January 1, 2015

Last year I did not make a formal list of resolutions. I’m not sure what happened, there are a lot of things that go on my list every year and I kept doing them, but I didn’t have a list to check in with on occasion and I think it made it easier for me to brush them off a little more often or change them willy-nilly without thinking it over.  I also made some changes to my health and fitness tracking that didn’t work out in 2014.  I got swept up in trying to move everything to electronic platforms.

  1. In late January/early February I got a Fitbit and became totally obsessed with my step count and the power rankings with friends and coworkers.  Unfortunately for me, someone who was active to begin with, tracking steps didn’t equate to being fit, losing weight, or increasing endurance.  I have a lot of friends who, have done really well with their Fitbits but if you’re already averaging around 85k steps a week through activities (and you have an obsessive personality) the idea that you have to hit 10k every day can be counter-productive. I started cutting back on more challenging workouts, that didn’t necessarily count as steps, to ensure I had time to get steps in.  So, for now, I have given up the Fitbit. I haven’t worn it in about a month.  It feels great and I’ve started working out more!
  2. I didn’t use my paper food journal/workout tracker at all – because myfitnesspal syncs with Fitbit.  I could do it all from my phone!  Well, when the app worked, or when I could be bothered to bring up the website.  I’ll tell you what, throughout this whole weight loss deal over the past few years?  The number one thing that keeps me from shoving whatever I want in my mouth?  Having to write it all down and look at it.  Here’s the funny thing, when I was in 6th or 7th grade I read this book by Christopher Pike, “Gimme a Kiss,” the plot of the story is driven along because the main character keeps a diary that’s more of a novel. She fabricates the life she wants in her diary.  There’s a passage in that book, “She was wise enough to know that by doing so she was moving perilously close to lying to herself. But, what the hell, her life wasn’t that great, and it wasn’t against the law to pretend.”  It’s ridiculous, it’s a teen crime novel, but I have carried that line with me, in my heart as a writer, for the past 25ish years.  I do not lie in my food journal, or any other journal, because lying to your self is a dangerous precedent to set.

I did start doing a couple of things this year that I hope to carry on in 2015.

  1. I recognized that not everything is for me and it helped me become more positive.  I love social media and the community that it creates, but sometimes it feels like every post and new trend requires our input.  I listened to a lot of the Nerdist podcast this year and I was continually impressed with how relentlessly positive Chris Hardwick is.  People would directly ask him to name things he didn’t like, or the “worst” of something and he frequently wouldn’t have a response.  More than “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” he once explained it to a guest who was railing about something, when asked why he didn’t join in, that he’d begun to recognize that, sure there are things he didn’t like, but most of those things weren’t made FOR him.  I sat on that idea for a while, and I thought about it a lot, and … you know what? He’s right.  Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean I need to be vocally negative about it until everyone else hates it, too.  I’m not saying that I never comment on things I don’t like, but I have reeled it way back and I feel much better.  (Sometimes it’s hard and involves a lot of “hover, don’t click.”)
  2. I stopped clicking every link my friends post on Facebook. In particular I stopped sharing anything involving any combination of the following words: share, up, worthy, viral, and click.  I also stopped clicking on anything that involved the hook “…you won’t believe what happened next!” and made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t click on anything linked from a source with an alternative spelling like “topix” and random vowels omitted from their names.  The legitimate news resources are already biased, I don’t need to fall further into the internet echo chamber.  I feel much better, and spend a lot less time online.

So, here are the BIG, official resolutions for 2015:

Health (Physical):

90 minutes of activity 6 days a week.  This is a lot, but I am someone who has averaged 60 minutes a day 5 days a week and an additional 120-180 on the sixth day for the past few years.  This isn’t a hard, fast rule, and as long as I total up to 540 minutes for 45 weeks out of the year and never dip below 360 in a week I’ll be happy.  (If you are not active and are trying to become active, please do not set a goal like this. Make your goal something like 30 minutes a day 4 days a week, or something. Or talk to your doctor.  If you go from zero to this you will give up or hurt yourself.)

Keep my food journal up to date. I’ve already resisted pizza for breakfast today – because who wants that as their first entry?

No health advice from people who do not have degrees and/or a board certification from a respected, established accrediting body.  This means that I don’t want to hear anyone giving me diet advice who isn’t a registered dietician.  I believe in science based medicine, I believe in science based health. (Did you know that in most states there are no legal requirements to call yourself a nutritionist? FYI: Dr. Oz? Not a dietician, he’s a snake oil salesman.  Stop listening to him and buying the products he shills.)

Health (Mental):

Work on hair trigger emotional reactions.  This year I worked hard on my “resting bitchy face.”  This year I’m going to dig deeper and when these reactions happen I’m going to reflect on why.

Stop feeling guilty.  This is really big for me.  I don’t really have a problem saying no, but I do have a problem not beating myself up over it for days, or months, after.  I frequently spend time thinking, “Well, I don’t need to do that because X didn’t do Y, I am perfectly justified.”  The fact is that not wanting to do something is enough of a reason not to, and frequently saying no is rooted in preserving our own health.  You shouldn’t need to explain it or make excuses for it.

Protect self-esteem and avoid negative self-talk that damages it further.  This means I will be hiding your fitspiration photos of women with 19 inch waists that say “Skinny isn’t Sexy, Strong is.”  In part because as a recovering bulimic I don’t need to see that shit and in part because it’s a disgusting mixed message that roots a woman’s self-worth in her physical appearance and that is one thing that I have managed to get 80% to peace with this year.  80% is pretty far, trust me. The one good thing that falling off the food diary wagon, and the bit of weight I gained from it, did was lend me a lot of time to reflect on how I feel about it and honestly recognize that I am bothered because I don’t feel as physically able as I did. I still thing I look amazing, because I AM amazing.

Stop wishing away time – focus on being positive.  This one, oh, this one… in early December I found myself saying, “I just have to get through this week!” with a bounce and a smile and following up with, “It’ll be over soon!”  As we got closer to the end of the year I saw and heard dozens of people saying, “Thank god 2014 is almost over! What a shitty year!”  Some of my friends have had some unspeakable tragedies happen this year and my family had an incredibly traumatic loss this fall.  I have said these sentences myself but I didn’t this year. When I heard those words fall out of my mouth in December I thought, “How many times have I said this and it was the last year, the last week, or the last day that I had with someone I love, respect, cherish?” Bad, and I mean truly terrible, things happen every year.  Every week, and every day has its challenges.  I may not be totally on board with the “mindfulness” movement, but I am very invested in not wishing away my time and making the most of the things I do.

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