I don’t know about you guys, but for me it feels like January is flying by! This so isn’t my usual when it comes to the snowy, dreary winter seasons. Most years, the long, dark days seem to drag on. But life has been busy for me over here in Chicagoland, and as my work schedule has picked up over the holidays, I hardly realized how quickly time was flying.
Today marks the last Monday in January of 2021, and in general I’d say that not much feels too different from 2020, but I have a lot of hope for what the spring and summer will bring. In the mean time, I’m continuing to list out the events/milestones that I’m looking forward to and different celebrations that my family has coming up. It helps keep my mind in a positive place and my attitude up even when the sun-less-ness has me tempted to get down in the dumps. (Another big thing that helps is the fact that Tues-Thurs I start work at noon, so I have all morning to get natural light!)
How do you cope with the winter blues?
- Related post: 5 Ways to Fight Winter Fatigue, Naturally!
Things I’m Loving Lately…Food Edition!
I think the last time I posted a roundup of my favorite meals was back towards the beginning of the COVID quarantine. It’s not my usual habit to take pictures of my meals and snacks, but I realized that I’ve been enjoying some tasty creations lately and naturally had a buildup of food pictures on my phone that I’d been sending to friends and family. I enjoy seeing meal and snack ideas on other blogs, so I thought I’d share some recent ones.
Do you like seeing what other people eat?
The Value of Vegetables
Speaking of vegetables with rich sauces (i.e. bacon vinaigrette), I got to thinking again about the role of vegetables in life. Diet culture makes it seem like every person needs to focus on eating even more vegetables, and while the falseness of that statement is another post for another time, I wanted to share some thoughts about what we tend to believe the value of vegetables to be in general.
In many diet books, vegetables (especially raw vegetables) are considered unlimited foods. I hate the idea of unlimited foods because I believe (and as intuitive eating teaches) there are natural, biological limits to the amount of food to eat at a given time, and our bodies give us signals that inform those choices. I have personally binged on plain raw spinach and baby carrots to the point where I became physically ill because I was trying to avoid the other food I was craving, because I was bored and figured it was harmless to gorge myself on raw veggies, or because I wanted to binge on something and started with raw veggies before moving on to the pan of brownies. I still remember one time during my eating disorder days when I ended up with profuse diarrhea consisting of half-digested spinach because I’d eaten four giant plates of raw spinach for dinner the night before, thinking I was “being healthy” because I’d exceeded my calorie goal earlier in the day. Ugh.
Contrary to what the media tells us, the value of vegetables is not in their calorie count. They offer sources of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, and are an additional source of fiber (beyond whole grains, nuts, and other plant foods that contain fiber.) We should eat them not as a means for avoiding or displacing higher calorie foods from our plates but rather because of what they offer us inherently on their own.
The same principle applies to all other foods, which is why vegetables aren’t supposed to displace or replace things like rice, potatoes, meat, cheese, eggs, bread, peanut butter, or olive oil. Just as kale offers us nutrients we can’t get from most other foods, eggs offer us nutrients that we can’t get from most other foods…etc. We need variety, abundance, and balance, and we would die pretty quickly if we only ate kale.
That being said, a vegetable is still a vegetable no matter how it’s prepared. Whether we’ve battered and fried it (hello, zucchini fries), sautéed it in butter, dipped it in ranch, or covered it in delicious bacon vinaigrette, the value of the vegetable—fiber, folate, and all—still remains. The diet industry talks about high calorie toppings as a bad thing, but I am adamant that they are a good thing if they increase the likelihood that a person will be eating an appropriate amount of vegetables.
Gentle Movement, Exercise & Bodily Attunement
Just like our bodies tell us when to start and stop eating, I firmly believe that they give us similar signals about how much and when to exercise. That being said, sometimes we don’t feel like exercising in the moment, but we feel better (sometimes hours later) when we do get a workout in. (The same is true with eating. Even if we don’t feel like a snack in a given moment, we feel better later if we eat something.)
However, in the slump of winter blues, I’ve been finding myself a little confused about the signals my body is giving me for exercise. Usually, I exercise in the morning before work and feel great in the afternoon, or I exercise after my early shift and it picks up my energy levels from the afternoon dip. But lately, with the woes of cold weather and short days, I’ve been feeling more tired than usual, and my joints get a little achy from the cold. Some mornings, even yoga feels more tiring than it’s worth, and that’s left me confused. Sure, I still feel good in the afternoon, and I’m grateful for the extra flexibility it affords me, especially since sitting at a desk can leave me feeling stiff. Ordinarily when things like this happen, I interpret it as a signal that my body needs an extended period of rest—no exercise for a week or two. I actually ended up taking a break over the holidays, but it made me feel even more tired than when I do work out. (eyeroll)
Ultimately, I’m sharing this to illustrate the point that our appetites, our exercise signals (or signals for rest) can easily be clouded when other things are going on in life. Not getting enough sleep, depression, illness, digestive issues, hormone problems, pregnancy, and more can all affect the normal, healthy signaling between our brains and our bodies. When we respond the way we know we should when our bodies give us signals an our bodies don’t respond as we expect, it often clues us in that something is going on beneath the surface. This is just one of the many reasons that it can be challenging to transition from a diet pattern into an intuitive framework for food and movement. But even though it’s challenging and our bodies sometimes confuse us, it’s SO worth it!
Do you find intuitive exercise to be a challenge?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30