Welcome to 2018! Our contributor Summer Miller is back to share her meal plans for the month of January. To start us off on the right foot, she has a few thoughts to share on New Year's resolutions, healthy eating, and what this all means to her.
A few years ago, I found the remnants of a New Year’s Resolution list tucked into the folds of an old notebook stashed in the bottom drawer of an even older desk. The list was written nearly a decade prior, and I realized I’d been trying to lose the same 10 pounds for years.
From that moment on, I changed the way I looked at resolutions. Rather than jotting down a list of goals I’d hope to accomplish, lose 10 lbs., be on Oprah etc., I wrote down a list of words or phrases that represent who I wanted to become.
The Year of Words
So began the year of words. Resist indifference. Be joyful. Be healthy. Be bold. The words and phrases became opportunities for daily reflection and focused mediation. I identified the kind of person I wanted to be, not the way I wanted to look or new line items for my resume. The words were less rigid than goals and allowed for grace when I needed it.
Throughout the course of the year I worked on the meaning of these words and their implied actions in my daily life.
When I focused on avoiding indifference, for instance, I did my best to entertain the screaming toddler of in front of me at the supermarket checkout line. If the woman with a screaming child was behind me in line, I let her go first. I did what I could do to make her morning a little better. There were other moments both big and small, but they were mostly small, tiny almost miniature gifts to other people, which ended up being gifts to me as well.
Becoming joyful was as simple as reminding myself to play. Who cares if dinner is 20 minutes late? I danced in the kitchen with my children, and let them chase me around the living room. I flirted with my husband, and sang loudly in the car.
Finally, I redefined being healthy. Healthy suddenly had nothing to do with counting calories or the number on a scale. Being healthy was about how I lived my life. Was I doing healthy things that brought me joy and made me FEEL good?
Being healthy was -- and still is -- about finding activities I enjoy doing, like hiking, kayaking, and exploring the diamonds in my own backyard. Sometimes, I do this alone, sometimes with a good friend, and sometimes even with my own screaming children.
Food wasn’t about restricting calories or the war on carbohydrates, but fueling my body so I could climb the next hill and take in the scenic overlook. I didn’t drink the wine on Friday night because then I wouldn’t go for the hike on Saturday morning, and I really wanted that time with my friend and the fresh air.
I ended up shaving calories, or burning them off, because I chose to be joyful rather than regimented, healthy rather than thin, and engaged rather than indifferent. All of it required a new boldness in me. I ended up losing those 10 pounds, but honestly, I wouldn’t have cared either way. I reveled in the process of becoming, and it was wonderful.
The Process of "Becoming"
So often we focus on big, grand ideals. If we don’t achieve them we can feel downtrodden, but opportunities to live up to how we define ourselves occur in big and small ways, every day. It’s not something you accomplish and then check off of your list.
You are in the process of becoming. You don’t fail, you continue.
January represents our universal month of new beginnings. Hopefully, the meal plans provided through this month will help fuel your body, so you can seek out your passions, and live them.
Here’s to a new year, and the wonderful, ever evolving you!
Meal Plan for January, Week 1
The goal for this week’s meal plan (and really for the entire month) is to increase our vegetable intake without having to think too much about it.
We all define “healthy food” in different ways. Some of us are vegan or vegetarian, others are more meat-focused with Paleo or Whole30. Still others feel best on the fish-heavy and fat-rich Mediterranean diet.
One characteristic uniting all these different "diets" is that vegetables are good, and good for you.
Hopefully, there is a dinner idea in this week's meal plan for everyone, with a nod to increasing vegetables and all their healthy vitamins at dinner. When you eat good you feel good.
What or who is inspiring you to take care of yourself this week?
1 Shrimp, Arugula, White Bean, and Cherry Tomato Salad: We are all easing out of the holiday season, and back to real life. This fast, simple, and healthy salad is a wonderful way to soften that transition.
2 Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup: Eating your vegetables has never been more delicious. To save time, as one commenter on this recipe suggested, use canned fire-roasted tomatoes instead of fresh.
Pair this vegan soup with bread, or for a lower-carb option, this olive and chickpea salad. Skip the parmesan and the salad is vegan too.
3 Pan-Fried London Broil Steak: This recipe calls for a bit of butter, but a little goes a long way. The steak is ready in 20 minutes and goes beautifully with this Swiss chard and parsnip side dish. If you are new to parsnips, this recipe is a great introduction because parsnips are only a small part of the recipe.
4 Skillet Chicken with Baby Bok Choy: Thirty minutes. One pan. Need more than chicken and bok choy? Add some rice.
5 Frittata Squares with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta: Let’s eat Brinner! It’s Friday and breakfast for dinner is a perfectly acceptable way to kick of the weekend. Add this Ham and Potato Hash if you need a little more to round out the meal.