66 days ago I set out to cultivate a new healthy habit. I chose 66 days because that is the amount of time it takes for a new habit to stick. My goal was pretty simple: eat more vegetables. I could have tied in eating less, cutting out certain food groups, exercising every day, etc… but I know from experience trying to tackle too many things at once is a recipe for failure. So, I decided to just focus on increasing my vegetable consumption. By default this would reduce the amount of unhealthy food I ate and I would probably lose weight.
It’ll Put Hair on Your Chest
Eating more vegetables sound like something you might hear in grade school. As a kid, my grandfather would encourage me to eat the cooked carrots on my plate because they would 1. Put hair on my chest and 2. Make my eyesight better. Since I had perfect eyesight and did not want to risk a hairy chest, I tended to skip the cooked carrots and most other vegetables, sticking with the good Maine diet of Meat & Potatoes. Not surprisingly, this childhood habit of little to no veggies carried far into adulthood. It is only in the past six or seven years that I’ve really embraced a healthier diet of vegetables that go beyond microwaved peas and iceberg salads. And it’s really only been the past two years that I have begun to incorporate true variety of vegetables into my diet – things like zucchini, summer squash, Brussel sprouts, baby spinach, to name a few.
Be Willing to Try New Foods
My most deliberate action during my 66 New Habits Adventure was a willingness to try new foods. If you are a grown woman (or man) and still wrinkle your nose at foods you’ve never eaten, it’s time to act your age and be willing to try something new. And be willing to try them prepared a couple of different ways. I did not like steamed Brussel sprouts. At all. But then I tried them roasted with a little balsamic vinegar and they were to die for good! Now they are one of my favorite dishes to cook.
I also experimented with foods that I have historically rejected, like tomatoes, which I grew up hating. I could handle tomato-based sauces or ketchup, but that was it. Now I enjoy fresh tomato salsa, fresh bruschetta with tomato and basil, and add tomato to salads – something I would have never done even a few years ago.
Other new dishes I have incorporated into my cooking repertoire include:
- Roasted Asparagus – I may or may not wrap it bacon. #nojudgezone
- Baked Spaghetti squash – either by itself, or in place of spaghetti or taco shells.Baby spinach – I add a cup of raw baby spinach to smoothies three or four times a week. You can’t taste it all, and it adds a wallop of nutrients and fiber.
- Zoodles – AKA Zucchini Noodles. These are a great base for spaghetti or pad that. Get yourself a spiralizer for $14 at Walmart.
- Avocado – I have always loved guacamole, but rarely did I use avocado in any other fashion. Today I will add fresh diced avocado to salads, scambled eggs, or in place of cheese in a sandwich on burger.
- Sweet Potatoes – I like them baked, or sauteed with baby spinach and (more) bacon.
The Results of 66 Days of Practice
Are you wondering if I ate loads of fresh veggies every single day for the past 66 days? No, because I’m Far From Perfect (recall the name of blog, no?). But I can confidently say I did eat more vegetables on a daily basis about 80% of the time – including a work trip to Florida, which involved a week of eating out. Just as I hoped, adding vegetables to every meal or snack is no longer something I have to think about or struggle with. I have built up a nice stock pile of vegetable recipes and ideas that keep me from getting bored and I actually look forward to cooking them. I also don’t berate myself if I don’t eat perfectly at every meal. In fact, if I skip veggies at a meal or two, I can feel the difference. My body actually craves healthier food now. So, I that’s a first.
As for external goals – I did lose about 10 pounds (which I had gained over the holidays with impressive rapidity) and I my energy levels are much better – I am able to exercise longer and harder without wanting to die. Coincidence? I don’t think so. And my mood is better in general. I wake up feeling good most days, rather than feeling like eating healthy and exercise is an uphill battle; just one more thing on my never ending to do list. The whole experience has made me excited to set a new 66 day habit adventure, starting tomorrow! Stay tuned for more!
Do you have any new habits?