New Project for a New Year

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A friend of mine — who shall remain nameless because I know he values his anonymity — participates in the Word of the Year project started by singer/songwriter/creativity consultant Christine Kane.

I’ve been thinking about that lately and decided I kind of like that idea, and decided that my Word of the Year for 2010 should be Finish.

I feel like I have a lot of things I’ve started or talked about starting or considered starting that just haven’t gotten done. They’re either hanging around partially completed, or sitting forlornly on an old to-do list somewhere, not even started yet. And some of them are things I decided I don’t really care about, but some are things I would actually like to finish, even if only so I can stop thinking about them. Or so I can have my mom stop saying things like, “You need to fix your screen door,” every time she comes to visit. Which is only once a year. And I think she’s said that three times now.

So I started the week with high hopes, and on Monday began working on finishing a few work things, and after working at my desk for 8+ hours, I had gotten through about 20% of one thing and 30% of another while at least three new things had come in that now need to be finished.

So I’m not sure how this is going to work out. Perhaps the Word of the Year needs to be No for a few months, before I can get to Finish.

But anyway, one of the things I’d like to Finish is the food project, so I can be done with it and move on.

I’ve read a bunch of diet and health books since the end of my first fabulous project, and have tested out some things to see how they work, and it’s all been very interesting.

At first I was thinking that any project that lasted more than a week would kill me, so my initial idea was going to be to go for a week of the best nutrition I could manage and see how much it cost. But then I got hung up on what the “best nutrition” would be, and then other things came up, and at this point that project isn’t so appealing to me anymore.

So what I’ve settled on is a project that will be good for me and I think will help other people, but that won’t be very disruptive to my normal life because it’s not very different from what I normally do. And I’m pretty sure it won’t be interesting enough for People magazine, so that should make things easier too.

I’m going to go for three months eating a “nutritious” diet — one that is low in refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, white rice), high in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables), and moderate in fats, with an emphasis on “good” fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). This is basically what I’ve decided is the most sensible approach to good nutrition. I’ll write more on that later.

I will shop primarily Whole Foods, which is where I normally shop — though I reserve the right to pick up things at other stores, especially Compare, which, like Whole Foods, is walking distance from my house — and I will spend approximately $100 a month on food. This is slightly more than I normally spend.

I will post receipts, and I will give general information on what I ate, but I’m not committing to giving a detailed accounting of every meal I eat for the next three months. Though perhaps I will warm to the exhibitionism aspect as the project goes on.

Eating out won’t count as part of the $100, though I tend to not eat out that much so I don’t think it will affect things too much either way. But if I have visitors or take a trip or whatever, the money I spend on food during that time won’t be included in the $100 total. If people think that’s “cheating” or somehow invalidates things, I can report on that separately.

I am not starting from scratch the way I did on the other project. Everything in my pantry and freezer is fair game, but I’ll report on what’s there for starters, so everyone knows what I have to work with.

One of the purposes of this project is for me to eat better — it’s easy to get lazy and just eat the same things and not ever try anything new — so I plan on trying some new foods and new recipes, and I will report on that. I will also post at least one recipe a week of something I made that meets the above nutritional criteria. Hopefully the recipes will be good, but as far as I’m concerned cautionary tales have value too, so I’m not committing to that. How things turn out is how they turn out.

So that’s the project: a healthy diet from Whole Foods for $100 a month.

Alert the media.