The end of every year usually comes along with copious champagne toasts followed by a series of heady, empty resolutions: people promise to lose 20 pounds; quit smoking, drinking and just generally stop having fun; resolve to be better with their money... the list goes on. (I'm pretty proud to say that I've lived up to my pledge to stop compulsively visiting Perezhilton.com.)
And while many people certainly make these half-hearted promises with the best of intentions, the vast majority of us don't end up meeting our goals.
Most of our New Year's resolutions centre around health issues, whether they be our weight, medical conditions or eating habits (all of which are interconnected). And let's face it, most of us could stand to pay more attention to our health: according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, almost 60 per cent of adults over the age of 18 (roughly 14.1 million Canadians) are overweight or obese.
So, why can't we seem to get a handle on our health? I could offer up a few suggestions, but I think that Dr. Lawrence Klein says it best in the foreward to e3 For Life: 3 Elements for Attaining Abundant Health & Happiness With Ease :
"...Almost any thoughtful approach to eating is somewhat - if not vastly - better than the thoughtless (and often deadly) diet that most North Americans sadly consume; vast quantities of empty calorie foods, frequently as bereft of nutrients as they are laden with toxins! Truly, the accumulated (and ever-growing) mass of convincing studies clearly linking diet, illness, and a bewilderingly large array of diseases should come as no surprise at all."
We are what we eat, after all, and most of us eat far too much crap.
e3 For Life is a book by Adam Hart, a nutrition expert, whole foods chef, professional speaker, coach and author based in Squamish. A bit of background on Hart: he had a very poor relationship with food until the age of 26, when he began to see serious health issues arising from his diet (stress, depression, anxiety, food allergies and high cholesterol). Once Hart's doctor informed him that he was pre-diabetic, he decided he wanted to start living life with a healthy body.
In this book, Hart first shares his personal story and struggles, then delves into the issues of food, thoughts and habits, and the influence these elements have on our overall health. Finally, he includes a series of simple worksheets to help readers set their own goals (both short- and long-term) and see them through from start to finish.
Within the "food" section of his book, Hart has also included more than 60 recipes that incorporate "super foods," like coconut, quinoa, whole oats and flax, which are ingredients that give you energy and properly nourish the body. And some of them actually sound kinda good (like high energy trail mix, magic macaroons and pecan chocolate spice cookies). While all of the recipes are vegan or vegetarian, and many are raw, Hart doesn't endlessly extol the virtues of the vegan, vegetarian or raw lifestyles in e3 For Life , because he feels "that many of us are not ready for this transition, but we do want to eat healthier." Instead, his approach is "first to help you move away from a heavy processed food diet and begin bringing healthier whole, plant-based foods into your life."
While some of the suggestions made in e3 For Life are a bit "out there" for me, personally (for example, I can't really see myself utilizing Hart's "My First Ten" exercises, which would see me spending the first 10 minutes of each day engaging in a series of activities that include breathing, meditation, visualization and a vision board), I think Hart has really hit the mark when it comes to his approach to foods. He isn't advocating a fad or crash diet, which isn't sustainable or realistic for most people. Rather, he seems to want people to understand food better, and in turn, understand how their bodies respond to the foods we consume.
That seems to be key in attaining and maintaining a healthy body - understanding and balance.
So, whatever your resolutions may be for 2011, here are a few tips to ensure you aren't making empty promises after that champagne toast at midnight: set realistic and specific goals; share those goals with someone who will offer positive encouragement; take small steps towards the end goal; and reward yourself for achievements along the way.