The Mediterranean Lifestyle enjoys gracious living. Based on the belief that hospitality requires serving fresh, quality, natural foods, the Mediterranean host keeps her pantry prepared to feed her family as well as the unexpected guest. But above all, it is the sincere and welcoming spirit, and the sheer joy, in seeing others enjoy food in good health, that feeds the soul.
Traditionally when you compliment the chef, they will respond to you, “sah-tain” – which means, “to your health.” This is the food perspective seen in the Middle East, “food equals health.” RaqiSa Lifestyle embraces this belief. We believe in serving graciously to all, (including ourselves), with a joyful spirit. Why not see food as both delicious and as good health?…Gaining this perspective may eventually help you lose the excess weight you may be carrying.
To be sure, training yourself to see food as “health” will take time. More over, learning to cook delicious foods that happen to be healthy, may tempt you into thinking you can eat more…after all, “it’s healthy,” you may reason. Well, tis the season to see things differently. And what better time than the present, especially as the New Year’s Resolution list is likely to be in the making? May I propose a toast to living a quality life free from constraints? To help you inch into the “New Year, New You” mode, I offer three seemingly simple rules to live by, followed by one single (and do-able) fitness goal:
1) Eat what you want when you are hungry. Why waste time eating something you are not even craving? Within reason, accept that you enjoy certain foods, keeping the portions small. One time I was craving “Arabic Pizza.” All week I ate Arabic Pizza. It seemed that my body needed the carbohydrates and protein and the fresh lemon and tomato in this recipe because I was training for a competition and I was rehearsing routine after routine and I needed “energy.” Mind you, I am referring to food. Craving sweets often indicates a lack of sleep (fatigue) or an emotional trigger has been tapped. Listen to your body and listen to your emotions. One could easily over eat in an emotional state saying, “Well, you said eat what I want,” and end up bypassing whether or not hunger was even present. Which leads me to rule #2.
2) Be aware of every bite you are savoring. This may require some planning on your part because we are often eating on the fly and in actuality, we end up consuming more calories than we realize because we are grazing all day long. If you are a grazer, no problem…simply pause as you graze to really taste the food you are enjoying. After all we are so fortunate to live in a country with abundant food. We ought to honor this moment. Personally, I pray before I eat anything. (My personal faithful prayer: “Thank you Jesus for this food; bless the food to my body; bless the hands that prepared this food. Amen”…I even envision the factory worker who may have assembled a packaged or canned food I am eating as part of the hands who prepared my food!) As I eat, I try to savor the flavors. Everyone in my family will tell you that I am a “fast eater.” This is true. Nonetheless, I do savor my foods…quickly. But yes, I am working on slowing it down. (I suppose I should add “Chew at least 30 times!” as a personal goal.) Still, to be clear, being aware of your eating will also steer you clear from eating while feeling overly emotional.
3) Stop eating when you are full. This one is tough even for me. Why? Because a lot of times I am actually THIRSTY. I teach several fitness classes a week and if I am not hydrated well enough, I risk losing my measurement of hunger for thirst. However, the more we are in tune with #2, the easier #3 will be. May I also suggest that if you are packing a lunch, you can put aside any unfinished food and resume eating again when you are feeling hungry. This way, you have a measure of how much you have been consuming. Pack extra fruit and a handful of nuts if you are concerned you may need extra energy. This is the Mediterranean thinking. Eat fruits and nuts as snacks.
While these rules seem easy enough, you may need additional support from friends or a computer gadget that helps you keep track of your calories. To be sure, I too like to have someone on my side rooting me on days I feel weak. Nonetheless, I believe in this “Mediterranean Thinking” because it is both liberating and healthy. We all have days we feel more emotional or overwhelmed. Having loved ones and friends who are on your side is a good thing. Saved for another blog, I can say first hand that adopting this thinking rescued me from a vicious cycle of fad diets in my younger years.
Finally, I’d like to offer you one and only one “New Year, New You” fitness goal as you strive to gain perspective…and not weight:
MOVE At Least Six Days a Week. We were MEANT to move. Our bodies are capable of doing amazing things! Find whatever helps you get into “move mode,” whether it be good music, a great (RaqiSa;) workout, or simply a walk to enjoy at your leisure. You are ALIVE! Honor your body with movement! Give thanks every day for your precious body and all that it has done for you! Move because you CAN. This New Year, I challenge you to commit to doing something at least six days of the week, that involves moving your body throughout the course of a day. I submit to you that as you make this commitment, and simply begin to “move” you will enjoy many health benefits. Once you have secured “moving” as a habit, then and only then experiment with intensity and duration during specific movements you enjoy. *Naturally, watch for upcoming RaqiSa workouts which will help challenge you even further. But for today, get a pedometer and strive for 10,000 steps a day. Gather a group of like minded friends for support and make this year exceptional.
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