As a teacher, there have been so many times that I have taken a class or read a book about how to do something different in the classroom. I take notes, imagine how to tweak it for my students and start to make plans. I head back to school with so much enthusiasm and can’t wait to get started! Then….reality hits. There are deadlines to meet, curriculum that has to be taught, meetings to attend and real students to deal with on a daily basis. The greatest intentions mean nothing when I cannot make them a reality in my life. There is very little difference when deciding to create a more healthy lifestyle. Without a clear direction and goal, it may end up on the cutting room floor with last year’s New Year’s resolutions.
What was my goal last year, when I decided to eat healthier? I wanted healing for my chronic knee swelling and health for my family. Come to find out, that’s a pretty big motivator! Unlike the years before when I wanted to lose weight to be size whatever, this time it was different. As soon as I discovered my gluten allergy, it was an urgent matter. What could I eat? What if I ate something that contained gluten? How could I cook for myself and for my family? Could I ever eat out again?
Well, at first I made separate meals. I prepared easy meals for my family so I could spend time trying a recipe that was gluten free, OR I would cook a nice meal for my family and end up eating only the salad because that was all that I could have. I ended up tired and overwhelmed. I lost a lot of weight, but didn’t have a lot of energy. Slowly over time, I started to realize that some meals that I made for my family were mostly gluten free already, and I could exchange an ingredient or two to make it all gluten free. I also cooked with different ingredients, more vegetables and more beans, which we could all eat.
What if you are dealing with multiple food allergies? Well, you’re in the same boat as we are. When my son’s dr. told us in November that he tested positive for allergies to egg, soy and all dairy, I was thinking that we could handle it. After all, I had been gluten free for about 6 months and things were working okay. But let me tell you that trying to change a family’s eating habits again, right before Thanksgiving, was not an easy task. We could not eat out and making everything from scratch takes a lot of time and planning, but here we are. We’ve survived the past two months and no one is starving!
So what is your motivation? What direction do you want to take your family? Start there. Whether you want to cut out certain foods or just add in more healthy choices, you need an goal in mind that is SMART: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Instead of saying, “I’m gonna eat more fruits and vegetables,” say, “Each day this month, I will eat 4 fresh fruits and 4 cups of raw salad and vegetables.”
Then, stick with it! Chart it on the calendar or on the fridge. Get the kids involved and make a game out of seeing who can meet their goal for the most days in a row. Whatever you do, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. This is the rest of your life you are building here. You are preventing disease and building your immunity! You are creating extra days to spend with your grandchildren! You are enjoying the beach in the sand, rather than from a window! You are living your life… make every second count!