My 2011 Fall Resolutions
I don't like to rush towards my New Year's Resolutions, meaning I don't like to come up with a hasty list the first day of the new year. Sometimes, and you may call me a procrastinater, but I actually like to wait until Fall, because when the summer is waning and I can feel the first signs of autumn, that is when I feel a sense of renewal. I like to think about what my resolution will be, why I have this resolution, and how I am to accomplish it. I think the how component is frequently bypassed. It's easy to say “I resolve to lose five pounds this year”, but if you don't have a plan in place, I can guarantee, barring serious illness, those pounds aren't going to come off, and you may well pack on a few more.
So...it's well into August, and I wish to converse with you about my resolutions, and the what, why and how components of each. Today I will offer you a list, a brief summary, and tomorrow, I'll get down to work. I hope to offer you a periodic update on how things are going as well.
I resolve to eat better. Now that's a big bite (pardon the pun) and not very well-defined. What does better mean? I'll start with how I've been eating. I like to think of myself as being a generally healthy eater, and by that I mean I think about what I put in my mouth. I rarely eat fast food and when I do, I choose a small McDonald's Cheeseburger over a ¼ pounder, an Egg McMuffin over greasy potatoes and links, or a small piece of low-fat coffee cake with a nonfat latte over a chocolate croissant and double mocha at Starbucks. But I've gotten a bit sloppy when it comes to my choices at home. I've relaxed my buying habits to include crackers, cheese, chocolate and other snack items that are loaded with fat. I don't have much self control when they are around. I have always found that if you don't buy it, you won't eat it. So that will be the first action step of this resolution. Don't purchase food that isn't part of your healthy eating plan. I also realize that over the past year, I have not been eating the 5-7 portions of fruits and vegetables that should be part of my every day plan, and which, if they were, would fill me up so that I wouldn't crave other items that might not be so good for my waistline and general health. This is more of an economic and budgeting challenge because, quite frankly, fruit and vegetables are very, very expensive.
Do a meal plan and budget before I go shopping at the beginning of the month. I shop day to day and plan pretty much the same way when it comes to eating and preparing meals. So...I end up spending more and not eating as well as I could. I have a friend who has two small children and she explained how she shopped and did meal plans at the beginning of the month. She is able to provide her family with meals that include a lot of whole grains and vegetables and fruit. All of this on a slim budget.
Start a garden and grow my own vegetables. Well, I've started this and my rosemary and rainbow chard are off to a splendid start. I don't have much more space than that (urban garden attached to an apartment), but the mere idea of growing helps me. If you have a space, but no tools, think about visiting a tool lending library in your area to get started. It's still not too late in August to grow mustard greens, kale and collard greens.
Increase my level of physical fitness. This is meaningless if I don't know what my current level is. So...I went to www.fitness.gov and took the President's Fitness Challenge Test. It's quite easy: a timed mile on the track (running or walking), timed sit-ups, push-ups, and a sitting flexibility test. I am above average for my age in the first three categories and way, and I do mean way, below average in flexibility. Which comes as no surprise to me. That means, I will be working on flexibility this year, and core strength, so that I can stretch from all of the right places. Starting immediately, my goal will be three minutes of stretching every day. That may not seem like a lot, but it's a lot more than I'm doing right now.
Work on my fiscal fitness. Like a lot of other folks out there, the recession has hit me hard. So has returning to school and starting a new career on the bottom rung. I'm in debt. This may not be the year that I get out of debt, but it's the one in which I will stop ignoring it and work on a daily plan to chip away at it. Which means having a realistic monthly budget that allows for debt reduction. I've also started thinking about all of the little things that add up and take away from my buying power. Overdue library book fees, overdue dvd rentals, atm charges, etc....
Write every morning. And it doesn't matter what. Write in my journal, jot down notes, write an article. Just write. I have taken to carrying a small notebook in my pocket so that I can write down little thoughts, writing ideas. It's so easy to forget if you don't write it down immediately.
Learn two new words a day. How can I become a better writer if I don't improve my vocabulary? I purchased a book called "Word Smart for the GRE" which is meant to expand your vocabulary and score higher on the GRE. I don't have any immediate plans to take this test, but by golly, if I ever do, I'll be prepared.
Stretch my arms and meet someone new, someone from a different culture, different country, someone who it takes an effort to connect with. I did this the other day on Facebook and now have a new Italian friend that I met on a Suicide Awareness webpage. Both of us had friends and family who had committed suicide and I thought, this is a human problem that transcends race, country, age, everything...We don't speak the same language, but we've been through some of the same things.
Be mindful of enjoying every day. This kind of speaks for itself.
So, these are my resolutions. I'd love to hear yours.