I spent most of December cheating on my healthy eating and exercise routine. Unfortunately, when the weather turns cold and snowy I lose my desire to work out, and with holiday baking on my mind, I seem to give myself a free pass to indulge with sweets.  Yes, I’m a shameful cheater! I’ve always had a sweet tooth and several years ago when I gave up processed foods I also cut back on sugary sweets.  I normally satisfy my cravings with small chunks of Green & Black’s 85% organic dark chocolate (an acquired taste!) and a few roasted almonds and pecans.  It feels like I’m eating a candy bar but is much healthier!

Last month though, I was on a roll!  I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and after shaping the dough into balls I froze it so that every night after dinner I could take a few out and have fresh baked cookies.  Next thing I knew, I was buying a carton of vanilla ice cream and sandwiching a scoop of it between two cookies.  I did that every night until the ice cream was gone! 😳  I made a batch of sugar cookies with red and green sugared tops and baked a few of those every night until they were gone.  For the family Christmas party, I made cookie dough fudge topped with chocolate ganache and a batch of butterscotch drop cookies.  What didn’t get eaten at the party came home with me.   I took most of it to work where a few of us picked at it every day at lunch.  What was left at home got nibbled on for a few nights after Christmas until I finally had to throw it in the trash as I came to grips with my situation!

With the holidays behind us now and a fresh new year underway, many of us have started diets or at least in my case, reverted to eating healthy again.  I stocked my fridge with fresh veggies and fruit and started my first feeble attempts to kick my workout program back into high gear.

We had a little “incident” occur over the holidays that got me wondering about the importance of healthy eating.  My mom has been blessed with 86 years of great health.  She’s not overweight, she still walks her dog every day and looks and feels much younger than her age.  Unfortunately, just before Christmas she fell and broke her back.  She has always been the one to help me and my three siblings with anything we needed, she has always been our rock, the glue that holds us together.  Suddenly we were the ones taking care of her and although it felt good to finally be able to return the favor, it made us realize how lucky we are that she has stayed in such good shape.  We have all taken our turns going over to help her out.  We all tried to bring her home-cooked meals but she discouraged us, saying she did not feel much like eating.  She only wanted canned soup or toast and did not want us going to any trouble.

One day after a doctor’s appointment, when she was starting to feel better, we stopped at the store so she could get a few things.  She wanted a box of powdered sugar donuts, a slice of pizza, and a mini meatloaf from the deli, topped with a pile of french fried onions!  I was shocked at her unhealthy selection but glad she was finally eating.  This continued over the next couple of weeks as family members stopped in with deli sandwiches and fast food.  One day Mom asked me to stop at the store and get her a six-pack of Pepsi.  I haven’t had a soda in years since I started eating healthy and it felt wrong even having it in my cart.  I felt like an underage kid trying to buy beer!  I wondered if all of this junk food would eventually catch up with her.

A few weeks into her recovery she became distraught when her feet began swelling.  The doctor told her to cut out the sodium and get up and move around at least every hour.  Well, one of Mom’s favorite pastimes is cutting out articles from magazines and newspapers on any topic us kids are having an issue with.  Having migraines?  Mom brings you an article about a great new cure.  Stub your toe?  She brings you a coupon for a discount on steel toe shoes!  So I did what Mom would do, I brought her an article on “What to eat to heal a broken bone”, hoping it would motivate her to make some healthier choices.  She seemed excited to read it and afterward, I asked her if there was any home-cooked meal she was hungry for that I could make and bring to her.  She said no to the home cooking, but KFC and Taco Bell sounded good 😂 😂😂

The whole incident made me realize how rigid our habits/routines become and the older we get the less likely we are to want to change them.  Mom hasn’t always been a junk food junkie, I think it has just gradually happened over the last decade as she got older, felt less like cooking, and just looked for what was easy.  I had to wonder though, how has she stayed in such good health when she’s eating like this?  Does a healthy diet really matter?  Is all this healthy eating really going to make any difference in the end?  What I do know is that after I cut processed food out of my diet my chronic migraines went away completely!  I also have a lot less digestive issues.  I’m glad that I have made permanent healthy changes to my diet now so that it will be my normal routine later in life.  Old Man Winter may lead me astray for a month or two but my loyalty to my healthy habits always remains strong and hopefully will keep me going well into my eighties, like my Mama!

Does anyone else experience Winter laziness and cravings?  Anybody have ideas for motivation during the cold winter months?  I try to take a trip to Arizona every winter to soak up some sun.  I do a little hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and go for a few desert trail runs.  I stay motivated before I go so that when I get there I can do all of those fun things, and then I’m more likely to keep it going after I come back!  It doesn’t look like there will be a trip for me this year though😞 so any helpful advice will be appreciated!