You don’t have to hit the gym four times a week, shop exclusively at Whole Foods, or be a hard-core vegan to want (and achieve) a healthy Valentine’s Day. In fact, simple, rewarding lifestyle choices and a fun (and even indulgent) day with your honey can go hand-in-hand. Here are some possible options if you’re hoping to move past the heart-shaped box of chocolates this year.
Ingredient One: A healthy activity. I think any special day with your sweetie should start with doing something fun. Note that activity is the noun form of the word active, but there’s a huge amount of wiggle room here. Even if both you and your date like to blast your core on a near-daily basis, skip the usual regimen today. The fun is key. In snowy weather, there’s sledding, ice-skating. Indoor activities might include rock-climbing, rollerskating, or bowling.
I already know what my wife and I will be doing. Going for a long walk with our two other true loves at the off-leash dog park. Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without our canine companions. We always feel better after we get home from one of these excursions, even if we’ve had to brave the elements.
It’s very easy between full-time jobs, daily chores and one life emergency after another that comes up, for anyone to just get in the habit of vegging each evening, or even most weekends. If you haven’t done anything active in awhile, it’s easy to forget how enjoyable doing something physical is. I promise you, though, that if you begin your day with something that gets you moving, even a little, you’ll be alert and primed to enjoy the rest of your day that much more.
Ingredient Two: A healthy meal. It’s a special occasion, so treat yourself to a favourite home-cooked dish, or eat at a favourite restaurant if you like. But you don’t want anything overly rich and heavy. There’s nothing romantic about loosened belt buckles, bloating or stomach cramps. That’s more of a Thanksgiving thing, and eating to that kind of excess even once a year might be too much (notice I didn’t say I wasn’t guilty of it).
I recommend something satisfying but comparatively light. If you’re a meat-eater, save the steak and potatoes for another day. Instead look for sharp flavors and portion control. One of my favourite Valentine’s meals was a French-inspired indoor picnic. We had a sampler of cheeses, fruits, and other hors d’ouevres. Feeding each other bite-sized morsels with strong and varied tastes and smells has the added effect of sharpening your senses and bringing both you and your partner into the moment. It might be a prelude to other . . . sensory activities.
Ingredient Three: Drinking within reason. Like the Dionysians, I occasionally partake of the grape. Assuming you don’t have a religious or legal proscription against it, a spot of vino with your meal might be just the thing. Reds fit the Valentine’s theme well, and are great for their antioxidant properties. Whites tend to be lighter and fresher, and seem to have less of a soporific effect on some people. You can also split the difference with a blush, and a sparkling variety (of any shade) is an option as well.
It’s an occasion, so celebrate, but not to excess. One bottle, with food, should be plenty for two people. Feeling heavy and knocked out from too much food or wine will just cut your evening short. And we all reach a point in our life when we’re ready to bid adieu to hangovers. I know I am.
Ingredient Four: Healthy gifts. It’s fine to give chocolate. But instead of going for the remaindered 3 lb. box from Walmart for $8.99, go to a chocolatier, put your money towards quality instead of quantity, and present a small gift of perhaps four or five artisanal works of art. Develop a taste for dark, it has less sugar and more cacao (cocoa), so a small amount will satisfy your cravings more effectively than the mass-produced stuff. (Make sure the chocolate you buy is ethically-sourced, of course.)
Having said that, there are a million options other than chocolate, as well. Hand-knit mittens? A home-made card? Doing something special for your partner?
Ingredient Five: Healthy relationships. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the hub-bub of V-Day. Don’t. Obviously, if you’re single, don’t make going out and finding someone by midnight your be-all-end-all. But there’s a danger for those in relationships as well.
Try to avoid over-expectation for the day. Communicate with your partner over what you might like to do, avoid going over the top and especially avoid getting any ideas in your head about what the other person might or might not come up with. Especially in an early relationship, we sometimes get into a game of one-upmanship without realizing it. Then we end up getting disappointed if we don’t think the other person put as much effort in as we did.
Rather than a day of disappointed expectations, just plan to spend some time together, to enjoy every moment and there’s a very good chance that that’s exactly what will happen.
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