New Year, New Me? No Thanks!

Today is January 1st, 2010, and I sit here struggling to come up with a new year’s resolution. There’s a good excuse behind this: I like myself. Yes, that’s right. You might be wondering what the big deal here is, but for me, this is huge. Because of my history with weight problems, I’ve spent the majority of my life never really loving myself, but the past few years, I’ve actually hated myself at times. This is hard to grasp for most people who have never struggled with issues, and likely for those who are still struggling and yearning to be thin. I’m going to tell you a little secret: for many of us formerly obese, the hardest part of dealing with emotional issues comes after the weight loss. Letting go of the “fat girl” identity and learning to be an average-sized person in an over-sized world is actually quite a challenge, and one that brought me down to some very dark moments. My mind talked in endless circles about the seemingly impossibility that people could actually view me as a thin person, and about how unfair it seemed that I will always have to expend much more time and effort than the “average” person to remain an average size. (All the time I spend meal planning and calorie counting and working out and planning new workouts is extremely consuming. Frankly, most people just don’t get why I need to do it, but they tend to be the ones who have never struggled to maintain a healthy weight.)

But finally, in late 2009, I started to finally get it. Something just clicked, and I not only felt at peace with my chosen lifestyle, but empowered by it. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished in the past few years since losing the weight, but more importantly, that pride has finally exceeded the pain. Since moving in with my now husband, cooking – and cooking healthy – has become my passion, and something I really feel I’m good at. To stay active and motivated after reaching my goal weight, I’ve taken on fitness challenges. I dabbled in running and completed a half marathon in 2008 (in 1:53!) and 2009 was the year I learned the benefits of heavy strength training and high-intensity interval training.

I have been trying to think about what kind of fitness goal I’d like to achieve in 2010. Running another half marathon in less time than the first, or running a whole marathon, would be fabulous accomplishments. But, effective endurance training and significant strength gains don’t exactly go hand in hand, and I’d like to continue with the strength training for now. One exercise that still has me beat is the full chin-up. I’ve worked on this a lot, and I’m finally able to do a few chin-ups, but not quite from a full straight arm position (more like 3/4 of the way down.) I know I’ll get there as I keep working, so maybe 2010 should be my year of 10 full chin-ups.

I could work on the chin-ups. And maybe come up with a target weight for my squat and deadlift. But really, those seem kind of trivial right now. Honestly, I’d be happy to just keep doing what I’m doing – that is, progressing on my strength training, maintaining my weight, cooking healthy food, and feeling GOOD about all of that rather than letting my efforts feel like a burden.

I’m considering that maybe a better goal for 2010 would be something that involves helping others. I’ve always been willing to give workout advice and share tips on calculating calories and eating the right things, and it’s one of the greatest feelings to hear that my advice has been helpful and appreciated. At 26 years old, I still wonder what I am going to do and who I’m going to be when I grow up, and though I still don’t know what that is, I really want it to involve helping others by sharing what I know. I’ve toyed with the idea of being a personal chef specializing in healthy meals, but maybe I’d like to be a personal trainer. Or maybe a cross between the two, coaching clients and delivering them personalized workout and meal plans. I’ve also thought about part-time careers that don’t have much to do with health and fitness or food, but that I think I’d enjoy for other reasons. But I still really don’t know.

I suppose until I figure that out, one thing I can at least focus on is getting back to my blogging, and coming up with more healthy recipes and ideas that you will enjoy as much as I do. But maybe you can help me too. What are your health, fitness, or food-related resolutions? Is there any way you think I can help? Any new directions I could take with my blog? I don’t want to be just another food blog, or just another workout blog. But I think this blog could benefit from a little renovation and it would be great to know what people are looking for!

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10 Responses to “New Year, New Me? No Thanks!”

  1. 1

    Nikki — January 1, 2010 @ 10:58 pm Reply

    Cara – Congrats on all of your accomplishments, I think you have a great outlook on 2010! As for your blog: Well, of all the blogs in my reader (I have about 25), yours is the first on I go to when I am in search of a healthy meal. Just thought you should know that – I am a fan of what you are doing. Thanks so much!

  2. 2

    Stephanie — January 2, 2010 @ 12:24 am Reply

    What a wonderful post. Congratulations for learning to love yourself. I strive to be able to say this at the end of 2010. I think finding peace within yourself is the most beautiful gift you can ask for. As for your blog- it's wonderful. It's not like every other cooking blog, it's full of healthy recipes that use unique ingredients. And it's not boring, which sometimes healthy recipes can be. Keep it up- you are an inspiration of mine for sure!

  3. 3

    orangdlite — January 2, 2010 @ 1:47 am Reply

    I love that your blog includes all types of ingredients, such as meat, cheeses, chocolates, and still maintains the mission that you can eat whatever you want, as long as it nourishes you and makes you feel completely wonderful. I am twenty one and have struggled with weight issues since highschool, and use your blog as a inspirational tool for meal planning and just to skim through for ideas. I really love international foods, and when you use items from greece, italy, portugal, etc inspired dishes it really is exciting. Keep up the good work and I really love your resolution. Good day! Ellie

  4. 4

    Stephanie — January 2, 2010 @ 3:55 am Reply

    I love this post & I can totally relate. It has taken me a while to be content with myself the way I am, while always striving to be better. It's a challenge though! I love your blog and all of your healthy tips and recipes and how you reinvent healthy things to make them super tasty. I too am struggling with what I want to do with my life too-seems we have a lot in common! 🙂

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    beeskneeslife — January 2, 2010 @ 3:34 pm Reply

    Great post! Congratulations on being at such a good place with your food and fitness. I have to say that this really hit home for me, as I would like to figure out a way to help others and share what I have learned, but haven't quite figured out how. In regards to the blog, it is one I pass on all the time to people looking for healthy meals. Keep it up! Happy New Year.

  6. 6

    Shari 3 boys — January 4, 2010 @ 12:37 am Reply

    Great post Cara!I love your blog also.I am still trying to find that place where you are at, but this post is very encouraging.THanks

  7. 7

    Cynthia — January 4, 2010 @ 5:23 am Reply

    I love your blog and loved this post! Being a somewhat overweight 26 year old female myself, I feel great making the healthy and unique recipes you provide. Trust me, I have made so many of your recipes in the last few months and pass your blog along to everyone I talk to about food. I think you have a unique food blog already and I consult your blog before even opening my cookbooks now!I would love to learn more about your weight loss journey and what worked and didn't work for you and what keeps you motivated to stay healthy and fit!Happy New Year! Thank you so much for your creativity!

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    MsRuckus — January 5, 2010 @ 2:30 am Reply

    Cara,I sat down tonight to catch up on my blogging and to put down some things that have been in my head, but first I had to read the blogs in my feeder. So, yours came up and I can't believe how much everything you said is exactly how I have been feeling and thinking! I now hope to express it as well as you did. Thanks. Oh, I have some mussels in the freezer from a Thai cooking class party we did at my house on New Year's Eve. Now I know what I will be doing with them!

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    Cara — January 5, 2010 @ 3:05 am Reply

    Thank you everyone for all the kind words! When I started this (and took the direction of getting more serious with healthy recipes and providing nutritional information) I never expected to connect with so many people. At times, I've felt a little lonely about my dedication to healthy food and exercise – so many people just don't get it. But I am really happy to know that you guys enjoy reading this and can take something from it, that really inspires me to keep it up!

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    Susan (peebsmama) — January 5, 2010 @ 4:03 pm Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on your personal resolutions. I definitely appreciate your blog and come to it often for inspiration for healthy meals. Five years ago I did the South Beach and lost almost 50 lbs, but due to an illness which doesn't allow me to exercise much and the mild depression that comes along with being constantly not feeling well, I gave up making an effort to cook healthy and most of that weight has crept back on. You are right, thin people don't understand what it takes to not only lose the weight but maintain the weight loss. I'm trying to get healthy again though and your recipes make that easy.

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