This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Laura J. Downey
Whew! I made it past my birthday week. People told me that calories don’t count on your birthday, so I took the liberty to indulge a smidgen on that day. But the following day and the rest of the week, it was back to business for me. I stayed on track with my goals and refused to let anything get in my way.
For my birthday, I treated myself to a stay at a nice hotel. Before I hit the spa, I changed into my gym clothes and jumped on a Peloton bike. (Maybe I can challenge my colleague and fellow Peloton app user, Mark Spoor, to a friendly competition next month!) When I was finished, I walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes. On last year’s birthday getaway, I most certainly did not use the gym on my special day, so I consider this progress.
And when it was time for dinner, I ordered salmon, Brussels sprouts, truffled whipped potatoes, and lobster macaroni and cheese. I didn’t stuff my face and stopped eating when I felt full. The waiter asked me if I wanted dessert; I said no because I savored a mini red velvet cake in my hotel room earlier, and I did not want to overdo it. Normally, I would have said yes to dessert even if I just had sweets a few hours earlier. I see this as more progress, too.
The next morning when I ordered room service, I was intentional about my food choices. Instead of getting my usual waffle with a side of bacon, scrambled eggs topped with cheese, wheat toast and jam, I opted for an egg white omelet with a side salad to replace the home fries. Another small victory in my book.
Later in the week, I got together with a few of my sorority sisters for an intimate chef-prepared dinner. After our temperatures were checked at the door, I headed straight for the appetizers and filled my plate with salad. I steered clear of the cheese tray and was looking forward to eating the pan-seared red snapper, garlic French green beans, and roasted herb potatoes. More progress, right?
I will admit, some nights I struggled wanting to eat more because that’s the time I usually crave additional sugar. But I stayed strong and put my retainer in my mouth. (That’s one of the tricks I use to stop overeating.)
During the week, I continued running 3 minutes straight on the treadmill. There were a couple of days that I ran up to 5 minutes straight, and in those exact moments, I felt like I was getting my mojo back.
Every choice I made was intentional. Whether it was taking the stairs instead of the escalator or buying grapes and apples instead of chips, I chose to be a better me. And honestly, I like how I’m feeling on the inside. Because when I make unhealthy food choices, I usually feel physically and mentally weighed down. So I’m going to do my best to stay focused and keep my eyes on the prize.
Laura J. Downey is the executive editor of WebMD Magazine. She hopes this blog will help others see that every small step can lead to a more well-balanced, healthful, and fulfilling life. For more on her journey, follow her on Instagram @laurakadowney .