I love this time of year: New Year’s season. Full of hope and promise, now is the time to reflect on the past year and establish ways to improve a sense of order, health, and sanity. Resolutions may seem overdone and cheesy, but I always embrace this time. It is the perfect opportunity to recalibrate and to proactively examine one’s life for some new healthy and positive lifestyle steps.
The holiday season is ending and once again I am reminded that too much of a good thing (like food)… is just not good. We had quite the December. It started off with a quick trip to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun with friends. We could amazingly consume as much as we wanted, whenever we wanted. We came back to the self-explanatory holiday season and the fiscal year end at my job, which meant three weeks of free breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and even a few dinners on the company’s bill. Calories scattered everywhere.
The blog entries and news articles in late December always say that goals should be achievable and measurable. I came up with fifteen solid goals which I think should meet these qualifications. My goals are spiritual, relational, career-focused, and health & fitness-related. I will share just a few in that last category here:
- Aim for a 9:45pm bedtime (4x week)
- Drink 6 glasses of water per day
- Train for two races
- Maintain a pescatarian diet (1-2 exceptions per week allowed)
I historically drink a pathetic amount of water, so I think that six glasses will be more achievable for me than eight. I like to give myself breaks, so I realize I’m not going to go to bed as early as 9:45pm every night. Finally, as much as I love the idea of eating a full-fledged pescatarian (vegetarian plus fish) diet, I have a meat-loving husband, there are a few meats I would love to still enjoy at times, and I want my system to continue to be able to process meat.
The pescatarian diet resolution is where I want to dwell in finishing out this entry. For years, I have called myself a “flexitarian,” a flexible vegetarian who focuses on vegetables while still keeping meat in the picture. I guess my goal this year continues to fall under the flexitarian category technically, but I want to bring it up a notch for a few reasons.
First, I believe that focusing on greens makes a difference in how I feel. I read a great book a few years ago, Skinny Bitch, that spurred me towards a veggie lifestyle. This book, though a bit crass in its diction, takes the reader through scientific facts proving the health and weight-loss benefits of being vegetarian. The section that most stands out in my mind is a bad example of the book as a whole, but for some reason really resonated with me in a hippie sort of way.
Emotions–fear, grief, and rage–produce chemical change in our bodies… [when you eat meat,] you are eating high blood pressure, stress, and adrenaline. You are eating fear, grief, and rage. You are eating suffering, horror, and murder. You are eating cruelty. You are what you eat.
I am not a huge animal person. I was saddened by the book’s descriptions of slaughterhouses, but selfishly, I was even more sad about the idea of eating negative emotions. Okay, I don’t know if I’ve actually felt happier during the times in my life when meat hasn’t taken the front seat. But I do feel lighter and on my way towards being full of health.
I do recommend this book, but moving on to a different perspective, I was reading “The Vegetable Butcher” in Bon Appetit yesterday and was reminded of the incredible treat of putting delicious, fresh vegetables at the center of a meal. “The dimension of flavors you find in roots and fruits and berries and mushrooms,” said Nordic Chef René Redzepi in the article, “it’s just so much more diverse and exciting than the three or four animals we eat all the time.”
That quote really struck me, calling to mind the simpler (and cheaper) days in my past when vegetables surged through my body, and meat was nowhere to be found. I learned recently that pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat deli meat because of the processing risks involved. Well, why should anyone eat deli meat then? There are so many reasons to go this route… I haven’t even touched on how eating vegetables is better for our planet too. However, my personal reason is that I want to better monitor what is going in my body. Meat is too risky, and vegetables are just too wonderful to ignore.
As I look at my diet and think about the spectrum of different changes I could make, I know I’m not at the point of going gluten-free. Paleo is not my style at all, obviously. I do need to control my portions. I am not huge on sweets, so cutting out sugar won’t help much. Wine is just not going to go! But maybe revving up the veggies will be a good move. Stay tuned for a whole lot more vegetarian meals in 2013, and I hope you enjoy this switchover too. Happy New Year!
Note: I do still plan to make meat just for my loving husband frequently, and for dinner guests. (Please still come over and eat with us!) Also, I am sticking with fish as well because I so enjoy and relish the health benefits of salmon. Plus it would be hard to quit my love affair with oysters and sushi.