Here’s the thing about a tweak a week. It gives you permission to nudge yourself in the direction you want to go without having to undertake a massive exhaustive overhaul of the way you live.
(Which too often is a recipe for collapse of the new regimen anyway — how many can sustain radical, encompassing change?)
Week 3 of my Year of Micro-Experiments
The goal: Eat within a 10-hour window
Much has been said recently about the efficacy of intermittent fasting. The premise is simple — by abstaining from food for regular periods of time your body thrives better in a world of affluenza eating and sit-all-day working, sit-all-evening entertainment.
Good and beneficent processes kick in:
- You burn fat stores
- You stop loading more into your overly sated system
- Your body clears out the discharge from our Western lifestyle and foodstyle
- You eliminate the timeframe in which you’d eat one of your meals
- You no longer pack food freight into your system as you head to sleep, which then only has one place to go: Storage aka fat cells aka Evan’s midsection aka the Tummy of Love
One version of intermittent fasting has you eating in an 8-10 hour window. For me it meant cutting off by 5:30 each afternoon, or sooner.
Like many life tweaks we make, I’d already been leaning in this direction. After a summer of gluttony I wanted to get back to leaner ways.
Also, I had a cool idea.
Instead of plowing through the holiday season packing candy (hello Halloween), pies and overeating (thank you very much, Thanksgiving), overeating and wanton deserts of all stripes (Christmas, you know that’s you) into my willing mouth — and then engaging in a finale of excess for New Year’s — why not optimize my way through the fall so that the end of the year is a real celebration instead of an overdue reckoning?
I want to glide into the New Year having already rebooted.
Though I’m not going so far as to issue pre-New Year’s resolutions, this fanciful thought is at the core of my upcoming weekly tweaks.
Week 4 will be a creative reboot.
Week 5 will be . . . shhhh . . . I’m getting ahead of myself, gotta leave a little mystery.
So, how did it go?
Decently, thank you.
Except Wednesday. Ann made something too delicious to be denied. Sitting here now I can’t even recall what it was, but what a temptress! There I am in monk mode and she slides out something tasty, something appealing, something worth gobbling without hesitancy.
The rest of the week was relatively effortless though.
(5:29 did often find me in front of our nut containers downing 3 honking cashews — I’ve never seen cashews like these, the size of a thumb joint — a palmful of pecans, maybe a few lightly-salted peanuts, and most definitely a nano heap of sunflower seeds.)
When you’re already leaning in a direction — wanting to eliminate evening meals — making a change feels organic, instinctive, rewarding even.
When I’m on the road by myself doing art treks to various destinations around the country, I skip dinner. A good breakfast, a snack and an adequate late lunch are all I require.
Every time I returned from the road I felt bloated and blottoed by the evening meal — once you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling for fullness it starts to feel especially gross as the evening wears on.
Then Ann bought a book about optimal health by Dr. Mercola. She was reading it in the bathtub. Which meant I was reading it in the bathtub.
Not simultaneously, we’re not that sexy cute after our decades together, but alternatingly (can I coin this here and now??).
You know how you hope to glean at least one useful info bit from each nonfiction book you read? The intermittent fasting concept presented by Dr. Mercola appealed to me! I’d already been doing it on the road. I was a natural at this.
His version has since tightened to 6 hours, from the 8 to 10 hour window recommended in his book a couple of years back. (Check out a simple graphic here.)
I jumped in and never looked back. I went strong for a year or more until this summer of gluttony. We headed out on our summer family art trek, visiting multiple artists in multiple states — countries even, since we hooked up with a painter and a glass-blowing team in parts of Canada.
Normally we splurge the first day out. For me it’s those little plastic chocolate donuts. For Ann — I don’t remember what it is for Ann. Something ba-aaa-ad.
We splurged — and never stopped splurging. Not even when the trip ended 4.5 weeks later.
When you’re eager for a change it fulfills itself.
And Sweet Jamaica I feel lighter and cleaner and leaner already.
I’m writing each tweak of the week about 8 days after that particular mini-challenge has ended. This gives me insight into what sticks and what doesn’t.
The following week my pattern was identical: 6 nights I ceased eating by or before 5:30, one night I ate dinner.
That schedule suits me. It gives me the flexibility to choose one night a week to abandon myself to a meal of my choosing. The remaining 6 days solidify this new template for my eating self.
What does this have to do with connected creative living?
Those of you who’ve been at the creative life awhile know that your bodily vessel affects your work.
The cleaner the engine, the better the output.
The leaner the chassis, the greater the mileage.
The lighter the load, the punchier the prose.
Something like that.
When your body’s better, your mind’s unfettered.
Your capacity for higher level work expands.
The pre-New Year’s arc is on track. Wouldn’t it be cool to hit New Year’s so jacked and healthy that your sole resolution is to eat ice cream for a week, to moderate from your impossibly high standards?
Consider joining me, crafting your own unique plan of course. Tweaking something at work or home or the spaces in between each week.
The beauty is this: After the week’s tweak is over you needn’t carry it further into your lifestyle. If it doesn’t want to stick, you don’t have to make it.
Feel your way forward micro-experiment by micro-experiment. As you dream up small changes you’d like to make, you’ll find one or two have greater pull for you as each new week dawns.
Now that I’m rolling, I’m finding the excitement building. Rather than its opposite — disinterest — I’m keenly intrigued to launch a new change as each week comes to a close.
And because by definition each change I’m contemplating must be small, there’s a surprising easiness to the process. This ease of execution seems to be the secret. One small adaptation after another accrues momentum.
Perhaps the biggest revelation to date is how fun it’s been!
As though a whisper is turning into a roar — or a giggle into a blissed-out brain state.