For Me, Being Healthy Always Comes Back to Moderation
“Before I had my daughter, I was always very fortunate. I had no medical issues, no allergies or food intolerances. I was also thin and I never exercised.” Stephanie Prassos, a dentist and mother based in New York, decided she wanted to be more mindful about her eating and exercise habits when she had her first kid. “Something clicked after having my first kid. I really need to be healthy for her and be a good role model so that’s what motivated me to join a gym.”
Stephanie’s healthy is all about moderation in food, exercise, and life, and she shared her journey and take on moderation with me.
20 people, 20 stories of what healthy means for them in 2020.
My Healthy: Eating in Moderation
- Name: Stephanie Prassos
- Location & Occupation: Dentist and mother in New York
- How Long Eating in Moderation: 7 years
What does “healthy” mean to you?
Moderation is key in any facet of life. Being too extreme in either direction in my opinion is dangerous. I try to eat well most of the time and exercise often but also live life and indulge.
So health for you is defined in relation to moderation? Moderation has been universally discussed for decades but it can be a trigger word for some. What does it mean for you?
I was restricted with food when I was young. I found when I was told that I could not eat this or that, it made me want to eat it more. If I’m not allowed to, psychologically, I have to have it. I feel that way about life, politics, and religion. If you take an extreme position on anything, I don’t feel it’s healthy.
In terms of food, I don’t think I could stick to a specific diet plan (like keto or Paleo) with strict rules and such. Most of the time, I’m eating what I consider healthy. I don’t feel bad if we go out for dinner on Saturday night and I choose to eat chocolate cake or bread. I won’t restrict myself ever. I’ll have a piece of chocolate to satisfy me so I’m not in the position of craving it everyday. But I won’t have an entire sleeve of Oreos.
Moderation comes into play with exercise, too. For me, exercising daily isn’t practical but if you fit in exercise weekly on a consistent basis, that’s great. Previously, I never exercised and that wasn’t good at all. But going to the extreme and entering a mental state of freaking out if I miss a workout isn’t healthy either.
What eating style helps you feel your healthiest?
I’ve always cooked from scratch. My mom mostly cooked at home when I was young. Eating out was treat. I grew up with home cooking and I just did that when I left my family home.
Previously, I would probably eat a lot more pasta, rice, and grains, and I never paid attention to labels. Now, I cook healthier things; I’m conscious filling of my plate with vegetables, fruit, protein, and a little less grain. If, out of convenience, I need to use something ready made, I pay attention to the ingredients.
What were your goals when you made that change?
I wanted to be strong and healthy for my family, and be a role model for my kids.
How did you start cooking more from scratch? What motivation pushed you on?
The change started after I had my first kid. I always loved baking, and I used a lot of mixes or bought store-bought frosting. Now, I make everything from scratch. With this way of eating, I went back to my college weight. I felt strong. I was able to lift things. Because I saw consistent results, I just stuck with it.
I don’t really enjoy exercising, but I know it’s something I have to do. You know, people complain about brushing their teeth and paying their taxes, but there are certain things as an adult that you just have to do. I want to live a long healthy life, so this is what I have to do. I found a way to just do it.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the fact that I made the decision to change my lifestyle and I’ve stuck with it. I went from never exercising or caring about what I ate to making healthier choices. And, it’s been almost seven years.
So what does keep you going? Lifestyle and habit changes are famously hard to make and keep. Do you have a secret?
My family (my husband and my kids) is what keeps me going. Having my first child was a wakeup call that I need to be healthy and strong to take care of her and also to be a great role model. Also, as a healthcare provider, I know firsthand that no doctor, procedure, medicine, or device will ever be 100% as good as the original body you were given. So, I try my very best to stay proactive, work on the preventive, and stay healthy to avoid major health problems.
What’s the one food you love the most?
If you were to recommend cooking from scratch to someone else, what is the most important piece of advice you would give them?
My advice would be to just get started. A lot of people use New Year’s as a starting point or say “I’ll start on Monday” or they keep waiting for some magic milestone event (like “I’m turning 50”). I started working out on May 3rd; it was so random. I was done with maternity leave and allowed to workout again so that’s when I joined a gym. Just do it.
Thank you, Stephanie!
My Healthy 2020: 20 People, 20 Healthy Choices
Every January people make changes to improve their health. But which ones actually make a difference? We’re sharing the stories of 20 people who changed their lives for the better and stuck — thanks to choices that are individual, diverse, and sometimes wildly different from each other. Read their stories here throughout January. We hope they inspire your own journey to finding your own, unique, individual healthiest 2020.