May 172013

With late April days dipping down into the 30s, we wondered if spring would ever come. Well, it finally has. Windows are opened at night, puffy coats traded in for light jackets, and the earmuffs are stored away. (Okay, it was 43 degrees on Tuesday so the earmuffs snuck out for a one day appearance, but they’re back in the closet now for good.)

Outdoor seating is popping up cafes everywhere. Some NYC restaurants brave even the snow and declare year-round outdoor seating is doable even without heat lamps. (I’m talking about you, Sidewalk Cafe!) The rest of ’em whip out the tables and chairs when it feels like it’s time to eat al fresco. Seeing more people on the street and leaving work while there is daylight makes the days much brighter.

Despite what felt like an endless winter, I managed to stay more active than usual. I’m proud that this is the first winter in nine years that I didn’t gain 15 pounds over the dreary, frigid season. While I could have done better, I did well enough. I attribute it to a few things, each of which took way more effort than it sounds like:

  1. Making cocoa a limited treat. Winter screams cocoa so this was hard, but last year I had two per day at work and another one or two at home. Mike still had it every night, but I cut back. I even stayed away from Eataly’s warm liquid chocolate on all but one occasion.
  2. Swapping the “I don’t know what to eat so I’ll just have Macaroni and Cheese” for “…I’ll just have salad.” Last year I had mac and cheese no less than four times per week. This time, no more than twice a month.
  3. Add in the good food. Crowd out the bad. I let myself have the comfort food, but by adding in more vegetables I ate far less of it. When I started noticing bad food habits creeping in, I tried a (very modified) juice cleanse from Liquiteria. They want you to drink six juices and only those six juices a day for three days. I dropped it down to four juices for 4.5 days plus solid fruit, raw veggies, and a reasonable dinner, but boy was I less hungry and my vegetable cravings returned. Doing it right before Christmas helped me stay on track.
  4. Move. As much as energy permits. Going to the gym at least once a week was mandatory, twice was preferable.
  5. Sweatpants in public. Yes, I looked like a college student or a freak wearing sweatpants on my way to work every day. But by putting sweatpants over my work clothes and bundling up to the max, walking to the subway or even the whole way to work became possible. Clocking an extra 7 miles of walking per week made such a difference, and my wallet thanked me for skipping the post-work cabs that I took way too often last year.

While my desire to go to the gym five times a week hasn’t returned yet, I’m still walking to or from work a few days a week, or at least the subway every day. We’ll get there. But for now, I’ll pat myself on the back for making a huge improvement to benefit my health that I wasn’t able to do for nearly a decade.

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