Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Food Philosophy

Before I get too far into my food postings, I wanted to provide a bit more background on my “food philosophy.” I truly believe that we have look at food as fuel for our bodies. With the right foods, we can sleep better, run farther, live longer, and be happier. I read articles about different nutrients and their benefits every day. I’m not an RD, I’m not a nutritionist, but I do pay attention to how food makes me feel. During years of a career in the food industry, I’ve learned from brilliant chefs, RD’s, researchers and writers. Food should taste good and be good for you. End of story.

Not really…here’s where I fit into the mix. I love to cook. I rarely make the same thing twice, unless I’m trying to improve upon a previous creation or I really loved the dish! I enjoy the act of serving food I’ve created to the people I love. I believe it’s a way to give of myself and my time. It’s how I show you that I care. If you’re celebrating, in need, recovering, or just hungry I think a meal can make everything better—even if it’s only for the short time between the first and last bites.

I used to “live to eat.” I’d plan my next extravagant meal a week ahead of time. I’d browse (where I write reviews) for the coolest new restaurants or food trends. I still do all of that, but in a slightly different way than I used to. Maybe it’s the recession, maybe it was the feeling of a too-tight waist band, but the way I view my food now is that “I eat to live.” Notice the difference.

It’s not a big surprise to anyone that knows me—I’ve been working hard to become a healthier, more balanced person. Be it through what I eat, how much I work out, or balancing my personal and work life, I’ve been making positive changes over the past two years. I started going to Weight Watchers meetings in October of 2009. I had done the online program for a few years, on and off, mostly because I liked how I could track all my meals and figure out where my eating was out of balance. In October I got serious about it and joined the in-person meetings and what a difference it’s made! My meeting leader is exactly what she should be—motivational. She inspires me to push myself and try things that, at one time, seemed too daunting or to tweak my eating patterns slightly to achieve results. Since October I’ve lost 13 pounds—no, not as fast as you hear about on those bogus radio commercials for the latest diet pill, but it was slow and steady and safe and I have learned a lot.

I also decided I wanted to start exercising more consistently. So I signed up for my very first 5K, which took place in August 2009. I trained for it using the Couch to 5K plan (google it or use iTunes) and worked my way up to a pace I was comfortable with. I’m not a fast runner and I didn’t run the whole thing, but I did it. And since then I’ve done two more—still not “loving it” but pushing through. In April 2010 I had a moment of enlightenment. If I don’t love running and it makes me dread exercise, that’s defeating the purpose. You should enjoy the exercise you choose to do. It should make you happy. After you’re done, you should be content and proud of what you’ve just done. And I also believe that the time should actually go by faster than molasses, which is what running felt like to me.

During the same time I realized that I don’t love running, I was experimenting with all the different fitness classes at my rec center. I started with Zumba, which is a Latin dance cardio class. Before I knew what happened, an hour had passed and I felt great! I even met a new friend at my first class. We now try out different classes together. Having a workout buddy is more motivating that I had ever imagined! I highly recommend it. So far I’ve done: Zumba, Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Kickboxing, Pilates, and PIYO. Still on my list: a Spin class, “buns-n-guns,” “butts-n-gutts,” and swimming. How can you possibly know what works for you unless you try it?! Much like food!

Each day is filled with new challenges and/or temptations, but as long as you have a plan to deal with it, you can make it through! Overall, it’s all about balance. Indulge in a food you really love, but balance it with quality foods the rest of the day/week. Work hard and give it your all, but balance it with “me time.” Relax and enjoy being a bit lazy, but balance it with movement, in some form or another. If you live your life in balance, it’s amazing how much easier it is to reach your goals. For me that means “Healthy Eating+ Zumba+ An Occasional Cupcake=Balance” (this week at least—next week it might be pilates and a cheeseburger)!

Since I got that out of my system, we can get back to the food!

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