Autumn. The Autumnal Equinox. Shorter days, fall foliage, corn mazes, fairs, apple cider. These are all common images associated with Fall. Fall makes me think of death. My reaction to the cooler air and pretty colors is to look around and think “where did the summer go?” For many years, these gentle signals of the seasons changing have made me think of death because one day, my life will come to an end, and if I’m lucid and aware of what’s coming, I’m sure I’ll think to myself, where did the summer go? Where did all that time go and how did it happen so fast?” Maybe it’s that goddamn Bad Company song. “Johnny’s life past him by like a warm summer day.” Those summer days that you look forward to all year, that just flash by like a dream.
So what is one to do facing such ominous warnings of impending demise? The Buddhism for beginners audiobook I just finished gives some perspective. Being present, mindful, and kind in purpose facilitates an enlightened living experience. I try to remember to live in the now, and accepting that deaths is right around the corner, an inevitable, functional part of life, moves me from fear and morbid depression to a heightened sense of urgency to learn to live and experience life as best as I can.
being driven by our desires and cravings: bad. Enlightenment: good.
Buddha teaches that suffering is caused by craving. The inexhaustible pursuit of desire leads one on an unending quest to quench an unquenchable thirst for satisfaction through food, money, material possessions, etc. Makes sense I guess. So, anyway, being driven by our desires and cravings: bad. Enlightenment: good.
I’ve been hearing a theme in some of the stuff I read and listen to also. The idea the we are made up of four bodies: the physical, emotional. mental, and spiritual bodies. Sounds plausible. The idea being that you take care of all of them or none of them are really going to work right. One challenge I think I need to work on that would fuel all of my bodies would be nutrition. Nutrition fuels the physical body certainly, but all the hype these days says food effects a lot more than just your waistline. Things like depression and anxiety, or sickness of the emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies, can be linked to nutrition. I guess it’s not a new concept. You are what you eat.
Food is definitely one area where I often yield to cravings or try to alleviate bad feelings by eating sweets or quick fix foods that aren’t good for me. Carbs, GMOs, Hormones, Gluten. All sound bad. Fast food is bad I know. Processed food is bad too. It can actually get overwhelming. Lewis Black used to have a routine where he would say, “..and for all we study about health, we know nothing. Is milk good or bad?” And then he’d pause, and the crowd would be completely silent. “I rest my case”
So what’s the solution? Gluten free, organic, paleo, vegetarian, vegan? And what do you do when you’re out on the road and you’re hungry and your stomach is telling your brain, “look jerk, if you make we wait any longer, you’re gonna die. Dead. Instantly. Spinach? Are you shitting me? McDonald’s. Now. Diet tomorrow.” Seriously, vegan organic whole spinach sounds great when your belly is full but I’m busy and counter intuitively too lazy to eat well.
I was listening to an audio version of James Altucher’s book, “The Power of No”. He has an interesting idea. Take a look at the CDC’s list of leading causes of death for the previous year. You can find it for the year 2015 here: . The top causes of death in 2015 were:
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
- Unintentional Injuries
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Kidney Disease
He instructs that you should identify which of these causes run in your family. Then, look up what the risk factors are for your family’s killers, identify which of those risk factors that you engage in now, and stop doing them. Sounds easy enough. Maybe I can apply that to my diet. The problem lies in that same Hungry/McDonald’s phenomenon described earlier. We don’t do things that are bad for us because we don’t know that they’re bad for us. We do it because something is bothering us and we regress to how our learned behaviors have taught us to deal with it. Perhaps some meditation would help here ala Budhha and cravings. Perhaps we’re all just screwed. Well, I guess in the end, we are.
identify which of those risk factors that you engage in now, and stop doing them.
But change is possible. I know. Sometimes you make the move and sometimes life makes it for you. Either way, things are always changing one way or another. Just look outside at the leaves.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make a challenge for myself. I’m going to set a goal, and I’m going to put some teeth to it. What I don’t want to do is over complicate this and wallow in paralysis by analysis. So, while some people have no problem starting a new diet, whether it be South Beach, Weight Watchers, Vegan, Paleo, DASH, etc, I could spend all month just figuring out which one to choose.
What I’m going to do, similar to the 30 day push up app I actually just finished (after a few months), is set a goal that I not eat any fast food or junk food from gas stations for 30 days. I’m going to prepare my own breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks from stuff I buy at the grocery store. Exclusions are going to be going over my someone else’s house who is cooking or meals for business or social purposes. I’m going to start this on October 24 and I have until November 25 to complete it. That will give me a few flub days so that I don’t screw up the first week and give up on the whole thing.
I think this should help me gain more control of what I eat and help me fine tune the process of shopping and packing my lunch and snacks for the day so I don’t wind up driving by McDonald’s with an empty stomach. Or, this all too familiar scenario:
Hopefully this is easy enough to start some momentum towards a healthier lifestyle that will allow me the better enjoy the days I have left here in this life and challenging enough to make it interesting. If this goes well, I’ll start focusing more on my actual diet and how to improve that. Baby steps. Please comment if you have any ideas for me.
And as far at the teeth on this challenge go, here’s what I’m going to do. I recently moved out of an apartment and have a Security deposit coming my way. Let’s say, we put $300 on the line. If I win, that money goes towards some new outdoor gear. If I lose, it goes to the Salvation Army. I think what I’ll do also, is document my progress on Instagram @keepurdayjob
So, to summarize:
- I rambled on a bit about fall and death.
- I want to make my life better so I’m not going to eat fast food or junk food I pick up at the Gas Station for 30 days. I’ll only eat stuff I buy at the Grocery Store.
- I will start the challenge on 10/24 and end on 11/25. That’s a total of 33 days, so I have an extra 3 days built in just in case I mess up early. That way I don’t have to quit in the first week.
I think this should be pretty easy but I’m usually better at coming up with ideas than following through on them. Hopefully this blog will be a good way to keep me on track.