I’m not a big resolution maker. I feel like resolution equals “thing I will stop doing by mid-February, if not sooner.” But, I can get down with the idea of aspirations and reaching for a higher plane – exploring things I enjoy, taking all that I have accomplished this year from an eating and health standpoint to an even higher level.
As a quick recap of 2011, I decided to stop eating fish in February and found myself gradually and essentially unconsciously, phasing dairy products and eggs out of my diet this Fall. At this point, the only animal products I eat in are in my occasional indulgence of Orville Redenbacher salt and pepper popcorn (milk in the ingredients – I’ll be trying air popped and nutritional yeast soon!) and the occasional quorn product (egg in the ingredients, though the company is working on some vegan options). I honestly can’t call myself a vegan as much as “someone who eats a vegan diet,” especially given my shopping habits. To paraphrase Gene Baur, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” and to paraphrase many of my yoga teachers, “it’s about the journey, not the destination.”
I didn’t start 2011 intending to pursue a vegan diet. I never thought it was something I would do, given my lifelong obsession with all things cheese. But, I’ve found it easier to do than I anticipated, and I’m eating an even more enriching variety of foods as a result. When I told my friend Jenn that I was “off of cheese,” she, being very familiar with my soy allergy, said “I feel bad that you can’t eat anything.” But, I have found that the opposite is true! When your lunch fallbacks aren’t spinach & mushroom pizza or a cheese sub, you try and enjoy so many more things!
I also became more conscious about avoiding soy products. Since soy is so pervasive, it is extremely challenging to keep it out of my diet. While I avoided big trigger foods like commercial salad dressings, most meat substitutes and tofu, I found myself “tolerating” products that contained soy for a variety of reasons – convenience sake, my fear of seeming difficult, and frankly, pure laziness. The result? Constant sneezing and congestion, severe and unpleasant gastrointestinal reactions, wheezing and a hoarse voice, constant headaches and general malaise. But, this month, since I have been meticulous about avoiding soy in any form, all of the above symptoms have disappeared. I also stopped the constant flow of diet coke and sugar substitutes I was partaking in, which have also had a positive effect on my headaches.
On the yoga front, I was going strong until I severely pulled my hamstring doing a full split at the cheer competition at my office’s summer fun day in late July. Yes, you heard that correctly. After two months off from my regular 4-5 studio & home practices a week schedule, I’m getting close to building back the strength and flexibility I had pre-injury. I was able to get back into a headstand this week, and my crow is coming back as well.
On the personal front, I got married, became an aunt and started regular light therapy to help with my seasonal affective disorder. I knit a boatload of toy animals for the babies of friends and family. I did a lot of cooking, read a bunch of cool books and traveled enough for work to hit Hilton Gold status. And, with all of the above going on, I got to stretch my long buried writing muscle by starting this blog.
So, what do I aspire to in 2012?
Continue to explore a vegan diet. To be more specific, I hope to continue to cook scratch meals with lots of fresh vegetables and beans, and continue to back away from the fake meats. I just remarked to husband that “We’re going to be eating a lot more beans in 2012.” His response, “2012 - the year of the bean!” I take this to mean he is on board.
Make friends with the bulk aisle. I look forward to exploring the bulk aisle at Whole Foods this year – heirloom beans, nutritious whole grains and other finds await! I look forward to trying cranberry beans, kamut, nutritional yeast, amaranth and more. This will also give me good fodder for 2012 blog posts.
Enjoy the occasional indulgence. This could mean the every once in awhile homemade vegan mac and cheese, and especially trying more vegan desserts.
Be more conscious about what I buy. The animal welfare concerns that have had an effect on my diet are also starting to have an effect on other things I purchase. I hope to be more conscious about the personal care products I buy, supporting companies that do not test their products on animals and use natural ingredients. My Beauty Bunny has a great app to help discover these types of companies. I also look forward to exploring more products by companies I’m currently supporting, such as Lush, EO, JASON and Tom’s of Maine.
Continue to explore yoga. My regular yoga practice and the warm community of tranquil space have had an extremely positive impact on my life. Yoga and the Tranquil Space community have been a huge, if not the biggest factor, with helping me overcome years of disordered eating and body dysmorphia. I look forward to my regular practice, as well as continuing to explore my home practice and partaking in workshops and retreats, including January’s Urban Women’s Retreat and an April art and yoga weekend retreat in West Virginia.
Have More Crafty Fun: I’ve always enjoyed making things – photo collages, jewelry, pottery and especially knitting. This year, I’ve done a lot of knitting and hosted a knitting salon at my apartment. I’ve also dabbled in some papercrafting and bowmaking. I look forward to trying more projects and hosting more crafty get-togethers in 2012!
Take Moments Out of My Day to Find Tranquility. I’m a Type A person in a Type A job in Washington D.C., aka, the definition of a Type A city. It can be hard to take a deep breath and live in the moment, and it can be even harder for me not to constantly measure myself against others. I need to remember that life isn’t a competition, and to find enjoyment in every day. I look forward to participating this year in Kimberly Wilson’s year-long Tranquilologie e-course, which I think will encourage me to relax and reflect.
So, in addition to my regular cooking blogs, I hope to check in on these aspirations regularly and reflect on how I’m incorporating them into my daily life. So, this might mean the occasional blog sidebar into yoga, crafts and just stuff in general. But, given how much I love food and cooking, you can still expect that to be the majority of my content, with perhaps a monthly round-up of non-food type things. Also, yesterday, I got started on Pinterest, which I hope to use as inspiration for all of my 2012 aspirations.
What are your 2012 aspirations?