Sunday, January 6, 2013

Energize: Be active, eat smart. Who knew?

I've written about the often-dreary month of November in Minnesota and how it saps my spirit and stamina. The days grow markedly shorter, the skies are leaden along with most of the landscape, and my seasonal affect disorder kicks in.

By December, days are even shorter but most days the sun shines brightly in a blue sky and reflects off a blanket of snow. The landscape glows softly with taupes and browns instead of gray. My spirits lift, and my attention turns to Christmas preparations.

This year, though I was enthusiastic about Christmas, and shopping, and decorating, my stamina didn't keep up with my inspiration. I had, in fact, become very sedentary over the past few months. Looking back, the trend was obvious. A broken leg last summer left me less active than usual. When Augie started kindergarten in September, ViMae and I settled into a routine of crafts, books, and role-playing. Occasionally we danced, ballet-style, but gone were most of the marching, running, climbing, crawling, rolling, high-energy activities instigated by our energetic boy. In November, my expectations are low, but that was masking something else.

In mid-December I realized I had little energy because I was sitting around too much.

So that was going to be my New Year's resolution: Move. Be Active. Energize. I was not going to use the term exercise, because it doesn't sound like fun and I knew it wouldn't motivate me. Fortunately, I had signed up for tap lessons, and I knew that not only would I practice but I would want to be toned and strong. Perfect!

Cinnamon rolls, potica, almond tea bread...yum!
Then on Christmas Eve I put myself into what I think of as a food coma. I started with a HoHo peppermint dark-chocolate mocha from Caribou Coffee (a regional chain coming soon to a neighborhood near you). While wrapping gifts I ate candied pecans, peppermint bark, Christmas cookies, chocolate. Peter and I began Christmas morning with holiday breads including Abby's to-die-for frosted cinnamon rolls, washed down with rich hot chocolate. Meals were not a her home Abby served up balanced, healthy, and delicious dinners both days. But at home I was indulging in too much Christmas cheer.

My simple New Year's initiative boils down to one word: Energize! But it has two components, movement and eating right. I've cut way down on the sweets and breads, and I've been getting a bit of exercise (shudder) by clearing snow from our sidewalks and driveway. Tap class was to start next week, and I've just learned it's canceled because I was the only student. But I'm going to take a few private lessons and look for another class, as well as schedule yoga and other activities instead of just leaving them to chance.

My motivators, leaving Santa a snack
It was all too easy to slip into bad habits without even noticing. I'm spelling it out (or spilling it) here to keep myself aware. Life is making precious few demands of me, but it offers wonderful opportunities, including two fabulous grandchildren. If I want to feel better, have more stamina, and just maybe stay active longer in life, I'd best make some demands of myself!


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