A vacation for my brain (and the reluctant vegetarian)

Almost every person I know is on some kind of diet or has made a change in their eating habits to improve their health. I think we are all after the same thing. We want to look good and feel good. And when we go to the doctor, we want him/her to say our numbers look awesome! (Our weight, our cholesterol, our blood sugar, etc.)

During the last year, I have been successful at dropping a few pounds. Part of that success has been that I’ve added frequent exercise to my normal regime. Although it is a challenge to fit in a 60-minute workout 5 or 6 days a week, I have found that teaming up with a friend for some workouts, and finding an inspiring fitness instructor for others, has made a real difference.

Actually, in addition to how good I feel physically after a workout (and how nice it is to have my clothes fit better), I find that the 60 minutes I spend working out are good for my mind. It forces me to think about nothing other than my workout. It’s like a vacation for my brain.

But changing my eating habits has made a big difference as well. I took the advice of my fitness trainer, Ikumi, and cut back the amount of food I am eating. When I go out to eat – my goal is to share the meal with someone – or eat half, and take the rest home for the next day’s lunch.

I’ve found that I am actually eating most of my protein (usually fish) at lunchtime. The rest of the day, I eat lots of fruits, vegetables and grains.

Like most business people, I tend to go out to dinner a lot. Eating dinner out is problematic for me. The portions are large. During the last two weeks, I’ve eaten dinner out 6 times. Each time I’ve gone out – I’ve looked over the menu and surprisingly found a vegetarian meal choice. Usually it’s a platter of a wide variety of fresh vegetables and grains. Previously, I would have felt cheated if I went out to a nice restaurant and ordered a platter of veggies.

But with all the publicity about making half your plate fruits and veggies, it seems as if restaurant chefs are getting creative. And my choices have tasted fantastic.

On Monday evening, my husband Garry and I were in Laguna Beach attending the Pageant of the Masters and the Sawdust Art Festival. If you are ever in Southern California during the month of August, I highly recommend this event. It’s a 2-hour show of volunteer performers who create live renditions of famous art. (The last act is a performance of Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting.). It’s impossible to describe, so check out their website: www.foapom.com

We joined four other couples for dinner at The Lumberyard in Laguna Beach. Here is what my dinner looked like (sans the grilled Portabella Mushroom I snatched off the plate when it arrived):

Grilled jumbo zucchini squash
Grilled asparagus
Steamed spinach with garlic
Half a grilled artichoke
Grilled red and green bell peppers
Grilled portabella mushroom
Grilled Roma tomato halves
Grilled baby broccolini (which I prefer to regular broccoli)
Small cup of garlic aioli dip

Honestly, I could not eat everything on my plate. I was full and satisfied after the meal. And I didn’t feel stuffed or uncomfortable during the 2-hour performance.

Next time you go out for lunch or dinner, consider ordering a smaller portion, a meatless entrée, or an appetizer as your main course.

You might be surprised at how delicious your meal will be!