. I’ll steam you and add spices and seasonings and olive or canola oil. And I will make my kids eat you too.
And when I go to Trader Joe’s (0h, this will be so hard) I will ignore all you sweet treats and delicious cookies. I’ll opt for more nuts and if I must, that bar of dark chocolate to nibble on when no one is looking.
And my long lost friend exercise. I will play tennis more than once a week, and try a higher impact variety than I am doing. I will have to dust off my new Adidas trail runners and get going. Walking. Not running, at least yet. I want to try zumba or pilates in the coming weeks.
As far as weather, I don’t have an excuse. The snow has not fallen here the East yet. It’s in Texas as we speak. Who knew? (I hope I didn’t jinx it, my friend Mother Nature. A few flakes are fine, but no repeats of January 2011, kay?)
I am confident.
I have a positive outlook and a plan.
I am woman hear me roar! Or at least hear me get out of the kitchen pantry.
By February, which is actually Heart Healthy Month, I do hope to be well on my way to a better me.
I would love some fast and easy healthy family meals, so if you know of any or can steer me to a good recipe blog or site, bring it on.
A very smart person whose name escapes me right now said “You are what you eat.” I think I would much rather be that sexy stalk of asparagus than a big fat ooey gooey brownie caramel sundae.