As we go into our first holiday weekend that promises to be the most festive anything has felt in quite a while, it might seem like an odd time to embark on a reset, but July 1st does mark six months into the year, so why not? This one involves both the physical and the mental, and focuses on giving up some of the “crutches” I’ve been using since the pandemic (and long before), and being more deliberate about how I chose to spend my time, whom I chose to spend it with, and how I take care of myself. Plus, the excuses I made for certain behaviors deep in the middle of the pandemic don’t really hold anymore; it’s time to recharge and refresh.
Part of my tough love regimen: A top priority for me is to start eating better. My quarantini days are over. Honestly, they also took a bit of a toll on my body. So less alcohol, maybe only on the weekends. Then, more time spent making new recipes that are plant based. Red meat on the rarest of occasions. The same with chicken. I get super lazy about lunch (especially when I’m the only one around), but I need more salads, more kale, more healthy fats like avocados in my life. On a daily basis. Quinoa instead of pasta. Less dairy (though I’m never giving up Parmesan cheese or other types unless I absolutely have to). Less sugar. Definitely less snacking, I do snack a lot (often in place of eating a proper lunch).
I don’t diet and I don’t believe in them unless it is for a significant health reason (losing 10 pounds doesn’t count); I believe in permanent, healthy lifestyle habits. I have a healthy exercise habit, eating is where I put in less effort. This is most in part because I’ve always told myself that I’d rather have that cheeseburger and just run another mile or two. No more. This is where the tough love is coming in. It’s not about losing weight (though I did gain some and would be happy to lose it), but acknowledging that how I chose to fuel my body has long-term effects. An idea that grows more acute with age.
Part of my kindness regimen: Accepting that when it comes to physical activity, my body can’t do everything it used to. I have always exercised; it’s a habit that comes from years I spent training as a classical dancer. I exercise when I travel or am on vacation. In fact, unless I’m really sick or have had surgery, I work out every week of the year. I still get up and run (rather slow as molasses) a few days a week, but recently I’ve been allowing myself unplanned days off without trying to make them up. Sometimes my body needs a rest, and instead of trying to fight through the fatigue of a few sleepless nights, or ignore the aches, I realize that maybe I need to slow it down. At least a bit. Also, it might be time to get back into yoga. Listening to my body and taking care of it is my idea of self care.
Another area I am taking more seriously? Ignoring the negative and anything attention-seeking. I turn the TV on in the morning to watch the news; mostly, I will tell myself, it is because I’m checking the weather for my morning run. But then it stays on long past the weather update. No more. I have been doing this for decades and it is going to be a hard habit to switch up. I also read the New York Times while the news is on. It’s overload. And a lot of negative and attention-seeking material my mind could do without. (Though the Sunday paper ritual is a thing that I’m keeping, but it’s typically about skipping through the NY Times and WSJ to read the fun stuff.) I heard the writer Pico Iyer once say in a podcast that he gives himself two minutes a day to read the news; you need to be informed, but you also need to live your life. Because I don’t have kids to get off to school, keeping the TV off and limiting my news reading suddenly leaves me a good chunk of free time most mornings before I exercise. It’s almost unnerving to think about how to fill it. Maybe I should finally try meditation? Or some journal writing? I don’t want to waste it (like I think I’ve been doing for years now), but I guess I will just need to start and see what happens.
Do I have the willpower to make these changes? I should. Will I have a hamburger over holiday weekend? Possibly. Definitely a couple of festive cocktails. But for the most part, no more excuses, since I’m the one suffering from them. Maybe I will check back in the 1st of August. Nothing like having all of you, who read my site, to hold me accountable. I don’t know if I’m ready, but I’m diving in.
photo courtesy Vogue