I am one of those people who are huge fans of New Years resolutions. I just love the idea of having a day that you can really determine the things you would like to change about yourself and making it a goal to do so. What I don't love? Actually doing so.
I've read tons of articles about how New Years resolutions rarely stick, that it takes about 90 days to create new habits, etc. After 90 days, a resolution isn't a resolution anymore, it is a life change.
In reading one of my favorite magazine's (Cooking Light, obviously), I've come to really adore their "12 Healthy Habits" program. The basic principle is that it is very hard to make life changes and if you try to do too much, you won't succeed at any. Each month, the magazine focuses on a healthy practice to incorporate into your life that won't overwhelm you.
So, since I adore Cooking Light's program, I am going to steal it, alter it, make it my own...must mostly steal it. Here are my twelve changes I will be making over 2013. Each month I will let you know my progress--hopefully with the food-based ones you will see a difference immediately!
As I'm sure you can see from all my posts, one of the things I struggle with the most is cooking at home. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook--obviously, or why would I have this blog? But when I come home from work late, it is just easier to order in than cook something. Well not this month. One full month of cooking at home will (hopefully) make it clear that there are simple meals that are done even faster than delivery can arrive and will (definitely) help my bank account--and help me save up for my trip to New Orleans in February!
Tomatoes. Corn. Avocados. Red onion. Pineapple. Strawberries. Sound familiar? Yeah, I bet they do, since I use a combination of those in pretty much every recipe on here. I miss the days of my summer CSA, which forced me to use a greater variety of veggies (kohlrabi? seriously?). I even miss the days of eating such "crazy" veggies as eggplant and squash during the summer. Well no more; February I will focus on picking a veggie or fruit I don't eat often and incorporating it into my meals at least twice a week.
Preparation is one of the biggest time savers when cooking. And already having your ingredients prepped makes it harder to deviate from the healthy meals you outlined during Sunday Meal Planning. Even little things like chopping your onion, cutting up your fruit that you'll eat for breakfast, or making sure you have enough of the dried ingredients saves just a little bit of time for you when you're focused on getting food on the table as quickly as possible.
I do not get very many carbs. Not that I'm a low carb diet mind you. Carbs can be found in vegetables, beans, and a large variety of foods that aren't bread or pasta. But the simple fact is that, when "white carbs" became an enemy of being healthy, I simply cut grains out completely. No more. Hello quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, bulgur and farro. The sad thing? I have all of these in my pantry already. Jenny from Dinner a Love Story got it right. I'm going to take a page out of her book.
I don't eat very much meat. Part of it is for environmental reasons, part for personal beliefs and, to be entirely honest, part is because raw poultry grosses me out like nobodies business. But rarely do I eat an entire meal that does not have a lick of meat (or seafood) in it. Breakfast maybe? Eating strictly vegetarian may sound hard, but it also sounds like an excuse to pull out some little used Mexican recipes, which often rely on veggies and beans rather than meat. Any reason to eat guacamole is a reason I can get behind!
There is a reason that TV dinner above has gone out of style, and it is not just because it probably tasted like crap. Sitting in front of the TV is no place to eat your dinner! Yet, living by myself, I often eat with the TV on, sitting at my coffee table. If I'm going to eat in front of the TV, I should have to suffer through eating a TV dinner; if I'm going to eat delicious food that I spent time making, I should probably focus on my meal. My parents never let us have the TV on during dinner, partially because it was one of the times the four of us sat around and talked about our days, but also because it was rude after my mum spent time cooking dinner. I deserve the same respect that we gave to my mum, even if it is just me respecting myself. I think I can wait another 30 minutes to catch up on that episode of the Real Housewives...
I can say, with a bit of pride, that I do eat breakfast daily. I can also say, with a bit of shame, that it is generally not a great breakfast. Not that it is unhealthy, but it isn't well-rounded or anywhere near the recommended number of calories for your first meal. My traditional breakfast? A Nature Valley oats and honey bar. Which weighs in at a whopping 190 calories. Which is nowhere near enough for someone my size. This month, I'm going to wake up 15 minutes earlier to make an omelet, I'm going to buy a tub of Greek yogurt and fruit and leave it in the office fridge, I'm going to take 30 minutes on a Sunday to make steel cut oats. The possibilities for a healthy breakfast are endless...
I belong to a phenomenal gym. My brother runs marathons and triathalons. My dad climbs mountains and spends an hour on the elliptical every day. My mum is one of the most dedicated exercisers I have ever met. Me? I have different priorities. Something comes up? Oh, I'll just skip the gym. I prioritize work, friends, even food over working out, which, in the winter, comes into play with the amount I get sick. It is time for me to stop thinking working out is something I'll do when I have time and start making time for it...period.
Drinking more water is my one yearly resolution. I am fairly often dehydrated. I think part of this is because I don't drink anything other than water (oh, and booze. but that is a given). I don't drink soda, I barely drink juice, I don't even do seltzer or sparkling water. September is the time I will focus on chugging down some water--one bottle of Poland Spring (the best water there is, for serious) as soon as I wake up and one before I go to bed, more water during the day. It is on like donkey kong.
Did you know that I don't like Indian food? Most of my friends do. My family is definitely aware. Want to hear something weird? I've never even tried Indian food. How exactly do I know that I don't like Indian then? Until three months ago, I "didn't like" falafel. Now I eat it bi-weekly for lunch. Again, I had never tried it but decided that I didn't like it anyway. Enough of those shenanigans. I resolve to try new foods, no matter what my preconceived notion is. My mum used to have a rule at our dinner table that we had to try everything. If we tasted it and didn't like it, we didn't have to eat it (minus our veggies, duh). I'm going to take my mums advice, 25 years later.
Making working out a priority is great, but if I don't like the workout, the time I spend doing it will drag on. The fix for that? Find one that I actually do like. My lovely gym has more than five classes a night--multiply that by the six locations I can visit, and I have the option of 30 workout classes every single day. I may be picky, but I'm willing to bet my life savings that one of those 30 classes I will actually like. Multiply that by seven, since the gym has a variety of classes each day, and there's got to be SOMETHING I can get excited to do. Added to that is the number of yoga and pilates studios, Soul Cycles and FlyWheels, crossfit and other studios in a 5 block radius around my apartment and my office. If I can't find a class I actually like, I have bigger problems than watching my weight...
I'm stealing this one straight from Cooking Light. While most of my goals are tangible--better diet, actually exercising, simplifying cooking--this goal is about being mindful. Cooking Light puts it perfectly: it is "less about doing and more about being--being mindful and thankful in a season that, despite the barrage of commercialism, is about both of those values. The two themes are interconnected. Mindfulness can help lower the anxiety...thankfulness brings the 'giving' theme back to center stage."
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I hope everyone had a fabulous start to their New Years and made resolutions that will have a positive impact on your life. I hope 2013 is everything that you dream it will be!