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April 1, 2010

Hello, April, my old friend, I've come to talk to you again....

I love that at least one of my monthly check-ins is on a day devoted to fools and pranks.

Recap: At the first of the year I made some resolutions, and I decided that I would check in with myself at the first of each month to see where I am with my two 2010 goals. My hope was that it would keep me focused and motivated for the year knowing I'd have to check in with myself every month. Come September we'll see if my monthly check in posts are "Yeah, OK, don't talk to me." You never know!

Also, one of my goals was initially described (by me) as "The Year of Yes" which is extraordinarily cheesy even for me, La Reina Quesadilla. But the more I think about it, my two goals work together and the first ("Get Healthy") is really about action steps and the other ("Cheesy Yes Year") is about attitude. So here's how I did in March.

Goal #1: Get Healthy (Actions)
Things are going pretty well. Thanks to my discovery of a deep love for roasted vegetables, I have eaten more fresh vegetables in the past three months than I have in years. I love roasting stuff! I would probably roast you if you stood still long enough in my kitchen. And if I could cut you into tiny pieces.

My action-related objectives for March were to (1) continue cooking all my meals and (2) try four new recipes. And also to go for a walk every day in the month.

I tend to get into food ruts -- both healthy ones and unhealthy ones -- and to shake things up I decided that in March I would try some new recipes. I am not that accomplished in the kitchen but I am getting incrementally better because I keep trying (and also because I disabled the smoke alarm nearest the stove.) I do most of my cooking on the weekends, so that's when I tried my new recipes. The first new recipe I tried was Sole Meuniere, which looked so tasty when the Barefoot Contessa made it. The only alteration I made to her recipe was to substitute a mixture of brown rice flour and corn flour in place of the wheat flour.

My first attempt at Sole Meuniere was not great (but not because of my little substitution). I cooked the sole on too high a heat and used too much lemon juice. The second attempt was MUCH better, I used a slightly lower heat and added less lemon juice. I have to say, though, the fish in papillote method is still the most foolproof way for me to cook seafood. Plus I cannot sing the praises of parchment paper enough as there is no messy fish pan to clean up! I am no Suzie Homemaker, it seems.

The second new recipe I made was Kale Chips. If you have been reading this here website for any amount of time you know I am always trying to sneak kale into stuff to make me feel healthy. I will not however be sneaking them into chips again. I stand by my initial review that this is a tastebud issue, and I think some of you will like them. Me, eh, not so much.

The other two recipes I made were Rachael Ray's Jacques Pepin style potatoes and while this may be stretching the definition of "new recipe" I did roast some orange cauliflower which was the first time I had ever bought orange cauliflower. It tasted exactly like regular white cauliflower. Yup.

As for walking, I went for a walk on 18 out of 31 days in March. Which brings me directly to resolution #2...

Goal #2: Year of Yes (better described as "Give myself an attitude adjustment.")

Usually when I set a health goal like "lose X pounds" or "walk every day this month" I will set out upon the goal initially with great gusto and energy until the one day when I don't meet the goal and then I just use that single momentary lapse as an excuse to give up. "I didn't walk today, all is lost! I wasn't perfect! Forget it, I'll start again next month!"

Not my best quality, really.

Well, I have long since given up a weight/pound goal because it makes me INSANE and it does more harm with my head than good. But I set the walk-every-day goal on purpose, both to get myself walking more and to get over my stupid thinking that if I miss one single walk I have failed. Overall health is not something that can be failed in one day! It's the cumulative effort that matters. (By the way I am lecturing to myself here, not to you. You are already smart enough to know all this.)

So, how did my goal go? In February I walked four days out of 28. But in March, after making my mini-goal, I walked 18 out of 31 days.

Old thinking: Failure, I was not perfect, I suck!
New thinking: 18 out of 31 days is AWESOME! A success! Especially since I had a horrible stomach flu at the beginning of the month and could hardly walk up my own stairs. So, yay me!

Look, I'll be honest. It's not as easy as flipping a brain switch -- that is why I deliberately made this resolution to begin with and why I purposely set a 31-day goal in March. I wanted to practice changing from old thinking to new thinking. Yes, I missed a few days. The true success was that even after missing a day I got up the next day and went for a walk anyway, even though I had ruined my shot at perfection. That's the whole point of my Yes Year, progress not perfection.

I have to remind myself of it over and over and I hope that if I keep doing this stuff I will eventually get better at it, just like cooking.

- - -

So that was March and already it's April, 2010. For April my actiony goals are to keep up the walking, keep cooking my own meals and to relax into life a little more. (And keep cleaning my house. Seriously.) I want to try three or four new recipes again in April. Obviously my definition of "recipe" is not very complicated, but I like challenging myself to try new things. I've been off fast food now for three whole months and I think it was like kicking heroin. I could eat fast food for every meal (and in the past I have) and so kicking that habit was hard and not very fun for the first two and a half months. It's only recently that I don't drive past a McDonald's and salivate like one of Pavlov's pets.

Exercise is still not my idea of entertainment but I like walking, it's easy and you don't have to be particularly athletic to do it, so I want to continue it daily and not quit just because I miss a day. So I am re-upping my "walk once a day" goal.

In general I wouldn't say March was my easiest month, I had many days where I wanted to just eat away all my problems, a strategy which has never actually worked in the past and yet still I want to do it. When I quit smoking I started eating as a replacement for smoking and now I realize I have spent a lot of my life avoiding icky spaces by filling my time with an activity -- smoking, eating, drinking, shopping, knitting, whatever. The trick perhaps is to pick an activity that doesn't incur waves of self-loathing. I try to make good choices, sometimes I don't, but I certainly am not going to give up. But check back with me in September, hah hah.

As for my attitude I just want to relax. Laugh instead of taking things personally. Be softer to myself and to others. Suppress urge to staple people in the forehead. The usual stuff.

- - -

Finally, to everyone who is rolling their eyes and wishing I would stop talking about this because you don't want a reminder that it's already muthafreaking April and you haven't done whatever thing it was you had planned to do earlier or because you're in a different place ... listen, I get it. For me that was ALL of 2009. I remember one time late last fall when Corey was telling me how excited she was for working out at lunchtime and I wanted to inform her I was planning to go home and take a bath made of melted Snickers bars and marshmallow cream. (I managed to stay quiet and just be happy for her. But that bath sounded real good.)

I think maybe it's OK not to be "in the right place" just this minute. The best part about life is that every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around. You know?

I learned that from quitting smoking again and again and again until one day I really did quit (until I turn 60, of course, at which time I will re-start smoking and probably wear something scandalous like leopard print leggings.) There is always the chance to turn it around. I know if I keep trying with my health actions and my thinking, I will get the metaphorical bus out of the ditch. Of course, if I sit in the bus complaining about being in the ditch I will probably stay there a really long time. I got tired of being in the ditch complaining so here I am making roasted Brussels sprouts and freaking KALE CHIPS and trying to really let icky things go instead of holding them tight and just shrug instead of being defensive, lean into life instead of hiding from it.

Every day, every minute is a new fresh start. I have that on a post-it note in my bathroom. Because I really am the Queen of Cheese. La Reina Quesadilla. That's me.

Posted by laurie at April 1, 2010 12:18 AM