Archive for January 1st, 2016

Navigating the shoals of productivity

Or. How to benefit from a farm share without going mad whilst coping with low energy/appetite.
Or. Redefinition of a “normal” life when circumscribed by suboptimal health.

There were many things I released in 2015, and one of the biggest ones was the drama of food and what constituted a meal.

This one was huge because of the intersection of nutrition, finances, time constraints, energy, appetite, and cravings.

I realized that I spent a lot of time circling around meals. Either I was thinking about food, making food, cleaning up after making food, shopping for food, prepping food to be cooked, or staring into the refrigerator in dismay at things I’d bought that were going off.

Some days I’d fall into bed and think, welp, I didn’t do anything else, but I ate today.

The first thing I let go of was the notion of meal creation as women’s work. Of course, the logical brain had long ago tossed aside the notion that it was the female half’s job to make sure meals got onto the table, people got well fed, and the kitchen cleaned up after. Unfortunately, the feels didn’t quite catch up until fairly recently, and only then because there genuinely weren’t enough spoons to go around.

I had to release the idea that “love means you feed the ones you love and if you don’t make sure the ones you love are well-fed, then you’re doing it wrong“. That one was all intertwined with “but I need to eat anyway…soo…”.

Which leads me to the release of what constituted a meal.

Growing up, meals always involved at least one platter of stir-fried veg, one meat dish, a soup of some sort, and probably an egg dish or another meat dish to round things out. So the idea of what a “proper” meal consisted of was very much ingrained in me. Not just in terms of propriety, it was also how I’d gotten used to eating. I didn’t like meals that were nothing but rice and meat and I didn’t feel fully satiated if it was just rice and veg. (the year of vegetarianism was a fun trip…)

When spoons really came at a premium, I discovered the lifesaver that is the Vitamix. It was mostly by accident, actually. I had a chicken pot pie that really wasn’t doing it for me, and chewing was such a chore, so I ended up tossing it into the blender with some stock and just chugged the result. Cue the eureka moment of — wait, what can’t I blend?

Now, I blend everything. I’ll toss all sorts of veg, meat, oatmeal, rice, and sometimes nuts into the blender, smoothify it to the consistency of a thick soup, and just drink that for as many meals as I need to.

This is why the Vitamix instead of my stick blender or a normal blender, by the way. The end result from the Vitamix is smooth and creamy, even if you dilute it. Sometimes a thick soup that looks okay when blended with a normal blender ends up …snaggly when you add water to thin it out to drinkable consistency. As in no-chewing whatsoever, just drink it like juice dilution.

Note: I wish I knew this back when I was drowning in vegetable matter from my farm share.

I blanch all the veg, which means I can fit an entire head of cabbage into the container if I want to, go to town in terms of additions, and hit the magic button. I’ve tossed remainders of beef stir-fry in with cups of spinach before – the bits of ginger and garlic and soy sauce was a nice touch. I’ve also made chicken stock with an entire chicken, shredded off all the chicken, and liquefied all the stock veg and the chicken into a thick soup.

If I could only own three electric things ever, it’d be my laptop, my Vitamix, and my cellphone. Best money I ever spent. Ever.

It’s completely possible to make three pots of soup at the start of the week, puree everything, and just alternate all week. Very little mess, no waste, ¬†little clean up on a day to day level, and best of all – no thought required.

Poor appetite? Doesn’t matter since there’s no chewing and therefore little effort. Just chug it.

My mom’s gotten fairly on board with this notion and it’s great. Dad’s not a fan, but in which case, we just direct back to release #1: care and feeding of other humans isn’t my god-given responsibility. (babies are different, okay?)

And the last thing that I learned to release was the idea of “normal” productivity.

It’s inevitable. You see what other people do, what they get done, and how they seemingly juggle work, family, social activities, fun, and themselves effortlessly and it’s hard not to go pea-green with envy.

Something else that I learned to do is to pay attention.

Most things hinge on whether or not I sleep well the night before.

If not, well, then it might have to be a low-load day. I aim for 6k steps on the fitbit, try for 250 words, and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. Sometimes it’s a no-load day and …well, I’ve since learned that there’s no forcing it. Some things you can push through. Chronic illness, depending on what’s going on, not so much.

If I do sleep okay, then I have a short window (2 hrs?) in the morning where I can brain. So this is when I try to write.

Around 10:30am my focus often gets drifty, again completely dependent on the sleep quality the night before. At this point I either move onto reading articles and blogging, or it’s time to eat.

Around 2pm, I start to get sleepy again and at this point about all my brain wants to do is read. This is a good time to do social-y things where being completely online isn’t necessary.

And then it’s all downhill from there.

I do sometimes get a second wind sometime in the evening, but it’s erratic and I haven’t really pinpointed what causes it yet. It’s entirely possible that it’s due to dinner often being the biggest meal of the day in our family, but big meals are just as likely to make me groggy as not…

For 2016, I’m aiming to turn the lights off at 9pm, maybe read a bit, do my positive projections, and then hopefully sleep before 10pm.

And I know myself, which means no excitement  whatsoever starting at about 8pm.

We eat around 6pm, which means cleanup will end around 7:30 or so and then it’s showertime and then wind down time.

I used to hate the idea of non-spontaneity and regulating my schedule like this, but it doesn’t bother me now. In fact, there might be benefits to having a severely curtailed night life. We’ll see if it’s true that nothing amazing happens after 9pm anyway.