Recently, a coworker, after a year of health problems and approaching 50, said to me, "It sucks to get old." I disagree. I think life only gets better as we age.
I'm now in the "older women" category I used to lump all women over 30 into. This year I turned 38. My twentysomething self would have thought that was ancient. My body and spirit know better. I've never been more fit, strong, healthy, stable, and happy as I am now. When I look back at this year, I'm proud of what I accomplished...
- I maintained my weight loss. Considering that research shows the majority of people who lose weight gain it back, this is a huge accomplishment for me. I reached my goal weight in September 2010 through a combination of following WeightWatchers, adopting a plant-based diet, and sticking to a fitness regimen that combined cardio and strength training. I'll be doing a post in January about how I maintained my loss (my maintenance strategies are different from weight loss strategies).
- I started running. I've never been able to run before in my life but started running in June after following the Chi Running program. I ran my first 5K in August, am training for a 12K, and now consider running an essential part of my life. I'm hooked!
- I started doing yoga. The personal trainer I worked with this year to learn how to maintain my weight loss urged me to try yoga. I'd always thought of it as glorified stretching, beneath real exercise, and scorned it. A coworker who also taught yoga introduced me to types of yoga that fit my personality. I now am hooked on Ashtanga yoga, a very vigorous and athletic style. I also do Yin yoga to keep my hips strong and healthy so I can keep running. While Ashtanga yoga is seriously butt-kicking with full body toning and lots of cardio bursts, I now realize yoga is so much more than exercise. It's taught me how to return to the calm, strong core of myself whenever the outside world is chaotic. I use what yoga teaches me when I'm stressed at work or when I feel like emotionally overeating. Now, I'm a believer!
- I learned how to play football. I've never played sports (aside from a miserable attempt at volleyball in high school) but always wanted to learn how to play football. My personal trainer taught me some basics, and in the fall, I formed a team of coworkers to play intramural flag football at the university where I work. Even though we played against college kids younger than we were, we had a blast.
- I learned to love my body. I'm not skinny, and my body isn't perfect. But this was the first year in my life that I loved to shop because everything looks good on, the first year of my life I was buying size smalls instead of extra-larges, and sizes 4 and 6 instead of 12 and 14. It's not all due to the weight loss. Strength training keeps me toned, running helps keep my legs strong and muscular, and yoga makes me feel long, lean, and stable. This balanced fitness program, combined with a healthy, plant-based diet, has given me a confidence I've never had before. Now I love my body as it is, flaws and all.
- I started cooking from scratch. One of my 2011 resolutions was to cook more things from scratch in an effort to eat mostly whole foods and not buy packaged foods and also to save money. I started baking my own bread, cooking my own beans, making my own vegetable broth, and in general trying to cook from scratch instead of buying packaged foods. I joined Project: Food Budget and learned a lot. I was also on TV for a segment that talked about that project.
- I started recipe testing. I was thrilled this year to test recipes for the Happy Herbivore cookbook. I love Lindsay's recipes, and it was exciting to be part of the process as she created fantastic vegan recipes.
- I helped animals. I love animals. By eating a plant-based diet, I chose not to support industries that torture animals and saved the lives of nearly 200 animals (according to PETA's statistics). While I had to say goodbye to my longtime feral cat this year, I took on a very time-intensive and costly project to socialize and find homes for three older, feral kittens after trapping and spaying their mom. I'm happy to say that all three are now in good homes--their adopters still text me photos of them. Oh, and I also rescued a newborn deer--what an experience that was!
- I chose a healthy lifestyle. I never get sick and have always been blessed with good health, even when my diet and lifestyle were poor. But I believe that my plant-based diet and active lifestyle keep me in good health. While I chose a plant-based diet mainly because I love animals, I realize that my diet combined with my active lifestyle are helping to ward off illnesses and diseases.
- I started blogging. I started this blog in January 2011. Since then this blog has connected me to so many fantastic people and their equally fantastic and inspiring blogs I otherwise wouldn't have known about.
2011 has been a great year, but it's time to make way for a new year, which I'm sure will be even better. Happy New Year's Eve!
What are your greatest accomplishments from 2011?