I’m not a fan of perfection. Perfection gets in the way of accomplishing real change, because it often results in either 1) disappointment when lofty goals go wrong or 2) self-criticism due to holding the self at too high of a standard. Instead, I try to focus on simple practical ways to get healthy, keeping in mind that long-term progress is more important than short-term perfection.
I used to be a perfectionist to the extreme. I went on a strict raw vegan diet for a while, and before that I was a strict vegetarian, and after that I was non-raw food vegan. No criticism to those who follow strict raw food diets, but for me, it resulted in extreme purging of unhealthy foods when I reached my “too healthy” limit. I started yo-yoing every other month: one month I was perfectly healthy, and the next I was pigging out at McDonalds. What I found works for me is to live by general healthy/ethical guidelines, but leave room for everything else in moderation. This allows me to refrain from beating myself up when I eat that oreo.
I’ve found that getting healthier is also easier when you substitute food you love with healthier but similar items into daily life. That being said, here are some of my favorite simple changes to make, that I will continue focusing on this year.
Switch Store-Bought Ice Cream with Homemade Ice Cream Sorbet
Photo cred: Jessical Merz via Flickr
This is something I’ve become really good at lately. Instead of buying store-bought ice cream, I blend my favorite fruit combinations together, stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes or more, and enjoy a nice creamy fruit sorbet creation. Some of my favorites are banana mango, mango pineapple, and strawberry banana. Make half after dinner and have the second half the next morning for breakfast! Mmmmm ice cream for breakfast.
Switch Dairy Cheese with Nutritional Yeast
Yes, dairy is not as great for us as we are led to believe. True it does have calcium, but so do many green vegetables, most famously kale (got kale?). Instead, try out nutritional yeast. This is something I definitely need to become more consistent on. Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor very similar to actual cheese, and with almost double the nutritional benefits.
Swap Your Regular Cereal with a Smoothie Bowl
Photo cred: Meal Makeover Moms via Flickr
I tend to not do this every week, but it is something I’ll work more towards this year. A smoothie bowl is a smoothie blend that serves as your “milk” and a combination of granola, dry oats/muesli, or nuts on top as your “cereal.” In steep contrast with cereal however, green smoothies contain a powerhouse of nutritional benefits. Smoothie bowls have a similar comfort feel to cereal, but are way way healthier. Try some of these recipes or make up your own with your favorite green smoothie flavors.
Park Farther Away Wherever You Go
This is something I love to do: park a little bit further away whenever I’m running errands alone. I love to walk, so it’s actually enjoyable for me. I just park a little bit farther away (maybe a block or sometimes less), which allows me to add more steps into my day. Super easy and simple.
That’s it! Now tell me…what are simple changes you’ve started making this year?