Welcome 2013: May It Be a Year of Growth, Grace, & Strength

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. ~Walt Whitman

Happy New Year! Today I am ushering in the new year with two creative projects. The first is my brand new blog, Produce’s, inaugural post and the second will be my Third Annual New Year’s Art Project. I will be making a mixed medium photo collage from a trip I took in 2012 with my husband Mike, and my mom Karen, to Asheville, North Carolina. ImageThe collage will decorate the new walk-in closet that Mike is building from one of our spare bedrooms and recycled materials (the subject for a future post). I want to usher in a year that brims with creative energy and productivity. I truly believe that we need to find joy in our life’s work and when this happens our hearts will be filled with love and wisdom. When we are passionate about what we do and say our lives become rich.

Over the past couple weeks I have read postings by multiple social networking outlets asking the universal question, “Will you have a new year’s resolution?” I have found many of the responses enlightening. For example, many people have resolved to not make resolutions while others have shared their hopes to become more outgoing and strive to be a better humanitarian.

There is nothing that I enjoy more than a clean slate to start fresh and be positive. Since I am an English teacher, I tend to be naturally reflective and I never hesitate to choose a resolution and go after it with gusto. However, in the past few years I have decided to make a series of health related resolutions throughout the year with a rewards system to help keep me motivated. 2013 will be no exception. My #1 health related goal is getting back to plant based eating and it started today when I fired up my Vitamix blender and made Mike and I a green smoothie with dandelion greens, spinach, frozen banana and strawberries, chia seeds, aloe vera juice, a splash of lemon juice, and water. ImageWe ceremoniously clinked our glasses together and promised ourselves and each other that we would be more “lean and green” in 2013. As I prepped our smoothie Mike joked, “Do you remember how to use that gadget?” True, our blender has sat idle for too long. I desired a Vitamix for over three years and FINALLY in June 2012 my dream came true. For over seven months I diligently wore my pedometer and every day that I reached 14,000 steps I put a dollar bill into an envelope for my Vitamix fund. By the time June arrived I had over half of the money put away and Mike surprised me with a Vitamix delivered to our door for my forty first birthday! During the summer months our Vitamix got plenty of use whirling up various concoctions of green smoothies, savory green soups, and truth-be-told a margarita or two. ImageBut when winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan arrived and the temperatures dipped I found myself reaching for standard starchy comfort foods. Looking back I was telling myself that because a food does not contain meat that it was okay for me to eat it. Thus, began an onslaught of spicy and gooey nachos, cheese heaped pizza, and decadent mac-and-cheese. I fooled myself into thinking these things are “healthy” because I loaded them up with vegetables or used whole wheat pasta and crust. From what I have heard this is often a problem with many lacto ovo vegetarians. As a Weight Watchers leader for the past five and a half years I have had many new members complain that being a vegetarian does not automatically make one thin.  It’s been a couple years since I’ve given up meat and I need to go back to a plant based meal plan. For the month of January I will commit to having at least one green smoothie a day and will not consume ANY dairy or eggs. Since I will be avoiding processed food (it seems that nearly ALL contain some sort of animal by-product) I will be eating cleaner and I know my energy levels will increase.

Ultimately, I want 2013 to be a healthy year. In the spring of 2012 I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Poland and Israel with a group of educators. I am a member of the Holocaust Educators Network that is funded by the Memorial Library in NYC. Having this trip to look forward to I worked hard for months to get in shape and be at a weight that I felt comfortable. ImageUnfortunately, all my hard work came undone in the past few months and to get back to my goal weight I need to lose thirteen pounds. The reason that I bring up Israel is that I must say that it was easy to eat plant based meals while traveling in Jerusalem, Masada, Tel Aviv, and Jaffa. ImageImageThe fruit and vegetable markets displayed a gorgeous array of fresh produce, the vendors offered luscious falafels and fresh squeezed orange juice, and the hotels we stayed at had an ample supply of delicious dishes featuring vegetables. My mouth waters remembering the stunning trays of roasted zucchini, compotes of olives, and giant bowls of guacamole and hummus. I will be channeling Israeli food in the coming months as I prepare healthy meals for Mike and I.

I spent a lot of time anticipating the new year and now that it is here, I am excited I got my feet off the ground on the next step of my journey to maximize my health and lead an active lifestyle. I am dusting off Lindsey Nixon’s “The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, ” the Vitamix “Whole Foods Cookbook,” and Victoria Boutenko’s, “Green Smoothie Revolution” to whip up some nutritious and satisfying meals.

Now I need to get to work on my collage project and visit the treadmill. In 2013 for every day of formal exercise that I get in, I will be putting a $1 in my envelope. My first reward will be a Clarisonic skin care system.

My goal is to produce here in writing at least once a week, which I hope will help me stay accountable to my goals. Since teaching is my calling, I hope I can inspire others along the way. Maybe you will decide to join me in having a green smoothie a day in January? Cheers to a lean and green 2013!