I'm lucky to have really good exercise mentors. While my parents didn't particularly encourage me in team sports, one of my youngest memories is my mom working out with Ed Allen with I was a pre-schooler. Her example of making time to exercise is one of the things I really admire. Through my YA years I remember her skipping (on a cement floor - yuck) for 10 minutes most evenings to get her exercise in. My M-I-L could not be more totally different physically than my mom was yet she too has a strong exercise history. My partner's family did a lot of outdoor activity while he was growing up including fishing and hiking. Unfortunately going to the gym was pretty intimidating for women in the '70s and '80 so activity fell off in the winter. Her group activity used to be bridge but is now water aerobics sometimes yoga. How great is that when she's in her '70s?
Of course physical activity is only part of the health story. I am a proponent of the calories out must be same or more than calories in or one will gain weight and all calories are the same (in terms of energy). Yes you may have a faster or slower metabolism, have food sensitivities that physically affect you but in the end, if you eat more calories than your body uses then expect to end up putting extra physical demands on your body through weight gain.
Even though I know this, I eat a lot of nutritionally empty calories. In spite of all the scare chain emails, I do use sweetener because I really like sweets. Like everyone (I hope) the more I think about a specific food the more I crave it and feel hard done by if I can't eat it. The effect of the piling on calories from pop, cake and candy is much more immediate and difficult to counter act than the use of sweeteners (I may change my ind after reading this article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). I prefer Splenda because I can bake with it. Each packet is 12 mg and as long as I don't consume the equivalent of 65 packets a day, I'm inside the FDA guidelines for exposure. Since I do not have phenylketonuria I don't have to be overly concerned about the effects of aspartame either. For me, drinking nutritionally valuable liquids is difficult if not impossible. I would rather eat fruit than drink fruit juice although I enjoyed the eggnog-esque smoothie by Booster Juice last winter.
I've never really followed the Canada Food Guide but I have followed research about values of different types of food. I think because of school and our climate, I think of fall as the time to change things up and create new habits. I will be evaluating my exercise regime due to some chronic injury and I also to tune up my eating habits to decrease risk of chronic disease. I enjoy cooking and now that summer grilling season will be over soon, I need to get some good recipes in hand for comfort eating.