I had my quarterly check-up yesterday for my ongoing health condition and my thyroid hormone numbers are stubbornly stuck at around the same level: almost normal, but not quite. In fact, it was a smidgen worse (holiday stress will do that to me), and I’ve been evaluating ways to nudge my body into full remission. The last year and a half proved to me that lifestyle changes can have enormously positive effects, but clearly, I’m still falling a little short. Perhaps my love of sugary, fatty foods will have to finally be addressed. No amount of green juice can cancel out the astonishing gluttony of sugar plums and gingerbread cookies I chowed down this holiday season.
And as it so often happens, a conversation with a Trader Joe’s cashier motivated me to take things up a notch. Yesterday, right after my appointment, I stopped off at my local TJs for a much-needed grocery run. This lovely gentleman who rang up my overloaded cart enthusiastically talked about all the new things he wants to try for 2014. I guesstimated his age to be somewhere in the early to mid sixties, and I found his energy contagious. “Yoga!” he ticked off one finger. “Me too!” I responded.
“Raw foods!” Another ticked finger. I countered with “That’s great! I want to make more vegetarian dishes and need to learn how to make braces-friendly healthy food!” (K is going to get braces in the next few weeks – she already has spacer rubber bands on her teeth and I’m saddened that she’ll have metal in her mouth for the next five years….she needs a lot of orthodontic work. I’ve never had braces so this is all new for me.)
“Web design!” he finished with a flourish. “Uh…” I didn’t have the gumption to talk about this here blog so I mumbled something about illustrations.
Anyway, the point is that we were kindred spirits in terms of new year’s goals. Physical fitness, stress-reduction, nutrition, creative outlet.
I’m still not making resolutions, but I’ve found that what helps me get going is being specific enough to give me structure but vague enough to let me experiment/play around. Instead of merely thinking, “I want to get better at sewing,” I set a goal to make something for K every week. I also mostly used Japanese sewing books because something about deciphering the illustrations works with the way I learn. Occasionally all or nothing goals are fun to do too, but too many of them drive me bananas and failure is pretty much guaranteed.
I want to continue improving my sewing skills, and I also want to incorporate other regular activities that will improve my health and well-being. My focus is full remission by the end of the year and how crazy lucky am I to have this chance to test out lifestyle enhancements, measured and tracked by regular blood test results? Yes, how I feel is the biggest indicator, but there’s a deep satisfaction in seeing data supporting my efforts. I’m going to home in on de-stressing activities, fitness, healthy cooking, creative challenges and bringing joy into relationships. So here’s my 2014 list of 14 things to do (or not do, in some cases):
ONCE A WEEK, I will…
1. do yoga. I’ve been wanting to take up yoga again — I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a resistance to it, and I blame my incessant brain chatter for it. There’s a class at my gym but the times are odd, so I may need to look into DVDs…
2. try a new soup or vegetarian recipe. Incidentally, when I mentioned K’s braces to the cashier, the young guy bagging my groceries chimed in quietly with “chili” – he said it was his favorite dish to eat when he wore braces. I was a little skeptical and asked about the little chunks of meat getting stuck, but he assured me it would be awesome. Perhaps I’ll try a few vegetarian chili recipes
3. work on crossing off at least one item from my tolerations list
4. have device-free family time. We are a completely plugged-in family. I want to increase pastimes that involve no laptops, no iphones, no ipads, nothin’ that requires a charger.
5. sew something that will teach me a new technique
6. have date night. M and I constantly cancel or reschedule because of exhaustion, work, etc.
7. meet up with at least one friend
EVERY DAY, I will…
8. move my body for at least 30 minutes. The gym, a walk around the neighborhood, vigorous cleaning – the net is wide.
9. track my spending. I’ve never succeeded at this; I have high hopes for this year though and imagine that it might add stress in the beginning but will help me de-stress in the long run by giving me a sense of financial control.
10. drink at least four glasses of water in addition to my green juice. Hate hate hate to drink water
11. do something creative for at least 30 minutes. Draw or sketch one page, take photos, try a new craft like calligraphy.
12. go to bed before 1am. Sometimes I don’t get to bed until 3am…
FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR, I will NOT…
13. buy any clothes for myself or K. It ended up being so rewarding not buying clothes for so many reasons last year, I want to keep going.
14. buy any books. I have plenty on my bookshelves that I haven’t read yet, and there’s always the library.
Notice that I failed to mention not buying fabric — I’m going to abstain until my stash is manageable, but I have a feeling it won’t take a whole year. I know that my list isn’t exciting and it’s meant solely for me to feel accountable, but cumulatively, I think these actions will establish habits for a happier, healthier me. Am I being too ambitious? Maybe. But that’s never stopped me before…there’s a sketch I made back when I first started to work on reversing my “disease” almost a year and a half ago, and it will always be relevant for me. Ready, get set, go: