Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Year, a New Leafy Green?

Well, the holidays are over and we're now four days into 2011. 

This blog post is a little different than usual (my apologies for the lack of photos), since I've done so little cooking since my adventures in mass cookie production two weeks ago.  In a nutshell, I've decided that I consumed far more meat this holiday season than I consider healthy, and it's time for a full-on vegetarian cleanse.  I was actually tempted to try the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart when I heard about it, but I don't feel ready to stop on a dime and give up dairy products as well. Maybe some day, but I'd first rather see how long I can last as a lacto vegetarian (more on that below).  Forthcoming blog posts will attest to my resolve...

Speaking of blog posts...in reading the recent slew of posts from fellow food bloggers about New Year's resolutions and evaluation of progress on last year's resolutions, I'm struck by two things:

1) how many people out there actually make New Year's resolutions (I can't remember when I last did - probably for an assignment at school) and

2) how many resolutions people make for one year. 

No wonder they don't stick and people aren't satisfied with their progress from one year to the next!  If you make a dozen or more without a game plan that you can stick to day by day (and allow yourself to falter every now and again and get back on the wagon), then you're doomed to fail.  Especially the common ones, like "join a gym" or "eat less (insert problematic nutrient here)."  But maybe that's being harsh.  In all fairness, there were some instances where people realized during the year that a separate goal was conflicting with the resolution, and in 2011 they've recommitted to that goal while being mindful of unexpected stumbling blocks.

I have a hard time with New Year's resolutions for a couple of reasons.  One, I'm not terribly sentimental about the year changing.  Although I've been aware of good years and bad years, things change bit by bit every day, and every good year has its bad days and vice-versa.  Big things happen each year - sometimes good, sometimes not.

Another reason is that, back when I regularly trained for long distance events, an idea that our coach impressed upon us with regards to races is to set "gold," "silver" and "bronze" goals.  What finishing time would you be satisfied with, what would be better, and what would you consider to be the top of your game?  I tend to have the same approach toward personal goals.  It may seem non-committal to some, but it's a way to make progress without defining progress in all-or-nothing terms.

That all said...if I were to make New Year’s resolutions for 2011, they would probably include some or all of the following:

Fitness/Injury Treatment and Prevention:
1. Do yoga once per week (for flexibility and balance)
2. Continue strength training twice weekly
3. No registering for long distance races before I'm sure I'm ready
4. In the event of injury, see a doctor/chiro immediately and join a gym while on the mend

Healthy food and beverage consumption:
5. Go vegetarian (at least six nonconsecutive months out of the year)
6. Limit adult beverage consumption to one per night when at home and three elsewhere
7. Continue to avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks

Organization, life satisfaction:
8. Start keeping a gratitude journal
9. Blog three times per week, encourage feedback for improving the blog
10. De-clutter, donate old clothes and junk to charity
11. Nurture relationships: stay in touch with people who make you happy, and don’t feel bad about ditching the people who don’t.  (Couldn't have said it better myself, Runner's Kitchen.)

Lest I sound like I too have made too many New Year's resolutions, let it be known that I don't plan on beating myself over the head if some of these don't work out; they simply represent what I think can be done.  I can say for sure that resolutions 2, 3 and 7 are a go.  Resolution 10 is also well on its way, thanks to all the time off in December.  Resolution 5 has been done before for 3 consecutive months, and meat's not something I have to have, so 6 nonconsecutive months should be manageable.  Ditto for #6, although it's easy to lose count when I'm eating a large meal at a restaurant :(  

Resolutions 1 and 4 are doable, although I'm loathe to make new commitments that feel like additional errands.  I really like going to Friday night yoga at Amsa, but it's still hard to get off the couch or remember to stop puttering around the house in time to change clothes and head down to the studio.  Maybe I can work out a home yoga practice that fits my needs?  And I've never really liked going to the gym (at least not since I started running), but I found myself regretting all the time off from cardio workouts when I started running again after my IT band recovery.  #4 is more of a contingency (read "bronze goal") anyway, so we'll revisit the need as the year goes along.

The most challenging category is the last one, since I'm not used to giving this much thought.  I'm deliriously happy with my significant other, so I'm doing better than a lot of other people on that count.  As for the rest, just do what you enjoy, and happiness will follow, right? Well, that's often the case, but...being a solitary person, I often find myself alone with thoughts I'd rather not have, and sharing moments of happiness with others doesn't always come naturally, although I wish it did.  Hence, Resolutions 8 and 11.  #10 is about improving energy flow (one of the few things I took away from Feng Shui for Dummies) and having a greater appreciation for what I have.  Plus I find that the less stuff I have, the easier it is to clean house.  

And as for #9...I've really enjoyed being able to share with others what I'm up to in the kitchen, but I'm also interested in knowing what people think of the blog!  Most of the comments I get (mainly through the Facebook page) are positive ones about the recipes, but I'm curious to know what you (yes, you) think about the blog.  Does the emphasis on recipes make it seem too educational?  Would it be better with more photos?  Would ending each post with a question make it more engaging?  Don't get me wrong - I'm just as happy to stick with what I'm doing, but if there's anything else that my modest readership would like to see, I'd really like to know!

Whew - that was long.  If you made it all the way through, I applaud your perseverence and encourage you to provide any feedback you may have - here, through FB or by sending me an email

Here's to a happy 2011!

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