Saturday, February 8, 2014

Resolutions: Why Not Now?

Thank goodness for Chinese New Year!  I didn't get a chance to really reflect on what I wanted for the new year back in January, but since then, things have slowed down a bit, and I actually got a week off work since I live in Hong Kong and Chinese New Year is celebrated with a break from school.   Yippee!

As I write this, I am sitting on my balance ball because one of my firmest resolutions is to firm up my core.  A year ago I had a major back surgery (an SI joint fusion and a spinal fusion), and while I am much better, I have put on some weight, and I am not as well as I should be after such a surgery because I have neglected to strengthen and exercise enough.

The fact is, fifty is around the corner for me - if seventeen months counts as around the corner - but I've decided to revolve my resolutions around where I want to be when I reach fifty.  I don't aspire to a perfectly toned abdomen by next month or to be wearing size two jeans in six months (or maybe ever); on the other hand, it sure feels realistic to gradually and consistently change some habits that will help me greet my half decade with grace, beauty and strength.

So what am I going to do?  I'm going to start anew each day - as the blog name suggests - with some rules in place that are flexible in their timing, but firm in their commitment.  They are nothing earth shattering, but they fit into what I aspire to health-wise and what I think I can attain and maintain.

Here they are:

1. Some cardio every single day.  I'm not setting a time yet, just that I am going to get my heart moving for a sustained amount of time each day.  For now, I'll be walking.  I may amp that up to something else later on.  In fact, I want to do a lot of different kinds of cardio.  At the moment, my body can't do much beyond walk so that's what I will be doing.  (And I won't be judging myself for not being an ultra-fit marathoner.  Right now, I walk a bit like a seventy-something lady with a limp.)

2. Pilates and/or strengthening at least five days a week.  How long? Negotiable.  I have some well-loved videos that work well: some that take 25 minutes and some that are an hour.  I have dumbbells and stretch bands.  They all count.  When I wake up in the morning, I am also going to do my back and knee stretches and I'm going to do them again in the evening.  I'm also going to keep sitting on this balance ball, though I think I may need to re-inflate it.  I don't think I should be this close to the ground!

3. Eat a largely plant-based diet.  I'm a pescatarian who largely eschews dairy, but I aspire to pretty much eliminate dairy from my diet, and I'm not doing the environment any favours by continuing to consume fish.  Then there are all those pesky moral issues as well.  When push comes to shove, a plant-based diet is going to keep me alive longer, alleviate guilt, and help make the world a kinder, gentler place.  Without getting on a pulpit, especially since I never said I was giving it all up, it's become quite obvious that living without any form of animal product is going to keep me/us alive longer.  I like that idea.

My personal plan is to allow for two meals a week (if I choose), that can include dairy or seafood.  Otherwise, I'm going vegan.  I'm also going to allow for two desserts (of a reasonable serving size, not an entire cake or galloon of ice cream) per week.  I like a little decadence in my life, but if I don't set limits, it turns into a full-time occupation for me.

4. I'm going to do my own version of the 5/2 diet fad that is sweeping the world.  I haven't read the book - I don't even know what it's called - but basically I plan to eat only fruit and vegetables (that can include any fruit or veg, including potatoes and popcorn!) on Mondays and Thursdays, and eat my regular diet the rest of the week.  Basically, I am not going to eat any processed food or non-plant based food two days a week, and I'm going to not add any fat or sugar to my foods.  So, soups, salads, lovely steamed veggies, green shakes, popcorn, and baked potatoes will be the order of the day on those days.  I've already done it a few times and have quite enjoyed my "clean eating" days and not felt deprived.  I don't want to do any crazy detoxes nor do I want to count calories.  That's not my style.  This feels do-able, however.  I may add in some legumes and nuts, but since I'd like to drop a few sizes, I'll keep to fruit and veggies for the time being.

As I write this down, I feel like this is all quite attainable.  It doesn't matter if a soul doesn't read this blog because the act of writing it makes me accountable to myself.  Self-accountability: that's the new start each day.  I'm happy to hear your resolutions, too.  Remember, you can start ANY time.  Chinese New Year was my excuse to get going, but who needs an excuse to feel better about yourself?

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