That motorcycle ride I planned for today? Well, we'll see when the rain ends, because right now it's pouring. We were, however, due for a good rain. Oh yes, the squash bugs have killed my zucchini plants, but there are plenty of good things still growing in the garden. If I don't get my barbecue today, Cliff keeps telling me we can celebrate my birthday a day or two late.
I often berate myself for the many things we do that have a negative impact on our health. I blame myself when Cliff gains weight instead of losing. I feel guilty that we eat out too often, which is all my fault because I'm the one who likes to eat out. Today I'm going to dwell on the positive changes we've made over the years, the ones that have really stuck with us.
1. At least 95% of the time we have a sensible breakfast. Usually it's either oatmeal (not the prepackaged, individual, salted kind) or Cream of Wheat (generic) with fruit and sometimes nuts. Cliff would prefer to have a piece of toast with his oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, but he's given that up to save calories. A couple of times a week we'll have a single small serving of cereal with fruit: Cheerios for me, Mini-Spooners for Cliff. We have pancakes for breakfast when a granddaughter is visiting, and then we do eat more than we should.
2. I never add salt to recipes that call for it. It is seldom missed. On dishes that I feel absolutely require salt, for instance mashed potatoes, I use it much more sparingly than I did in the old days. There was a time Cliff wouldn't have even considered eating watermelon without salt, but since his heart surgery, he hasn't salted his watermelon or cantaloupe even once.
3. We use portion control at home. Again, 95% of the time. If the neighbor gives us catfish, we leave portion control behind and fry those suckers in lots of fat. We're only human.
4. We don't have seconds, unless it's a very low-calorie side dish like green beans or spinach.
5. We concentrate on having vegetables with all meals at home. Vegetables aren't expensive, especially if you buy them frozen or canned. If I'm in a hurry, I open a can of spinach to add to our meal.
I was having a conversation with our nephew, Scotty, the other day: He said he doesn't care for vegetables; he likes Mexican food or pizza, things like that. He doesn't eat veggies. That got me thinking. If I only ate my favorite stuff, I suppose I wouldn't eat lots of vegetables either. Things I really love are pizza, Mexican food, tenderloin sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, barbecue, home-made pie, ice cream... and the list goes on. Left to my own devices, if I cared not at all about health, that's the sort of thing I'd live on. I'd weigh 500 pounds, my arteries would likely be clogged, and my blood pressure would be twice as high as it is now. I do like vegetables, so it isn't a chore to eat them. And they help fill me up so I won't eat so much of the more high-calorie things.
6. We exercise regularly. It isn't always pleasant, but we do it most days. Because my knee still wants to swell, Cliff walks while I do my therapy exercises and put in at least fifteen minutes on the exercise bike. I hope to get back to walking with Cliff one of these days.
7. We split meals when we eat out. Well, we always intend to, but once in awhile we'll be looking at the menu and we get greedy. The reason splitting meals works better than bringing half home is that Cliff can't force himself to leave half for later, and besides, you're getting twice as much over-salted, greasy food as you would by splitting. All you've done is divide the bad stuff between two meals.
8. Cliff is a person who feels he has to have something sweet at the end of each meal, but we seriously limit how much dessert we get, these days. Never more than a half-cup of ice cream, for example. I used to slice a 9X13 cake into twelve servings; nowadays, it's twenty-four servings and no icing. We do have a (very) little ice cream with it, though.
9. We seldom have fried foods (unless the afore-mentioned neighbor brings catfish, then all bets are off). I do stir-fry lots of things, but there's only a small amount of oil required for that.
10. I have a good collection of low-fat, frugal, high-fiber recipes that we love, and again, we stick to the rule of only having one portion of those.
11. Our snacks are simple. For the past two days we've had watermelon as a snack. Cliff will eat a handful of animal crackers sometimes; other times, he'll grab an apple. In the old days we were liable to have a sixteen-ounce home-made milk shake as a between-meal snack.
12. There was a time when we couldn't go through the checkout line at Walmart without buying a candy bar of some kind. These days, we aren't even tempted.
I need to remind myself more often of the things we do right, instead of feeling guilty that I want pizza once a week. We really have made a lot of permanent changes for the better.
Final thoughts: Why can't we buy a great big, old-fashioned watermelon with seeds in it these days? Those have SO much more flavor than the baby seedless ones they sell in the stores now. Oh, and hey Pizza Hut? I love that you have the $10 pizzas back, but I can tell you are skimping on the ingredients, especially the cheese. Even paying a dollar for extra cheese, we're not getting as much as we used to for no extra charge.