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Variety: Spice of Life, and Key to Healthy Living

March 4, 2010

The past couple of weeks, sticking to my plans for healthy living has felt kind of like having your underwear on backwards – slightly uncomfortable, a little restrictive, and just not quite right.  I’ve been doing fairly well (not counting my entire week without exercise), but something just has been a little off.  Even though I haven’t really been unhealthy in my eating, I was just was starting to feel a little behind – a little like I wasn’t at the top of my game.

And then I realized early this week, I’ve been bored.  Bored…as…hell…  Bored with the treadmill, bored with my packed lunches, bored with my typical breakfast of cereal, bored with the whole…damn…thing…  When I got started with healthy eating, I really needed to be very simplistic so that I didn’t have to put too much thought into my meals.  I knew if I counted calories or food groups, I’d feel overwhelmed, so I just found options that worked for breakfast and lunch, and I ate them.  Everyday.

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal with half of a banana and skim milk.  Lunch was 3.5oz of lean deli ham on a sandwich thin with a slice of cheddar cheese and mustard with an apple.  My afternoon snack was a quarter cup of cashews with either an apple, an orange, or a banana.  I rarely varied from this routine.  Dinner is where I got variety, and that was great, but I have to admit, it finally hit me that this routinized day of food was just straight up boring after almost four months.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been buying lunch from the work cafeteria (staying healthy, usually soup and sandwich), with my justification being I’m just too busy to make my lunch every morning.  But the real reason, I realize now, is that I didn’t want the same sandwich yet again.  Same goes for exercise.  I’m pretty sure now that boredom was part of the reason for my unintended, yet intentional, week off from exercise, too.  I claimed at the time that it was because I was busy with work and didn’t plan ahead.  But why didn’t I plan?  Because the idea of getting back on the freakin’ treadmill, like a lab rat running through a sadistic high school nerd’s maze, just pissed me off, making the convenience of the “I’m too busy” excuse all too appealing.

So this week, I’ve gotten back to exercise, but not on the treadmill.  I did one day on the treadmill, and I could barely stomach it.  So I started using my Wii Fit again, and burning the same or more calories than I was burning on the treadmill.  Plus the variety of exercises on the Wii is great for my 21st century attention span.  I have designs on a bicycle, too.  I really think I’d enjoy getting outside and seeing some changing scenery while I work out.  So maybe that’s next.

And I’ve built variety back into my nutrition, too.  Now that I have the basics down, I’m a little more confident about building my own meals – varying breakfast, lunch, and my afternoon snack, and trying to incorporate some foods back into my diet that I’d missed, but in moderation (like peanut butter and pizza).  I’d avoided them like a druggie avoids crack, but I think I’ve made enough progress to have a healthy relationship with them now.

So variety has been key to getting me past this little mental roadblock to truly thriving with my plan over the past couple of weeks.  Here’s hoping I’ve learned as much as I think I have!  What about you?  How do you build variety into your food and workouts?

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  1. March 4, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    I’ve felt the same way…i’m so tired of my same foods that I eat every day/night/week/month. I’ve made a few changes. Up next is the treadmill. Now that it’s finally warming up a *little* I’m gonna start walking in the park for a change. And then when this dang Perfect Ten challenge is up I’m gonna start doing some non walking exercises. I’m so consumed with meeting that 100 mile goal I set all my time goes into that.

    • March 5, 2010 at 12:11 AM

      I’ve been reluctant to make the changes, but I know I have to if I’m going to stick with this. And I’ve made so much progress, that not sticking with it is not an option! So the changes have to be made!

  2. March 5, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    That’s really great that you were able to recongnize what was going on and you are working through it, you didn’t let the boredom to derail you. I guess as we go along we have to keep adjusting things to get it right. For variety in exercise I have been taking it outdoors which helps, and as for the eating, I try to buy new and different healthy things to spice it up, such as three different kinds of lettuce for my salad or trying different sources of protein such as steamed shrimp or something else that I don’t eat that often normally.

  3. Meredith
    March 5, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    I don’t have very much variety in my exercise routine as such, but keep the motivation high by varying certain aspects of it. I’ve been walking with a girlfriend for about a year, and when it started we used to set a destination to motivate us – we walked to get breakfast, about 2 miles from her house. After a while we grew to be close friends and the walks grew longer and chattier and now we don’t have a destination, just great company. I look forward to each of our workouts, about twice a week. We decided to add a destination tomorrow, though. We’re walking to get pedicures.

  4. March 5, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    I too think that variety is important. I have friends who are happy eating the same thing day after day after day. I’m like you – I need a little bit of change or I will go crazy!!

    I hate the treadmill a lot! I’m an outside exerciser!

  5. March 6, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Good question Chad. I remember seeing a Gary Larson cartoon once that showed two dogs being fed their dinner in bowls and one of the dogs said to the other “Mmmmm, dog food!”

    I can get very comfortable being routinized. But sometime, I just am not inspired by the same old thing. I usually try to rotate in two separate breakfasts – from scratch oatmeal and bran flakes. I will try to sort of rotate the lunch time too, because baby carrots and an orange for lunch is getting old.

  1. March 7, 2010 at 12:54 PM
  2. April 26, 2010 at 9:25 PM
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