This morning before I left the house to swim, I watched a little of The Today Show. I was impressed by a segment that they called, "30 Days to a Better You: Are you up for Jenna's challenge?" I found it a very reasonable challenge to tackle, and it suggests baby steps to move in the right direction. Here is a link to the video segment: 30 Days to a Better You
Today's Jenna Wolfe is heading up this challenge and what intrigued me is how her philosophy is very similar to mine. She shared that, "Getting healthy starts with small changes at home," and I am big on starting small so it is not so overwhelming. Joy Bauer, one of my favorite nutritionists, collaborated on piece suggesting making small changes in your kitchen like I have written about in the past. Cut out sodas and substitute higher fat milks with 1% or my go-to substitute, Almond Milk (30 calories for an entire cup). Bauer also suggested taking full fat cheeses and substituting low-fat versions. I am going to be honest here...I have determined I love cheese too much to have a faker version of it. I just have very controlled portions of cheese and it does not affect me in the least. She also suggested that if you eat bread to choose ones that have whole wheat as the first ingredient.
I try to add vegetables to every meal, so as part of the produce I purchased, I bought salsa fixings and one of my favorite vegetables--rapini (sometimes labeled as broccoli rabe). I make fresh salsa about twice a month because I find it makes a great low-calorie seasoning on just about everything including eggs. Today for lunch I put it on some grilled tilapia we had left over from dinner, and sometimes I use the salsa as a dressing on my salads. Here is the recipe for Maria T's Salsa:
Tomatoes (I buy whatever is on sale)
Dried Chile de Arbol peppers (find bagged in the Hispanic Food section)
1) Boil tomatoes, garlic bulb, and chiles (amount of chiles depends on your tolerance for heat) until the tomato skins begin to peel off. Pull tomatoes out to cool, but continue to boil the chiles and garlic until they are soft.
2) Place cooled and peeled tomatoes, chiles, and the peeled garlic cloves into a blender and grind up until most of the chile seeds are crushed. Add some of the chile water to the blender if you want your salsa thinner. Make sure whatever you put in the blender is cooled or it will explode out of the blender. I learned this one from experience.
3) Finely chop up some cilantro and scallions and add to the blended salsa. Add salt to taste. You can even add some fresh chopped tomatoes to make a salsa fresca consistency.
The rapini I love so much is like an Italian broccoli, but it has a bitter taste. I steam it and add a little garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. It is good as a vegetable side dish at dinner, but I also use it as part of a veggie sandwich. Put a little light mayo on some whole wheat bread, add one slice of a softer cheese like munster, some roasted red pepper, and the rapini. The flavors are delicious!
So, as shared above, one small change you can make is adding more vegetables and lower calorie choices to your meals, but Jenna had two changes she asked her audience to implement right away. First, she suggested implementing a food diary. Now, anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows that I do not like tracking my food. However, if I am not keeping a food diary I tend not to be careful with my eating. There is something about seeing it in print that really holds me accountable. Two weeks ago I got back on MyFitnessPal, and it has helped me get read of some of the fluff I have gained over the winter. I feel better, have more energy, and the funny thing is that I actually enjoy eating this way. This love of healthy foods is what frustrates about my junk food eating binges.
Jenna's second suggestion was to find someone to do the challenge with you. I know that works, because I have been doing a challenge with a couple of friends for the last two weeks. Knowing that they can see if I track, if I stay within my calorie limits, and they also see my weekly workouts makes me more careful. There were a couple days this week that I wanted to roll over and sleep instead of working out, but knowing they could see see my unplanned rest day made me think twice. I also use Facebook as an unofficial way to be accountable. When I post my workouts on my Facebook wall, I can not only track my exercise, but occasionally inspire someone else to get out there and move their bodies. In addition, I write this blog every week so my triumphs and challenges are more transparent.
Now is the time to start making small adjustments to begin to build up to some larger changes. All it takes is tweaking a few things and you will begin to see results. Try adding more veggies to your diet and/or find lower calorie substitutes for some of your daily ingredients. I did not like Almond Milk at first, but now I can't drink milk because I have lost the taste for it. Start tracking everything you put into your mouth so you can see patterns in your eating that might need changing. And finally, find at least one other person that you can be accountable to. There is no time like today to get started, so what are you waiting for?