And Now: Kale Season is Upon Us

Merely the bystander in my last post, with the turn of the year Kale is set to take center stage all around us… at least for a few weeks. Personally, although I will be cooking overall healthier meals for us heading into January, since I won’t be playing the Holiday Indulgence Card, I’m not into using the New Year as an arbiter of asceticism and self punishment. (But maybe I am in luck since I actually LIKE kale and tofu?)

It’s not that I’m against fresh starts and goal setting – like most people who would spend their free time writing about fitness and (mostly…) healthy foods I love those things. However, I try to keep a realistic perspective on what in life is concrete and what is arbitrary. January first and the change in calendars are powerful but artificial turning points. The moment when you move from wishing you could do something to actually doing it is concrete – and personal – so it shouldn’t be hemmed in by external boundaries. I felt like jumping back into (drafts of) blog posts, logging my workouts, and being a gym first thing in the morning type again on the 31st, instead of the first – so no harm in being early.

The declaration of a new year does still have a powerful psychological impact though. I cleaned out my cabinets and fridge, planned healthy meals and devised a new weekly meal planning system, and completely scoured and overhauled my closet this week all without much conscious attention to the “16” but most certainly inspired by it.

Food, a focus during the holiday season, remains so – but our meals are taking a healthier bent again. The leftover wine from New Year’s Eve’s Fondue and Red-Wine-Chocolate-Cake night found its way into my favorite quick pasta sauce on some freshly made pasta courtesy of my new pasta roller attachment for my kitchen aid mixer (thanks mom!) Sure, lots of people would still argue that pasta (White flour! Gluten! CARBS, OH MY!) isn’t healthy but in the context of an active lifestyle I disagree, and in addition to the better taste and texture homemade also has the advantage of a little protein bonus (because the recipe usually requires several eggs). Bonus protein, as I like to call the “hidden” proteins in foods other than a slab of meat or tofu, or a shake, is my favorite… because one can eat only so many chicken breasts and veggie burgers. Besides, nothing says “I had time to myself today” like “I spent the time to make my own pasta instead of using the 5 boxes I probably have in the cabinet.” The sauce just TASTES like you must have had a ton of time on your hands. I upped the wine to more like a cup this time, used 2 cans of tomatoes, and included red pepper for some spice, as well as a generous sprinkling of oregano. The best thing about this “recipe” is that you really can’t go wrong with that combination of ingredients so throwing everything together without taking time to measure is totally fine. My favorite way to cook: the “some” method.

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Even workouts are looking up again, which is saying something since this has been the autumn of physical therapy, big time. Seeing PRs in workouts is more fun than just being happy each time I add a movement back but something is better than nothing! On the positive, I’m establishing regular warmup and stretching routines, a preventative maintenance routine, and re-igniting my relationship with my neglected foam roller. Do you skip warmup and stretching because you’re busy? Don’t be like me: STOP IT! Months of physical therapy cut into your workout time way more than a ten minute warmup. That one I am willing to draw a hard line on. Kale, however, is welcome only because I actually like it. Rather than resolving to deprive myself or take up new “healthy” habits I deplore, I choose to embrace the healthy habits I enjoy, minimize the actively harmful ones (ahem, skipping warmups?) and otherwise refuse to torture* myself because starting fresh should really be all about optimism and inclusion.

*This does not mean I am exempt from thrusters and burps.

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