Another Fresh Start

Here are some sure–fire ways to make 2011 a little taste of heaven. Eat better.

Give back. Get moving. Or just be like Jen West.

by Cherri Ellis
Thank the good Lord above that Christmas is over. For me to say that is really something; I am a “more is more” girl.  My birthday is the week before Christmas which is a week before New Year’s, so I typically kick off around the 18th and cartwheel right up through Jan 2nd.  But as glorious as the holidays were, I am glad they’re behind me. And I am not alone. My friend Anne dragged her tree to the curb with the lights still on it Christmas NIGHT. When you’re done, you’re done.
Never was a season more bloated with intent. Wherever you looked someone was trying like hell to wring additional value out of every minute. From Thanksgiving until now I have been up sold, pitched to, and coerced into some sort of action. A lot of it was great stuff, too. The holidays are exhausting for a myriad of good reasons—but that doesn’t make them any less tiring.
But January is a month that brings the intoxicating promise of possibility. Visions of food not wrapped in bacon or dipped in chocolate surface. Plans are made, goals are set, and timelines are established.  Fresh calendars, planners and journals are chosen, their blank pages offering hope and control. The heady scent of challenge is everywhere.
There is a girl in Birmingham named Jen West. She is 31 years old, newly married, and works as a Project Coordinator for the foundation at Children’s Hospital. Half a year ago Jen made a challenge to herself.  She started a blog called “Jen West’s Quest- from Ordinary to Extraordinary,” and she vowed to write in it every day until she had lost 45 pounds through eating right and exercising.  On the blog’s first post, she put pictures of herself at 192.2 pounds wearing a bikini, and promised to do so weekly. The shots were taken from the front, side, and back.   Forget war heroes and that guy who cut off his own arm when he got it stuck under a boulder while hiking—Jen West might be the bravest person I know.
Today if you log onto you will see the starting picture next to the most recent one, where she has lost 47 pounds and gotten a sassy new haircut with bangs. She has written a book about her experience and is training for the Ironman. She would have written more on that particular post but she was about to go ziplining in Cozumel. She’s gotten to be pretty big time. When you go to the Carb Lover’s Diet official website you see a video about her. The other day she was eating at Nothing But Noodles with her family when she got a message asking if she could be in New York by Monday morning to be on the Rachael Ray show. There was a ticket in her name at the Birmingham Airport. In New York, she was whisked by chartered car to a set where she videotaped her back story for several hours. She was taken for a spray tan and then on to wardrobe, where the first person she encountered suggested she get a spray tan. Her elaborate instructions continued until the most surreal moment of her life. Six months after our girl Jen made a resolution to herself—she was running out onstage to a live audience, smiling, waving, and wearing a bikini. I guess we can call her little quest a success. Her Rachel Ray episode will air in January.
I love stories about transformation. I would love to be able to write a column in six months and tell you all about how I got my righteous six pack stomach washing down filet with cabernet  in my robe on the couch, but we’ll see how that goes. Till then, here are some sure fire ways to make 2011 a little taste of heaven.  Resolve to:
• Eat better. By that, I mean eat consciously, in a way that brings you maximum joy. Cook amazing ingredients and enjoy fueling your body with all that’s possible in nutrition and taste.
• Give back. You can volunteer time, talent, or treasure, but find something that matters to you and give it some energy.    Which of life’s injustices bothers you the most? Cancer? The Global state of women’s rights? Keeping the arts alive? Fight it. You will get more back than you give, I promise.
• Get moving. Find a friend and take a walk. Run around your neighborhood. Take a yoga or zumba class.  When you’re running you can’t do much else; think of it as a rare hour of not multi tasking.
• Quit smoking crack and doing drive– by shootings. (I don’t want to set up anyone for failure, so it’s important to have one goal that is easily attainable.)
I welcome you to another fresh start.  Whatever it is that you resolve to do this year, do it with joy and certainty. Mark Twain said of New Year’s Day: “Now is the acceptable time to make your regular good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” Mark Twain clearly never met Jennifer West.

Cherri Ellis delivers creative services, be it commercial production, long form video, the printed word, or voiceover. Cherri believes that life is beautiful, love is divine, and laughter heals.

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