Category Archives: Health

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

Cheese vs. Alcohol

This morning, a friend asked me if I miss cheese more than I miss beer.  It was not difficult for me to answer – YES!  I miss cheese more!

(In case you forgot, I gave up all alcohol this February.)

First of all, the act of abstaining from alcohol was just a lot simpler.  You just don’t order a drink.

But cheese, my friends, is EVERYWHERE.  It’s hard to avoid it even when you want to (and I use the term ‘want’ loosely here).  Foods that don’t even need cheese have cheese in them.  The less time you have, the more likely it is that cheese will be included in your meal.  And when you’re not cooking for yourself, the non-cheese options are often even less healthy.  I have actually found myself ordering fried food instead of the salad that comes with cheese.  Seriously.

After February, I realized that being more intentional about alcohol was important to me.  Just because I’m out with friends doesn’t mean I need to have a drink too.  Just because I’m on my porch and it’s hot out, doesn’t mean I need to have a gin and tonic (ok.  It kind of does.  But let’s pretend it doesn’t).

Similarly, I am finding that I need to be more intentional about my cheese intake.  I don’t miss cheese in my deli sandwich.  I don’t miss cheese cubes at a reception.  I do, however, miss the opportunity to order cantaloupe gazpacho with goat cheese when I am out to dinner in a new city.  I miss tomatoes at their peak with fresh mozzarella and goat cheese.  I miss fennel cranberry bread with locally made Camembert from our grower’s market.  I know that I can’t go back to eating cheese in September without some guidelines for myself.  “Eat less cheese” is just too broad and in a few short months (weeks?) I’ll be back to my old habits.

Instead, I think I’ll focus on high quality cheese moments – the opportunity to try a really good cheese, or a favorite dish – should not be missed.  But it also shouldn’t be something I do without thinking.  Late night cheese snacking, no-no.  Tipsy cheese appetizers, no-no.  Cooking and eating six ounces of feta while I do it, no-no.  But a cheese course?  Cheese fondue?  Macaroni and Cheese on a cold winter night?  Hell, yea.  I can’t wait.


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Filed under Alcohol, Cheese, Food, Health

Now what do I do?

In truth, I should have made my April resolution to finish my thesis.  It’s the only thing I managed to think about this month, and it was, for the most part, all I did (outside of working and sleeping).  It was the resolution that mattered to me most, but it wasn’t a monthly resolution (technically, I started this in April of LAST YEAR).  Plus, I was sick of thinking about, talking about, and (most of all) working on my thesis, so I rejected that resolution completely.  Besides, NOT keeping this resolution wasn’t an option, right?

My misguided attempt to focus on my health was quickly thwarted by spring allergies, a sinus infection, lack of sleep, and poor food choices.  Oh, and lack of exercise.  Ha!

The good news is, it’s done and I haven’t died of malnutrition in the process.

(Done, by the way, means it is submitted, I have defended it, and I passed.  Big time Hooray.)

I could spend my new free time pondering why, when we need it the most, humans are often unable to maintain healthy behaviors and make good choices.   I could, but I’m not going to.

Instead, I’m going to sit on my porch, have a drink, look at the river, and RELAX.

I will not use this last week of April to research and explore possible resolutions for May.

I will not use this last week of April to ponder the new cooking class I want to start for food stamp recipients.

I will not use this last week of April to begin my home inventory and catch up on minor repairs.

I will sit on my porch, have a drink, look at the river, and RELAX.

Now THAT is taking care of myself.

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Filed under Health, Research, Resolutions, Thesis

I cannot be trusted.

As soon as I decided that my April resolution would be to take care of myself, I got sick.

Apparently, I was a little too late.

I haven’t been dramatically ill.  No days off work, no missing of meetings.  Just stuffy head, ear ache, lack-0f-appetite, hack up a lung cold and sinus symptoms that make me feel crappy but not crappy enough.

It’s true that normally when I feel a sinus infection coming on I usually take a preemptive sick day to rest.  I sleep for 15 hours or so and this usually takes care of it.  I stop being sick and the symptoms never get worse.  I don’t miss any more days of work AND I don’t get anyone else sick. 

I didn’t feel like I had that option this week (and yes, I am so incredibly grateful that usually I do have that option).  So I got sick.

Have I taken care of myself since then?

Well, sort of.

Ok.  Not really.

In the interest of full disclosure, here is what I had for dinner tonight:  five Oreos, a glass of milk, and a cheese quesadila. 

In my defense I did have an incredibly healthy salad for lunch.

So much for April.  Can I start over in May?

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Filed under Health, Resolutions

What would Elvine Do?

I could be remembering the past through rose colored glasses, but I believe that my mother was THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD when it came to taking care of sick children.

When I was sick as a kid, she would set me up in the living room on the couch, with fresh sheets every day (sometimes twice a day).  I was allowed to watch TV all day, though she would also provide me with a pile of books and magazines (she was a librarian after all).  If my illness didn’t completely kill my appetite, she made my favorite “sick” foods – spaghettio’s with sliced franks or tomato soup with “kellys” (Do not look this up in urban dictionary – in MY family kellys are little slices of bread with butter on them.).

My mom brought me water to keep my hydrated – with straws so I didn’t even have to sit up to take a drink.  She would bring me warm wash cloths to wipe my face when I was too dizzy to freshen up in the bathroom.  When I was bored with mid-day television she would keep me company if I couldn’t sleep.  She struck the perfect balance between leaving me alone in my misery and coddling me.

I realize that not everyone had a mother like this.  One friend tells me stories of being shunned to the unfinished basement during illnesses while her germophobe mother would occasionally throw boxes of tissues down the stairs.  Perhaps with some dry toast.

I do realize I had it really good.

I wasn’t long into my adulthood when I figured out that my husband was unlikely to provide the same kind of attention to me when I was ill, but he would always help me when I asked and he was excellent at purchasing the foods I liked best when my appetite began to return.  He could, if I needed him to, pick up medicine at the pharmacy and take me to the doctor if I was too sick to drive.  Did he change my sheets every day without asking?  Did he bring me warm wash cloths to freshen up?  Did he rub my feet?  No, but helped me when I asked for help and that was lovely.

Well, exit husband, and enter a whole new wave of taking care of oneself.

My parent friends are probably laughing at me – because of course the worst thing in the world is not being sick and single, it’s being sick and a parent.  Or perhaps being a parent of three sick children at once.  But since I’m not a parent, I can’t blog about that.

So finally it happened.  Last year I had my first post-divorce illness.  That is, my first long bout of being so unwell that I couldn’t go to work or even, gasp, watch movies or read books.  There was no one in my house who might remind me to, say, eat, or drink, or shower.  Some friends called and offered food, but I wasn’t eating much so I told them to stay away and avoid risking contamination.  After a few days I realized that I wasn’t taking very good care of myself.  I had been wearing the same clothing for three days.  I wasn’t really eating anything.  I was sleeping a lot, but not getting any better.  And I was MISERABLE.

Something had to change.

So I asked myself, what would Elvine do?
(Elvine is a nickname we use for my mother, who shall remain otherwise anonymous).

Elvine would change my sheets.  Elvine would make me shower and put on fresh undies.  Elvine would remind me to drink water and make me eat some soup.  Did I feel like doing these things?  No.  But I am a grown woman.  I have a job and a mortgage and I should be able to take care of myself when I am sick.

I wrote myself a note and put it on my bathroom mirror.  It said:

Take Care of Yourself

1.  Shower every day.

2.  Drink water.

3.  Change your sheets.

4.  If you can, get outside for 10 minutes.

5.  Accept help if it is offered.

What does this have to do with my April resolution, you ask?

Well, this IS my April resolution.  Take Care of Yourself.

I am finishing my thesis, incredibly busy at work, worried about some sick friends, stressing out about my career, and generally distracted and discombobulated in a way that is very unusual for me.  And I am making bad choices.  I am skipping exercise.  I am eating badly (ok, not too badly, but much less well).  I am staying up late and getting up early and just not taking care of myself.  But that won’t help me finish my thesis.  What it might do is make me sick – the moment my defense is over I will collapse in a heap and be down for the duration.

So, I shall write myself another note for my mirror.

This time it will say:

Take Care of Yourself

1.  To ease anxiousness, MOVE your body instead of eating or drinking.

2.  Focus on one task at a time instead of multi-tasking.

3.  Vegetables and Fruits, not Beer and Chocolate

4.  Focus on what you can control, not that which you cannot.

Why, when we are stressed out and we need healthy routines the most, are we least able to stick to them?  Or is it just me?  Anyway, it might not sound like a big resolution.  But it is.

Wish me luck!





Filed under Family, Health, Resolutions