Leadership / 06.03.20
Bye-Bye Quarantine 15: Tips to Living Healthy on Your Terms
I have started writing this story at least five or six times so far. Each time I do, I type a few paragraphs, then feel incredibly embarrassed, so I delete them and start again.
It’s hard to admit that I am not always eating as well as I could be these days.
I know how important it is, but then I feel sad sometimes and have a cookie or some ice cream.
I know that a well-balanced diet of nutritious foods would keep my immune system stronger, but then I miss my family and friends or feel frustrated, so I have some cake.
It’s not that I don’t have healthy food in the house; I do. And I am eating it, too.
But I have been an emotional eater for as long as I can remember, and let’s face it, there’s a whole lot to be emotional about these days.
I was on Facebook in late April, and I saw a post that inspired me. It was written by Dan DeMato, an INTIX Patricia G. Spira Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and the Principal/Co-Founder of FutureTix.
Dan is someone I admire for his long and successful career in ticketing. He’s also committed to living a healthy lifestyle.
I love reading his Facebook posts as “The Chef” and seeing what new creations he is cooking up nightly for his supper. Even though I am a vegetarian and wouldn’t eat many of the dishes he creates, I just feel healthier and happier when I see what he’s eating.
The colors on his plates. The thoughtful preparation. The way he plates his food. It’s beautiful.
Dan DeMato: “After a 60-minute workout, The Chef prepares a healthy breakfast. Eggs sunny side up, sautéed sweet bell red pepper, tangerine and bread my granddaughter Sarah made for me.”
Dan’s late-April post was honest, and it struck a cord with me.
He had become a little laxer with his diet and exercise about a month before the lockdown started.
“Since self isolating,” he says, “I’ve pretty much been eating anything and everything, with little exercise.” And then he bravely continued …
Dan got it. He got me. He was doing the same thing I had been doing.
After I finished reading, I immediately typed up a response. I was going to DO THIS with Dan! I was going to get back on track — start exercising more and eating better so that I would feel better.
But then it hit me. I still had half an Oreo cake in the fridge. What would I do with that cake?
Could I even really do this with Dan, and did I want to admit publicly that I was having a hard time?
So, I quietly deleted my reply and went on with my evening. Was that the right thing to do? Probably not. I was really just delaying the inevitable.
I also know in my heart of hearts that I am not the only person struggling a bit during this pandemic. It’s tough being at home for so long. It’s even tougher knowing that so many people are hurting, and I can’t fix it.
So, while jokes and memes about the “Quarantine 15” are making the rounds on social media, I have learned that eating cake every day will not fix anything either.
As I recommit myself to a healthier lifestyle, here are nine tips to make healthy living a priority during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, as well as some words of wisdom from “The Chef” himself.
- Start today. We’ve all heard that adage, “There’s no time like the present.” The best time to commit to doing something for yourself is right now.
- Take small steps or go all in; it’s up to you. There is no right or wrong way to take charge and get healthier. We are all different, too. Some of us have kids at home. Others have aging parents who need our help. They key is that goals should be personal and tailored to your own life.
ParticipACTION says there are many ways to make a good goal even better, from writing them down and setting a deadline to giving yourself time to create new habits. Don’t forget to make them fun, too!
- Eat well. There is more than one way to eat healthy, but there are good general guidelines you can follow. As an example, Canada’s Food Guide recommends variety, more plant-based foods and fewer highly processed foods. Try to fill half your plate with colorful fruit and veggies, choose whole grain foods over refined grains like white bread and pasta, and be sure to eat protein every day. It is also important to drink water.
- Get moving. I have started riding my bike for 30 minutes a day. It’s a great way to be outside and get my heart pumping. The most important thing is to find a way to make movement part of your daily routine. You can dance, run, walk your dog, garden, play with your kids, take an online exercise class, jump rope or even spin a hula hoop.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Healthy sleeping habits can make a big difference in how you feel. The National Sleep Foundation says we all need different amounts of sleep, but sometimes counting sheep and getting restful zzzzzs isn’t as easy as it sounds.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try sticking to a schedule, even on weekends. Create a relaxing routine before bedtime, then wind down without any electronics. It is also good to try to avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
- Be positive and focus on gratitude. This is something that Kay Burnham, Vice President of Guest Services at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and our current INTIX Board Past Chair, focuses on as a big part of being mindful.
“It’s all about finding the silver lining,” she says. “Gratitude is one of those things that buoys us as well as others. So, I encourage you to start every day with gratitude.”
- Find people to support you. There is no “I” in team, but there is a “U” in group. And there are many people in your life who want to see you succeed. Look to family, friends, co-workers and communities like INTIX to identify others who have similar goals or can cheer you on. You are never alone in your journey to live a healthier life!
- Don’t forget about your emotional health. Mental health and physical health are closely connected, yet according to the CMHA, “many of us don’t consciously make an effort to stay mentally healthy.
“Mental health means feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life and in your thinking, and responding constructively to life’s highs and lows. Everyone should practice good mental health. It helps protect you from mental illness, and it can help you get the most of out of life.”
- Have some cake (or candy, or chocolate). If you deny yourself too much, it can just lead to binge eating. Don’t cut out all the sweets in your life. Instead, eat them in moderation or in joy for reaching a goal.
“You can’t help others or be your best self without physical and mental well-being. It took me many years to learn that, and more years to act on it. I love to cook, but I also love to eat. I know I’m weak, and I will stray from time to time, but every little bit of additional exercise or fewer calories helps, even on a bad day. Do it your way; that’s the only way it will work for you,” says DeMato, while thanking and tipping his hat to the people, including several INTIX members, who challenge him to do his best and set goals, such as Curtis Howells, Sarah Vinson, Bob Beatty, Carrie Farina, Jackie Mitchell Morse and so many Facebook supporters.
“When I was most successful and losing a lot of weight, folks would ask me what my end goal was, and like a person in a 12-step program I would answer, ‘My goal is simply to be on a diet tomorrow.’ I could never set a goal of losing the 90 to 100 pounds I needed to lose. It would be too big to wrap my head around, too overwhelming,” he says. “If you can stay healthy one day at a time and don’t look too far ahead, it can work for you.”
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Tags: Memberships , Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus