I Resolve To Be A Couch Potato (And Other Resolutions)

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In case you hadn’t seen all the ads on TV for cheap gym memberships and weight loss plans, January is here! Society commands us to start fresh and emerge from our holiday cocoon as new and improved human beings. All of a sudden, we need to morph into fit and healthy goddesses with shiny hair and a fat wallet. It’s time to become perfect, people.

This is the time of year that I least enjoy the gym because all of the machines are taken like coveted parking spots, and the group exercise classes only have room against the back wall. I know that by March, much of the New Year’s crowd will have dissipated.

Even though I fashion myself as a writer, I don’t usually jot down any New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I keep a mental list in my head of things I would like to accomplish or improve upon. (This is smart because there is no accountability.) This year’s aspirations are a little different than past years, but I think these goals might have tangible benefits.

For starters, I resolve to not work out. This is a difficult resolution for a Zumba instructor and Les Mills devotee. I have not hit the gym since I broke my foot last month, and it is nearly torture. On the advice of my doctor, I tried swimming laps with my bum foot and ended up needing a hospital visit as a result. So while images of celebrity “beach bodies” and “biggest losers” taunt me off the pages of my beloved gossip magazines, I must feel content to accept my slightly tighter jeans and softening abs.

My “no exercise” plan goes hand-in-hand with my next resolution: eat real food. I’m not going to start counting calories, go on a liquid diet or pop pill supplements, but I am going to eat less processed foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I am not a “veggie person,” but I figure if I start treating food like the fuel that is necessary to power my body, then perhaps these nutrients can expedite the healing of my foot. Revolutionary, right?!

Plus, with healthier meals, I am less likely to gain extra weight with my new sedentary lifestyle. (I am usually a follower of the “work out hard, eat a ton of food” school of thought. Your body can function on this approach if you are burning a lot of calories. Take out the key ingredient of exercise, however, and you are simply stuffing your face.)

I also resolve to eat more mindfully. I will listen to my body. I will eat when my stomach cues me that I am hungry, and I will attempt to stop munching when I feel satisfied, before the point of beyond full (even when inhaling chips and queso). I will also enjoy dessert, but I won’t eat it every night, because it is a treat, not a habit. I will make sure to savor each bite and pick out only sweets that I am craving. (If you want chocolate, eat chocolate, better yet, make it dark!)

I will also savor a glass of my favorite red wine in the evening, but I will try to stop with glass number one. I will allow the calming effects of a glass of vino to set in before reaching for glass number two and incurring a headache. Antioxidants are healthy; overindulging is not.

And speaking of chilling out, I will resolve to relax. Before my foot injury, other than my writing time, I could barely sit down. When the kids were home from school, I would stay standing because sitting down was an invitation for them to ask for something else. I stood at the ready, anticipating each need before they even verbalized it. Four days a week, we raced around to extracurricular activities. I was always hustling them like a football coach, “Come on, hurry! The play clock is running out!”

My bum foot has taught me, rather forced me, to slow down. I currently move at the pace of a geriatric turtle. Needless to say we have trimmed our list of obligations, and now we are driving to activities merely twice a week, a marked improvement. We have culled down the list of “must do’s” to the endeavors our children truly enjoy. This reduction in obligations is part of my resolution to simplify, streamline and purge unnecessary items, distractions and “enrichment” activities.

We also have a garage full of overflowing bins of baby clothes and various things collected over the last few decades. I plan to slowly chip away at getting rid of every extraneous item that we don’t need or use, with the plan to consign or donate these obsolete possessions.

Related to slowing down, I resolve to sit on the couch and watch TV. You would think a stay-at-home mother watches a ton of television, but I rarely do. Sometimes you just gotta kick your feet up for thirty minutes, put on your favorite home improvement show or true crime story and veg out. I vow to take more advantage of my kid-free, down time because goodness knows there is no relaxing once the three little ones are at home.

Speaking of kid-freedom, I vow to kick “mommy guilt” to the curb. I think most of us moms feel guilty about something from time to time, if not everyday, with respect to our children and our choices. My sons recently transitioned to a full-time schedule at their preschool to permit me more time to sit and heal, since my husband is seldom home due to work.

Do I ever feel guilty that they are at day care, and I am not heading to an office to help pay for this added expense? Yes. Do I feel guilty that they are now at school from morning until evening without seeing their Mommy? Yes, I do. But I also realize that the quicker my foot heals, the sooner I will be able to go on walks and bike rides with them and kick the soccer ball on the field. I resolve to trade short-term guilt for long-term rewards.

And when the children are at home in my care, I resolve to set the phone down, turn the laptop off and focus on those little human beings. I resolve to take in their faces, their voices, their silly comments and even their bickering. Social media and online distractions will always be there, but my children won’t. One day they will stare at their phones tuning me out. I better pay attention to them now while they are still talking to me.

I resolve to have more patience with others and myself. The house will not look super organized while I am using crutches, and if papers stack up, the world will not end. I will feel more in tune with others in need and ask myself if the elderly person in the grocery store needs help reaching an item but is too proud to ask. Because once you’ve had some of your physical independence removed, it makes you think about others who are even less mobile and able.

On the professional front, I resolve to finish writing a legal thriller that has been outlined and sitting in a drawer since 2004. Whatever your goal is, you have to carve out the time and make yourself do it. I have a silly saying that I tell myself: Stop, drop and write. It means stop doing anything else, stop making excuses, and drop into your desk chair and write. It’s simple but the mantra works. Whatever your goal is in 2016, in the words of Nike, JUST DO IT.

Okay, I said I wouldn’t exercise but I lied. I’m going to try to find a new way to exercise that doesn’t put weight on my foot. I’m going to follow in the footsteps of warriors who take a hit but get up and keep on fighting. If I can’t use my foot, then I will use an exercise band and small weights to keep in shape. But if I get tired or if the movement hurts, I will stop and rest. We all need to listen to our bodies and common sense.

I will seek out an adventure that I can do, like kayaking on a weekend. We humans have things that limit us in our lives, whether physical, temporal, monetary or something else. But we can seek to work with what we do have and open up an undiscovered world of possibilities. Here’s to challenging yourself in 2016.

Aimee Tafreshi is a mother of three young children and former litigator who has also contributed to Nameberry.com, Fé Fit and her own blog, aimeetafreshi.com. If you would like to help Aimee get her legal thriller published, please vote for it here.

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Black-Eyed Peas, Please!

Once again we face another new year, a time when many of us reflect on the previous twelve months and make resolutions for the those to come. Me? I’m not a resolution kind of gal, because quite frankly, I don’t stick to them. Ever.

If I resolve to adhere to some kind of crazy, extreme diet, I inevitably find myself face-deep in a bowl of mac and cheese by the third day. Okay, second day. Needless to say, I don’t do diets, and I don’t do resolutions.

But what I do do (cue laughter from my 4th grade class) is eat healthy 90% of the time. And not just because I want to fit into my skinny jeans. I actually like healthy food, and I enjoy cooking, too. Unfortunately my days of homemade nightly dinners have pretty much ceased to exist thanks to my little one, but every now and then when the stars align just right, I am able to knock out a delicious and nutritious dinner.

This is a recipe I found on Pinterest quite awhile ago, and it is one of my go-to recipes. Shockingly, my husband enjoys it as much as I do- We have very different palates. It is super easy to throw together, too. I’m hoping Baby J enjoys it as much as we do when he starts eating solids next month, but I won’t hold my breath.

*You can find the original recipe here.

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole New Year’s Style

*photo courtesy of eatingwelllivingthin.wordpress.com*

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Ingredients

Texas Black-Eyed Pea Tempeh- use as much or as little as you want

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(Click picture for info on tempeh. If you’ve never had tempeh, you should try it! It is very versatile and tasty. You could also use plain tempeh, garbanzo beans, or chicken as a substitute, or you could leave the protein out altogether.)

One 10 oz can condensed Cream of  Mushroom soup

1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise 

2 tablespoons milk- I use skim

1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, etc.)

black pepper, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste- I put red pepper flakes in EVERYTHING I eat, and not only because I like them. Check out this article highlighting the benefits of this ingredient.

2 cups cooked broccoli- I also sometimes include chopped red bell pepper, diced onion, mushrooms, and/or edamame. I always sauté my veggies in olive oil and use a lot of fresh garlic.

1 1/2 cups  COOKED quinoa

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To cook quinoa:

3/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear.  In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible.  Fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with vegetable cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, and spices until well mixed. Stir in the tempeh, quinoa, and broccoli.

Spoon mixture into prepared casserole.  Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for ramekins) or until bubbly on the edges and golden.  Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.

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I have included links above with various ingredients that I use frequently in my cooking. I am a vegetarian, so I am always looking for creative ways to include protein into my diet. The links will take you to websites that explain the benefits of each highlighted ingredient.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions this year?