As we ring in the new year, we celebrate new beginnings! Conversations of resolutions abound and it’s hard to ignore the hot topic of health. We are all too familiar with taking this time to reflect inward and to contemplate how to improve our overall well-being and feel better in the new year. With this newfound excitement, we dream big and set our sights high on the horizon.
To quote the late, great alpinist, Ueli Steck, “Everybody needs to dream and a dream without a plan is just a wish.”
As aviation professionals, we formulate plans everyday. We take into account the many moving parts of the flight operation and create our realistic and attainable plan A, then a plan B, C, and so on, to account for any threats that present themselves along the way. As the flight launches, we adjust the plan to ever changing conditions and closely monitor the results to see the plan through to the successful completion of the flight. So, you already have the necessary skills to point this training toward your personal habits. Sometimes you just need the right tools to put it all together. The main consideration to keep in mind, is that our health has no end point. So, what’s your plan?
This article doesn’t provide the space to discuss habit building and lifestyle planning. That is why we developed our eCourse at Pilot Fitness (link from list below) to guide you through lasting lifestyle changes. However, we can provide a few words of advice to help point you in the right direction. For this article, our focus is food because you can’t out exercise a poor diet. Eating is something we all do, every day. Additionally, eating is a subject surrounded by much controversy and confusion on what is the “right/best” way to eat. So, to keep the discussion out of the weeds, we will keep it simple with three basic concepts to step your way into better health which will save you money on groceries now and save in health costs later.
Have you ever thought, “I haven’t eaten anything today and I am starving!” Then you realized you did have that bagel for breakfast in the hotel van, the energy bar on the second leg, the latte during the ground delay and a bag of chips in the van back to the hotel? Eating is a consumption activity, one that often happens to be done unconsciously. Today’s culture requires us to be on the move, all the time. This creates the habit of eating while on the go. We end up consuming food, generally empty in nutrition, that does not register in our brains that we had anything to eat at all. So, start small in setting aside a quiet moment when you snack. Process each bite and chew fully. No distractions and especially keep the mobile phone out of sight. After a few months, work your way up to applying this practice to your main meals. Conscious eating will slow down your intake to prevent overeating and allow you to truly appreciate each meal while being present for the process.
Now we will take the concept of conscious eating to conscious consumption. It is very important to be in the “captain’s seat” when making purchase decisions around food. Following the theme, start small. This exercise is to read the labels on all packaged foods and research ingredients you are not familiar with. Take ownership of your decisions. Look for processed/refined sweeteners, fats, and preservatives. This is where all of those empty, unhealthy calories live. Ingredients that increase the calorie content of food while providing zero nutritional benefit. The next step is to begin eliminating the highly processed ingredients for products that utilize healthier, natural alternatives. Over time, you can work your way up to consuming food whose state is “whole” — unrefined. Another way to think about it is, “If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it.” Examples are skipping the refined chocolate bar for an oat bar with cacao powder or products sweetened with stevia in lieu of cane sugar. Substituting potato chips for baked potato slices, white bread for whole grain bread or tortillas, etc.