Daily decisions that make healthy changes stick.
We all know and secretly resent them. They’re fit and thin and slip effortlessly into clothes in the tiniest sizes.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. For me, staying fit and at a healthy weight in middle age is an act of constant
vigilance. I suspect it’s the same for most of us, no matter how easy it may appear to others. But this doesn’t mean we have
to be marathon runners or live on celery sticks. Small things we do every day can go a long way toward staying healthy. Once
they’re part of an everyday routine, they may indeed feel effortless. Here are a few things that work for me.
1. Keep your scale and weigh yourself often
Research shows that people who weigh themselves regularly are more likely to be at a healthy weight. I weigh myself just
about every morning. I try to use the scale at the same time every day for consistency (and besides, I weigh less in the
morning). I know if I weigh myself often I can get on top of a two- or three-pound weight gain. But if three pounds turns
into five or more, it becomes overwhelming. By the way, according to obesity experts, daily weighing does not promote eating
disorders. Yes, people with anorexia weigh themselves obsessively—but the disease came first, not the weighing.
2. Schedule exercise and make it nonnegotiable
I’m amazed when high-powered, well-paid executives tell me they have no time for exercise. Who controls their lives? For
years, I’ve set aside noon to 1:15 p.m. on my weekday calendar for exercise. Sure, things come up, but by scheduling it I
consistently get in three to four days of noontime workouts every week. I’m also part of a group of women who have been
exercising together for years. We have fun, and we keep each other motivated. We sometimes muse about what we’d all look like
if we hadn’t been sweating together all these years. I vary what I do to keep it interesting. Lately I’m spinning to music on
a stationary bike, practicing yoga and running on the days I can’t make it to the gym. I know I’m more productive, better
able to handle stress and more content when I exercise.
3. Don’t waste calories on bad food
Think about what you are eating. I was on an early-morning flight to Chicago not long ago and was served a croissant
breakfast sandwich. Knowing it was loaded with calories, my first thought was to just eat half. I took a bite. The croissant
was greasy and tough, the egg was tasteless and the ham was still frozen. Yuck. I decided to eat the honeydew and cantaloupe
and skip the sandwich. I saved the tasteless calories for something more enjoyable later. Turned out that night I had a
fabulous meal in a great restaurant and knew I could indulge a bit because of the choice I made earlier in the day.
4. Never travel without workout clothes
When I pack for a trip, business or pleasure, the first things that go in my suitcase are sneakers and workout clothes. Yes,
this means I can’t cram everything into a carry-on, but I rarely have to wait more than a few minutes at baggage claim
anyway. Having my workout clothes means that if the weather cooperates and the area is safe, I head out for a morning run. I
travel to Washington, D.C., regularly and look forward to a run past the Washington Monument before my workday begins. If I
can’t get outside, I use the treadmill in the hotel gym. It’s not my first choice, but the exercise helps keep me alert
during long meeting-filled days.
5. Take advantage of healthy convenience foods
I admit it: I pay extra for convenience foods when I know they’ll help me eat nutritiously. I used to feel guilty when I
bought those outrageously priced packages of vegetables that are washed, sliced and ready to go. No longer. When I get home
from the office at 6 p.m., having these packages in the fridge can mean the difference between a healthy or not-so-healthy
meal. What’s more, by staying home and cooking rather than eating out, I’ve still saved money.
We all have tricks that work for us. My son Nicholas tries not to eat a serving of any one food that is larger than his fist.
My husband’s mantra is “Don’t let your waist size get larger than your inseam”—easy for him to say at 6'4" tall. My beautiful
friend Susan tries hard to eat only when she’s truly hungry, knowing that’s when food tastes best. The trick is establishing
those small steps that work for you. Once they become routine, people might just start accusing you of being one of those
people who are naturally fit and thin.