Many of us have tried to change our eating and exercise habits for a healthier body and the start of a New Year seems a particularly popular time to do this for obvious reasons. Why then do we find it so hard to make healthy food choices and struggle to find the time to exercise? You may be wondering: is it even possible to change your habits? The good news is yes. A person is never too unfit, overweight or too old to make a positive change to their life.
One step at a time
Does change seem like it is around the corner or a world away? When considering making a change to any habit that is affecting your personal performance such as nutrition, exercise, stress or sleep it is easy to fall victim to paralysis by analysis. You think about all the options over and over to the point where the end result is zip, nil, nada, nothing. Before you dive into changing a habit in your life, it is essential to work out where you stand and what stage of change you are at according to Prochaska’s Stages of Change.
Stage 1 “It has crossed my mind” – Contemplation
You might be thinking about making a change but are not ready right now or trying to get motivated but not sure how and you haven’t worked out specific goals and strategies. You believe that your health, energy level or general well being will improve if you develop new habits. As a result you know that making a change will result in your health, but haven’t worked out how to overcome roadblocks.
Stage 2 “I am thinking about it” – Preparation
Is the stage of change where you have decided to make a change and have determined specific goals and how to achieve them, you have a plan of action and you are ready to implement it.
Stage 3 “I’m going for it” – Action
Is the stage of change where you have been actively making change to your eating, exercise and other health habits for at least 6 months, you are looking for innovative ways to continue this and you have been troubleshooting along the way to overcome roadblocks, adjusting to how it feels with these new changes.
Stage 4 “I’m done” – Maintenance
This stage of change means that your change has become a habit, you are an example to your co-workers, friends and family, you have creative ways to maintain your new routines and you are looking for new ideas to achieve the next level.
What stage are you at?
Fuel Watch – KALE
This leafy green vegetable now seems to be a weekly stalwart at the growers market that I frequent each weekend but until recently, I wondered what I would actually do with this cruciferous vegetable. A trip to New York this year solved this dilemma though. Within two days I had experienced Kale Caesar Salad twice. Kale is available as the curly voluminous form or the Tuscan Kale (Cavalo Nero), which has a flatter, darker leaf. Both are known for their bitter taste but this can be minimised by cutting out the tough middle stems and shredding the leaves finely.
This cousin of other brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts is a very rich source of antioxidants such as carotenoids, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium and fibre. However, it also contains oxalates, which can interfere with the absorption of any iron and calcium found in the vegetable.
Kale is a new addition to my diet and I am still experimenting but I claimed my first bunch of the curly variety last weekend and I am on the trail to perfect the delicious Caesar Salad I found in NYC. Around the world, people have been eating bunches of this green goodness since the middle ages and the most common method of cooking is braising with lemon or herbs and as an addition to potatoes. Kale chips are also doing the rounds at the moment but in all honesty, it’s not really kale that you are tasting but the deep-fried flavour’s added to them, and the nutritional benefits have certainly taken a back seat. Kale doesn’t need to be eaten with other foods to enhance its health value but take care when preparing it to enhance its flavour, that way it may just become a regular feature.
Kale Caesar Salad (serves 6)
½ bunch curly or Tuscan Kale (washed, dried and leaves trimmed off stalks)
4 slices proscuitto (fat trimmed), grilled
4 slices sourdough bread
½ cup low fat natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large garlic clove
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Once trimmed, roll up kale leaves, slice finely and place in large salad bowl. Break the grilled proscuitto into small pieces and scatter over the kale leaves.
Tear the bread roughly into 1 cm pieces, place on a baking tray and spray with cooking spray. Bake in a moderate oven for approx. 10 minutes until crispy.
For the dressing, mix all ingredients together in a shaker or jug and pour over kale leaves. Using your hands, mix the dressing through the salad and serve.
Don’t forget to tune in to 882-6PR radio every alternate Wednesday at 10am for a chat with Paul Murray and myself on the Morning program. We discuss everything nutrition and performance and answer callers questions. The next broadcast is on Wednesday 27th February 2013.
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