THE BUMPER STICKER ABOVE ADORNS THE GLASS DOOR IN MY FIREHOUSE. IT HAS BEEN THERE LONGER THAN I HAVE BEEN ON THE JOB. I WALK BY IT NUMEROUS TIMES EVERY TOUR I COME TO WORK AND FOR A LONG TIME I BELIEVED EVERY WORD OF IT. BUT THAT IS STARTING TO CHANGE.....
Last week we talked about where to start when it comes to eating healthier in the firehouse, but it was more of a personal perspective. And the reason behind this is because I believe change starts with YOU. If you don't believe in it then how do you expect the crew to? So now that we have laid a "foundation" it is time to implement this in the firehouse....
SIMMER DOWN- The firehouse is filled with traditions, personalities and quirks and the last thing you want to do is come in "guns blazing" and declare war on french fries and ice cream. You will be met with strong resistance, and rightfully so. Who are you to tell another grown man or woman, how and what they should eat. Instead, let's simmer down and figure out a game plan that everyone will be happy with.
BABY STEPS- Not everyone is the same when it comes to health and wellness goals. It is important to understand this because while you may be looking to get shredded for the beach, the brother sitting next to you may just want to drop his blood pressure a little bit. Plain and simple, not everyone wants to eat grilled chicken with grilled lettuce every tour. So when I talk about taking baby steps, it is referring to getting everyone on the same page and eating a little healthier than usual. Let's start with one meal for the tour, maybe this week it is breakfast and the next it is lunch. This avoids the "shock factor" that most firefighters get when all of the sudden there is a healthy meal on the table. After you feel everyone is comfortable with this subtle change in the routine, then we can start focusing on a couple meals per shift and eventually all of them. But again, it takes time...
SHOP AHEAD- This seems to work very well, even though it may go against the tradition of the crew going to the supermarket together. By shopping for the meal/s before you go into work, you have more control over what is being cooked. However, you need to keep in mind that you are still shopping for you AND the crew. But by doing the shopping ahead of time, you are better able to plan a healthy meal without the possibility of being influenced by some who may not agree.
BUT WHAT DO I COOK?- So everyone seems to be on board with the new goal of becoming a healthier firehouse, but what now? What do we need to change in the way we cook? Like I stated in last weeks' BLOG post, I do not like to use the term dieting, so what I am about to say is more of a "lifestyle" change than anything. Let's eat and cook a little cleaner. We need to incorporate more vegetables into the meal, stop frying everything and really think about the ingredients we use. No one is saying to stop eating potatoes, but maybe we bake or roast them instead of grabbing the bag of french fries. Sure we can eat meat, but how about going for the leaner cuts instead of the high fat ones we are used to. Here are some recommendations and substitutions that I have found to work:
-Cook breakfast, it starts the day off right. I love a good omelette or frittata stuffed with healthy ingredients. It helps keep the bagels at bay!
-Treat the crew to something "bad" once in a while. I like pasta on Sundays or maybe dessert for someone birthday. Hell, just a grilled cheese once in a while can do wonders. I am a firm believer that if you deprive yourself of everything you love, that time will come when you "fall off the wagon" so to speak.
-Some great substitutions that have surprised the crew:
Cauliflower "rice" and "mash", great with Shepherd's Pie.
Grilled sweet potato "fries" or oven baked fries instead of deep fried.
Quinoa in place of rice, more protein and fiber makes for a fuller crew.
Big salads for an entree. Use fresh ingredients and more lean protein to make the salad a little less boring.
In short, take your time with this. You do not want to turn anyone off of the idea behind eating healthier. See what works for your crew because in the end everyone is different. If someone is not fully "cooperating", don't judge them or belittle them. They may change their mind if everyone else is doing it, you would be surprised how much we can influence each other this way. I sincerely hope this helps in some way and if you have any questions/comments please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week we will follow these two articles up with a special interview with Pip from 555 Fitness where will discuss the fitness side of the equation!