Why Wednesdays . . . Is Retiring (But A New Feature Is Coming)

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  I have completed series on the topics of running, creativity, and food.  Now, I’m being a bit random and discussing whatever strikes me at the time!

writing

photo credit: insane_capture via photopin cc

So . . . after some deliberation, I have decided to retire my Why Wednesdays column.  This weekly feature has been a joy to write and the responses I’ve gotten have been touching and informative, but features come and go and it feels time for something new.  I will continue to write about the same types of topics and issues as I have been in this series – just in regular ole’ posts when the time is right for them.

Plus, as one feature wraps up, another begins!

Hooray!

Beginning next Thursday Move Eat Create’s new weekly feature will debut!  Stay tuned for it’s unveiling.  It involves food (yum) and a creative, adventurous spirit!

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If you’ve missed posts from the Why Wednesdays column and want to catch up, click on the column name in the tag cloud to your right or check out some prior entries here:

Why the Workout ‘Buddy’ System Isn’t For Everyone (And That’s OK!)

Why I Eat . . . Plants!

Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen

Why I Run . . . Breaking Out of Boxes and Shutting Down ‘You Can’t’

Why I Run . . . Stress Relief

Why Wednesdays? – Why the Workout ‘Buddy System’ Isn’t For Everyone (And That’s Ok!)

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  I have completed series on the topics of running, creativity, and food.  Now, I’m being a bit random and discussing whatever strikes me at the time!

 

I see a lot and I mean A LOT of articles and blog posts written about workout buddies.  A general theme present in these writings is the idea that working out with someone will keep you motivated, accountable, and provide an overall more positive fitness (and weight loss) experience.  Some of these articles cite studies that seem to support their claims.  Others rely on personal experience.  Through and through, though, there seems to be a prevalent belief that having a workout buddy is the optimal way to go.  Rarely do you see an article that argues the opposite.  I’ve looked.  I haven’t seen anything that says “Do it alone!  You’ll get better results!  You’ll be happier and more motivated!  Go at it solo!”

So I’m writing one.Me at start - sharpened a bit

Here’s the deal.  I have no doubt that training partners work wonders for some people.  I’m sure they really do provide a sense of accountability, fun, and motivation for some people.  But, it’s not for everyone.  It’s not for me.

When I set out to drop some excess weight, develop my fitness level, and eventually become a runner, I knew that the only way I was going to be successful was to do it alone.  In the past, when I had made similar attempts, I told people about them.  I followed the advice given in articles that in order to be accountable, I needed to announce my intentions to others.  The idea is that others could encourage me and help me follow through.  But, what really happened, was that I became so conscious of the expectations that others then had of me that I failed completely.  My goals turned into their goals in my head.  Even if they weren’t applying pressure to me, I applied it for them.  If I ate a big piece of cake, I thought, “Oh god, [insert name here] would be so disappointed in me right now.”  If I skipped a workout, I would feel embarrassed and like I had let someone down.  Eventually, I would crack from the pressure and just give it all up, because the idea of continuing to break the commitments that I made to others, to publicly fail at my goals was too much for me.  Essentially, what should have been a personal journey and process turned into anything but personal.

I truly believe that a key factor in making sustainable, permanent changes in my life over the last two years has been to keep quiet about it.  Two years ago (this month marks two years since I began), I set out on some simple goals.  First, I would start to eat healthier.  I would learn more about nutrition and would incorporate changes into my daily diet.  I would cook more.  I would eat less junk.  Then, after a bit, I would start to be more active.  Some time dedicated to walking and short fitness videos has turned into me now training for my first marathon, strength training a few hours a week, and being in the best shape of my life.  And, I did it quietly.

I told only two people about what I was going to do.  I told my partner and our roommate.  They had to know, because quite frankly, there wasn’t any way around it.  I live with them, so they would see what I was doing.  But, other than them, I didn’t tell a soul.  I just started doing.  What this meant was that my goals were solely my own.  No one else was telling me what I should do, shouldn’t do, or what they did that worked/didn’t work.  My successes were solely were my own – allowing me to truly feel accomplished and own the progress I was making.  And, my failures were my own, too.  When I ‘messed up’, it was my choice and my mess to clean up.  I didn’t let anyone else down, other than myself.  That was liberating.

Me running 1 - cropped a bit

Of course, over time other people saw changes and asked about them.  And, I would answer.  I didn’t lie or cover things up, but I answered questions simply and didn’t engage in extended dialogue about it all.  Now, two years later, I can talk about it all more openly because my entire way of living has truly changed and the things I’m doing now are part of my daily life, as ingrained in my routine as sleep and going to work each day.  But, in the beginning, being able to keep it to myself was crucial in my success.

Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert by nature.  Maybe it’s because I’m always thinking about how to accommodate the needs of others over my own.  Maybe it’s because I’m sensitive to critiques after years of enduring them.  I don’t know exactly why it was so crucial for me to make lifestyle changes privately, but it was, and I’ve got to figure that if it was for me, it may be for others, too.  So, while the buddy system certainly has its benefits for many people, it’s not the answer for everyone.  I suppose that my underlying point here is that what works for one, doesn’t work for all, and to have the courage to do things your way (even if it’s not the popular way) can make all the difference in the world.

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Some Previous Why Wednesday Posts:

Why Libraries Are Worth Saving

Why I Run – Instant Gratification and Immediate Success

Why I Run – For My Health, Silly!

Why I Eat . . . Series Recap

Why Creativity Counts – It Connects Us

Why Creativity Counts – Self-Sufficieny

Why Wednesdays? – Why “Listen To Your Body” Is More Than Just a Platitude

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  I have completed series on the topics of running, creativity, and food.  Now, I’m being a bit random and discussing whatever strikes me at the time!

 

Listen to your body.

Listen. .  .  . to your BODY.

photo credit: striatic via photopin cc

photo credit: striatic via photopin cc

I hear (i.e. read/see) this command often.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve been hearing it for years, but didn’t really pay much attention to it.  I used to think it was just a silly expression.  Something that felt good and wise to say – easy advice for all sorts of circumstances.  What did it mean, really??

Of all of the many things I have learned in the last couple of years, the value of this advice is one of the most powerful.

I tend to be a cerebrally-inclined person. Historically, I sit up residence in my head, sometimes to the detriment of my other parts.  I’m analytical.  I spend a lot of time pondering things.  I toss around ideas and apply solid logic when solving puzzles and problems.  With this natural inclination towards being a bit too intellectual, it’s easy for me to flat out ignore my body (the whole rest of me), despite the fact that it’s constantly talking to me.

It’s true.  Our bodies are chatty things.  I’ve become very aware of this since I started heeding the advice that I need to listen to it.  Something I’ve been working on actively is to use my brain to actually pay attention to what my body has to say and it’s been an incredibly insightful process.  Now that I’ve made wellness, nutrition, and physical activity part of my life, it’s become even more important.  As a runner, I need to recognize the difference between a niggle and an actual injury, between a desire to eat from boredom and a real hunger that needs to be tended to, or between simply feeling tired because it’s been a long day and feeling worn down because I’ve been pushing too hard.

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

I personally believe many of us function in our world in sort of a survival mode.  We’re often just trying to get by, get through, get over.  We rush from one place to the next, we down caffeine to wake us up; we take pills to lull us to sleep; we zone out with the television as a distraction, and so on.  In so many ways, it is the American way.  I am personally hugely susceptible to all of this and it takes a real conscious effort to slow down and be present in and aware of each moment, each task, and . . myself – my body.  It is a practice that I am constantly working on (to some success, I’m happy to say).

Here are some of the insights that I’ve had so far:

1)      What and when I eat has direct impacts on my mood and mental functioning. – Seriously, if I don’t sufficiently nourish my body, I’m a mess.  Cranky, scatterbrained, dizzy – it is not pretty.  I know not to push breakfast too late in the day and that if I’m going to be running around for a few hours, I need to carry a healthy snack with me.

2)      Sleep may be my nemesis, but it is important.  – I’m a bit of an insomniac and I used to think that this wasn’t a very big deal.  I now notice that when I have a particularly bad night of sleep, I have loads of ill effects – copious amounts of hunger, increased stress levels, random body aches.  Blech.

3)      My anxiety/stress and my body pains have a symbiotic relationship.  – As I’ve mentioned before, I do carry anxiety with me often.  I also have disruptive and persistent (albeit non-serious) physical issues, such as Raynaud’s Disorder, migraines and tendinitis in my hands/wrists.  It’s become strikingly clear that when one of these is elevated, the others are triggered, too.  It’s a good reminder of how interconnected all parts of us are.  It’s unbelievable how an increase in stress can immediately bring on my Raynaud’s and how working through serious pain in my hands can make my tension escalate.

4)      Doctors are not necessarily the experts, despite how much they try to act like they are. – Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not anti-doctors.  They’re great.  Sometimes.  However, it’s become very apparent that they don’t always ask all the necessary questions, gather the pertinent information, and listen to what you have to say.  What YOU have to say – the one person who is pretty much guaranteed to be the ultimate expert with what is going in your body.  I’m working hard on being a better advocate for myself at medical appointments and not always taking an initial diagnosis or dismissal as the final word.

5)     My body actually knows (better than my brain) when I need to push and when I need to rest.  – For me, my default is to push.  I’m not much for rest and relaxation and when I first started running this was detrimental.  Like so many new runners, I over-trained, didn’t recover properly, and ended up with fatigued, weakened muscles and injury.  I have really learned to listen for signs that my body needs some rest – and I provide it (no matter how much my brain may protest).  For instance, when the niggle in my left knee becomes too loud, I need to address it.  When my periformis becomes super painful, I know I’m not spending enough time stretching and strengthening my hips and glutes.

This is really a very condensed list of lessons learned on this matter, but I hope it gives you some idea.  Listening to all the chatter my body puts out is still something I’m constantly reminding myself to do, but the pay-off so far has been invaluable.

I would love to hear how others do with this.  Are you a natural at it or do you struggle, too?  What have you learned along the way?  If you’re also a runner, do you feel that training has helped you tune into your body’s signals better?

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Last Week’s Entry:   Why Libraries Are Worth Saving?

Why Wednesdays? – Why Libraries Are Worth Saving

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  I have completed series on the topics of running, creativity, and food.  Now, I’m being a bit random and discussing whatever strikes me at the time!

 

Library Front DoorI come across quite a few blog posts, memoirs, and other stories that reflect back on happy childhoods, filled with innocence, fun, and fond memories.  If I’m going to be honest, my childhood wasn’t really like that.  I wasn’t a happy kid.  I was generally lonely and out of sorts.  I never really felt comfortable with my peers, was often trying to escape gloominess within my home, was all around a bit awkward and entirely lacked confidence in social settings.  Now, lest you think I’m sharing this to drudge up sympathy, that’s not the case.  Rather, I’m setting the scene for you, you see.  Because, though this was the reality of my childhood, it is not the whole picture.  And, it is not the whole picture, because I had the library.

My grandparents lived right behind the library and this was probably the single best thing that could have happened for me as a kid.  From a very young age, I would head over to my grandparent’s home after school, make a quick stop to drop off my schoolbooks, and then march out the back door, hurry through the back yard, hop over the wire fence, and find myself in the parking lot of the local library.  In I went, eager and full of anticipation for the time I would get to spend there.  Forget Disneyland, the library was my happiest place on Earth.

My library had a kid’s area with a sunken floor that was carpeted with game boards.  There was a giant hop scotch laid out, a checkerboard, even chess if you were that adventurous.  My library had tables just perfectly made for leaning over, with my eyes intently flying past words on pages.  My library had a magazine area with shelves of magazines covering news, politics, fashion, and entertainment all wrapped around a fireplace and a sofa.  My library had an atrium that was lined with plants and shrubbery and let the bright Arizona sun shine in on you, without also bringing the heat of being outdoors.  My library had shelves and shelves of books that offered me endless opportunities to feed my busy little head with images and stories and information that I devoured.  And, my library had Cheryl, the librarian, who knew me by name and welcomed me as an honorary young librarian.

It was extraordinary.

Shelves

I spent hours there.  I read everything.  I read fiction and non-fiction.  I read all the books for kids, but when it became apparent that my reading level and comprehension were advancing rapidly, Cheryl recommended books for older kids, young adults, and adults.  I read those, too.  I got lost in pages of worlds, both real and imaginary, and used them as fuel for my creative fire.  I wrote stories of my own – some which lived only in my head and some which manifested on paper.  Not caring yet that I was a terrible artist, I drew pictures to illustrate the stories I read and wrote.  I let my vivid imagination run wild with ideas of what the world would be like when I grew up.  I could live in any of the amazing places I had read about (New York, London, California, Amsterdam).  I went on grand adventures with Charlie Bucket, learned compassion with Shel Silverstein, survived grade school with Ramona Quimby, made sense of high school with the Wakefield twins, fantastized about love with Danielle Steele, and learned to think abstractly with Vonnegut at my side.

Whether Cheryl the librarian responded to my apparent loneliness, to my ever-growing precociousness, or both, I’m not sure, but she let me at the whole place like it was my own.  When the return bin was full of books, she swung open the half door, letting me come behind the counter where I picked up one book after another, running it’s spine along the machine until it bumped up against the edge, in order to activate the security sensors.  I loved the sound of this process.  Sliiiiidddde, Thump.  Sliiiiidddde, Thump.  She let me wheel carts of books out to the floor and put them away on the shelves alongside her, lining up the spines straight and even as we went.  She gave me old copies of magazines when their time was up.  I carted them home where I lingered over the glossy images and studied how to write copy, imagining myself in the future as an editor, rushing to meet deadlines.

Book Return

When summer came around, she invited me over to the annex where I helped her put together props and prizes for the youth summer reading program.  She asked my not-so-sage advice on which games to play and what theme to feature each year.  I prepped for the event and had such pride when other kids came to the program and enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

I always felt safe there.  I always felt at home.  I always felt a sense of belonging that I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else.  And I firmly believe that it is because of my experiences there, my discovery of the power of words on paper, that I developed my own creative streak.  The joy I find in a good book, in transferring my thoughts to written words, in painting images in my mind, was born in my time at this library.  As I’ve grown up, I still feel a sense of wonderment each time I’m in a library.  It’s easy for me to connect to the fact that in a relatively small, enclosed space, there exists millions of lives and stories, centuries worth of history and an abundance of prospects for the future.  I watched television and I played video games like other kids, but it was the library that taught me how to dream, how to imagine, and how to be at peace with myself (surrounded by books).

Wide Shot of Inside 2

Last year, in the city that I live in now, my libraries were threatened.  Apparently, there are plenty of folks out there who don’t see the value in directing tax dollars to such a ‘luxury’.  Fortunately, Portlanders spoke up and voted to support our local library system.  Through news stories and personal accounts, I know that libraries are starting to be seen by some as a relic.  In the age of e-readers, Wi-Fi, and digital downloads, brick and mortar libraries with shelves and shelves of books may seem cumbersome.  But, for this reader and writer, they are comfort, creativity, and contentment personified.  They’re my oldest friends and my strongest inspiration.

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A Sampling of Prior ‘Why Wednesday’ Posts:

Why I Run: Crows and Tortillas

Why I Run:  The Pleasures of a Neighborhood Adventure

Why Creativity Counts: Series Recap

Why Creativity Counts:  It Connects Us

Why I Eat . . . Strictly For Myself

Why I Eat . . . Local

Why Wednesdays? – Why I Eat . . . Series Recap

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.

 

Food is serious business.  As I’ve discussed over the course of this series, it impacts our health, our energy, our brains, our emotions, our bank accounts, and so on.  It’s a need that every human being has in common, yet we all have our own unique relationships to it.

Plate of raw veggies - edited

Food is also fraught with contradictions, making it a complex issue.  For instance, consider how a meal made of just a few humble ingredients can taste so complex and flavorful.  Or, how a $2.00 taco from a food truck can taste utterly rich with flavor, while a $30 pasta dish can be bland and dull if not prepared with attention.  Think about how sitting down to a meal by yourself may feel lonely on certain days, but incredibly indulgent and peaceful on others.   Also still, enjoying that same meal with loved ones can be a long-lasting memorable experience.

My point, of course, is that food is one of the most complex aspects of our lives and societies, but for some reason, we spend so much of our time treating it as if it is inconsequential.  We shove it down without patience, swallow without tasting, purchase without reading labels, and toss it away without consideration.  We may encounter food dozens of times throughout a single day, yet not spend more than a few seconds ever really thinking about it.

This has to change.

Fortunately, I think it’s starting to.

tofu - edited

With a focus of late on obesity and food costs to start, people are starting to think about food on a deeper level.  Advocates for local and sustainable food consumption and production are making some noise.  Activists are fighting for clear and proper labeling on packaged foods.  Governments are realizing that youth need help with intervention directly in schools.  And people like us are being a bit more thoughtful.

As I’ve shared in prior posts, my relationship with food has morphed dramatically over my lifetime.  I’m still not perfect, nor would I ever expect to be, but I do think that I have made great strides to not only be more sound in my food choices from both a health and social standpoint, but I’ve also made strides in enjoying it more.  I used to think I was enjoying food, but really I didn’t even know what real food was.  Fast food and processed packages just can’t hold a candle to ripe fruit, well seasoned vegetables, hearty muffins straight from the oven, or homemade bread.

Pile of muffins - edited

Plus, I was so caught up in the blame game with food that it cast a gloomy cloud over every encounter I had with it.  I was so busy telling myself I was bad for eating this or I’d eaten too much of that or I’d never look like so and so if I ate this, that all eating did for me was reinforce negative feelings and beliefs.  Sadly, this is not unusual, especially for women (though I’m sure you guys have some of it, too), but it IS unacceptable.   I don’t want to pass this habit onto future generations.

I did a quick Google search for an actual definition of food and here is what I got:

Food:

Noun; Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.

Read that carefully, please.  Any NUTRITIOUS substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain LIFE and GROWTH.

That says so much to me about where we need to head when it comes to our beliefs and actions around food in our country.  Nutritious.  Life.  Growth.  I’m going to remember those three key words and try to apply them in my own diet.

It only takes a minute to ask myself:

  • Is what I’m about to eat going to be NUTRITIOUS to my overall diet?
  • Will it help me maintain my own quality of LIFE (and of others involved in its production)?
  • Will it help me continue to GROW in healthy ways?

If I can answer ‘yes’ to those three questions, I think I’ll be off to a fine start.

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Previous Entries in This Series:

#8 – Why I Eat . . . Some of My Favorite Foods

#7 – Why I Eat . . . Strictly For Myself

#6 – Why I Eat . . . Local

#5 – Why I Eat . . . To Heal and To Fuel

#4 – Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen

#3 – Why I Eat . . . Plants!

#2 – Why I Eat . . . With Reverence

#1 –  Why I Eat . . . Thoughtfully

Why Wednesdays? – Why I Eat . . . Some of My Favorite Foods #8

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.

 

I get really excited about food . . . and about eating . . . and about cooking.  Food, when you remove social stigma and guilt and all that other gross stuff that can be attached to it, is so much fun.

photo credit: funadium via photopin cc

photo credit: funadium via photopin cc

As a pretty unadventurous person (I am NOT going to be skydiving anytime soon), food is a way in which I actually get to take chances and try new things pretty much anytime that I want to.  As much as I like this variety, I am also a loyal person and I am very loyal to certain foods.  Certain foods (both singular ingredients, as well as fully formed dishes) are featured heavily in my dining rotation.  I may go even so far as to call them my favorite foods.  Though, please don’t think that because something isn’t on this list, I don’t love it.  I fully reserve the right to add to this list at any time and please realize it’s not entirely comprehensive, but it is a start.  I wanted to share a list such as this because I believe that learning what and how people eat can offer a unique insight into someone and I hope this gives you a bit more of a picture of who I am.  Plus, maybe you’ll be inspired to partake in some of these items, too, and I’m all about spreading the foodie love.

So without further adieu, here are (in no particular order) some of my favorite foods – those that make their presence in my life time and time again – along with a reason or two about why I love them so.

(Also, I’d love to hear what would make your list.  What am I missing that you would recommend?)

Love Crunch Granola

Granola – I love granola.  Correction: I am madly in love with granola.  I could eat it every single day.  I eat granola alone, with yogurt, and sometimes in bar form.  But, my absolutely favorite way to eat granola is in a bowl with non-dairy milk.  This makes me unbelievably happy.  I have tried many kinds, but some of my favorites are Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch Carrot Cake and Kind Cinnamon Oat with Flax Seeds.  Plus, locally, the granola at Compote is OUT OF THIS FLIPPING WORLD.  Healthy, hearty, delicious.

Mr. Move Eat Create’s chowders.  He makes both a broccoli chowder and a potato-corn chowder that are the food equivalent of cuddling up in a cozy, warm blanket.  Serve them up with his from-scratch whole wheat biscuits and I am a happy woman, indeed.

Onions and garlic.  Any meal that starts by sautéing onion and garlic is a meal that I can support.  Period.

photo credit: Esteban Cavrico via photopin cc

photo credit: Esteban Cavrico via photopin cc

Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with almond butter.  I eat this all the time.  It’s breakfast, it’s a snack, its lunch alongside fruit.  It is one of the simplest, most satisfying food experiences I have ever known.  Thanks, Dave.

My friend and roommate’s spinach and pepper lasagna.  Serious comfort food, but made seriously healthy.  Lasagna used to be on the bottom of my list when it came to Italian food, but not anymore.  I request this dish over and over again and am never, ever disappointed.  Some day I will take pictures for you and you will want it, too.

Cauliflower – A vegetable so often shrugged off for being bland or unexciting, but that’s part of what makes it great.  The versatility is incredible.  You can do so much with it!  Plus, it’s loaded with vitamins C and K, giving it super anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Woo!

Non-dairy ice cream.  More specifically, So Delicious Almond, Coconut, and Soy Milk ice creams.  I just have no words.  The name is totally deserved.  I am rarely without some in my freezer.

Berries – All types of them.  I add them to my granola.  I eat them straight from the carton.  I use them in desserts.  There is really no better grab and eat snack.

strawberries

Beans – If you can believe it, I didn’t think I liked beans until a couple of years ago.  These days, I am happy to eat them.  Full of protein and fiber, beans are not only delicious but adaptable to whatever cuisine I’m in the mood for.  Black bean burritos.  Kidney bean curry.  White bean cassoulet.  The list could go on and on and on.  I’ll happily take ’em canned or dry!

Vanilla & Cinnamon – I really don’t care what baked good you’re feeding me if it has these flavors.  Just hand it over.  I will eat it and be delighted by my two favorite baking spices.  Just talking about it makes me want a muffin.  Or a scone.  Or a cookie.  Or pancakes.

Blueberry Scone from Sweetpea

Lemons – A go-to for me recently for it’s alkalizing properties in the body, I’ve been adding it to a glass of water in the morning to start my day.  But long before that habit, I’ve known it’s wonderful to dress up just about any sauteed or steamed vegetable, as well as salads, baked treats and any other number of dishes (squeeze some on those beans I mentioned earlier and all of a sudden you’ve got a bright, savory main course ingredient).

I could ramble on for quite some time, but I really should get going.

Plus, this is making me hungry.

Happy Eating!

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Previous Entries in This Series:

#7 – Why I Eat . . . Strictly For Myself

#6 – Why I Eat . . . Local

#5 – Why I Eat . . . To Heal and To Fuel

#4 – Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen

#3 – Why I Eat . . . Plants!

#2 – Why I Eat . . . With Reverence

#1 –  Why I Eat . . . Thoughtfully

Why Wednesdays? – Why I Eat . . . Strictly For Myself #7

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent some time in my life, TOO much time in my life, doing things for other people and not for myself.  Let me be clear, I don’t mind doing a favor or helping someone out, but what I mean is that I’ve made decisions and took actions about MY OWN life because of what someone else said or did or asked or wanted and without the foremost regard for what I wanted or needed to do at the time.  Some of these things were pretty minor and irrelevant in the long run and others . . . not so much.  Regardless of how big or small they have been, the fact remains that I have made decisions about my life for the benefit of others, at least occasionally, at the sacrifice of my own well-being.

Banana Cupcakes 4

I probably will again in the future, too.  I’m not perfect and, at my core, I like to contribute to making others happy and content.  But, here’s the thing, I’ve sort of figured out that I like to make myself happy, too, and to top it off, that’s actually what I have the most control over.  Funny how that all works out.

So, what does this have to do with food?  Quite a lot, actually, as doing things for other people has often manifested in eating for or because of other people.  There are so many times when I have eaten things that I didn’t want or enjoy or have interest in, in some sort of attempt to: fit in, not be rude, get an emotional uplift, be defiant, be compliant, [fill in ridiculous reason here].  If you’re thinking you want an example or two to understand how this works, I’m happy to provide them:

I’ve eaten food I didn’t like or want because it was offered to me and I didn’t want to appear rude or ungrateful.

I’ve eaten food after I was way too full because I didn’t want to be wasteful when there are others who go without.

I’ve eaten food not out of hunger, but out of anger or pain when I’ve been upset (food is more comforting and safer at times than dealing with the person and problem at hand).

I’ve eaten food I couldn’t afford because I was trying to fit in with others who could afford it and encouraged me to join in.

raw cabbage

Like so many other things in life, our food choices can turn into so much more than hunger, nutrients, or enjoyment, and can become about something else entirely.  This is a problem.  It is a problem because all choices have outcomes and all of this eating for reasons outside of myself had way too many negative outcomes for me personally.

Sometimes I felt sick, stuffed, too full.  Other times I suffered undue stress, working to pay off credit cards because I’d spent money I didn’t have.  There were times when I felt bad emotionally about it afterwards – guilt, maybe even shame or embarrassment set in.  There were extra pounds gained and a dissatisfaction with my level of energy.  There was the knowledge that my health was being compromised – getting too much food, yet not enough of the vitamins and nutrients that I needed.

When I decided, almost two years ago, to make changes in the way I eat it was about more than weight or appearance.  It was about owning up to the fact that food had power over me in ways that it shouldn’t have and that other people had power of me in ways they shouldn’t have.  I didn’t want to eat out of anger or guilt or to please someone else.  I wanted to eat when I was hungry and interested in food.  I wanted to eat what I wanted, try new things, and say no to things I wasn’t interested in, regardless of social pressure of any kind.  I wanted to eat with pleasure and enjoyment and to provide nourishment to my body and mind.

For me.

On my terms.

I’m not perfect in my goals with this, but I am certainly much improved with them.  As a result, my relationship with food has totally changed.  It is a relationship that is built on more knowledge and respect for both myself and for food systems and production.  It is a relationship that is much healthier than it has ever been before and one that is more exciting, too.  It’s filled with possibilities and boundaries – possibilities of exploring new things (sometimes I try cooking new things even if I may be the only one in the house that likes it!) and boundaries that suit my best interests, tastes, and preferences (I say no, politely but without guilt, to food that doesn’t fit into my lifestyle).

So, maybe in this way I am selfish – but I’m okay with that.  When I look closely at the plethora of food issues our world faces (obesity, malnutrition, starvation, depletion of resources, food borne illnesses, food-related diseases) I think we could all likely be best served by being a bit more selfish in these areas.  I also think that making decisions about food driven by knowledge and a selfish desire to be mentally and physically happy and healthy isn’t such a bad idea.  In fact, I’d encourage just about anyone to practice a little selfishness in this regard.

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Previous Entries in This Series:

#6 – Why I Eat . . . Local

#5 – Why I Eat . . . To Heal and To Fuel

#4 – Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen

#3 – Why I Eat . . . Plants!

#2 – Why I Eat . . . With Reverence

#1 –  Why I Eat . . . Thoughtfully