As you may recall2, last year some fine Guelphites put out a challenge to anyone who is awesome enough to take up said challenge. And that challenge is to set a small, but challenging, health-related goal for the month of May. And then tell people about it – because research shows that publicly stating your goals makes it more likely that you’ll stick to them. Last year, my challenges were to (a) eat breakfast every day3 and (b) do some kind of exercise every day4, as those were two things I’d found I’d fallen out of the habit of doing when I turned my life all topsy-turvy by taking on a part-time MBA program in addition to my full-time job. I’m happy to report that those habits seem to have stuck with me, as I am in a routine of eating breakfast most days and am actually on day 121 of consecutive days of doing some kind of physical activity5!.
For this year’s May Health Challenge, I decided to again look at what bad habits I’ve fallen into lately – and thus come up with an area where I can work on re-establishing a healthy routine6 and one thing immediately came to mind: I haven’t been making dinners at home very much recently. And when I do, they have more often than not been of the quick – and not quite as healthy – variety. In fact, reading Mark’s7 blog posting about his May Health Challenge, I saw this statement which pretty much sums up my dining of late:
I eat out because of convenience (laziness), a perceived lack of time (poor planning), or as a social event (I have good friends).
The thing is – I actually love to cook! I love to take fresh ingredients, chop them, mix them, season them, and make them into a feast of deliciousness! I like to put on some music and dance around the kitchen as I do so. On occasion, I even do so with a nice glass of wine. But lately I’ve just not been that organized, so even if I do feel like cooking something, I don’t have any of the things I need to cook something wonderful – and that is if I can come up with an idea of what I want to cook. When I’m busy – as I have been at work and school for more months now than I can even count – I tend to feel overwhelmed by end of the day that making even the smallest choice seems impossible. What should I have for dinner? I have no idea. I’ve already made 100,000 decisions today and I’m all out of decision-making capacity!
Happily, I know exactly the fix for this problem of mine: meal planning. If I actually sit down on, say, Sunday evening, and plan out my meals for the week, I can then (a) not have to make last minute dinner decisions and (b) plan out my grocery shopping accordingly, so I have everything I need when I need it, thus resulting in a less stressed out and more healthily fed Dr. Beth.
Here’s my plan for this week – since May 1 is Wednesday, I figured I’d get a head start and include this whole week:
Friday I’ve marked in a “school night”, since I have class on Friday and will go out for dinner with classmates8. My challenge isn’t that I have to cook for myself every day, just that I have to have planned my meals. I think that even just being more thoughtful about making a conscious decision about what I’m doing for my meals will help me be a little more aware of what I’m eating, rather than just kind of going along not paying much attention and suddenly realizing I’ve eaten at restaurants more than half the days in a month.
You’ve probably also noticed that I haven’t made a plan for Sunday just yet. I actually just sat down and planned out the other nights tonight, in preparation for this blog posting, and kind of ran out of steam. I’m taking suggestions if anyone has any good ideas!
For my second May Health Challenge, I’m going to do something that doesn’t, at first glance, sound like it has anything to do with health. I’m going to pick my outfits for the week on Sunday night, when I do my meal planning. “But what could this possibly have to do with health?” you ask? For me, it’s about my mental health. I find that on weeks when I pick out my outfits for the week and line them up in my closet so that each morning I can just grab an outfit and put it on, I feel so much better than weeks when every day I get up in the morning, am completely indecisive about what I want to wear, scramble around to find a shirt that goes with the skirt I finally picked, then am not able to find the sweater that goes with that outfit9, and on it goes. When I can just grab and outfit and go, I find I get to work feeling more relaxed/less frazzled and ready to take on the day!
So there you have it – my May Health Challenges! What are you going to challenge yourself to do this May?
- Not to mention January through March. [↩]
- “May” recall! Get it?? I slay me! [↩]
- Which I accomplished. [↩]
- Which I managed to do 26 out of the 30 days of the challenge – as the 31st was reserved for celebrating! [↩]
- As part of 101 things to do list to do some kind of physical activity every day for a year! [↩]
- This is actually a good time to set up a new routine, as I recently broke up with boyfriend, so all my routines that I’d established over the last ~a year we’d been living together are gone anyway. Yeah, I just revealed my breakup in a footnote. I’m a heartless bastard. Or one who doesn’t like talking about this stuff on my blog. The jury is still out. [↩]
- Mark being one of the aforementioned Guelphites. [↩]
- Going out for meals on class weekends is actually something that I really enjoy – it’s a chance to socialize with my classmates. And in an intense program like ours, the support and camaraderie really does help you get through. [↩]
- My office is freezing, so I always have to have a sweater. [↩]