I do not live a Spartan life. I don’t count calories, refuse treats, or spend hours on end in the gym. The idea that a radical practice of never eating flavorful food and an evangelical passion for working out every spare minute, is the path to life-long fitness is simply nonsense.
What is true, though, is that the most successful seekers of physical vitality integrate the concept of being fit into their self-image. They think of themselves as vibrant, resilient, energetic and healthy individuals. They consistently take the actions that support and further deepen that sense. They simply earn their own respect regarding the importance of exercise and a healthful diet.
So how do you do that?
One way to get started in a positive way is to find ways to make exercise and good eating habits a source of new joy rather than familiar drudgery. It’s easier than you think--if you really want it.
Above are pictures of my kids tearing up at a couple of the local parks. When we go, I always bring a Nerf football, one of those soft-sided Aerobe flying discs and a cheap badminton set. It’s a bonding experience and just a lot of fun. When they want to play by themselves, I also have a jump rope and exercise bands handy.
It also helps to switch things up periodically. When was the last time you swam? If you are a swimmer, how about a mini-indoor triathlon at a local gym? You could even substitute a lower-impact elliptical trainer or rowing machine for the treadmill if you have any problems with your knees or shins.
As for eating: mix up your veggie sources and make them the centerpiece of traditional meals. Above is a picture of my favorite combo from Café Main (their oriental chicken salad and the thin crust steak pizza with zucchini, mushroom and tomatoes.) My girl and I shared the meal, had plenty left over for another meal, and it was tasty!
It’s also great to explore breakfast variations when you’re traveling and then re-create those experiences at home. Melissa and I were at a Bed and Breakfast in Santa Cruz and sampled the delicious, filling, morning meal (also in the other picture above.) The homemade granola over yogurt and topped with fresh berries was the centerpiece complemented by the heel (my favorite part) of a loaf of whole grain bread with fig butter and a hard-boiled egg. Mixing textures and colors can also make a simple meal or snack much more inviting without adding to the preparation time or difficulty.
If you’re not accustomed to a wellness lifestyle, it does take a little time to think about and plan ways to make your eating better as well as your exercise program more exciting--but your quality of life is immeasurably enhanced.
And here’s the real secret: Trying new things and growing is one of the best ways to have more fun!