Saturday, January 03, 2009

January Challenge -- a couple more thoughts

You already know about my January Challenge inspired by the Lean but not Mean blog of Catholic moms trying to improve their health and fitness level.

In conjunction with that, I am really enjoying Jen at Conversion Diary's Saint Diet series. It gives me some spiritual mind-food to digest while I'm trying to restore the balance in my own health life back to "ordinary time". She makes the point that

there are ways you can structure your lifestyle to make it more conducive to holiness.
She points out that eating habits can change your mood and your response to grace quite drastically. And I love this reflection on the daily schedule of the Missionaries of Charity.

Stephanie has been commenting about seasons in response to several of my posts -- how, basically, there is "a time to feast, a time to fast", a waxing and waning, in most things. I have noticed that my health habits naturally follow the liturgical year and the calendar year to some extent, and have decided that there is nothing wrong with this in itself.... nothing that says that orderliness has to be uniformity. I used to picture order as a sort of industrial "dynamo" model but have learned it's something more subtle and rhythmic than that.

My carb intake, for example, is higher during the winter holidays. It's partly because it is colder outside (and we set the thermostat to 60 degrees which is a way to burn off some fuel in itself!), and partly because of ready availability, and partly, legitimately, because celebration times are customarily marked with more luxurious foods. I've realized that though carbs can affect my mood and energy level, the effect is two-sided. On one hand, I get a sort of euphoria and relaxation which is nice once in a while, and on the other hand, I have energy lows and am in danger of sugar crashes if I don't keep the food coming in. So it "works" for me at times when relaxation is good and appropriate and the food is there.

Obviously this isn't a good life-time strategy, though -- constant infusions of food and "down time" -- so once the holidays are over, I usually challenge myself to notch back down into the ordinary season habits of life. This is working for me now because I am maintaining a healthy weight rather than trying to lose weight. In the past, when I was actively trying to lose weight, I had to be a little more proactive about the restrictions, and I could imagine becoming more proactive again if (1) advanced age ends up playing havoc with my metabolism or (2) I get to where I couldn't transition from the Feast seasons to Ordinary Time at least somewhat gracefully.... it used to be that way and it could get that way again easily.

A re-summary of my Challenge here, so I can memorize it as a sort of examen (I used to put these things over at my household blog but I'm trying to integrate).

  1. Exercise. ...incidentally during daily life and in occasional longer duration activities.
  2. Healthy Eating. Go back to norm of few simple carbs and fruits or vegetables at most meals.
  3. Hydration Goal. Drink more tea as replacement for coffee.
  4. Do A Bit Extra Sometimes. ... get out there and engage with the world somehow in an active way (I need reminding to do this : )).
  5. Personal Care Routine -- vitamins, teeth etc.

How I've been doing on those:

  • Slightly more incidental activity.
  • Eating more regular meals and more vegetables.
  • I drank some tea : )
  • I played with Paddy and Aidan yesterday.
  • I totally forgot the vitamins though I did brush my teeth... I hope and trust.
I expect there will be a transition as we get back to normal life on Monday, to be able to maintain vigilance over these things more carefully. We'll see. And I promise I won't update on the challenge every day. If I do get obsessive about daily recording I will move that over to House and Hold, which is standing idle right now.

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