Healthy Swellness: My Downsized Goals for 2021

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I reached only one of the goals I’d set for 2020. And I’m totally fine with that. It was a year when doing anything took what felt like 100 times more effort so I’m really proud of having read 18 books when I set out to read a dozen. For the first few months I was ahead of my goal, and then when lockdown became stricter and I found it hard to concentrate on anything, I fell behind. But eventually I worked on cracking open a book more often and it was such a joy to reignite my love of reading, a pastime I’ve been passionate about since I was a kid but fell out of the routine for almost a decade.

My other goals? Well, I barely got started. I had planned to incorporate more cross-training into my routine, and aimed to do one workout a week that was not running. Instead, other than a few workouts before the pandemic (and a few virtual dance classes during lockdown), I focused solely on running (but at least I ran more than ever, completing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, and then ran and walked back across Tennessee). Running is what I know, what I can incorporate into my life without a ton of thought, it’s really just easier for me to wrap my head around even though I know in reality I can easily roll out my yoga mat and find a workout online for a yoga session, for one.

And my other goals to eat more veggies and learn how to use my camera? Well, my diet was all over the place last year (I craved comfort foods and nostalgic eats big time, plus I had a hard time finding time to cook so that impacted how I ate as well), and I simply didn’t have the energy to pick up my camera and take an online course.

And while I don’t set travel goals per se (although I did wish last year to go to Thailand and that came true in December, I’m convinced I manifested it!), because of the pandemic, my travel was downsized significantly last year. I went on a total of six trips; four by flight (Vail, Gimli, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and a cruise out of Miami) and two local road trips (to Prince Edward County and a camping trip just north of Toronto at Oastler Lake).

Anyhow, for this year, I just read this New York Times article about making 2021 goals small and gentle. And that really resonated with me. We don’t need to feel bad about not accomplishing a ton right now, living through this crazy time we are all just trying to survive. And they’ll be focused on setting a routine. I already started with including a few things to improve my mornings, and those small things bring a sense of relief in this harsh reality we are living in. Yes, the simple but delicious foamy latte I drink in the morning brings me so much more than just a delicious cup of coffee; there’s a sense of feeling able to take a deep breath and relax even for just a few minutes that comes with this ritual. I think I maybe especially appreciate it since my life has for so many years entirely lacked routine, what with juggling freelance and travel.

So my goals for 2021 will be small:

I will read 15 books—and will do so by reading at least 10 pages a day. I’m building on the one goal I achieved! I tend to go days without reading and then read a ton. But this year I will work on reading just a little each day as part of my routine. I’m thinking at bedtime (although I tend to fall asleep pretty darn quickly once I hit the sack!). I know I read more than 15 books last year, but I think that was largely because I read about four of them while on a cruise for a week. Above are some of the books on my shelf to read this year, plus I’ve got several on hold at the library.

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I will make one meatless dish a week. I actually think I ate less veggies last year than ever. I tend to eat more of my veggies as part of my main, but there are loads of easy ways to enjoy vegetables as a side (sauteed green beans or roasted Brussels sprouts are so incredibly simple), so this will be something I can make a habit out of, and it’ll give me a push to look for delicious main dishes that make veggies and meat alternatives the star. Maybe I’ll finally try to make some dishes from this Ottolenghi cookbook; I’ve had it for years and yet have never cooked from it.

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I will develop a gratitude habit. I like this idea of building off of the good habits you established last year as mentioned in this New York Times article. It also outlines why reflecting on the past year might seem like a bad idea but that it’s good for you (which I learned when I looked back at 2020). And the first suggestion in the article is to develop a gratitude habit. I have the Five Minute Journal, and haven’t been successful in writing in it daily since I’m often in a rush to get out the door in the morning, so instead as I make and enjoy my morning coffee, I will think of one thing I am thankful for, and take it one step further when it makes sense (say if I’m grateful for the delicious meal I’m picking up that day, then I’ll tip more than usual, for example, or I’ll text that friend I’m grateful for having in my life, both are ideas from that NYT article). This is all something I definitely did more of in 2020, but it was not part of an established routine. The one way I do express gratitude daily already? I do hug Billie Jean and Mya all the time and tell them I love them; I am grateful for them every damn day for the joy they bring me.

Have you set any goals or intentions for the year?

1 Comment January 3, 2021

Healthy Swellness: 2020 Year in Review

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What can I say about this past year…I debated not writing this post this year, but then I started thinking it might be helpful to look back and see that this year wasn’t a total write-off…

This year started off really well for me. 2019 had ended amazingly with a phenomenal trip to Thailand. And I felt like 2020 was going to be my year. Work was going well, I was working with many smart and kind people and was in a groove. In early February of this year, I had the phenomenal opportunity to run the Dead Sea Marathon (I just did the half distance as I was not in race-shape) and extended my trip and fell totally in love with Israel. The phenomenal food, the sights, and I will always remember Tel Aviv as the city where a complete stranger secretly paid for my lunch, just out of the kindness of his heart.

Then I came back in early March from a press trip on a cruise and the pandemic had fully grabbed hold of Toronto a few days later. And 2020 all went to SH*T. It was most definitely not going to be my year, or anyone’s year. And it’s been hard AF.

But a couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that this year has not been the most challenging year I’ve experienced, and since then, this has made me feel more prepared to make it through each day. I feel like I’m always a work in progress when it comes to being more resilient and if anything this year has shown how resilient we all are. Day to day life has been a struggle for sure, and as overwhelming as those struggles have been, I’m happy and proud of a few things I managed to do this year:

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I ran my first ultra race. I worked my ass off and ran 1,021.68 kilometres in 91 days, and then ran and walked another 1,021.68k before the official end of the four-month period of the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. Thinking back to May and June now, I truly can’t believe I ran sometimes as much as three times a day to complete the race more than twice as early as I initially planned to complete the race. And to have doubled the distance with including a ton of walking. I had Laz Lake comment on one or two of my Facebook comments so having this running legend correspondence, plus doing this virtual race with my friend Aylin, well, this experience would not have happened without the pandemic as I have always sworn that I am not someone who runs every single day, including getting up to run at sunrise (which in an of itself is an accomplishment for this non-morning person).

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I read 17 books. I started the year with a few goals, and I only managed to complete one of them. While I failed at learning how to use my camera and doing workouts other than running, I crushed my goal to read one book a month. I’m thrilled to have returned to my passion for reading. I took too many years off from reading books and being able to disconnect from social media and escape into a book has helped me regain a sense of calm. I have an ongoing list of books to read and plan to continue and hopefully boost how much I read in the new year. (Of the two books pictured, I reco Ask Again, Yes; I didn’t get to the Gladwell book yet!)

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I found new ways to spend time with friends. My go-to for catching up with friends is typically to meet for dinner and drinks. While that will always be something I love to do, with restaurants closed for dining much of this year, it means with some friends, we have discovered new ways to see each other. Including hiking (something I love but somehow with certain friends we just have never made the effort to), or just meeting at a park or for a bike ride. And enjoying the outdoors always serves up a fantastic mood boost.

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I rode my bike more than I have in my entire life, and on city streets. I only started riding my bike towards the end of August, as I was entirely focused on completing as many running and walking kilometres for my virtual race up until then. But once I completed that race, I rode my bike (even on busy streets like College St.!) to get around the city, and I met up with friends to go for a ride, usually with our destination being a delicious local food spot. I still am not 100 percent comfortable with riding in the city, but this year I’ve ridden at night, in the rain and snow and was on my bike up until December 29th. Today there’s some snow and ice on the roads so I might need to pause until spring, but all of the kilometres I completed on two wheels these last few months is a major feat for me.

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The biggest and best thing to come out of this year, though, is that it’s forced me to remember and appreciate what really matters, being in good health and the people that are important to me. I’ve tried my best to nurture both those things; that said, I regularly fail at getting enough sleep, though, and have developed a chocolate habit the past few months; and sometimes I just don’t have the bandwidth to check in on loved ones. I try not to beat myself up about it, we are all doing the best we can, after all. We survived this unprecedented way of living and that’s a lot, and it’s enough if that is “all” you can chalk up for this year.

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Take a moment to think of the best that’s come out of this past year. I think you too will find there are those moments, even if small. Even if fleeting. Even if the only thing you can think of that you accomplished is finishing a puzzle (I have only managed to complete one, turns out I’m terrible at puzzles. But I’m still working at it!).

Oh, I almost forgot to check my 2020 Top Nine on Instagram…about half are fitness-focused. A couple of travel shots, and one is from my Billie Jean-centred partnership with Giant Tiger (she’s still snacking on the treats from that partnership!). And one is all about gin, which makes sense as I sure sipped more than a few cocktails in 2020!

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And with that, I wish you a brighter, safe and happy 2021.

k xo

Leave a Comment December 30, 2020

Healthy Swellness: 3 Good Morning Essentials

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With every day of living through the pandemic being pretty draining, I’ve come to really appreciate a few things that brighten up each morning and help set me off in a better mood for the day. Currently making my mornings better:

My Starbucks milk frother. I hemmed and hawed about buying milk frother for many, many months (maybe even over a year—I just have so many appliances, and didn’t want to add yet another). But when a neighbour was selling hers, I snapped it up and it’s by far the best purchase I’ve made during the pandemic and my most used appliance (other than my Nespresso machine). While I’ve always savoured my morning coffee, being able to make frothy lattes now elevates my morning cuppa joe and, healthy bonus, I’m getting more calcium in my diet. I truly do look feel as happy as I am in this photo when I’ve got my morning coffee! And that’s not even with latte art!

The frother I bought is an older Starbucks model that I don’t think is available anymore as I can’t find it online, but based on my months of online research, the Nespresso Aeroccino is one of the sleekest ones I’ve found (and design is so important when it’s an appliance you have out on your kitchen counter all the time). If the $100 price tag of the Aeroccino is a bit steep for you, my friend Gabrielle is happy with the FKANT handheld milk frother she recently purchased (and btw, you should follow her on IG for her delightful sardonic wit!). And yes, I discuss milk frothers with my friends, don’t you? Haha!

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Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Face Wash in Pink Grapefruit. Now, I’m not a morning person (although I’d like to be but I’m just not hardwired to be one) and I really appreciate anything that helps to perk me up in the a.m. and it was such a surprise to find it a brighten-my-day product in this inexpensive ($12!)  facial cleanser. The Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Face Wash‘s pink grapefruit scent is a refreshing wake-up in the shower as I cleanse my face. Plus, it contains salicylic acid so it helps clear blemishes (and I’ve been struggling with occasional maskne breakouts).

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Stojo Collapsible Pocket Cup. I try my best to plan my time well, but it seems no matter what, I’m often running out of the house in a rush. So more often than not, I have to take my coffee or smoothie to go, sometimes it’s when I’m walking Billie Jean in the morning. As I’m usually getting to places on foot for my errands, a collapsible cup to go works best for me so I can easily collapse it and tuck it into my bag for the rest of the day. The only downside to the Stojo is it’s not insulated so it doesn’t keep my bevvie hot or cold (I use a Hydroflask for that, like if I need hot chocolate to keep me warm on a winter hike). My Stojo cup was a gift from a friend, who got it from Logan and Finley, an eco-conscious shop here in Toronto (shop local!). I don’t believe they carry the Stojo anymore, but they do have this glass reusable takeaway cup that looks great, love the cork band.

What are your morning essentials?

Leave a Comment December 23, 2020

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