Because I am the kind of dumb that refuses to believe things like opportunity costs apply to me -- "You mean I can't work and freelance and improve our latest fixer-upper and run a house like clockwork and rebalance my 401(k) and be an excellent person/wife/mother/daughter/friend/volunteer in 168 hours a week? Why on Earth not?" -- I am now paying attention to my health.
Sure, I could adjust my expectations for what I get done in a day, but I'd rather adjust how I feel when trying to do it. This little bit has been stuck in my head since I read it back in Sept 2012:
Just before the show started production, Malcolm in the Middle showrunner Linwood Boomer told [Mindy Kaling] to get in the best shape of her life. “At first I thought he meant, ‘Oh, as an actress, get in great shape,’” Kaling says. “But he was like, ‘No. No. No. Get in the best shape of your life because you are going to be so tired and broken by the show.’ I was like, ‘Okay, Linwood. I think I’ll be okay. I did eight years at The Office. I was fine.’ And the first week of shooting it was the middle of August and I had a full on, winter-level cold. And I was like, ‘Linwood was right. I need to start getting into Linda Hamilton-in-T2-level shape to do this show.’ There’s no coincidence. I mean, I look at Tina [Fey] and she looks so sinewy and strong. And even Lena [Dunham] now, when I see her she’s just this compact little thing. Maybe a more cynical person would think it was for something else, but I truly don’t believe both of those women are as wiry and in shape as they for simply cosmetic reasons. I think it’s because they need to be strong and fit and alert for their shows. I can’t go to sleep at 4 a.m. on a Friday night and wake up at 2:30 like I was doing for so many years.”
It took a while, but it sunk in: I need to be in showrunner shape to handle being in my 40s and doing the whole work and freelance and improve our latest fixer-upper and run a house like clockwork and rebalance my 401(k) and be an excellent person/wife/mother/daughter/friend/volunteer in 168 hours a week thing.
So I'm working on it.
Because I find people who carry on about their healthy habits to be unbearably tedious and/or oblivious to their privilege and/or smug, I'll spare you all the laundry list of habits I've developed and effects they've had ... except for one.
I log everything I eat, and I do so with the intent of not exceeding a certain number of calories pe day. I use Lose It!, mostly because it's got both a mobile app and a website, so there's no excuse not to look up or enter food. And hoo boy, does the act of logging my food inflame my most Type A, apple-polishing personality traits. It is like the observer effect, only with food: Since I know I'm being watched (by a website), I make better choices. Heaven forfend I blow past my daily calorie allotment! Ooooh, imagine my shame if "My Daily Plate" report did not have both the vegetables and the fruits colored in! The website will judge me. There will be a permanent record of my failure!
Of course, this is exactly why you log your food: To dispel all the justifications and fuzzy thinking about what you're cramming in your Dorito-hole, and make eating a more mindful activity.
However, there is one unwelcome side effect for me. I have a general calorie range for each meal I eat. And as a result, when I see something like "The Shamrock Shake is back for a limited time!" I don't think, "Aww, yeah, time for the annual minty chemical treat!" Now, I'm like, "Six hundred and sixty calories? THAT IS LUNCH. For that I can have 16 ounces of spinach-pineapple-greek-yogurt smoothie and a giant green salad with two cups of sliced strawberries and two ounces of gorgonzola! And I'll have wiped out my fruit and vegetable goals for the day!"
This kind of thinking is grim, unfun ... and weirdly addictive.
Please promise me you'll effect an intervention if I become the type of person who claims avocado mashed up with cocoa powder is "just as good as" an actual brownie. Please. All calories are equal but some are more tasty (and worth it) than others.