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Toss the Scale! (And other January Wellness Tips)

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There are no coincidences. While I was searching for notes on a kitchen faucet that needed replacing, I “chanced” upon an old file. curious, I opened it — and couldn’t even remember having once gone to this Spa Boot Camp in Vermont (Green Mountain). But as I started reading, it was as though a light bulb went on in my head. How appropriate and timely were my copious notes taken almost twenty years ago.

With weeks of partying behind us, we face another annual ritual — assessing the “damage” and making January resolutions as regards health and wellness (however you define that.) I pass along this “food for thought” from my notes in hopes that it will both enlighten and encourage you.

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No less than Aristotle stated it so compellingly. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an ACT but a HABIT.”

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And the follow on is that health and weight management is a product of personal responsibility, not will power. Acknowledging that we can eat some of anything we want, but not necessarily all of everything we want.

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The “pearls” regarding dieting…

  • Understand that you can’t learn to eat by not eating; rather, think management- working WITH food to achieve the desired effect rather than muddling through a constant, controlling struggle.
  • Never perceive any food as forbidden; therefore, aim for moderation rather than abstinence.
  • Eat when moderately hungry; stop when comfortably full.
  • Make eating an isolated activity, limited to one designated place at home and work. Put food on a plate; sit, don’t stand.

(And these are the ones I’m really trying to perfect…)

  • Cut food into small pieces; eat slowly; chew each bite twenty times; swallow before picking up the utensil again.
  • Put a ten minute delay between the impulse to eat and actually eating.
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“Don’t look at the menu. What do you have a taste for!” (G. Nolan Bearden)

A wise man, my father. This counsel preceded every restaurant experience, and we had a lot of them growing up in Beverly Hills. While I was too young to fully grasp the nuances, he was actually touching on key, universal points. It’s first about the pleasure of food, being mindful and thought-ful of what you choose to eat and not blocking internal cues (ie. looking immediately at the menu). Enjoy your choices, eat slowly and savor each bite. It was a kind of centering experience. He was conveying to us that eating is a conscious choice, not an impulsive act (and know that cravings-while suggestions to eat, are not commands to overindulge-will pass.) The follow on to those “internal cues” is checking your level of fullness and degree of satiety as you are in the process of eating.

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“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” (Julia Child.)

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Image New York Times/Getty

A wise chef, that Julia. She well espoused one of the tenets of the boot camp spa…never perceive any food as forbidden. Aim for moderation rather than abstinence; give yourself permission to “eat your way down” and forever eliminate the DIET word. This, coupled with purposeful planning, insures no putting off of eating and lapsing into the subsequent state of starvation.

Diet Delightfully
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The driven, induced need to be slim diverts us from concerns that are more truly central to our experience of life. It absorbs an energy that could help us change the world, not just our bodies.

And I must pass this personal tip along…There’s enough stress in life without adding a big one that can hang over us until we banish it.

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Wellness is its own reward, but the journey should be, too.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

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