Moderation – Balance – Lifestyle

Ciao friends and a very Happy New Year to you! And with it being the New Year, I know that there is a definite focus and even craze around New Year’s Resolutions; specifically health and fitness based resolutions. It seems to be the same story every year. On the one hand, it’s great; it’s wonderful that folks can look at the beginning of a New Year as a time of renewal and a time to make changes. On the other hand, however, I find that New Year’s resolutions, especially those around health and fitness, lead people to be unkind to themselves in the pursuit of their goals and more often than not end up abandoning the journey towards those goals a month or two into the year. I mean not to sound arrogant, but because I do appear to live my life, eat well, and remain in good shape, every year around Christmas and New Year’s my friends and family, my colleagues, my students, and even complete strangers ask me for advice about how to become fitter, healthier, and remain that way. So today, I am going to talk a little bit about how I have found success and offer you some tips into how you may as well!

To begin, you should know that I am not a nutrition professional, a certified health coach, or an all knowing health guru. I am merely a man who has found a path that keeps me healthy, in shape, and happy. You should also know that I was not always this way; in fact, I had to learn a lot of hard lessons before I found the path I am now. In the past, I have been incredibly unkind to my body and myself in my pursuit of being “in shape” and whatever that is in our culture today. I have under fed myself, over exerted myself, and mentally spoken unkindly to myself. However, thanks to the help of yoga and earth-bound guardian angels in my life, I finally found my way to a happy and healthy me which I now wish to share with you.


No end goals, how about habit setting?

So before we go any further, let’s make a deal. Let’s not set an end-all-be-all goal for your New Year’s health/fitness resolution, let’s not commit yourself to goal weight, a goal pant size, or a six pack, let’s not set that goal and pursue it through unkind words and actions. Rather, let’s make a resolution to begin to adopt habits that lead you to a healthier and happier life overall that you can sustain over a long period of time. Sound good? Great!

Now, let’s get into the details. When people ask me for advice about health and fitness, I am happy to offer tips about changes you can make to your diet and exercise routine that will help you shed weight, slim down, get stronger, and all that jazz. I, however, always end the giving of my advice with something along the lines of this, “But remember, it isn’t just about reaching whatever image you have in your head at all costs, it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle that you can sustain.” So there are a few words you will hear a lot of from me today: MODERATION – BALANCE – LIFESTYLE!


Balance – get it?

MODERATION AND BALANCE – For some reason in our society, too many people believe that when it comes to fitness that it is either all or nothing; you either eat whatever you want, don’t make an effort to exercise or move at all, and you remain unhappy with your image until some magical date where you decide to turn things around OR you can only eat kale and apples and have to work out for 2 hours a day to have the image you want. This is not the case.

It is all an act of moderation and balance. Just because you decide to eat more nutritious and balanced foods doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice of cake at friend’s birthday party, or a bowl of pasta on a Sunday night, or a few slices of pizza while watching the game, or a cone of ice cream on a hot day. True, you cannot have these things every single day and hope to be in perfect shape, and sometimes you will have to say no to them, but you can certainly have them. I think that one of the problems is that people who resolve to trim down swear off these foods forever, eat only “health foods” that they don’t enjoy or haven’t learned to enjoy, and then one day are faced with temptation, and give in with reckless abandon by eating a whole box of pizza or tub of ice cream. I have been one of these people many times; starving myself of little indulgences, then binging on them, then hating myself and starting the cycle all over again. It sucks. Don’t do it.


A great example of the amounts of different food groups you should be eating.

Bolognese 8

But by all means, enjoy the pasta from time to time!

Instead, try this: resolve to eat more healthful meals around 75%-85% of the time. You know what this means because there are plenty of other articles and blogs on how to do this: lean proteins, more greens, good fats, complex carbohydrates. Then for the other 15%-25% of the time, allow yourself to indulge in those other foods that are more treats. Balance out your healthful eating with soulful eating for the best of both worlds. Moderate your portions; it is not the last time you will ever eat pasta or cake, so don’t feel the need to binge and eat the entire bowl or slice. Can you enjoy a moderate portion, savor the food, and feel satisfied with it? Give it a shot. It takes practice, but once you get it, it works.


Move your body!

On the exercise front, movement is very important for keeping fit and staying healthy overall. However, there is moderation and balance to be practiced here too. As I said, many people feel to be in shape that they have to commit to 2 hours at the gym every day. First off all, who has 2 full hours to exercise every day? Second of all, this is not the case. Rather, resolve to incorporate movement into your day for more reasonable amounts of time, say 30 minutes to an hour; not too little and not too much. Find a balance between hard core exercise that challenges you to your edge and other types of movement that get your blood pumping but are a bit milder and lighter.

Find a balance in your week too. Maybe five days a week you set time aside for exercise. Of those five exercises, you make three to four of them really challenging and you make the other one or two a little easier. For example, maybe you commit to some challenging yoga classes, kickboxing, and weight training for your harder work out sessions, but then the other few you choose calmer yoga classes or a brisk walk in the park or on the beach. In this way, incorporating movement into each week won’t seem so daunting and that will allow you to persist.

I used to work out an hour and a half to two and half hours every day when I was mistreating myself. I was always tired, always run down, and always miserable because of it; it was quite retched. Then I learned to find the balance. I learned to be more effective with my excises in a shorter amount of time, an hour, and I learned to moderate between extreme challenge and more enjoyable forms of exercise. Once I learned how to do this, I found that my exercises were more quality rather than quantity, and this allowed me to be more positive, more rested, and more balanced overall. So now, my movement regime doesn’t seem so daunting and tiring, it’s manageable and it makes me feel good. Your turn!

adopt a lifestyle

Build a lifestyle that makes you feel good and strong and makes you smile!

LIFESTYLE – This is my main point of this blog post. You can set yourself a goal of a weight, a pant size, or a six pack. You can give it everything you’ve got to reach that goal, but then what happens after you reach that goal? I see this a lot. People work very hard to reach their end-all-be-all goal, but then they say, “Yay I did it! Now, I am going to eat an entire tub of ice cream to myself and stop working out!” And then in a few months, the results they fought so hard for are gone and they become frustrated, and they beat down on themselves, and they give up, and they go back to being unhappy with themselves.

If you want to feel good, feel fit, feel healthy, it is more than committing to an exercise and diet plan for three months; it is about creating a healthy lifestyle that you live and breathe throughout each year.  Again, this is just me, but this is how I live and what works for me:

  • I eat balanced and nutritious meals 85% of the time. The vast majority of my meals are composed of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and tons of nutrient rich vegetables and fruits.
  • The other 15% of the time, I allow myself to indulge (hello, my name is Johnny La Pasta!) I enjoy a few more decadent meals per week. I treat myself to dessert several times per week. I enjoy every minute of it and because I do, I do not feel deprived the other 85% of the time.
  • When I do indulge, I moderate. I try to have a medium size or smaller portion of the indulgent food, eat it slowly, and savor it. I avoid binge eating. (Although, every once in a while it’s okay to just go for it!)
  • I move on a daily basis. I do four to five very challenging exercises every week – a combination of yoga, yoga sculpt, and weight/circuit training. The other exercises, while they still get my blood pumping and make me sweat, are not as challenging. I rarely ever exercise for over 1 hour. Because of this, slating in movement time seems manageable rather than overwhelming. And because I allow myself a few lighter exercises every week, I feel rested and ready for the more challenging ones.
  • I strive for good rest and sleep. I go to bed at a reasonable time and try to give myself 6-7 hours of sleep minimum. I also slot in time during the week where I get to sit and read, meditate, or watch my favorite TV shows. It is important to give yourself time to be still and rejuvenate.
  • My free time is spent, mostly, doing positive activities. I don’t sit around and play video games. I don’t binge for 7 hours straight on Netflix. I don’t drink myself into oblivion every Friday and Saturday night. I spend my free time spending time with positive and uplifting family and friends, I make good food or go out for it, I go on hikes and walks, I go to the jacuzzi, I read, I have movie nights, etc. This way, my free time is filled with positive activities that typically rest my mind, my body, and raise my spirits. When you can do this, you have charge and energy to live your live fully and positively.

Basically, I have adopted a lot of positive habits that keep me living in a healthful way day in and day out. I realize that adopting healthier habits can be a big challenge, and you will have to push yourself to effectively adopt them. I promise, however, that once you do, you won’t think twice about them.

When it comes to food choices, people ask me, “Don’t you want to snack on the chips rather than your vegetables and hummus?” Honestly, my answer is no. My body now asks for the vegetables and hummus when it is hungry for a snack. There is no longer a battle of wanting the chips but choosing the vegetables and hummus, that is just what I gravitate towards because that is part of my lifestyle. And because of it, I do not miss the chips. That doesn’t mean every once in a while I might choose the chips because the saltiness and crunchiness sounds good to me, but that isn’t a normal basis for me because that is not what my body asks for anymore.

When it comes to exercise, people ask me, “Don’t you want to sit in your pajamas all Sunday rather than go to yoga at 8:00AM?” Honestly, again my answer is no. My body now asks for yoga in the morning. Since I allowed myself time for rest, my body wakes up early and says, “Johnny, let’s do some yoga and get these muscles moving.” For me, it is not a struggle to drag myself to yoga, I willingly go because that is what my body wants and it makes me feel AMAZING overall. It is part of who I am.

For me, living healthfully does not have a start and end date, it just is, it is just how I live my life and it makes me feel good and feel happy. Once you reach this place of adopting healthy habits to the point where they are what you naturally gravitate towards, you don’t feel like you are missing out, you just feel good. And when you feel good because of those habits, you keep them until they are part of you, and when that happens, you are well from January 1st to the next New Year’s Eve.

Again, I am not a certified expert here; but I am experienced. I have shared what makes me happy and feel good so that maybe you might try somethings similar and hopefully get the same results. Maybe this year, instead of setting those strict goals for yourself, you simply strive to build yourself a lifestyle that makes you feel good on a day to day basis. MODERATION – BALANCE – LIFESTYLE. Once you have done this, the rest will follow. Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year!



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