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Happy Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) as some call it! What a wonderful day to have a brief discussion about mindful eating and exercise. Why is this relevant? Because today many of us tend to overindulge a bit with unhealthy choices: eating too much food and/or the wrong food and possibly drinking too much as well. But if we plan ahead with meals, we can prevent some of these unhealthy choices. Let me give you an example.

Last night, I cooked a full pound of whole wheat pasta (it’s an easy Meatless Monday meal, just boil with healthy olive oil, add sauce if desired and serve). I knew I wouldn’t eat it all last night. When I tried to pack up the leftover pasta for the fridge, I realized it wasn’t going to all fit in the small meal-size container I had chosen. So I grabbed another circular container and filled them both with pasta. At that point, reality hit me: one was today’s lunch and one was today’s dinner. Aren’t healthy leftovers awesome? They are serious timesavers and healthy lifesavers at the same time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to indulge every once in a while too. But I had my health wake-up call a few years ago learning that I had high cholesterol and triglycerides. That triggered some serious re-evaluation of my priorities and I decided that my health (including becoming a stronger runner less dependent on medication) was more important than the indulgence. I also retrained my body to crave healthy things like dark chocolate, almonds, pistachios, avocados, almond and coconut milk, coconut oil, chia, flaxseed, and quinoa. Also Kale and other delicious and nutritious greens. So when I’m tempted to eat chocolate now, I reach for my 85% (or higher cocoa content) dark chocolate. The higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants are contained within the dark chocolate. Now I might have King cake today if it’s offered to me by a Louisianan but will turn down the ice cream because I know the ingredients and I don’t want my old cholesterol levels back.

Hey don’t forget exercise! Oh yes. Running outside in February in Nebraska. My hands became uncomfortably numb to put it nicely. So with Misty the dog in tow on the leash (see photo above, she appears to be reconsidering our bravery), I decided to cut our outdoor run short. Inside, after warming my freezing fingers, I felt uncomfortable with running less than I had intended to today. So I fired up the treadmill and ran in New Orleans and in Ireland (we have GPS on the treadmill that allows us to run virtually like this).

When my doctor told me I had high cholesterol, she told me to make some new healthy choices. So I did. And mindful eating and exercising every day are a part of that. Count your steps. Can you reach 10,000 steps per day? I began tracking my activity level to make sure that I was not succumbing to the runners’ strong temptation to run then nap and be lazy, passive, and sedentary. Sitting down doesn’t do a lot of good for our health if we sit too long at a time.

So call me a contrarian for daring to cut against the grain on an overindulging day like Mardi Gras, but health is now my hobby, my lifestyle, and my passion and I will do everything in my power to share that enthusiasm for health with the world. And I’m not settling for less than the best health that I can produce by making healthy, mindful choices when it comes to eating nutritional healthy foods and exercising at the level I need to in order to be active and keep my asthma under control.

Want to hear more? Here is my brief Periscope I recorded today talking about this. Thanks for listening! Happy healthy Mardi Gras!