Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011: A year of multiple resolutions

I've already told you about my resolution to use my slow cooker at least once a week for the entire year. So far, so good. Saturday's Slow Cooker Pork Roast was a hit.  I modified a pork roast recipe that I use every year on New Year's Day to make it work for a slow cooker, and it turned out to be delicious.

Like millions of other people across the world, I have also made a health-related resolution for the year.  I haven't resolved to lose a certain amount of weight, or to exercise a certain number of days per week.  My resolution is a bit more simple: to be conscious of my choices.  My food choices and my fitness choices.  I know how to eat, and cook, healthfully, and so that's not really my problem (though the choices I make when eating out leave a little to be desired).  Choosing to make time for exercise, though, is one of my greatest struggles.  I've spent enough of my life as an athlete to know that all I have to do is exercise regularly, and I can eat (almost) anything I want, in moderation. The problem, of course, is that I no longer have three-hour soccer practices 6 days a week.  Instead, I have a full-time job, commitments as a member of a women's group in my town, and friends that I don't spend all day with at school or soccer practice.  Instead, I have to schedule time with them in the evenings, too.  On top of all that, I have Winnie, Winnie's dad, and our home to care for.  Not that Winnie's dad needs a lot of caring for, but you know what I mean--grocery shopping, errands, the occasional bit of housework, laundry, etc. can take up all weekend, and several weekday lunch hours, if I let it. 

If I look back over my 2010 calendars, it would be obvious that I did not make exercise or my health a routine priority. Sure, I played soccer once a week, but it is a recreational league and we often go out for drinks and snacks after the games, so you can't really count those games as "exercise".  I didn't make time for exercise in 2010.  Or, I made the time, and then wasted it doing something else.  No more of that this year. 

Rather than set some unreasonably high expectations for my "new" exercise routine or spend money on a gym membership, I've decided to follow a 9-week "Couch to 5k" program.  The premise of the program is pretty simple: three workouts each week, starting off slow with a combination of walking and jogging, and working up over nine weeks to running a 5k (3.1 miles).   This program is just my speed.  I can use the track at the end of my street, which is safe and well-lit enough to use after dark.  Plus, it allows me to exercise on my schedule.   I've learned over the years that trying to exercise before work just does not work for me.  I hit the snooze button too many times and end up feeling like I have sabotaged my day before it even begins. Technically, exercising right when I get home from work would be ideal.  But, by the time 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. rolls around, my stomach is rumbling and Winnie's dad is hungry, too.  So, after dinner works best.  I tend to stay up most nights, until at least 11:00 p.m., so even if I hit the track as late at 10:00, I can get in a workout and still have time to shower and decompress before going to bed.  So, my plan is two weekday, late night workouts and one weekend workout that I'll fit in during the day or evening, depending on my other plans for the weekend.  Simple enough, in theory.
To help me stay accountable, and on track, I've joined a friend's fitness challenge.  The scary part of the challenge is already over: taking my measurements, weight, and "before" pictures, and submitting them to her, in confidence, along with the measly fee of $10 to participate. Then, each week for the next ten weeks, I will e-mail her my updated figures.  After ten weeks, she'll award prizes for largest percentage weight loss, most inches lost, and most miles logged.  Eight weeks from now, I have to attend a charity event that requires a fancy dress, and thus, bare arms.  I'm hopeful that some success in the challenge and the Couch to 5k program will translate into less discomfort at the thought of bare arms.  I hate going sleeveless more than anything--except maybe taking "before" pictures wearing a bathing suit in the dead of pale-skin winter!

In the coming weeks, I hope to be able to report that I've followed the Couch to 5k Program and am on track to run a 5k this spring.  I'll share my progress, and challenges, with you along the way.

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