Sunday, February 10, 2008

In Which I Wonder Whether Perhaps Things That Are Good Do Come Easily

In my life, I've typically been one of those people who extols the virtues of hard work, claiming that without hard work achievements are not as sweet, blah blah blah. Now, I kind of believe this still, but I've also got a suspicion that perhaps the best things in life actually come really easily, and all it takes is for something to click into place and then the good things just sort of happen. (This is not to say that there is absolutely no effort on one's part, but rather that it doesn't feel like pulling teeth.)

So why am I thinking about this on this Sunday morning as the sun is rising pink in the sky (and is just gorgeous, incidentally)? Well, in part it goes back to a conversation I had with High School BFF last night, in which we were discussing how happy we've both been since the new year, and in part it relates to stepping on the scale today and realizing that even though exercise has been erratic at best because of the Evil Pestilence That Inhabits My Body and Which Prohibits Exercise, I have lost 4 more pounds. This puts me at a total 14 lb. loss since the new year, or an average of just over a couple of pounds a week, which is totally in the range of what it's healthy to lose (esp. given how much I should lose, and I do expect things to slow as I get closer to what doctors would call a healthy weight for me). Now, given the whole Evil Pestilence thing, I've not been in the gym every day or anything like that. Also, my Evil Pestilence has not caused a loss of appetite, so I've been eating like a champ, thanks very much. No, I've lost that weight pretty much as a result of watching what kinds of things I put into my body. And I'll tell you, it hasn't actually been hard.

It's taken effort, yes. It's taken a commitment on my part, yes. But it's been, well, easy. So what have I been doing?
  • Whenever I cook something, I take special care to make sure it's really superbly delicious. In other words, I have not eaten a single sad salad or Lean Cuisine since beginning on this path at the new year.
  • I have, even when I've faltered by going out to dinner or whatever, made sure to drink 48+ oz of water - not juice, not Crystal Light, just plain water - every single day, and I've almost entirely eliminated soda. (I have maybe 1-2 12-oz. Diet Cokes per week as opposed to 1-2 per day. It's kind of like I was little and my mom would let me have pop as a treat only on Friday night.) When you're drinking that much water, you just don't eat as much.
  • Every time I cook I make sure that what I make gives me multiple servings or that I can turn it into some other dish for multiple servings, so I'm only committed to cooking 2-3 major meals per week. (Because of this, I'm actually not allowed to cook anything this week because my freezer has reached critical mass and until I deplete some of its stores, it will not fit any new dishes.) It is not realistic to think that one will be in the mood to cook something every night of the week, and it's not realistic to think that one won't want things that are quick and easy now and again, so the trick has been to make sure I've got that covered from stuff I myself have made rather than to turn to the outside world when I don't feel like cooking.
  • I've made sure to have a range of healthy salty and sweet snacks around so that I'm not tempted when a) I'm at school, where they have vending machines and b) when I'm at the grocery store, where they have lots of delicious treats that are not part of the whole "healthy eating" thing.
  • Oh, and that reminds me: I do not enter the grocery store without a list, and I stick to the list.
  • I've limited (though not eliminated) alcohol. I've averaged about a bottle (or two) of wine per week.
And that's it, I think. And so I've gotten to enjoy cooking again, I'm eating yummy things, I have more energy (which I actually have come to enjoy), and it's not hard. And the weight is falling off, even though I don't feel deprived. And I'm not, like, weighing my food or anything or tallying up calories for everything I eat - just sticking to stuff that we all know from when we were kids is good for us and eating off smaller plates.

And then I look at my other areas of my life, and I realize all the good stuff there is happening pretty easily, too. Work? Easy. The minute I decided I was just backing off of work and allowing myself to focus on my whole self, I get asked to submit an article to a good journal and I get nominated for an award. All of a sudden work stuff just fell into place. Again, not that I didn't have to exert some effort to set things up for that, but it's not been a struggle. Saving money? Going like gangbusters! (In part because of the cooking for myself, honestly, because as expensive as the grocery store *seems* compared to what I used to spend there, I'm getting a ton more for my money in terms of number of meals and I'm not blowing money on eating out, nor am I letting food just rot in the fridge. Also, I suspect the decreased wine budget may have something to do with the wads of cash that seem to be left over, although I do sometimes think that the cheese budget offsets the savings from the wine budget....) The way things are feeling with various relationships, etc.? Totally easy! Like as soon as I decided not to push and push and push and just to accept things for what they are, all things became satisfactory. (This is not to say that all things became "normal" or "real" however.... just that I'm not a freaked out mess in the way that I was, say, last fall, and I'm pleased that things are the way they are.)

All of this is far to Zen for my normal way of thinking, but I'm coming to think that perhaps things that one has to push so hard for or struggle so hard to achieve actually suck and that they aren't really worth doing. Sort of like when one is involved with somebody romantically and it's always constant "working on the relationship" - dude, at a certain point, that means that the relationship just sucks - otherwise it wouldn't need so much work. What if that's true in all areas? And if it is, doesn't that take a lot of pressure off of us, because then we can say, "Hey, this just sucks and it's not worth all this energy, or it would be easier," and then we can move on to invest our energy and commitment in things that feel more organic instead of trying to fit our square selves into round holes or something? So this is my thinking on this Sunday morning.

Hee! I just realized that I probably should have titled this post "Easy Like Sunday Morning." Admission: this song is actually my favorite Lionel Ritchie song ever, and it has been since I was a tiny child.


Maude Lebowski said...

good for you!! i'm so proud of what you've been doing! yea! go crazy, go!!

saxifraga said...

Your strategy totally makes sense to me. Congrats on loosing weight and the added energy. Great news.

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks, peeps :) I've got to say, I'm feeling awfully proud of myself :)

(And good to see you around, Maude! I hope things are going well for you!)

Dr. Bad Ass said...

Why is that drinking water thing (which is so sensible, and you are right on track doing it) so freaking hard for me? I dutifully ice up my water bottle every morning, carry it to school, never drink it, and carry it home.

When I'm backpacking, my rule is "When I think about water, I take a drink." and since I'm obsessive compulsive about drinking water while backpacking, that's not hard to do. So what gives when I'm just working? Do you have a trick or something that you use to get yourself to drink water?

Belle said...

Can you come organize my life?

Dr. Crazy said...

Belle: Ah, would that my life were as organized as it may appear! If I were organizing your life, you'd probably feel like things were quite chaotic!

Bad Ass: First, I have trouble drinking water throughout the day if I'm at the office, but the way that I've forced myself to do so is that after coffee in the morning (because what is a morning without coffee?) I don't let myself have other beverages until I've gotten in the requisite water. I find that this rule keeps me in check, because at the very least I'm drinking water while I teach (as long as I take the bottle out of my bag I can be counted on to do this) and with my lunch. Once I get home, I can play catch-up if necessary. So that's my only trick - that the water has to be consumed before any other liquids, and usually once I've done that, I just keep drinking water because I've developed the taste for it throughout the day.