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February 1, 2010

February check in

It seems like five minutes ago that I was sitting down with a fresh notebook and a pen, contemplating my navel and making New Year's Resolutions. And now we're already a month in!

While I doubt this is as scintillating as, say, knitting content or videos of my cat sleeping, I thought I would post a little progress report at the beginning of each month here in my online diary more to keep me accountable than anything else.

Priority #1: Get Healthy

Progress: This is a tricky subject to write about because a lot of getting healthy is about food but it's so easy to devolve into diet mentality and start listing what you ate and grading yourself like a character assessment ("I ate this and am therefore good, I ate that and am therefore bad...") and honestly there is nothing more cliche or boring in this world to me than a woman blathering on about what she ate that day like a verbal diet diary. BO-RING. Useless. Unproductive. Total diet-brain stereotype.

So, having said that, I'm making good progress in my goal to be healthier. There is a food component, of course, but I'm trying to look at the whole and not be so weird about being ON PLAN or OFF PLAN and just remember you get one life with a lot of days and a lot of meals and the goal is to make basically healthy choices, that's the plan stan. (It is not the two tablespoons of olive oil on the roasted cauliflower that make you fat.)

The immediate challenge was to reign in my repertoire of mostly drive-through and junk food, none of which has any real nutritional value. Since the beginning of January I've been cooking all my meals except the occasional microwaved popcorn. The key is all the prep work on the weekends. I make sure to cook and assemble all my lunches on Sunday afternoon and pack my lunch bag every night before going to bed. It takes a lot of thinking ahead but it's worth it -- lunch is so easy during the week.

Dinners need to be quick -- I commute and I'm starving when I get home -- so I have been making staples ahead of time and re-heating them when I get home which is working out really well. Even roasted veggies re-heat well in the oven (I think they come back better in the oven for ten minutes on 300 than in the microwave.) I've been bringing snacks, too, mostly apples and walnuts because they keep longer and I like them. I'm discovering I'm more of a veggies person than a fruit person. I would rather eat a bowl of green beans than peel and eat an orange. But I like apples and they're portable.

I'm still having a hard time finding a workable breakfast, sometimes all I want is a coffee on the way to work. In February I want to work on getting a better breakfast routine.

All in all though, I'm pretty happy about cooking my own food. I like experimenting with new recipes and finding new foods (Brussels sprouts! who would have guessed it!) and I'm working very hard to keep sane about all this. If I start counting carbs or points or calories, someone smack me.

Exercise: I bought some awesome Nike shoes on sale right before the new year and I ordered the Nike + SportBand which comes with the memory chip you place inside the shoe. You can't feel the chip (it's underneath the insole) and it tracks your mileage and calories and all that, it's awesome. I was getting into a groove until it started raining like crazy and then I just stayed in and snuggled with the cats and watched the weather each morning on TV instead of going for a walk. On the days I was walking, I noticed I slept a little better. Absolutely want to do more walking in February (she says just as the forecast projects more rain this week.)

So overall I am making progress in the health arena. Mostly little changes here and there, the biggest change being all the cooking and washing and chopping and so on. It is time consuming but it's getting easier each week. One thing I keep reminding myself is to look how fast January went by! And to remember that the small changes are cumulative and over time will make a larger change in my health and shape. At the beginning of the month it felt daunting to cook all my meals from scratch for four weeks but it went by in a blink and now already we're in month two of twelve. It really does get easier each passing day and I'm finally not having those McDonald's french fries detox pains anymore. I swear, I think McDonald's is more addictive than crack. Not that I have done a comparative study, mind you.

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Priority #2: Come from an attitude of yes.

Progress: This is kind of one of those hippdippy resolutions that is so loosely defined it may not mean anything to anyone but me. Basically, I want to focus more on the good parts and less on the icky parts of life, looking for ways up instead of finding all the ways down.

My progress this past month has been ... interesting. I had a few times where I knew I overreacted to something or got upset about something I should have just let go. I want to get better at letting go of other people's crap. The Dalai Lama says you have all the power in your life to choose how you feel about someone else's words or actions. Except I noticed a few times last month that I get all inflamed with emotion before my brain even kicks in! Guess that is why he is the Dalai Lama and I am Her Ladyship PantiesInAWad.

Last week was particularly rocky and I didn't handle a difficult person very well. Luckily every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around. (Uh, it took me the whole week.) The biggest thing I want to work on in February is to institute a cooling-down period. Had I just taken a step or five back and waited to reply or respond to the difficult person, I may have had much better results. I tend to speak without a filter and I also get emotional about stupid stuff that isn't even that important. A cooling-off period helps me put things into perspective.

There were a few times this past month, though, when I started to really dwell on something icky and I caught myself mid-ick and made my brain think other thoughts until I honestly felt happier. So that is progress!! My favorite thought is just a little fantasy picture: Me sitting in a cafe in Paris (I get to imagine what I am wearing, down to my shoes) and I'm stirring a spoon through a steaming hot cup of coffee with milk. On the table is the cup and saucer, a smaller saucer with a few cubes of sugar, maybe a candle, or a place mat, a napkin. I have a guidebook with me, it's sitting out by the cup. Nothing of consequence happens in this scene, I'm just stirring the coffee in a Parisian cafe as the world walks by.

Thinking up that little picture makes crummy stuff in real life evaporate. It reminds me that the globe is large, much larger than the beige office or the crawling commute or the floors that need mopping.


- - -

I'm not sure how this is related to those resolutions, exactly, but it is: ever since I moved I've found it impossible to part with anything. It's only been a few months but still, it's very odd. I know I have tendencies to hoard and I try very hard to be diligent and clean and cull and let go of things when I need to. But I have been unable to let go of anything for a few months (except trash of course). It became very apparent to me the day I received a duplicate of a book I already owned and instead of passing it along I shelved it right up on the bookshelf next to its twin.

WEIRD. Even for me.

Last month I realized it was a combination of anxiety and discomfort and I figured it would work itself out. I'd also just parted with a huge chunk of stuff all at once when I moved, and maybe I needed a little time. I don't know.

Slowly (in the past week and a half) I've started easing up and over the weekend I took a whole Jeepload of stuff to the Goodwill, mostly clothes and things I found when I moved that I should have let go of back in September instead of moving them with me. And of course that extra book! And some other odds and ends. I also cleared out a big bag of papers and magazines and junk and went through my closet one more time and found some winter coats that don't fit and I donated those, too.

It felt good to clean up and clean out. I think it's a positive sign that I can at least tell when something is weird with me and I'm willing to let it work itself out. And it did work itself, I guess, since I felt a lot of relief cleaning the closet and getting rid of unneeded clutter.

- - -

Well, that was January. I ordered a new camera but it hasn't come yet. All empowered by the brilliant idea (after many many moons) to get rid of my lemon camera, I looked around my life for other lemons to eliminate. This weekend I made a list of other funkadelic things that are nagging at me and I'm going to fix or get rid of the irritation. Some will have to wait because of the cost, but some things I can fix myself. That has got to be a good step in the year of yes.

Posted by laurie at February 1, 2010 9:49 AM