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January 10, 2014

Back to Basics: 5 Manageable Habits To (Re) Adopt for a Light, Healthy Body & Mind.

Like so many people, I spent the last month of 2013 being pushed and pulled by the tides of the season.

It happens every year; I promise I’m not going to get sucked into the endless parties and temptations, into the stress of gift giving and receiving, the family squabbles, and the endless disruption in my regular healthy routine— and every year I fail.

By the time January rolls around I am bloated and exhausted, and needing to get clear once again about my priorities.

Here are the five things I am re-committing to starting today, and I hope by the end of February I’ll be back in the game.

1) Drink less.

Normally I don’t drink during the week, and Friday and Saturday I let myself have a few cocktails. Lately, I’ve been drinking a couple glasses of wine every night and even more on the weekends. That has to stop.

Time to take the party sized bottle of Woodbridge out of the kitchen window. I will drink only from normal sized bottles of good wine, and only with the special meals I prepare on the weekend.

2) Become less vegan-ish and more vegan.

I don’t know if it’s the harsh arctic Chicago weather or just the platters of good brie and roquefort that kept being passed under my nose, but somewhere along the line my sub neo cortex announced, “I’m eatin’ cheese! And lots of it!”

I imagine this cheese slogging through my arteries like a New York taxi with the meter running at rush hour. The thought of it makes me feel stuck and frantic.

Compare that to days filled with kale and raspberries, raw almonds and quinoa. When I eat plant based food I feel like a VonTrapp dancing in an Alpine field whipping my pinafore around as I belt out the lyrics to The Sound of Music.

It’s pretty obvious that it’s better to be dancing in the Alps than it is to be stuck in a stinky Manhattan cab.

3) Move more.

There’s never really a day when I don’t move, but in December that movement got minimized until all I was doing was walking the dogs an hour every morning and teaching yoga four times a week. I need more than that.

Starting now I will re-introduce…wait for it…my own yoga practice! Additionally, I’ll work back in a day or two of weight lifting each week.

I need to be strong and flexible for all that Alpine dancing I plan to do.

4) Cook food I want to eat.

That sounds a bit silly—why would I ever cook food I don’t want to eat? But I did a lot of that in December, trying to cater to everyone’s whims and passions, and that was a good thing.

When my kids come home for Christmas and want to have those old timey comfort foods I made before I was vegan, how can I deny them?

When I bring appetizers to parties where everyone expects to be fed, not “put out to pasture” as my husband once phrased it, and those appetizers involve the aforementioned brie and roquefort, that’s a fine thing, too.

After all, the world doesn’t revolve around me and my animal-product-free lifestyle. Until January, and then it does.

Everyone at my house had better brace themselves. Here come those big pots of lentils and spinach, the trays of roasted roots, the bowls of chia seed pudding.

There won’t be any room in the fridge for mac n cheese, so for anybody who wants some, I suggest asking the neighbors. I’m pretty sure I saw them hauling in a ten pack of Kraft from Costco just the other day.

5) Be happy that I am in a position to do this stuff.

It’s easy to bemoan the current state of affairs, but what good would that do?

Instead, I will be grateful that I have the time, knowledge and resources to clean up my act. I’m lucky enough not to have to start from square one—more like square 11—and I’m really happy that’s the case.

Back in my twenties, when I didn’t know anything about nutrition or cooking or yoga or most importantly, how to be nice to myself and find joy even when things aren’t perfect (which they never are, so it’s a good skill to acquire), a day like today, with so much work to do and so many things to set straight, would have sent me into a deep depression.

Now, it feels more like a friendly challenge.

2014 won’t make me the person I’ve always longed to be—I already am that person. The trick is remembering I am, and taking the wonderful opportunity of this new year to re-connect with my best self.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Shahril Khmd/Pixoto

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