We can agree on the big things, even if the details from nutrition and health experts keep changing: eat mostly real food (not processed food-like substances), plenty of fresh vegetables and whole fruits, and whole grains; keep sugar to an occasional treat; exercise regularly; get enough rest and sleep; avoid stress. But to do these apparently simple things, I at least and I suspect many of my peers, have to do battle with, or resist, the SADAL: Standard American Diet And Lifestyle. This means two huge challenges: 1. change lifelong habits, and 2. resist the “habits” of our whole culture. Still worth doing, but let’s not underestimate how hard it can be. The SAD and the SAL dovetails very well. We work long hours, often sitting down, in often stressful circumstances. We are encouraged by ubiquitous advertising and our own well-developed habits, to deal with busy-ness and stress by taking pills, doing “retail therapy”, driving instead of walking or biking, eating sugar, watching TV, etc. Rarely do I say to myself, “Wow, I have a really full day tomorrow and I feel barely able to keep up, I guess I better sleep in, take a long walk, and eat a bag of raw carrots.” No, I set the alarm an hour earlier, feeling resentful at my job and frustrated at myself for poor time management, skip the walk, drink more coffee, grab the (usually less-than-carrot-rich) food that’s easily available, and put the old nose to the grindstone. *sigh*. Our culture pushes sugar at us virtually every single day, and stimulates the heck out of us so we get hyped up yet pressed down.
OK, so enough complaining!! What am I going to do? I have a plan.
I know now to keep it simple and easy when I have to get back on the healthy wagon. First thing to do is relax and forgive myself and look ahead, not behind (or under my feet at the scale). My sister and I have learned to accept that there will be fall-backs and fall-offs and even the occasional cliff-dive. So what? It doesn’t stop us. So, the plan: ten days, ten walks, no excuses, starting today. Also, to make a game out of it, each walk I will look for one thing BIG and one thing teenytiny to notice. And to make it very friendly, it has to be only 30 minutes to count. I’ll check in later with today’s report. I’m at my office, getting ready to grade some quizzes and essays. Classes just ended, the campus is very quiet. Final exams start today, even though it is Saturday. The liveliest place on campus is our bookstore, which will be crowded with Christmas shoppers and coffee-slurping students.