Category Archives: Fruits and Vegetables

What a STUPID idea!

Over Thanksgiving weekend, one of my family members asked me what my final monthly resolution would be for 2012.  I optimistically said that I was going to try to do a little bit (or a lot) of every resolution from the year.

Gee!  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful capstone to this year-long project!  Wouldn’t it be FUN to revisit my resolutions and to combine them into one fabulously enhanced life?

Um, no.  It wouldn’t.

For those who can’t remember (I couldn’t) or who just haven’t been paying attention, here is the list:

January  – Eat Five Fruits and Veggies a Day
February – No Alcohol
March – Stretching Every Day
April- What Would Elvine Do? Take Care of Yourself
May- Stop Thinking about the Future and Just Relax
June – Get into the Woods, Implement Finishing Touches
July – Clean Underware
August – No Cheese!
September – Get Out the Funk
October – Clean the Basement
November – Um, Keep Cleaning the Basement

When I started really thinking about doing all of these at once it quickly became clear that I was setting myself up for failure.  On a massive scale.

I mean, seriously, WHO on EARTH could go a whole month with NO ALCOHOL and NO CHEESE?  And why, WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU?

And, if you were sick enough to try that resolution, WHY would you EVER do it in DECEMBER?

Yea, that idea is RIGHT OUT.

I still liked the idea of putting the resolutions together in some way – just not by doing them all at once.  So instead of that crazy scheme, I’ve just been reflecting on them, pondering how they worked (or didn’t), how they changed me (or didn’t), and what this little project has done for me.

One of the first things I did, of course, was re-read all of my posts.  One post in particular caught my attention.  Back in January I wrote a list of potential resolutions that were vying for my attention.  These rejected resolutions are fascinating now.

  • Some of them actually became resolutions later in the year (stretching every day and going without alcohol for a month).
  • Some of them happened, even though I didn’t make them an official resolution (going to the gym five days a week and going back to London).
  • Some of them have become larger goals that I do work on, though I wouldn’t call them one-month resolutions (saving six months of my salary).

I’ve had lots of insights, actually, from this re-reading and pondering.  So many, in fact, that I think I’ll add a new resolution to the rest of my month.

I’m going to post once a day – a short post – with thoughts on the year, and possibly ideas for the next one.

And you can be sure, while I’m writing, I’ll be sipping a lovely glass of wine and eating some cheese.  Snap.

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Filed under Alcohol, Cheese, Fruits and Vegetables, Health, Relaxing, Resolutions, Stretching

But What About the Fruits & Vegetables?

Common wisdom says that it takes 30 days to create a new habit.

Self-help books and websites consistently state that this is the time frame humans need for a new behavior to take hold but they never cite a source.  Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find any research to support the 30-day-to-habit hypothesis (ok, I didn’t look too hard, but I did look).

Recent research by folks at the College of London, in fact, found that the average time to for a new behavior to feel automatic was 66 days.  In addition, there was significant variation in how long it took for a habit to take hold, from 18 days up to 254 days.

Before you get any grand ideas, let me make it clear right now that I’m talking about eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day – my January resolution. I have no plans of becoming a teetotaler, I promise.

So how did I do in January? And what side of this curve am I on?

As it turns out, I ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day in January and I did not find it difficult to do.  It was almost as if I turned a switch and it just happened.  Now that it’s February though, am I still doing it?

Mostly, YES.  It’s February 10th and I’ve eaten at least five servings of fruits and vegetables for eight out of nine days. My one day ‘off’ was  yesterday, and I still ate four servings of fruits and vegetables.  (I also had a hot dog and a pretzel at market and some pizza for dinner.  Hey, I’m not perfect!)

I would not say my fruit and veggie behavior is yet automatic.  I’m still relying on some of the tools I implemented in January to make it happen.  If I were to rate how automatic my chosen behavior feels right now on a scale of 1 to ten (where 1 is not at all, and ten is I do it without thinking), I would say I’m at about 6 or 7.  This is definite progress, and I plan to continue this resolution indefinitely – it just doesn’t seem like a behavior worth giving up.

For the curious…

How did I create this new habit?

  • Early in the month I did research into what constitutes a ‘serving’ and identified the fruits and vegetables I was most likely to enjoy at this time of year.  Knowing that a variety of colors is also important, I also identified a few dark greens to add to my otherwise colorful vegetable diet (kale, spinach, and broccoli, in particular).  There are tons of resources on the web about incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet.  In particular, I liked the tools on the Cooking Light site, part of their 12-month Health Habits program.
  • Since I am a recovering J, I couldn’t help myself from using the Cooking Light chart to track my daily fruit and vegetable intake.   The visual reminder on my refrigerator helped me to make good choices every time I made a meal or went for a snack.
  • I told everyone I knew about my goal – especially the people I share meals with on a regular basis.  It wasn’t that I expected them to correct my behavior or scold me for making bad choices.  But the pressure of knowing that I had made my goal public helped me to make better choices when out with friends, my most vulnerable situation when it comes to eating healthy.
  • I did not try to start any other food (or drink) related habits or implement any other restrictions on myself during January.  As it turned out, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables (or more) is eating a lot of food.  I did eat other things, and some of them were colossally unhealthy, but the portions were always very small because I ate the healthy stuff first and I got full.  Who knew?
  • Again, I didn’t try to change too much.  I stuck with fruits and vegetables I like and those that are either (a) in season locally or (b) easy to get in high quality form (i.e. no January tomatoes for me).  I am lucky that I actually LIKE fruits and vegetables.
  • I did not give myself a hard time about buying produce that had been trucked from Florida or California.  While I try VERY HARD to eat locally/regionally, part of my problem was that the fruits and vegetables available in PA are so limited this time of year.  I have no trouble eating five servings in July and August.  I had to allow one part of my conscience (the part that wants me to avoid diabetes and heart disease, etc.) to win the argument with the other part of my conscience (the fossil fuels, Shelby!  the earth is crying Shelby!) or I would be frozen in the grocery store debating with myself every time I tried to by an orange.

 

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Filed under Food, Fruits and Vegetables, Resolutions