Well, welcome to 2014—and to this blog. My apologies, especially to those who check in regularly, that I haven’t posted for a while. Thanks for sticking with me. To those who just found the blog, I’m happy to have you along for the ride.
As I wrote in the early days of this blog with a post called, “You Say You Want a Resolution” I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but many people do. And by now (mid-January) some of that resolve may be waning. If it hasn’t, good for you. If it has, you’re not alone. Take comfort that you tried—and you can try again. It all has to do with breaking bad habits and setting better ones.
Check out the January 2 episode of CBC’s Doc Zone for more about habits—why it’s so hard to break them—and why it pays off to keep trying to set those new ones.
I don’t think of myself as a creature of habit but I seem to have some anyway. One involves chocolate, or really anything sweet–and my habit of wanting to eat it too often rather than as the occasional treat it should be. My friend, Manitoba author Doreen Pendgracs has done a lot of research about chocolate for her book, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate.
Doreen, or as I like to call her, the “Queen of Chocolate,” will tell you that a daily dose of a small piece of really good dark chocolate is actually very good for you–and there is research to back that up, which she outlines in the book. The problem is just sticking to that small piece—or even two three pieces of that chocolate. If I could do that, then I might not want the other sweets that make it hard to keep up with trying to set, not break, another habit: daily exercise. I find too many excuses not to work off those calories that come from me liking to bake–and eating what I bake.
I’ve found two solutions to this dilemma that I hope will help. I’ve stopped using refined sugar—so my baked treats are not as sweet. (I use agave syrup, coconut sugar, organic honey, or maple syrup.) The other solution is an exercise program called Essentrics. I started doing this in September. It’s fun, and there are good results. I find I sit and stand taller and while I may not have lost any weight, my clothes definitely fit better and I feel healthier. So there is incentive to keep going.
Here are some of the videos from the program founders Miranda Essmonde-White and her daughter Sahra. I’ve been working with friends at the 55 Plus Activity Centre in Napanee using these exercises. The centre’s Activity Co-ordinator, Tricia Cammaart, who also co-owns Zeal Health and Fitness Studio (also in Napanee,) is a great leader and trainer. We have a lot of fun in our groups, and we are noticing that the hard work is having a positive effect on our health and appearance!
So while I may not make any resolutions, there are some habits that I will try and cultivate this year. Putting it that way, there really isn’t anything I can “break”—only some things that I hope will get better.
If you need some “bibliotherapy” to help you keep those resolutions or habits, you can check out your local library, bookstore, or even the grocery store for books that offer all kinds of advice on diets, exercise, and changing those habits. Here’s a sample from my local grocery’s bookshelves.
I am a big believer in getting whatever help and support you need, and if one of these books helps—that’s great. Just remember that any diet or exercise plan will work in the short term—it’s the longer haul that you have to think about if you want to make those new habits permanent. At least that’s the advice I get from Tricia–and from my doctor.
Here’s to making 2014 healthy and happy for everyone. Whether you make resolutions or not, I hope you have some ways to make this a great year and you’ll share your ideas with us.
My thanks to my husband Jim Peets for the wonderful new photo on the blog, and for his never-ending support for all that I do!