Friday, August 5, 2011

On a Healthy Lifestyle

As I was clearing out the DVR a few weeks ago, I came across the last episodes of the Oprah show. And as I was watching, I got to thinking about the things in my life that I truly value. Family and Friends came up first. And then faith. And, as a fan of alliteration (dork), fitness and food rounded out the top five. At first I felt guilty about those last two. As if my very pricey, er, important education should have made the cut. But seeing as though changing diapers, playing patty cake, making dinner, folding laundry, and dominating the elliptical do not require an RN, that education fell to an honorable mention #6. Sorry, SMC.

And though those first three are very near and dear to my heart, I wanted to focus a little about the last two. First things first, I am not a “health nut.” I try hard to live a healthy lifestyle, but I really enjoy beef burgers, all things sweet, and the occasional red bull (plus or minus the vodka) too much to ever think about giving them up completely. That being said, as we start to introduce “real food” to Allison, we want to create an environment in which healthy eating is the norm, every meal is well rounded, and each day consists of some form of heart rate raising physical activity.

When we were living in Phoenix, we had access to a great farmer’s market that I took advantage of regularly. Each dinner we ate soon consisted of at least 3 parts: a protein (usually meat or fish), a grain/starch/carb, and a veggie. This appealed to “I love buffets for the million different choices” side of me and it became engrained in us that each dinner should be like that. Now, if we do not have a vegetable with dinner, our meal does not seem complete. I want that to be passed on to Allison.

We have also been working at incorporating healthier staples into our meals. Swapping out beef for lean ground turkey in our burgers, potatoes for quinoa, and starting every dinner with a spinach salad. (Side note on that- I started to really crave raw spinach salads in place of regular lettuce when I was pregnant and we just never made the switch back.) Granted, we still eat greasy cheeseburgers and French fries when we want them, but everything in moderation, right? I have found the easiest way to make sure our diets are well rounded is to do a weekly meal plan. This allows me to look over what we will be eating that week and make adjustments accordingly. It is also really helpful in minimizing grocery store trips. Plus, I just really love making lists.

Eating right, though, really is only half of it. Fitness plays an important role in our life as a family. Most of the things that we enjoy doing together involve being outdoors and being active. When I grew up, it wasn’t “are you going to play a sport?” it was “which sport are you going to play?” And I think I tried them all. Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy going to the gym and going out for a run. Treadmills and elliptical are fun for me. Eric, not so much. But, 3-4 days a week, he goes and plays pickup basketball. This does not sound fun to me, but he really enjoys it. Either way, we are both working up a sweat and keeping our bodies in shape. We feel so much better after a workout and can really take pride in how our bodies look and what they can accomplish. Some may not believe in a “runner’s high”, but to them I would say train for and then run a race. Any distance. That feeling of crossing the finish line is something that beyond words.

All in all, I think that we are doing pretty good in the “health” scheme of things. We could definitely improve some areas, but we are pleased with how things are right now. The key for us is to just keep things fresh. Changing up a workout and trying new recipes are two really easy ways to do that. Here are some of our favorite “healthier” recipes we’ve enjoyed lately. Give them a try!

Quinoa, Edamame, and Feta Salad
Green Monsters
Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers
Avocado, Tomato, and Arugula Salad
Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad
Cuban Black Beans <-- Add a jalepeno and green pepper and serve over brown rice. Yum!

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