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Monday, January 14, 2013

More than calories

HELLO! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and hope your New Year is off to a great start! My new year has already been full of lots of life changes and I'm excited to see where the changes take me and my family. I took a break from writing, but my sweet hubby told me I need to get back to it. So here I go!

I do a lot of thinking when I'm running. It's my favorite way to get lost in my thoughts. While I was running today, I was thinking about how much my priorities and my life has changed this year already. I thought about how all of these changes were made by choice, based on what really matters to me. And I thought about how there are so many people that start their year off on the right foot, in the right frame of mind, determined to make better decisions about not only priorities in life, but also in lifestyle.

I always love success stories. Anyone can take their current situation and turn it around. Anyone can transform themselves with a little determination and commitment. There will be challenges that get in the way and slow down your progress, but as long as you are unstoppable, you will reach your goals.

What does this have to do with calories....? When I was thinking about all of the people that committed to making themselves healthy this year, I thought about some of the mistakes I made when I first started changing my habits. One of the biggest mistakes I made was not realizing, or admitting, that there is more to food than calories. When I would read a label, my only concern was "how many calories". Well that's great, and important, but you can't eat a small order of fries from McDonald's and only pay attention to the 230 calories you just consumed. What about the 11 grams of fat you just inhaled? And it's not healthy fat.....

If you don't look any further into a food label than the caloric content, and you're restricting calories, you're most likely going to lose weight. People have done Oreo cookie diets, fast food diets, ice cream diets, and anything else you can think of, and have proven that weight loss is possible with calorie restriction alone. And it is. But what happens is you hold onto more fat and don't do your arteries any favors. What about trying to improve overall health? What about maintaining healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels? What about improving longevity and quality of life?

These are questions I started asking myself a long time ago. These are things I tried to ignore by convincing myself that being thin meant I was doing everything right. I don't suffer from any health issues, and that made it even harder to convince myself to make changes. But I decided I don't want to see how long I could keep that good luck going. I decided it was time to admit to myself that eating crap pretty much made me feel like crap.... I have always been one that loves healthy foods so it wasn't a hard change for me to make. But I do love sweets as much as any sweet lover, and I do still indulge. The idea isn't to deprive yourself completely of the things you love the most. The idea is to learn to make those things special treats, instead of a normal way of life. Instead of eating snack cakes or donuts for breakfast and snacks, they become something you learn to enjoy in moderation.

My point is this.....read labels past the calorie content. Don't make a habit of eating a 300 calorie donut for breakfast every day to later discover the onset of diabetes and wonder how you got there. Count more than calories alone. Being thinner is a great goal. But being healthier is a better goal. Prevention is important. Let's not wait to pay attention to health issues after we're diagnosed with them. Let's be proactive and make better choices so that those things never do become an issue at all.

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