Introducing a new YogaWordNerd feature: monthly goals!

I’m sure almost everyone can relate to having certain goals that have been budding for ages. You know you want to tackle them, but haven’t quite figured out how to make them part of your life. I wish I read more. I hate how much time I spend on social media. I’d like to cook at home more often. Change is hard, especially when you have so many little tweaks to your day-to-day life that you’d like to make. I never want to approach change in a punishing or haphazard way because let’s face it: that’s never effective over the long term. So, I’ve decided to set up a focus for each month in order to break each goal down and make it more manageable and fun. This slow and steady approach will hopefully allow me to incorporate change with patience, kindness, and the potential for long-term consistency. I was very inspired to see Lauren Padula’s posts about monthly goals, and wanted to give this tactic a try for myself!

The idea is to take on one challenge each month and focus on a goal for 30ish days. I’m also hoping that these efforts continue past each month and hopefully build on each other. I was talking to Chris about this and he compared it to learning a new skill or sport: You can’t take on every cue at once, so you have to start somewhere.

Take skiing, for example. You don’t start out focusing on how to get your weight forward, your knees bent, your poles out in front, and your chest up on your first day. You start out with Pizza. Then French Fries. Pizza. French Fries. Pizza. French Fries. Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, CRASH! Then you get up and do that 30 more times before you start to French Fry straight across the mountain. Then you connect one turn. Then your boyfriend thinks you’re ready for the big lift and you have a terrible first real run down the mountain and you end up throwing your mittens at him. Did that sound strangely specific? Almost like it actually happened? Yeah, you’re probably right.

In sum: it’s easier to take things one step at a time and build on a solid foundation.

So that brings us to my February challenge. My aim is to share these at the start of each month, but somehow it’s mid-February and I haven’t yet shared what I’ve been working on! I’ll get better at that. But hey, no better time than Valentine’s Day to share something you’re working on out of love for yourself and others.

February Mission: Eat vegetarian. 

The Why: My reasons for this are oh-so-many and I will dive into them more in my recap post, but I have been wanting to make this shift for ages. I have been a vegetarian at various stages in my life, starting with a monthly challenge I took on in college as part of a sustainability course. Ever since that meat-free month nearly 10 years ago, I have drastically cut back on how much meat I eat. Over the past two years, I’ve spent more time learning about nutrition and making vegetarian and vegan meals that leave me feeling full, healthy, strong, and “just right.”

The push for a veggie-filled life also comes from my work as a science writer. You can only spend so much time studying and writing about health, medicine, cancer, and environmental science before this decision becomes incredibly obvious. I’ve also been very concerned about how the current administration is going to impact environmental protection and public health (among many things). While staying engaged and making donations to organizations I believe in has been important for me, I also wanted to find a way to take action in a more personal way. We vote with our money and our mouths every day, and I knew this was a shift I could make with positive health and environmental impacts. I also leveraged my feelings to start this mission on inauguration day, and it’s a monthly goal that I’m certainly hoping to maintain.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying this to shame or cajole anyone into changing their diet or to incite a debate about the value of my choice; I’m writing my reasons down to hold myself accountable and clarify this commitment to myself. This is a huge part of goal setting. Without the why, there is no success. That sounds like a Yoda quote, but I’m pretty sure I just made it up.

PSA: Union Square Donuts just opened a new store in Brookline, and they make more than one vegan donut.

My apprehensions: I think the biggest thing for me with changes in my diet is always making sure I stay healthy and strong. As someone who has battled very serious illness , I’m hyper aware of my body and maybe more cautious than most to make big changes. But I’ve done my research and now feel completely comfortable making this shift, knowing that the myriad health benefits outweigh any risks in my mind and that as long as I’m consciously making nutritious vegetarian meals, this is a no-brainer.

So far, so great: Okay so it’s only been 25 days, but so far I’ve been surprised by how easy it’s been to make this shift. Aside from a moment of pure panic at seeing some aaaaamazing-looking buffalo wings after the Super Sunday race, I haven’t had any major moments of doubt. I can definitely attribute this to how long I’ve been cutting back on meat and adding in more home-cooked veggie meals. Didn’t want to go cold turkey, ya know? (Pun def intended).

A key strategy so far as been having tons of different fruits and vegetables on hand. Luckily, I already get loads of veggies delivered weekly from Boston Organics, and have been hitting up Lighter regularly to find amazing vegan meals with full nutritional info available.

I mean, I’m not gonna lie – I’ve made some really weird quinoa bowls with vegetables that don’t make sense together. But the good news is, I have yet to find a combo that my favorite hot sauce can’t fix!

I still get excited for every Boston Organics delivery! Turnip for what!

I’m so excited to take on a new challenge every month and share the ups and downs with you!! I’ll check back in toward the end of February and dive further into how this is going.