a peek inside the fishbowl

02 Jan, 2018

January 2

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

How did you ring in the New Year? The four of us (plus one boyfriend) went to an afternoon showing of The Last Jedi. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing it again. (Can I take a moment to share my appreciation for the recliners at the Cineplex? Let’s hear it for next level movie going! Mark doesn’t like them much, but I do.)

When we got home I made us some snacks, and then after THAT, the young fellow made us all pizza for dinner. (!) The youngest went off to a party and the rest of us went to our neighbour’s to welcome 2018 with a sparkly beverage in hand. It was a lovely way to spend the evening.

SO. I’ve been thinking about resolutions. I’m sure many of you have too.


I’ve mentioned Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives here before. It’s a really fascinating study about habits: Why are some habits so tough to keep up and others so hard to break?

If there is one thing I have learned in my, er, advancing years is that when I’m feeling strong – mentally strong, physically strong, and particularly motivated – I have to act on it. Unfortunately, this is how sometimes things get done around here, i.e. major pantry cleanings and basement purges. I can just hear the kids yelling to Mark, “MUM SAYS SHE REACHED HER BREAKING POINT!”

As much as I would love to be happy and motivated all of the time (I’m thinking of Rob Lowe’s character in Parks & Recreation as I type this), it’s not humanly possible. We aren’t robots. We have good days and bad days and can’t expect our physical and mental health to be at peak levels at all times. This means, for me, I take action when I’m able to do so, and when I’m not, I have to forgive myself and wait for a better day. I am slowly becoming ok with this.

This is a roundabout way of saying that I am feeling good, therefore I might make a resolution or two.

I am a firm believer in choosing smaller goals that bring us closer to our larger aspirations. So, for example, what if you promised yourself to eat breakfast at home instead of at Tim’s on the way to work? That’s totally doable, and it might give you better results than if you resolved to lose ten pounds. Also, eating breakfast at home is probably better for your health, saves a few bucks, and will let you sleep in for a couple extra minutes. :)

We are planning a hiking holiday out west this summer, so I’d like to get into better shape by the time we get there. At this point, I’m not sure the best way to approach this rather vague-sounding goal but I’ve started by adding a few hills to my daily 30 minutes on the treadmill. Baby steps, right? So “hills” are my resolution for now.

I’m fairly happy with my weight, although I would like to get rid of that holiday jiggle. I know what I need to do, so it’s just a matter of doing it. Hello MyFitness Pal; ciao for now, bread, sweets, and beer!

What I MAY do is step up my game on a habit I’ve been cultivating, which is getting rid of one thing every day. I first wrote about it here, and I have to say, it is amazing how such a tiny, easy, action can make me so happy. Whether I toss out a single plastic fork that’s junking up a kitchen drawer, or something bigger, like a garbage bag full of old clothes, I feel a weight lift from my chest. It’s silly, really. It’s just a fork! But that fork is also total deadweight in my life, and that deadweight adds up.

Some other existing habits that are making me happy right now are ones I will continue to do:

  • Going to bed with my sleep mask. It took awhile to get used to it but I’ve just had FOUR great sleeps in a row and I’m feeling well-rested for the first time in a long time.
  • My daily 30 minutes on the treadmill. As I mentioned, I just started doing “hills” on it, as well as five minutes with hand weights.
  • Drinking a great coffee in the morning.
  • Eating a healthy breakfast. I have the same breakfast every morning! Granola, fruit, and yogurt. I don’t need to spend a single bit of time or energy thinking about what to have.
  • Bed making and pillow pummeling. I first mentioned this here. It’s a weird thing, to pummel your pillows every day, but it really works for me.
  • Brushing my teeth after lunch. Back in the fall, a switched flipped in my brain and I decided that brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush and toothpaste is a treat, not a chore. It’s a mini-meditation in its own right and leaves me with minty fresh breath. A good deal, I think.

Gretchen Rubin would call some of these “foundational habits.” Building foundational habits is important for our health, and once sleep and energy levels are taken care of, we are more likely to find success with other habits.

Some new habits I am taking on (we’ll see how this goes):

  • Evening yoga classes. (!) I haven’t done yoga in years and I think it’ll be good for me. As a side benefit, an evening class will get me away from the lure of Netflix and the couch. I’m already signed up, so there is no going back on this one.
  • Seven-minute whole body workouts after my treadmill time in the morning. I did it this morning. Oof. It’s hard, but it’s only seven minutes, right? I did this every other day for a while ago but it dropped it off my to-do list. Here’s the app if you want to take a peek. There is no special equipment required, which is a bonus.
  • I’m logging in to My Fitness Pal and tracking my food until those five pounds I gained over the holidays are gone. This is the only weight loss tool that works for me. Are you already a member? Find me and we can cheer each other on.
  • Afternoon green tea and mini-meditation. I did this for a while earlier this year but it fell off my radar when things got busy. It was very good at easing my stress levels so I’m recommitting. Creatively, afternoons have always been my down time, so why not use tea time and ten minutes to charge my batteries a little?

I’d love to hear if you are making any changes in the new year. Or maybe you’re happy with the status quo? Related to all of this, check out some great advice in an article on the New York Times website: 8 Easy, Meaningful New Year’s Resolutions for Better Health.

9 Responses to "January 2"

1 | Katherine

January 2nd, 2018 at 7:31 pm


Love the ideas – esp the afternoon mini-meditation and evening yoga! My naturopath suggested a sleep mask but I didn’t really try very hard at using it but now I’m thinking I’ll try again!

Moving more is definitely a goal of mine but I’ll have to think about how to break it down into a more manageable habit and also drinking more water. Thanks for the inspiration!

Happy New Year!

2 | sabrina

January 2nd, 2018 at 10:10 pm


Could you please say more about the sleep mask? What is the purpose [to keep out light, I am guessing.] Perhaps a link to the one you’ve found works for you? Thanks!

3 | andrea tomkins

January 3rd, 2018 at 11:01 am


Let the record show that my seven minute workout yesterday has left me very sore today. That means it’s doing something, right? :)

Katherine, breaking bigger things down into manageable chunks definitely helps. After all, you can’t climb a mountain in one leap…

Sabrina: my mask is totally basic! Black with a thin elastic that goes around my head. I picked it up at Homesense or Winners last year. It was in a package with a silky pillowcase that my daughter wanted to combat hair frizz. I’ve seen them in sleepwear shops and at the Bay too. Our bedroom tends to be a bit on the bright side at night and in the morning, and it’s cheaper than buying blackout blinds for all our windows. :)

4 | Claudette

January 3rd, 2018 at 7:34 pm


My 10yo wears a mask for sleeping and loves it. Her room is opposite hockey boy who sometimes comes home late and she finds it disruptive to have even a bit of light enter via the bottom of the door. She swears by the mask although she does admit that by morning it is off her head. :)

I think about resolutions but not in the sense of day 1 do x and keep at it. For me, with the school and sports schedule, I allow myself a break when they’re home and on holidays (first year we didn’t have any practices or games over a two week period). This means my few simple rules went out the window too, although not daily. I pretty much stick to protein for breakfast regardless of the day but over this holiday I was a bit more lax. Maybe even sneak a cookie in with my second coffee, kind of thing…

But I too am on track starting next week when they’re back to work and school. Protein for breakfast, no more than two cups of coffee, lemon water before and after and throughout the day, less or no refined wheat/white sugar…we’ll see. And walking. I must get back to walking. Perhaps it’s time to consider a dog again…:)

Happy New Year! See you in the blogosphere.

5 | Ginger

January 4th, 2018 at 12:08 am


I could probably write a blog post length response here. But I will just lay it out.

This year is my “Year of Yes”. Yes to tiny things each day that help fill me and recharge me. For instance, I used my china for Christmas breakfast. I bought flowers for my new vases. I quit waiting around and bought the 2T external hard drive to finally tackle my crazy digital photo situation.

I don’t know exactly what the “Year of Yes” will look like…but so far I like how it feels and where it is taking me!

6 | andrea tomkins

January 6th, 2018 at 10:13 am


Claudette: I do like my routines! They can be perceived as boring or mundane, but they make me better somehow.

The year of yes! I like that. It’s so positive, with lots of room for growth. I look forward to reading more about it Ginger!

7 | Kelly

January 9th, 2018 at 5:22 am


Hi Andrea! I was wondering what the app is that you use for your body workouts? The link goes to an error page. Thanks!

8 | andrea tomkins

January 9th, 2018 at 10:23 am


Weird! That worked on my iPhone this morning. hmm. Try this link.

9 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Whole 30: day 29 update and a lazy gal's guide to fitness - a peek inside the fishbowl

March 29th, 2018 at 9:04 am


[…] this time. Speaking of which, some of you might remember the seven-minute workout I mentioned in this post. Well, I did it for a few weeks, got sick, and then totally forgot about it. But these past few […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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