Food for Thought #2: Don’t Let Your Brain Beat Down Your Heart

Last Friday I was done. I didn’t want to bike home from the store in the rain. I didn’t want to make even the simplest dinner. I didn’t want to read any more books, no matter how awesome or life-changing they had the potential to be. I didn’t want to write any posts, or do any work. Oh and I DEFINITELY did not want to clean. I was tired. Didn’t I deserve a break? Couldn’t I just veg out after a long week and watch some tv?

I was feeling a little prickly…

First of all, I came home and I ate something. Crabbypants Kate appears much more easily when blood sugar levels are low. I didn’t eat while standing up, running around trying to put things away, or while whittling away my time on the computer. I just sat and ate and felt grateful for the food in front of me and the sunset gently folding behind the hills. Feeling is so important. One of the key aspects of food allergies or challenging yourself physically or mentally is to quit thinking so much and just pay attention to how you feel. Frumpy Kate on her frumpy bike ride home thought about all the things that weren’t going to make her happy – making dinner, reading books, writing the blog, living in a clutter-free environment – and guess what, she wasn’t happy (even though she loves all those things). Amazing coincidence, hey? You think you won’t be happy and you’re not. You think you can’t cook or you’ll screw up or it isn’t even worth it to try, and you’ve decided the outcome before even giving it half a shot. When you think something will be crappy, embarrassing, terrible, heartbreaking, worthless, whatever – it is going to be that way. What sort of effort you put in has no bearing whatsoever, because your mind is made up. You’ve decided the outcome: you’re not going to enjoy it no matter how hard you try, because your critical brain is screaming for some negative reinforcement, blocking you from paying attention to how you actually feel or how good you could feel.

This is why I say don’t let your brain beat down your heart. Our body knows what foods are good for us, while our brain holds on to certain ideas with a mixture of panic and nostalgia. No more white bread?!!! What the hell am I going to do? No sugar??? I’ll never be happy again! When in reality, if you pay attention to how you feel after eating food rather than letting your brain cling with a certain panic (even though your brain has no taste-buds), you discover that those trigger foods have been causing your unhappiness all along. Overthinking or negative thinking clouds the true joy in life, joy that should be experienced from the heart, not falsely created in the head.

It all depends on how you look at things

What I really deserved that day was a chance to discover more happiness in my life. I deserve more than tv. I deserve a life where I feel happy, satisfied, and grateful. A life where I am willing to celebrate at any moment, large or small. Tv doesn’t give me that. So I’ve given up on it. I’ve given up on staying the same, which was pretty eye-opening in itself, given that I consider myself a person who is always striving to improve herself.

So, as of June 4th, I’ve given up on tv. I’m trying to be very careful about my words here. “Giving up” implies we are losing out on something – really it should be more like I’ve committed to gaining life. I’ve found that tv keeps me from expanding into my creative self. It keeps me in my same old patterns rather than allowing me the momentum to appreciate and make the best of each moment. If I had come home that day, fallen into the old trap of thinking that I “deserved” a break and that tv would make me happy, I would have stayed stuck in the same old crabbypants pattern rather than using the moment to empower myself to be a better writer and more creative, passionate person. Of course things always look less crabbypants-y once I’ve eaten a sweet potato, but that had been my third day without tv.  Anytime I am working to change certain patterns in my life, I’ve found the third day of any sort of removal is the hardest – gluten, sugar, dairy, chocolate, police procedurals and crime dramas, what have you. Get through the third day, and you’ll know you have the willpower to make it the rest of the way.It also helps to focus on what you are gaining rather than what you are removing.There is an increasingly popular phrase going around known as “crowding out”. If you are trying to eat healthier, don’t just “give up” foods, which indicates deprivation, but eat more awesome, healthy food and gradually your desire for the junk will decrease. You’re getting more health and happiness and less stress and anxiety. The same goes for behaviors. What have I gained in just a few short weeks without tv?1. Most importantly, I don’t feel any need to watch tv. The craving, so to speak, is gone. It isn’t an indulgence or guilty pleasure any more. It’s just a waste of my valuable time, a squandering of the precious opportunity to be better and live bigger.2. I’ve enriched my life by seeking and finding comfort and community:
- I discovered another inspiring and entertaining podcast, this one from the Spunky Coconut. I already love Kelly’s blog, and this podcast is a continuation of her energy and focus on natural living, creating new traditions with allergy-friendly food (grain-free, dairy-free Gooey Butter Cakeanyone???), and doing it all in a family-friendly way.- I’ve rediscovered Lillian’s Test Kitchen, a simultaneously light-hearted and heartfelt site run by a delightful woman and her funny videos. Lillian pours energy into finding and sharing answers about difficult food allergies and the chronic conditions they cause. She also shows you how to bake anything with hilarious videos and indefatigable joie de vivre. This site isn’t just for people with food allergies or health issues. It’s for anyone who wants to learn how to love cooking.

- I’ve read An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace and Sweet Potato Power twice, being no less comforted, encouraged, inspired, and hopeful with each read.

3. I’ve felt a new level of excitement about the direction of my life.
- I’ve been galvanized and downright exhilerated enough to share and write buckets lists – two on this blog and one with Bucket List Publications. I am working to be a more open person, and I would have previously never shared anything this personal with anyone, let alone published some of it on a blog.

4. I’ve begun to enjoy some domestic chores.
- I’ve rearranged my closet, wrestled my desk and living room from the grips of clutter, written 7 letters, planted zucchini, managed not to kill said zucchini, and even cleaned my sink more than once a week. I do it while listening to podcasts, which makes the obligatory tasks a little lighter.

5. I’ve been stretching my limits and growing.
- I’ve started training for a triathlon next year. Scary big leap. I prefer little hops, but I’m stretching myself. (I like the term stretching rather than pushing. Stretching implies growth and ambition. Pushing is too close to self-berating for me)

- Written, written, and written some more. More blog posts, more kanji practice, more letters, more collecting of stray thoughts, and more life plans and professional goals. Sometimes I am a little too enthusiastic now. Where I used to drop off right away at night, I’m usually awake for another hour thinking.

6. Discovering something we all seek – balance.

Despite that last little fact about being too excited to sleep,  I think I’ve come to a balance. I know when my brain is being a bit too aggressive, and I do my best to ease back and let matters of the heart guide me, paying attention to how things make me feel – food, exercise, how and with whom I choose to spend my time – rather than how I think they will affect me (“I’m too tired, lying on the couch is better than doing yoga or going for a run.” Yeah. right. Usually I just end up eating too much and then feeling bad about myself, stuck again at square one but with even more unnecessary calories and unhealthy, self-defeating thoughts). I keep searching too – searching for answers on how to heal my PCOS, searching for answers on the most effective way to help you improve your lives, searching for answers on how to live in harmony with the environment and do it joyfully.

You can’t find those things with tv, or even just your brain. Your brain helps a good deal more than tv, especially when you are thinking positively, but giving up on tv means I’ve found something much more important. I’ve found my spirit.

 

Food for Thought #1: When You Are Afraid to Make Mistakes

Food for Thought #3: Trust Yourself