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Friday, May 11, 2012

Lessons I Learned From Mom About Health

Eat your vegetables:  It doesn’t get more basic than that; I knew she was right; and Mom loved vegetables-but I hated them.  I learned to "adapt" to vegetables by disguising them.  When in doubt, you can always melt cheese over anything.  But beware, this could get you fat in a hurry. Replace the cheese with a little butter and added nuts, crispy onions, garlic, spices, dried fruit or sesame seeds.  Or, you can try pureeing (mostly spinach, carrots and cauliflower.)  You may eventually got brave enough to eat some steamed broccoli. Once I learned that one of my favorite foods, salad, is a vegetable, it was cause for celebration.  

These days, I make a delicious chocolate whey protein shake for breakfast every morning to which I add a big leaf of kale...and I can barely taste it (really!)

One of the best best diet tips is to increase your fiber-for satiety and blood sugar control.  When the fiber comes from vegetables (vs. supplements), you also reap the benefits of all the nutrients and phyto-nutrients they provide.

Play outside:  I was raised at a time when kids actually just walked out the front door and found things to do-which usually involved engaging in some type of physical activity.   Even on days when the southern California sun was over one hundred degrees, Mom didn’t believe that kids were so fragile or endangered that they couldn’t go outside and play. We did try and fight her on this-there was always something on T.V. we felt we couldn’t miss (this was “pre” video games.)

Her response would be to give us each a dollar to get into the local high school pool where we’d swim until they closed.  She would insist that it was “a beautiful day outside that we should be out there enjoying it.”  While I’m sure there was an ulterior motive there, she taught us that getting outside in the fresh air, in all kinds of weather, was the best, most natural place to be.  I’m sure that’s where my love for hiking and taking long walks comes from.  I always encourage clients to exercise and have fun outdoors when given the opportunity. Human’s were meant to spend time outdoors-I believe that. Even the concrete jungle can offer challenges to the body.  Uneven pavement, wind-resistance, avoiding puddles, etc….these are minor things but when compared to walking endlessly on a treadmill, they provide a better fitness challenge-and don’t forget all the vitamin D the sun provides.

“Stop it with the junk food!”  When cautioned that eating so much junk food would ruin my dinner, when threats like the right’s to that evening’s dessert would be revoked didn’t work, Mom would resort to scare tactics: “if you keep eating like this you’ll wind up a diabetic.  Is that what you want?”  That made me stop and take notice-for a moment.  But the pull of M & Ms, Doritos and Cranberry Sparklers (soda) would prove too great.  I was blessed with an incredible metabolism when I was kid and just wasn’t motivated to eat right.  She worried about me but I paid little attention to her warnings. 

Mom always set an example by eating plenty of quality protein, a potato of some type and lots of vegetables.  She didn’t like chips, rarely drank soda, and she never had sweets.  I have never known Mom to be on a diet-ever.  Clearly, I didn’t always eat a healthy diet but once I committed to staying in shape and later, to a career in the fitness industry, I let go of these habits-and I haven’t looked back. 

Get motivated!  Both of my parents were athletes when they were younger, or so we were told.  But when we were young, there was no evidence of it.  They had 4 mouths to feed, several jobs to show up for, and there wasn’t much time for sleep let alone sports (with the exception of T.V. football or baseball games-depending on the season.)  Dad had been a good amateur baseball player and mom was an excellent swimmer and had played in the Roller Derby!  As a child, this was very glamorous and made a big impression on me. 

Mom was a huge fan of the Olympic Games and we watched every broadcast from opening to closing ceremonies until I left home.  We’d talk about the athletes, the workouts, the sports. Even with their lack of participation, our parent’s message was simply that fitness was a natural part of life.  It made me want to find a sport to be good at. I absolutely believe that playing youth sports can serve as the foundation to staying active throughout life. 

Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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