Resolve to evolve in 2011 Evin tells her secret to keeping resolutions

Green Cotton
by Evin O’Keeffe

The beginning of the calendar year became our chance to instigate change in ourselves, but for many of us, it was easier said than done. Now it’s March, and my New Year’s resolutions have stuck. How do it do it? Here are some tips:

Realism & Balance
Set your goal, but keep it specific and attainable. When you reach it, set another goal a little higher. Each achievement will build your strength at self-improvement and will build your confidence as being in charge of your choices. If you want to lose weight, instead of just deciding you want to lose 30 pounds, choose to lose two to three pounds a month this year. It is healthier to lose weight slowly and you are building healthy habits as you do it. Just wanting to lose 30 pounds will eventually feel daunting and like a monolith in the face of incremental efforts.

Exercising should be scheduled with balance so no single muscle group is overused two days in a row. Consider setting the goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week if you are not accustomed to working out. This sets a reasonable goal and gives you the flexibility to choose how you sweat that time out. If you do not belong to a gym or have no fitness facilities, consider having workout videos or a yoga mat at home to ensure that even in inclement weather you can fulfill your desire to exercise. Though it can be hard, sometimes first thing in the morning is an ideal time slot because it steals the time from your day before the activities of the day take over. It also hinders the time you have to create excuses to not do it.

Planning & Flexibility
Decide how you will make your resolutions a reality with step-by-step planning or, at the very least, a protocol for decisions. Sharing your plan with trusted friends is a good way to add accountability to your plan, plus you may discover a buddy for the undertaking. Set a calendar or way to track your progress as well as your activities. Don’t think of this as homework so much as a way to see how much you’ve done. This will be especially important on days when you feel discouraged to reawaken your dedication to and enthusiasm for the resolution. For instance, office birthday parties always have cake. Decide ahead of time what you will do in those instances.

Consider only eating a small or half slice of cake, eating the cake but not the icing, or only eating homemade cake (not store-bought that is bound to have a thick layer of sugary icing). Don’t regret taking one bite of cake before discretely throwing it away. Dieting too strictly or exercising too much can be just as harmful in the long run if you fall into binge eating or injure yourself. Set your goal, determine a healthy and effective plan for meeting that goal, build structure into your schedule to support your efforts while remaining somewhat flexible to adjust to obstacles that may arise. If you miss a day or have one too many pieces of cake, forgive yourself and immediately return to your plan.

Enthusiasm, Patience
& Forgiveness

Choose something you truly want to change and build motivation into your planning to retain your initial enthusiasm. Sometimes, setting small rewards for milestones can help keep up your momentum. At the same time, it is important to be patient with yourself. Tracking progress will help you see small accomplishments along the way, such as increased energy, fitting into your skinny jeans, or sleeping better at night. Don’t be hard on yourself for setbacks. If you miss a day, don’t give up. Improvement starts with one change whether it happens every day or every other day. Forgive yourself for missing a workout or eating those cookies. If your efforts lapse, don’t be hard on yourself; simply start again. January 1st is not the only day to commence change. Whether it is making smarter food choices once you have children in the house or managing time better in your new job, you are the catalyst for change not the date you choose to start.

Choose Wisely
Is your resolution to improve yourself, better your community, or a bit of both? Here are some good habits to make a difference for both:
• Opt for fair-trade, cruelty-free, and locally-grown products at the market.
• Carry a foldable nylon or canvas tote in your purse or car to use instead of plastic bags at the grocery store.
• Switch to compact LED or fluorescent light bulbs, begin composting, and make other household changes to positively impact the environment.
• Remove yourself from catalogue and junk mailing lists; opt to visit their website instead.
• Refill your printer ink cartridge instead of replacing the entire cartridge.
• Recycle your newspapers, plastic bottles, and soda cans.

My Own Resolutions
I’ve followed these steps and am solidly sticking to my New Year’s resolutions–even in the middle of March. This year, my most challenging resolution was to bring more laughter and fun into my life. Author and motivational speaker Madan Kataria reminds us that “Children laugh over 300 times a day whereas adults laugh only 15 times. This is because children laugh unconditionally, while adults do so only if there is a cause.

This year, I am finding my belly laugh and putting it to good use again. Aligned with this is my intent to see things anew and not take experiences for granted. This year, I’m going to do things for the fun of it and not be ashamed to do so. Of course, there are other ways I want to improve myself, but I can’t do everything at once or else I may get overwhelmed. Why do we expect to have mastered our resolutions by the end of January? It is a process to being a better you, so the important thing is to TRY. Isn’t that all any of us can expect?

Here is a favorite healthy salad recipe that skips the lettuce.

Quick Lentil Salad for 2
400 grams of canned bijoux verts lentils
6 grape or mini plum tomatoes, chopped
½ cucumber, diced
8 fresh basil leaves in slivers
8 fresh mint leaves in slivers
6 chive straws, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame or Argan oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon rice wine or red wine vinegar (I used rice, but think red would have been richer)
1. Rinse the lentils and put them in a dish then stir in the tomatoes and cucumbers. Stir in almost all of the basil, mint, and chives, leaving a few of each for the sauce.
2. In a blender or food processor, puree the remaining herbs with lemon juice, sesame and olive oils, and the vinegar. Pour over the lentil mix and stir to blend. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Serve chilled with toasted pita or grilled flatbread. Also delicious with fish.