Archive for ‘monthly review’

December 31, 2011

2011 review :: One Little Word

My one big goal for 2011 was One Little Word


You’ll see from the lack of entries on this blog that I totally failed in documenting that goal. For over half the year I also believed I had failed in achieving that goal. And then something interesting occurred: I put some thought to the happenings of the past 12 months – to the daily moments, the small celebrations, the big epiphanies – and I realized that 2011 had not been a year of failure after all. In fact, even today there are visual reminders of success. I almost missed it because it didn’t look anything like I expected it would look.

When I chose the word HEALTHY in January, I hoped that twelve months would bring a significant weight loss, a habit of fresh foods, a joy of home cooking, and a pattern of regular sleep. I expected to feel more energy, less sickly all the time. I expected to need an entirely new wardrobe. None of those things occurred. Hence, my assumption that 2011 was a failure in the area of goals. I also wanted to embrace creativity in a larger way, to focus on personal art projects that brought a renewed health to my mind and my spirit. Again, I determined that this goal ended in failure because much of my year was spent in front of a laptop with the television droning in the background. Sometimes 24/7. Definitely not healthy. No matter what I may have been “watching.” With those things in mind, I declared 2011 a resolution FAIL. And vowed to make 2012 “the year.” But then I came to a realization…

It all began with a pair of jeans. Jeans that, last year, did not fit comfortably during the first hour of wear because they were simply too snug in the waist when freshly laundered. This year, when the weather finally turned almost cool, I pulled on those jeans and found room to spare. At first I believed they must had been worn and placed back in the closet unwashed. I rarely do that, but perhaps this one time? I wore the jeans all day and found them to be far too loose for my taste. Baggy in weird places. Still I didn’t think much of it… until I wore a different pair a week or so later. And those were just as loose on first wear. Freshly laundered but looser than ever. Suddenly I realized! I had kept off enough weight to make my clothes fit loosely! And my thoughts turned to the summer and another moment of success.

While visiting my parents in July I stepped onto the scale after a shower one day and saw that I weighed 30 pounds less than the last time I’d weighed, sometime during the past 6 months. Thirty pounds! And I’d not been on the Healthy wagon for four months by this time! But in those four months of neglect and passivity toward my yearly goal I had still managed to keep 30 pounds at bay. That was clearly a success! I held onto that Win throughout the remainder of the year, but until I encountered the results in my clothing I still did not treat it as a completion of my resolution. After all, I still wasn’t sleeping properly and I still didn’t see much difference in the mirror. I also wasn’t eating properly. No, not at all. The old habits were ever-present, with fast food my most frequent menu. Yet, in the midst of all those bad habits, I’d remained thirty pounds lighter than before. Thinking back on this while analyzing my looser jeans, I could not deny that I had made some headway on this goal of HEALTHY.

Nearing the holidays I mentioned all of this to my mother. I still couldn’t believe my clothes were telling a different story than my mind, but she agreed that I had made some progress this year. She hadn’t noticed the clothes – I’m a plus-size girl with a tendency for ill-fitting clothing, so that did not surprise – but she pointed out that I seemed to be healthier than I’d been in a very long time. There seemed to be fewer stomach issues (which I’d had for over a decade), and I’d been more joyful this year than other times. And despite my irregular sleeping patterns, I had, in fact, been able to go to sleep and sleep more restfully than the past few years. At least, she noted, I was able to get to sleep when I went to bed rather than lying awake for hours before drifting off. That itself counted for a lot on this road to Healthy. I had to agree.

In the end, I’m not where I imagined I’d be by December 31, 2011, but I’m further along than ever. And that encourages me and motivates me to continue on this path. While I have chosen a new word for 2012, I will continue to hold onto HEALTHY, as well. That period at the end of the word up there? That will remain in the front of my mind. I want Healthy to be a lifestyle. I want it to be a pattern and a habit of my days. I want the fast food to become a treat, and I want my kitchen to be a place of joy. As far as it will, of course, for a girl who truly despises the act of meal preparation. Simply put, I want to be HEALTHY… period. And this year was a decent start.

I’ll be back this week with my goals and resolution for 2012. It’s my favorite One Word yet!

One Little Word is a yearly challenge issued by Ali Edwards. I also (kind of) participated in the One Word community at Grit and Glory this year. Perhaps you’ll join me in the new year!

February 28, 2011

February wrap-up

I’m thrilled to put this month’s data to rest and clean the slate for March. The numbers are ugly and I’m tired of looking at them. Thanks February, but it’s time to move on.

Below is the snapshot of my month, but let me first address the 3 additional goals that were kept offline. I didn’t fare well on most of them but did see a tiny bit of success during the month:

  • Drink at least 4 glasses of plain water every day: though I didn’t do this every day, I did begin to build that habit into my plan. At least a couple days each week I put aside flavored beverages and switched to water, noting that I drink more when I fill a bottle than when I pour a cup full. I also rid the flat of all soda, forcing me to make a special trip if I crave a Coke, and I haven’t been picking up more than 3 large Cokes per week. A vast improvement already!
  • Unplug from TV and laptop 1 full day per week: I did leave the TV off for several days during the month, often a couple in a row even, and I put the computer aside once or twice on a couple of evenings, but I never fully unplugged from both at the same time. There’s no excuse for it, either.
  • Write story chapters at least 2 days per month: zero percent. Zero. Shameful.

Ultimately, my success graph looked like a roller coaster, and my life points plummeted pitifully. Even the one area that seems to reflect some improvement (exercise) is not accurately represented in that I didn’t actually “walk” two miles each week but rather counted any kind of movement at all as “walking.” I still count that as improvement — anything that qualifies as Moving More is worth registering on the chart — and I now know to be much less specific about my exercise goals if I want my successes to be properly measured. I’m not happy with February’s results, but I am taking what little good was accomplished and building on it for next month.
february wrap-up

January 31, 2011

January wrap-up

One month into the new year. Already?! Amazing how time seems to speed up a little bit more with each passing age. And though my life circumstances have pretty much remained the same for months and months, I feel like January was a better month all around. I know that having a new focus really did make a difference, even if I wasn’t truly disciplined or diligent in following my goals. But, in the interest of full disclosure (and learning from mistakes), here’s how my first HealthMonth shuffled down…

January wrap-up

I finished the month with 2 life points… down from 10 when I began on the tenth. I won’t be rewarding myself for this, as I don’t deem it a true success. However, I also won’t be implementing a consequence because I did make a true effort to cut my soda intake in half and move my body more. Next month I’ll definitely reward or restrict if these numbers indicate serious change either way. My “cook dinner” goal was the biggest success. For me, that wasn’t so much cooking as it was creating a meal at home instead of heading to a drive-thru. And I rocked that goal! I think I may have eaten fast food twice all month. Maybe three times, out of 31 days. Last year, I had fast food 5 or more days per week. So, yeah, I totally rocked it this month! And I really did dig it, as well. This goal is foundational to my success, so I really want to nail it down to a habit and not something I struggle to decide each day. I hope that one goal will lend itself to my third goal of exercising. One day of exercise each week just won’t cut it. I love that statement next to my Grade of C: “Maybe this rule was too difficult?” Ha! Nope. This girl is just too lazy! If I have success in any area at all next month, I want it to be this one. Moving more will make everything else fall into place.

It’s true that I mostly stayed within my “quotas” throughout the month, bringing my overall averages to an acceptable level in the eyes of the chart. But numbers really don’t tell the tale, now do they? My goals were not challenging in the grand scheme of things but rather meant to ease me into a new mindset. In that regard, January’s goals were a huge success. I’m thinking about everything I do and don’t do. I’m conscious of what I’m eating and why, and I’m making choices (good and bad) with complete awareness of my behavior and how it will be reflected in my daily journals. I know that I haven’t begun exercising, and I know that I’ve not cut sodas down to an acceptable level, so I know those must be addressed again during the next month. I’m also aware of my successes: fruits make an appearance in my daily diet — I even chose a giant apple for dessert one night and found it surprisingly delicious, as if I was eating a sweet pastry! — and I’ve added salads to my meals more than once per month. Little by little, I’m changing my behavior. And that alone was my major goal for January.

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January 22, 2011

January | mid-month check-in

Although I’m a bit past the mid-month mark, I wanted to take a minute to note my progress toward the first month of this year’s goal. Most of my previous attempts to diet, to lose weight, to break bad habits have devolved into failure or boredom within the first few months of the process, but already I can see a difference in my approach. I do hope that means I’m embarking on a new and permanent journey of change. Toward that end, I spent the first full week of January developing tangible and achievable goals, as well as making copious notes about what I expect from the process and how I plan to go about making the changes. Of course, that adage about best laid plans is famous for a reason! My little area of North Texas was blanketed in snow and black ice on the first two days I had planned to kick-start the “program,” leaving me unable to visit the grocery store to stock my pantry and refrigerator. A day after that I came down with a crushing sinus infection and spent the remainder of the week curled up in bed, struggling to take a true breath. It wasn’t until this, the third week of the year that I was even able to take my first steps toward anything. But this week was truly a terrific start, and I had a couple of interesting revelations that should help me make smart choices in the months ahead.

This week’s good choices and personal successes were:

  • reading through recipes and creating a realistic menu for the rest of the month
  • creating a shopping list and sticking to it completely, adding only a couple of impulse items while inside the two grocery stores I visited
  • choosing appropriate and healthy items on impulse and not succumbing to any cravings…
  • …because I took the time to eat before heading to the stores
  • bypassing the fast food drive-thru more than a few times this week, even when I was heading home far too late to want to make dinner at home
  • actually listening to that Still Small Voice telling me what to pull out of the refrigerator to make a meal just as quick as any fast food… and far, far better tasting
  • not mainlining Coca-Cola as I usually do AND…
  • choosing water for lunch when I went out with my friend Mere AND…
  • choosing a grilled lunch item from the Mexican food restaurant, which turned out to be the most delectable Mahi tacos on white corn tortillas with a slice of avocado, pickled red onion and poblano crema, and a side of Mexican roasted corn with queso fresco. I’m certain it belongs in my Top Five Meals I’ve ever eaten.
  • And I discovered that I actually enjoy avocado when it is paired with the right flavors. I look forward to creating a few dishes now!

In the midst of my good choices there were a few moments when I didn’t care about any of it, and as I look back at the picture of these weeks so far I can see that those moments didn’t even cause a flutter in my mind. No setbacks, no guilt, no fear or worry. I’m looking at the long haul rather than thinking about the small moments. But I am conscious that this whole process is about baby steps… and I’ve taken some great baby steps this month. That alone makes it a success, no matter how the last few days turn out.

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