Archives for December 2015

2016 revolutions: Eating

This is another post about small steps adding up.

A few years back, I spent several weeks eating vegan and sugar-free. The experiment worked wonderfully–I felt better physically than I had for a very long time, I looked great, and my thinking clarified.

At this moment, I’m not ready to commit to that kind of dietary rigor. However, I am looking to be more mindful about what I eat. This might take the form of:

  • Eating as little dairy and sugar as possible, with occasional indulgences.
  • Packing my lunches the night before, so I don’t succumb to laziness in the morning and decide to buy my lunch.
  • Making meal plans for the week so that I know exactly what I need at the grocery store, instead of forgetting key ingredients or, worse, falling into a rut in which I buy and eat (or, let’s be honest, toss out) the same fruits and veggies week after week.
  • Being more aware of how much food costs. Food is a major category in our household budget, and I feel a good deal of guilt around that spending.

2016 revolutions: Walking

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, educator and author Parker Palmer has committed to five revolutions. I share his social justice concerns and am working for these causes in my own small ways. However, I have also overcommitted myself in my professional and personal lives, and so for 2016, I’m not just resolving to refocus and regroup, but to completely change the way I approach each day–but by taking very small steps.

In some cases, these steps are literal.

For years–including when I was an undergraduate at Grinnell College–I walked many miles every day, no matter the weather. In Grinnell, I’d walk from one end of town to the other, from soy to corn to alfalfa and back again. Walking was a little bit of exercise, yes, but its solitude, rhythm, and wordlessness also served as a form of meditation.

In hindsight, walking also kept me sane. By the time I arrived at Grinnell as a sophomore, I had been wrestling with depression for at least a decade, but I didn’t start taking antidepressants until almost four years after graduation. Instead, I walked. And walked and walked and walked. One summer I ran, but I found little joy in it other than being able to enjoy more ice cream treats at Dari Barn.

Somehow, though, I got out of the habit, other than taking the dogs for largely perfunctory jaunts around my immediate neighborhood.

I’ve been running through antidepressants more quickly in recent years. Each new pill becomes ineffective after a year or two, and each one feels less effective than its predecessor.

Accordingly, I’m recommitting to walking a lot.

That’s my only fitness-related resolution for 2016–to seek better mental health through movement. Anything else I happen to do fitness-wise is frosting on that cake.

Small steps. They add up.