Three down, nine to go!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Come January 1st, I've always been one to make New Year's resolutions. And as with many people, even my sincerest resolutions don't seem to last longer than a few weeks. This year, I decided to bite off a little less. My new approach: resolutions by the month.

Hoping for a Habit

The theory goes that forming a new habit takes about three weeks. So, I vowed to make monthly resolutions, lasting for only that particular month. I’m coming up with the resolutions as I go, whenever I spy a need for self-improvement. In some cases this is a kick start to help me move in the right direction (see January’s resolution: My Blackberry Diet), while in other cases, I’m hoping to maintain some of these new habits in the long-term.

Flossy February

Flossy February

In February, I flossed, every day. I know, I know, but sometimes I get lazy and fall down on that one, though it should be a no-brainer.

The trick was keeping the floss on the counter where I couldn’t miss it, as opposed to in my bathroom drawer.

I’m happy to report I’m flossing a lot more into March and April as a result. 

March Madness: no candy

March Madness

Last month was “no candy month”. You’d think that would be easy but I truly love candy! (If any candy company is looking for a spokesperson for chocolate-covered gummi bears, look no further.) But it was getting to the point where I was eating was licorice, Turkish delight, fruit berries and the like on a daily basis. By the handful. My favourite pal, the My Fitness Pal app, forced me to finally acknowledge that fat-free on the label often meant sugar and calorie-laden. 

The candy moratorium was actually a lot easier than I expected. I took the reverse approach to the floss: if I didn’t have candy around me, I simply didn’t eat it and eventually I even stopped thinking about it. (Full disclosure – I drew the line at dark chocolate. After all, why deprive myself of the health benefits associated with those flavonoids?)

April Flours (gluten-free, that is)

In addition to my candy fixation, wheat has been a mainstay of my diet since the dawn of Kristina. I never met a sandwich, pizza, cookie or plate of pasta I didn’t like.

A few years ago, I was struggling with some health issues and went to see a naturopath. After extensive testing, she came up with a long long list of things my body was supposedly sensitive to, and gluten, cow’s milk, corn, and soy were among them. At that time I tried to cut out the whole shebang, but I only lasted the aforementioned few weeks.

Now, three years later, I’m trying this again, but this time, focusing exclusively on just cutting out gluten. Gluten is a type of protein that’s found in many grains and cereals, like wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Those with Celiac disease suffer from severe gluten intolerance, but many others many also struggle with varying degrees of gluten sensitivity.

I’m just a week into April’s program and I’m already feeling, well, lighter. I had a particularly big dinner recently and was very full afterwards, but not in that uncomfortable way a big plate of pasta can make me feel.

I’m pleasantly surprised by the breadth of gluten-free products on the market today, from crackers to pasta to baked goods like bread. I’m especially enjoying my buckwheat waffles and Panne Rizo’s Gramma’s Cinnamon Dots. Neither product has that dense texture often associated with gluten-free treats.

Test batch of gluten-free cookies

I’m still looking for a good loaf of bread though; I find the rice flour ones too heavy. 

I’m also scouring the web and magazine stands for recipes. I made a batch of cookies inspired by a recipe sent to us on Twitter. And I’ve uncovered how big the gluten-free community really is. We’ll definitely have to add a gluten-free cookbook to a subsequent season of Grocery Bag.

On the negative side, gluten does sneak into some unlikely foods, so you have to be vigilant. I thought I was safe having sushi, only to realize that soy sauce has gluten in it. I’m switching to Tamari sauce instead. Oats are also tricky. Long story short, best to buy those specifically labelled “gluten-free”. (Some oats can be contaminated if they’re processed near other gluten grains, like wheat and barley. Plus, oats do contain a protein called Avenin that some with Celiac disease could be sensitive to.)

May…More Madness?

Next month, a really difficult resolution looms: one hour of sweat-inducing exercise every day. I better load up on gluten-free treats in preparation.

Good Habits by the Month!

My monthly resolutions are turning out to be a great way to kick start some healthier habits. Don’t wait til 2012 to start your own plan when a new month is just around the corner.

I challenge our fans and followers to take up their own monthly resolution and write in about them. I need some more ideas for the latter part of the year!



Join the conversation:

On 04 8, 2011 at 09:15:02 AM, Sarah C. said:

I love this idea! By the end of the year you will probably be a healthier person as most of the habits will likely stick. I might try a version of this myself!

On 04 8, 2011 at 09:26:45 AM, Lydia S. said:

Hi, let me just say I have always loved your shows. I am also wheat sensitive too and found a great bread on Vancouver Island in a shop called Silly Yak(get it??). The place is in a cute little town called Qualicum Beach. They have a website here: www.seniors101.ca/silly-yak.html As I no longer live there I miss the bread. They have made their own recipe. You can even buy a bag of the mix that will make bread right in your breadmaker. Yum! Hope you like it 🙂

On 04 8, 2011 at 09:29:37 AM, Sue B. said:

Kristina, great idea to focus on one habit/intention per month! Anything is doable when you know it’s only for a set period of time vs forEVER! That’s probably why those eating plans/diets where you eat really healthy for 6 days and then eat whatever you want on the 7th are popular. As for your May intention… I recently read on Dr. Mercola’s site (wasn’t sure if inserting a link to the article was ok…) that 20 min. of interval training provided the same (or better) benefits than longer sessions of aerobic training. So… an hour a day/seven days a week of sweat-inducing exercise – if of the aerobic nature – may not be as beneficial as a mix of aerobic, anaerobic (20 min), strength training, core exercises and stretching. (Yoga is a great for the last two.)

On 04 8, 2011 at 10:06:17 AM, Roberta B. said:

That is the best idea for New’s Years resolutions I’ve ever heard of! Here is an excellent gluten-free cookie recipe: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/nikkis-healthy-cookies-recipe.html. Geez, I should join you in your challenge. Of course then you would have to fill me in on the other 8 months. I really like your idea. Maybe I’ll make my own list!

On 04 8, 2011 at 01:10:49 PM, Sue B. said:

My current resolution (started mid-March) is no dairy. I love cheese and yogurt! Of course two Italian restaurants with amazing sounding pizza opened in Vancouver around the time of my resolution! How the universe likes to test our resolve! Plus so many vegetarian recipes include yogurt or cheese. Ughh…. Finally discovered a vegan ‘cheese-like’ sauce made with Brewer’s Yeast – which was interesting. Just need to play with the spices. I suspect a no gluten resolution would be beneficial as well…. as would getting to bed no later than 11 pm, meditating etc.

On 04 8, 2011 at 01:23:33 PM, judy r. said:

How about a cash-only month? A month where you pay cash for everything and avoid putting any new purchases on your credit card. (I guess if you already have monthly payments coming out on your credit card, those could be exempt.)

On 04 8, 2011 at 05:32:20 PM, Roberta B. said:

@Judy CASH ONLY! Wow! That would be quite eye-opening! I’ll add it to my list. At this rate, I’m pretty sure I’ll have monthly resolutions until way past 2014… (I have a lot of self-improvement ideas).

On 04 9, 2011 at 09:44:23 AM, Kristina Matisic said:

Great ideas! I need a few more for my list. Care to share more of yours, Roberta?

On 04 9, 2011 at 10:14:28 AM, Dawn L. said:

Hi. I think it would be a great idea to review a gluten free cookbook. Just started myself going gluten free. How I miss bread and pizza.

On 04 11, 2011 at 11:50:32 AM, Roberta B. said:

Hi Kristina, To name a few… 1) Don’t skip the 10 minutes of meditation at the end of my nightly yoga session. 2) No eating in front of the TV. 3) No sugar (gasp). 4) No cream in my coffee (ouch). 5) Perhaps drink less coffee (with a pre-determined specific amount before the month starts). 6) No credit card purchases (with the exception of emergencies – not “OMIGOD look at those shoes!”–type emergencies, but “the car just broke down”-type emergencies). 7) Half-hour interval cardio a day. 8) Read French for ½ hour a day. 9) Eat sitting down, consciously paying attention to the meal or food on the table, without performing any other distracting tasks (working, reading, typing…). 10) No white flour. 11) No cheese. I may remove this one. Number 3 and 4 are bad enough, but to give up cheese. I’m not that much of a masochist. 12) Attack needless worry with some kind of positive coping strategy (I have to work on a more concrete way to fix or improve on this nasty habit I have). I have other little ideas related to my kids, hobbies, and spending more time with my friends, but they are a work in progress. It’s fun thinking of all the things I can add to the list! And 4 weeks seems much easier to envision than a whole year of change.

On 04 11, 2011 at 12:12:12 PM, Sue B. said:

@Roberta – great list of possible monthly resolutions. As for #12 – here are two options: 1.Use ‘The Work’ process by Byron Katie (in ‘the work’ section of her site). It is a deceptively simple process that helps us question our thoughts to see if they’re true or if we’re adding meaning to something that was/wasn’t said or done etc. Adding meaning usually causes stress. 2. Make an appointment in your daytimer (or whatever you use to remind yourself of appointments etc.) to revisit whatever it is you’re needlessly worrying about in one week. If you’re still worrying about it at that point, then take action to resolve it. Chances are it’ll no longer be a worry.

On 04 12, 2011 at 05:37:38 AM, Roberta B. said:

Thank you Sue! I will check it out. Sounds like a plan for my worry-work month!

On 04 14, 2011 at 08:55:06 AM, Kristina Matisic said:

I’m seriously considering no added sugar month. (Except for the 1/4 tsp I put in my coffee to cut some of the bitterness.) This month I’m noticing I’m filling my wheat cravings – for things like bread and pastry – with sugar. Albeit gluten-free sugar products! Did you know that Whole Foods has some really good dark chocolate covered ginger in the bulk section? (See what I mean?)

On 04 14, 2011 at 02:32:47 PM, Sue B. said:

Kristina – you could go caffeine-free and then no need for 1/4 tsp sugar. As if, right?! Honey or even maple syrup would be better than sugar – though I have no idea how they’d taste in coffee. Are you allowed gluten-free bread or pasta? They may help with the cravings as you still get to eat bread. Those gluten-free labels at Whole Foods are helpful! Plus there’s gluten-free bakery products at Choices Rice Bakery on 16th (down the street from the Choices store).

On 04 15, 2011 at 08:17:15 AM, Roberta B. said:

Kristina, last time I gave up sugar I got completely addicted to potato chips. You are going to need some “fine print” on the no-sugar month. No replacing said sugar-laden food with unhealthy (salt/fat-laden) food!! @Sue, no caffeine AND no sugar? Yikes…

On 04 19, 2011 at 02:20:09 PM, Kristina Matisic said:

Roberta, I hear you. We often need even one little vice to get through the day. (Today it seems to be Purdy’s peanut butter fingers, only 100 calories for one.) Sue, you’re hard-core! I have to say I’m not up for giving up coffee. Mainly because I’m not convinced a cup or two a day is bad for me. Workout month is still in the lead for May. Just in time for summer vacation! Perhaps not an HOUR every day, I must have been candy deprived when I wrote that. But perhaps a minimum of half an hour, as that’s about as long as I can stand to run. Slow meandering walks with my dog aren’t going to count, though I am enjoying the cherry blossoms.

On 04 19, 2011 at 06:29:41 PM, judy r. said:

I just thought of another one based on the A&K Spring Clean Out newsletter from today. Paper towel-free month! I’ve often wondered if I could go without paper towels because I just reach for them automatically. Lately I’ve been thinking I really should be using a cloth instead and rinsing it well (with vinegar for especially germy clean-ups).

On 04 21, 2011 at 11:26:01 AM, Roberta B. said:

@Kristina, good luck with your workouts in May! I’m starting with those as well (although I’m going for a range of 30-60 minutes). I think slow meandering walks are also good for you – albeit for different reasons. @Judy, good idea (again). Environmentally-friendly goals. Nice. I think I can also add bringing my travel mug to the café instead of using the paper cups. That wouldn’t even require that much effort. I would just have to make sure I bring it with me.

On 04 23, 2011 at 11:05:01 AM, Karen B. said:

Remember to include strength training in your workouts a few times a week – it’s very important for women! Also, for ideas for monthly resolutions, you might want to check out The Happiness Project, http://www.happiness-project.com/.

On 04 25, 2011 at 09:25:25 AM, Sue B. said:

Kristina – it’s only hard core to quit coffee if one actually drinks coffee. Hard core is taking on 2 or 3 habits or running every single day! Even marathoners have a rest day from running! I agree with @KarenB – throw in some strength training. You’ll never need to ask Anna to open a jar again! Though you do loosen them for her right?! @JudyR – good one to go with cloth instead of paper towels.

On 04 27, 2011 at 04:01:32 PM, Kristina Matisic said:

Don’t worry, strength training was always part of the plan, would never dream of running six or seven days a week! I mentioned running above as just one of the possible activities, and I can only run about 30 minutes at that. I’m hoping to do my gym workouts (weights and interval training) three days a week, yoga or daily method 2-3 times and maybe one day of jogging. I’m thinking I’ll aim for six days a week and one day of rest.

On 04 29, 2011 at 10:16:32 AM, Sue B. said:

And on the 7th day she took slow meandering walks with her dog… Sounds like a good plan Kristina. In May, I’m going to meditate for at least 10 min. a day. What’s everyone else going to do?

On 05 3, 2011 at 11:31:55 AM, Amanda C. said:

I worked with a Dietitian and a Naturopath Doctor and together we are comprising healthy recipes that are suitable for gluten free, dairy free, egg free etc…there are soo many alternatives to eating healthy yummy meals.


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