Sunday, January 03, 2016

Hello 2016

Exactly a year ago, on Jan 3, 2015, I took a deep breath and wrote this post about my theme for the year- "Nupur 2.0", an attempt to upgrade my life by tweaking my diet and exercise habits.

The words "diet" and "exercise" are not exactly jolly ones, are they? They have a rather bleak connotation of deprivation versus joyfully indulging in life, of stern discipline and making yourself do and eat things you'd really rather not.

A year later, I can say this: It wasn't that bad, y'all. In fact, it was much easier than I anticipated and very rewarding. Once I stopped thinking of it as a diet and exercise program but instead as a choice to be nicer to myself by eating better and moving more, the whole thing became a fun project and one that I intend to embrace for the rest of my life.

EAT
I am at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and since diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism, my dietary changes revolve around bringing down my carb intake to moderate levels. Vegetables, which I love anyway, took on a new importance as I used them to replace much of the bread, rice, rotis, noodles, pasta and tortillas in my meals.

Broccoli slaw makes a satisfying noodle replacement.
Pasta dishes can be bulked up with vegetables.
Tasty salad dressings like this one and this one make eating raw vegetables a treat. Favorite dishes can be reinvented as salads, like this paneer tikka salad.

We subscribed to a locally grown veggie box all year and it forced me to work with enormous quantities of green leafy vegetables- learning how to quickly strip the leaves, stack them and chop them methodically into ribbons.

This is what a recent box looked like. V jokes that they just hack down a few bushes and stuff them in the box- you get this huge lot of pala-pachola (leaves). It was daunting to tackle these massive amounts of greens and come up with ways of using them. We did eat lots of raw salads (see some of the links above) but many of the tougher greens are tastier when cooked, and they shrink dramatically when cooked, so the armful of greens becomes a more manageable bowlful.

Greens can be added to so many recipes- I would stir them willy nilly into pulaos, scrambled eggs, pasta sauce...

My favorite greens recipe this year was collard greens wadi. But what my family really loves is a version of saag- basically this recipe with a huge amount of greens cooked into it. The saag is tasty with any and all mystery greens that show up at the door. Greens are some of the best things we can eat, so this one change has really enriched our diet. I made sure to welcome the new year with a collard greens and black eyed peas curry for lunch on Jan 1, in keeping with the Southern US superstition that eating those foods brings luck in the new year!


MOVE
After years of trying to find a form of exercise that I liked to do (and failing numerous times), something finally clicked. I now have a variety of things I like to do- brisk walking, running (slow pace, short distances- usually on the road and sometimes on the treadmill), swimming, fitness classes and dance (ballet, zumba) classes and choose from this menu 4-5 days a week.

What I do from day to day depends on the weather, gym schedules, meetings at work and various other factors. But it is nice to have several activities to choose from, and it is good to know that even a simple walk around the neighborhood with my neighbor or with the dog is a great way to stay active when I can't get around to doing anything else. Taking the stairs has become a habit and I alternate between sitting and standing at my desk.

SLEEP
V and I have accumulated a big sleep debt since we became parents. And every evening after Lila goes to bed, there's the temptation to stay up just a little bit to enjoy some TV or read a few more pages or check e-mail one last time. I think regular exercise and going back to a full-time workload together have made my days so busy and tiring that I'm now totally on board with going to bed very early.  Light blocking curtains in the bedroom have made a huge difference in my sleep quality and so has turning down the heat and keeping the home a little cooler at night.

I had so much support throughout the year- friends always had encouraging words, V and Lila were on board, and most of all, my fitness instructors met me where I was and treated me with the utmost kindness. And to everyone who left encouraging comments and advice and shared their own stories on blog posts- thank you.

My only wish for 2016 is to keep doing all this, because it is working well for me. I did come up with a theme for 2016 and my mantra for this year is STREAMLINE. What I learned this year was that cooking vegetable-heavy meals and being active are both things that need an investment of TIME. This is going to be a tough year for me with a challenging workload and keeping up with these changes will need better time management. I want to work on streamlining grocery shopping, maybe doing some weekly meal planning, and using the freezer more efficiently for making back-up meals. I'd like to get rid of time-killing habits like checking e-mail every 30 minutes and in general, want to simplify and organize my life. Fingers crossed for a good year.

Happy 2016! What are your hopes and dreams for this year?

35 comments:

  1. Your changes this past year have been indeed great, and I got so many new ideas and inspiration from you :)
    This year, my one word is GRATITUDE. Over the past many months, my emotional well being is feeling as if its plummeting with continuous negative thoughts and comparisons. And considering I have never really felt this negative in my life, is making me panic and want to change this. Add to the fact that nothing is glaringly wrong with my life, and yet I am feeling so negative. Hence, I am going to chose to be more grateful to whatever I have this year. And hopefully it will turn into a life long habit!

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    1. Thank you, dear Neha. Gratitude is a very meaningful theme. I hope you have a wonderful, joyful 2016.

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  2. Way to go Nupur. So proud of you for sticking with all these tough(or not!) changes for one whole year and re-committing to them for another. Fingers crossed and prayers coming your way from bay area. Yes, if there is one disease(and all others of course) that you must avoid at all costs, it is the big D. With my maternal side rife with genes pre-disposed to it, it is something my sister and I also worry about quite a bit esp. since we've witnessed my mum struggling with it her entire life with numerous complications.

    Anyways, here are my successes for 2015 and hopes for 2016. I successfully put my mum on a diet to both resolve her diabetes and bring down her insulin doses and yay, because in December she managed to get off insulin completely and has so far stayed off it managing well instead on a super healthy diet and supplements. A biggie for her after being on it for 25 years, no kidding, day and night. She can also walk longer distances and do light chair yoga and chi gong by herself(she had neuropathy in her feet earlier). We plan to stay on this healthy track forever and it's been great for all of us here. Since I cook for the family, the whole family has been subjected to my overhaul of their diets and lifestyle whether they initially liked it or not:-)

    So salute to you and salute to me. Let's keep movin' on.

    Happy nava varsha to darlin' Lila, darlin' Duncan and you big ones in the house too.

    Deepa

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    1. Hi Deepa- Your mom's story is astounding. It is a huge deal to be able to manage Type II diabetes with diet and get off insulin. And you are the home cook who managed to do this, so you have my admiration!! Let's indeed keep moving on. Happy new year to you and your family.

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  3. Happy New Year to all of you Nupur!Have a great year

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    1. Thank you Madhuli- and wishing you and your family a wonderful 2016! How are your kids doing?

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  4. So proud of you, Nupur! You really have managed everything beautifully and this is so inspiring. Would love to read about how you achieve your next goal of streamlining in the coming days.

    My goal for this year is to complete my goal from last year. :-)) I sort of lost track in the middle and went haywire! This year has started off with a good note and I hope I am able to stay consistent.

    Wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!!

    - Priti

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    1. Happy New Year to you, Priti! I hope you have a great one.

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  5. This is an awesome 2015 update and a great goal for 2016. Best of luck! I follow your blog very closely since most of my goals are aligned to yours - I fought back my pre-diabetes in FY2015 by similar strategies of diet and moving more. Can you believe this - we eat Tofu Tikka Salad twice a week and broccoli slaw is now a staple. Thanks so much for the inspiration! I bought a salad spinner first thing in 2016 and hope to make good use of it. One of my goals is also to add more and more veggies to my 6 year old's diet, and to reduce as much added sugar as possible from her food too - not aggressive at all but to bring it down to a reasonable level. Cheers! Mansi

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    1. Mansi- I am so glad those recipes are part of your meal rotation! I bought a salad spinner many years ago- never used it, almost gave it away when I moved from MO to GA but thankfully did not :) and now I end up using it at least once a week to make a big salad mix to store in the frig. My 4 yr old loves spinning salad. Have fun using yours :) and best wishes for a great year.

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  6. hello Nupur,
    Wishing you and your family a healthy, peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year 2016. Great job sticking to your food and exercise routine in 2015....
    Losing both my parents within 2 months towards the end of 2014 has been quite a life changing experience. As expected, 2015 was an extremely difficult year filled with grief, loss and pain unlike any I've known!!! The hardest part of my grief in addition to losing my parents has been to come to terms with not having a "home" in India to go back to. Anyways, I ended the year with a heart filled with gratitude for all our friends and extended family and my husband and son for helping me deal with this grief.
    My resolution for 2016 is to not cry, and continue to eat right and exercise and pursue my art skills from where I left off years ago. My mom is solely responsible for enrolling me in art classes during teenage years; and I feel the need to pursue the talent in her and my dad's honor.

    Peace be to all and best wishes.
    Meena.

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    1. Meena- You've been through the wringer. I'm sorry, it must be so painful. I'm glad you have loving people around to support you. Art is very therapeutic. I hope you continue to heal in 2016.

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    2. Forgot to mention, my "extended family" includes you as well. There are many days where I've felt very sad only to read your heart felt honest posts and cheered up again !!! Thanks Nupur for your blog :-)

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  7. Hi Nupur! Happy New Year! I have been enjoying your blog for so many many years now. My commenting level has decreased so much in the last few years (almost to none at this point). With two kids and a full time job, I barely have too much time for lesiure reading any more, let alone comment! But I wanted to take a moment and say that I really enjoy your blog and look forward to more cooking and lifestyle posts in 2016!

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    1. Hi Sangeetha! Thanks for stopping by with a comment. Hope you have a wonderful year.

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  8. Finally towards the end of 2015, I managed to get my gym behavior on track - going at least 3 times a week.

    For 2016 - I am aiming for a 12 min mile and doing the 5-2 diet. Eating 500 calls for 2 days - 2 non-consecutive days

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  9. Happy New Year Nupur! I've had a wonderful 2 years since I quit work to take a career break and re-center myself. Now I am ready to get back to the working world. 2015 will be the year of kindred spirits. I have now an inner circle of friends who I love and respect and I am so honored that they are in my life. About diet and exercise: I took a page out of gretchen rubin's strategy of monitoring and made myself a spiral bound book to track habits by month. I get a sticker for each habit I stick to. (I have ADHD and I thrive on systems like this to get me through or I'll go back to my old ways). My husband and I started a practice of saving $20 a week all year long to fund an "aspirational new year" purchases account. I cashed it in December and bought myself a new yoga mat, creative art supplies and a task management app called omnifocus. Our 5th year anniversary was on christmas eve and instead of buying myself jewelry or clothes or a bag I picked a membership to an app called Rise. They link you up with a nutritionist who comments on your every meal. I work well when I am accountable to someone so I figured it was a worthy investment. Have a great year Nupur! Excited to see your progress through the year - you're such an inspiration!

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    1. Nisha- how wonderful! Having good friends brings so much joy to life. I loved reading about how you and your husband are saving for things that are meaningful to you. I hope 2016 is a fantastic one for you guys.

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  10. Dear Nupur,
    Wish you a happy new year!!
    Your post is very inspiring. Good luck in your 2016 endeavors.
    Best Wishes,
    Rehana

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    1. Thanks Rehana and wishing you a very happy new year!

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  11. Hi Nupur, I am a looooong time reader! De-lurking today to wish you and your family a very happy new year! Your posts have always been an inspiration and your blog is my "go-to place" every time I feel the urge to cook something Maharashtrian. This year, I hope to take a step back and savour time with my family. A hectic job is making this difficult right now and I find the kids growing up so soon that looking for another job has become imperative :-). Regards, Preethi.

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    1. Preethi- Thanks so much for saying hi :) Made my day. I hope you have lots of wonderful moments with your kids in 2016.

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  12. Wish you and your family a very happy new year!
    My only wish is to survive this year without any major upheavals. I've had enough of those in 2015.

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    1. Oh Manasi that is hard. I hope 2016 is smooth sailing all the way. My best wishes to you and your family!

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  13. Happy new year, Nupur! My wish for this year is not to spend too much of money on clothes unnecessarily :) Wish to declutter more and keep things simple. Working towards a healthy lifestyle too..

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    1. Good goal, Shreem :) I would love to declutter my closet too over this year. Happy new year to you.

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  14. Hi Nupur, Happy new year to you, V and Lila.
    Last year I did comment on to get onto a healthy lifestyle. For the first 8 months nothing much happened. I barely made any progress with stress of moving to another country and stuff. The comment I made here last year always taunted me and finally I am glad to say I have progressed towards that goal well now.
    This year I really want to find my mojo back. I was working and quit after child birth and stuff. I really need something of mine to hold on to. I was pretty good at what I was but just have this hollow feeling spreading deep and eating me away sometimes. I need my ME time this year more than anything! - Madhavi.

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    1. Madhavi- I hope you give yourself lots of ME time in 2016! It is so true that being a mom can feel disorienting, as a little person takes over our lives :) Take good care of yourself.

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  15. Hi Nupur, Interesting to read about your plans for the year. My goals for the year include starting an exercise routine as well as getting more organized. I'm getting too scatty. I admire your dietary change progress. I would like to eat better as well, but I'm going to prioritize the first two as my main goals. Just adding more greens seems like a simple enough change, but the prep work is daunting and usually one has to consume them within 2-3 days. No room to slip up.

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    1. Inji- The prep work with greens gets easier the more you do it, you'll find a technique and find yourself chopping a pile of greens in no time. I find that delicate greens like salad greens can be prepped and stored in an airtight container for several days. Tougher greens can be stored for a few days in the fridge crisper before cooking. Also, I like to keep frozen greens on hand- they work great in soups and curries. Good luck and have a wonderful year!

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  16. I just hope to eat healthier and move more-- both things that I tend to pick up enthusiastically for a while and then slack off on. Your 2015 sounds like it was an amazing one, and kudos to you for sticking to your goals and moving toward a healthy lifestyle. Here's wishing you a wonderful 2016.

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    1. I hope you have a great year too, Vaishali! The thing that has helped me the most last year was finding ways to make changes that I actually enjoyed- like finding exercise classes that I look forward to. Took me years and years! But they are out there.

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  17. Dear Nupur, just wanted to let you know what an impact your blog has on me. I have been on metformin for last 8 years. Taking inspiration from you I started exercising regularly and my blood work this time showed A1C at 5.8 with half the dose of metformin. Though I am still on medicines and my sugar levels are not normal, I am very motivated to maintain life style changes. Thanks Nupur.

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    1. Thank you SO much for this note- you really, truly made my day. Type 2 diabetes is the one disease for which lifestyle changes can work beautifully. Kudos to you for making the effort- it is not easy.

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello!