Not a New Years resolution but a New Life resolution, ideas needed.
January 10, 2014 6:01 AM   Subscribe

I am in a period where I want to change my life by introducing small steps that I can build upon. This covers my diet, my home, my free time and my relationships. I'd love to get peoples suggestions of changes I can add to my list and how best to go about it.

In September 2012 I ended up in a relationship that would eventually lead to me feeling like I was trapped in a funhouse for almost a year. I'm finally coming out of the other side and am much happier. However there are lots of things that I need to address. These include my eating habbits, doing my hobbies, getting out and about more etc.

Before the relationship I was incredibly content and busy. Mondays was meditation group, Tuesday was art class, Wednesday was Zumba, Thursday was often swimming, every other Friday was a riding lesson and at the weekends I'd clean the house and often do bulk batches of lovely food. During the last year I've found myself doing a lot less. I still do meditation group and am starting art class in February. However I'm not currently exercising and want ideas of things I can do at home that are fun to start me back on to the road to fitness.

I've also put on a fair amount of weight. I'd lost 35 pounds and maintained that for 4 years. However due to a shoulder and knee injury preventing me from exercising as much, discovering a love of food and being in a tumultuous relationship that triggered comfort eating (we shared lots of foodie experiences and opted for easy, cheap and large ready meals because I was too tired to cook when we got home) I've put on 21 pounds. I'm finding it hard to lose weight the way I did before due to the comfort eating and really enjoying food now.

When I first lost weight it was easy to cut calories as I saw food as a chore. Now I love Gorgonzola, pasta, pepperoni, chorizzo, mushrooms etc. I know how to cook healthy food that I like but it's getting into doing it that I'm struggling with. I need some ideas for quick and easy meals or snack that are satisfying but don't involve green veg, salads or fish. The exceptions are tinned tuna, peas and spinach that I'm trying to introduce into my diet. I already use wholemeal pasta, black rice, wholmean English muffins, light mayo and olive oil. I've just discovered that I can do a quick and easy breakfast for the weekend by microwaving an egg so I don't need any oil to fry it in.

I need suggestions to get me back into my kitchen so that eventually I'll spend more time in there. As I've found when I spend longer in there I start to dance to music, do some weights and just generally move about more. I've started to streamline my kitchen to make cleaning easier and I can watch TV in there so it's no longer a choice between TV or cooking.

I've also just turned my exercise bike into a desk. So now I can browse the internet and do some writing while peddling. I'm also going to sort out my back bedroom and get a second desk in there so I can invite friends round to do art or writing evenings. I want to get back into meditating each day but am struggling to remember to do it.

So I'm looking for suggestions that don't take much effort or time but that combined with other changes will help to make me more pro active and procrastinate less. For example I read on here a suggestion to make the bed every morning. I've been doing this for over a month now and it's wonderful. It makes me feel better, it's a good start to the day and it's wonderful going to bed and seeing the bed made and ready for me to jump into. I've since treated myself to a new duvet cover, bed and duvet. So it's this sort of simple thing that makes a big difference that I want to keep doing. But I'm struggling to think of lots of little things to do.

So what are your suggestions for small life hacks relating to diet, exercise, relationships (of any kind) and banashing procrastination?
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I can't personally vouch for it, but several people I trust have been singing the praises of the new book One Simple Change, which seems like it might include the kind of advice you're looking for.
posted by hungrybruno at 6:16 AM on January 10, 2014

If you're like me, strict rules seem easier to follow than general inclinations.

Here's my best two that keep me eating better:

1. Wheat only allowed once per day
This cuts down on the likelihood that I will gorge on empty carbs and/or cake. I'm generally inclined to gorge on wheaty things. Replace it with better snacks, and other grains - win.

2. Only allowed refined sugar in home-made things (alcohol excepted, I'm human)
I don't always manage this one, but I think refined sugar is worse for us than we realise, and this helps me try and limit it to where it's worthwhile
posted by greenish at 6:19 AM on January 10, 2014

ideas of things I can do at home that are fun to start me back on to the road to fitness.

Something small like the 30 Day Plank Challenge could be a fun way to get motivated, and it takes less than 5 mins each day.

Yoga and pilates can also both be done at home. I hear excellent things about Do Yoga With Me (free) and there are many pilates videos out there to choose from. You could also try a jogging program (such as this one) that requires just 30 mins of your time, 6 days/week.

ideas for quick and easy meals or snack that are satisfying but don't involve green veg, salads or fish

Any reason in particular you're looking to avoid green veggies? Might be worth learning how to cook them in a way you like (most vegetables can be roasted at 400F for about 20 mins, and the results are delicious). I say this not to be your mother ("Eat your vegetables, honey!") but because in my experience a diet rich in veggies leads one to just feel better in general, giving you the energy to take on many different activities. YMMV of course.

But I'm struggling to think of lots of little things to do.

I do my cleaning bit-by-bit - mopping on Sundays, watering plants on Saturdays, cleaning the toilet on Thursdays, etc. The result is a much neater home with much less effort expended on a daily basis.

I also schedule much of my time, even my free time. I try to block off an hour or two every day that is just "for me." Takes almost no time but helps me prioritize spending time doing things that make me really happy.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:24 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Congrats on those positive changes you are already making!

I'm wondering why you don't want any green veg or salads or fish? Do you already enough recipes, do you think they are unhealthy, or you just don't like them? I can't quite tell.

Well, this got longer than I intended so here's the short version:

Eating - Use PaleoPlan (even if you're not stricly paleo - I'm not, I like cheese too much, but it really helped to cut out that bread and pasta, i don't even really miss it). It takes away a lot of stress about deciding what to eat and making a list and all that, which is very hard when cooking for one.

Fitness - Get a trainer and don't overcommit yourself so you don't get burned out. Get familiar with good form and the equipment, one small step at a time.

Relationships - To thine own self be true. Baggage Reclaim will help you do that.

Eating and Cooking
I've posted on here before about going quasi-Paleo and using to help me get into a better place with healthy eating. They provide a nice meal plan that's meant for two people and takes into account leftovers. The shopping list for the week has a letter that matches each recipe so you can reduce quantity for what you don't need that week. I've been cooking for one for quite some time and just cross out a few things on the meal planner I'm not going to make that week and it works out pretty well. You can get a sample meal plan and shopping list plus they have a trial period. It was well worth the $10 a month. I only used it for a bout a year, but I still make many of the recipes, altho I may add cheese sometimes. It's helped do low-carb in a healthy way so that I get a lot of the fats and oils that help you feel full but without the carb crash of a big nice bagel.

I may still get an egg sandwich at the work cafeteria most days, but I bring my lunch and eat dinner at home. Weekends I eat out and don't worry about it too much because I eat pretty well rest of the week. And also because I exercise a lot more than I used to.

Getting in Shape

As for getting in shape, I got a trainer back in July. I told myself I only had to go 2 days a week, 30 min each time. I knew if I went all gungho I'd get tired out. In fact, I didn't even let myself go to gym the other days for the first month because I didn't want to burn out.

I now go about 3-5 times a week for about 45 min, depending on how much time I have. I only see the trainer once a week, if at all, and then it's mostly to ask questions about new exercises I'm doing or because I've been slacking (hello holidays!) and really need to have a hard workout. Yes personal training is expensive, but I feel so much better about myself and I sleep better and feel better and I feel it was (and is) an investment in myself.

I also have book I got a long time ago by Women's Health called Big Book of Exercises. It shows variations and correct form divided up by muscle group. There are workout plans at the back. Now that I've had a trainer, I feel more confident in doing these exercises by myself because I'm not worried I'm doing them wrong and will hurt myself, plus I'm familiar with the equiment.

Read through the posts on Baggage Reclaim. She is so right. Wish I had found that years ago.

Best of luck to you in this new year and your new life :)
posted by sio42 at 6:31 AM on January 10, 2014

I'm on my ninth day of a two-week vegan experiment.

Wait, don't hang up.

I really love food (my AskMe history has some examples of this) and let me tell you, trying out veganism has been a blast. I've learned all these new things that I hadn't tried before, stuff that's genuinely good independent of whether it's vegan or not. I've tried lots of southeast asian things and learned a bunch of new ways to prepare tofu. I've also done things like polenta and black bean enchiladas. Because I had to be careful of protein count (I run a lot and I get weird if I don't eat enough) I got to go out to Whole Foods and buy all these nice seasoned nuts and seeds and things. I made a salad nicoise type thing with garbanzos and potatoes. I ate pasta with marinara sauce without cheese on it, and found out it's a completely different thing -- not less-than, just different.

It has been really fun to experiment.

I just did it because I am an intermittent vegetarian, but also I wanted to try something new and it's January and I'm bored and depressed, and I find constraints really inspiring and invigorating. It's a problem solving exercise.

I have dropped a little weight, but that wasn't the intent.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:59 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the great answers so far. I should have said that I'm not a fan of anything from the cabbage family. I'm a super taster so find the taste very unpalatable. I'm going to try to introduce them into my diet over time. However it's going to take time to get there. I keep trying stuff like cauliflower etc. I can now eat a bit of cauliflower cheese, steamed broccoli and I had spinach in a tart the other week which I liked. As for fish I like cod, pollock, haddock and basa. So white fish with no bones and a mild taste. I can now eat tinned tuna but I mask the flavour with some spices and sauce then put it on a wholemeal muffin topped with cheese.

I used to be a very finicky eater. At one point my idea of a Sunday roast was yorkshire puddings and gravy. I always loved peas and carrots but hated anything else. I can now eat sweet potatoe, parsnips, butternut squash, onion, mushrooms, suede and leeks. I can eat tomotos as long as they're cooked and soft, and I'm able to stomach dry grilled courgets and green beans.

I know that with me there's no point forcing myself to eat something I don't like. But if I'm in the mood to try something new then I'm much more likely to enjoy it. I probably should have asked for any recipes that mask the flavour of green veggies as well ready for me to try in the future. But at the moment I want something really tasty but healthy that encourages me to get back in the kitchen. For instance today I had left over pork, new potaoes and some parmesan in a tomato and garlic sauce. While I was cooking it I was listening to music and belly dancing. So getting back in the kitchen with tasty new ideas to try will help with both diet and exercise.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 7:18 AM on January 10, 2014

Come join the MeFi(t) team on Health Month. (Recent MeTa.)

My first rule was to make the bed. I pegged it to waiting for the shower to heat up. Now I also have rules about exercise, listing grateful things, and being social. Health Month helps build positive habits through gamification.
posted by editorgrrl at 8:10 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am going through a big life change right now (divorce), and the biggest thing that helped me has been doing my hair every day. I know it sounds silly, but it makes a big difference in my self esteem, and I have been adding on little things each week (wearing lipstick, making the bed in the morning, keeping good wine in the house).

I think if you start doing something nice for yourself each day - something either substantial like getting in some exercise, or frivolous like a really good haircut, you'll start to feel better every day.

As far as food, I am trying to eat smaller amounts of better food. So instead of a cheeseburger and fries that I grab on my way home from work, I have some of my favorite cheese and prosciutto in the fridge and I make myself a nice platter with some fresh bread and vegetables.
posted by elvissa at 8:59 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

I do three to five minutes of exercise each morning. Body weight exercises are zero friction and can be as easy or hard as you like. I find if I do it first thing I am usually too dopey to procrastinate, like I would later in the day.
posted by danteGideon at 9:12 AM on January 10, 2014

About the meals/weight/nutrition: plan your meals and make a lot of food on the weekend. I learned a lot from WeightWatchers but you can also gets lots of food-diet-exercise ideas from places like Sparkpeople.

For most people, if I could only recommend one change, it would be to get rid of TV for a while. However, it sounds like you are an out-and-about active person already.

In general, I would try to prioritize changes. Trying to change many things at once is difficult.
posted by PickeringPete at 10:27 AM on January 10, 2014

An exercise that can make a difference in just a few minutes is jumping rope.

I am also trying to make a habit of meditation. I think what helps me is if I do it at the same point in my routine every day, such as after eating breakfast.
posted by maurreen at 3:10 PM on January 10, 2014

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