June 9, 2008 :: Comfortable Food

The other day it occurred to me that my physical activity level and my level of domestic contentment may be at odds.

Years ago, in the middlin' times of a loooong relationship that eventually ended, left alone to my own devices, I maintained a very high level of physical activity. (Specifically, I was alone brooding in an ancient, cavernous apartment in a city I only sort of knew while my boyfriend enforced a hiatus on our relationship, from afar, so I could "grow.")* I worked a terrible cube-farm job in a terrible Atlanta suburb, and came home to 1400 square feet of crumbling victorian architecture with no furniture and little real human companionship. So, on my way back to that heaven, every day I'd stop at the local chain-gym and work my ass off. And after a couple months, that's literally what I did. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and that little lip where my butt met my leg was gone. No more ass-lip. I laughed until I cried. Which, come to think of it, I did a lot those days.

Thing is, once Mr. estranged returned to the city, things settled down. I started going to grad school, and the fiendish daily workouts stopped. Part of it was time (I had other things to do, other people to see), part was laziness, and part of it was that I didn't need to fill the void with manic physical activity anymore. I felt domestic again. I cooked, cleaned, and took care of things. And when I'm feeling that way - despite from my card-carrying feminism and relentless rule of the country of Kendra (that's the most interesting way I could think to say "I'm monstrously independent") - that's when I'm the most content.

So, I'm WAY content right now. And I'm also way not into working out. There's the at-odds thing. I cook - and I cook healthier stuff than I would ever eat at a restaurant. I scrub the decks quite regularly--hundreds of calories burnt there, as I live with the messiest human and dogs I've ever met. I run about town with friends and Mr. Rainey all the damn time. But I can't quite maintain the militant, ass-kicking, sweaty-faced, breathless physical activity I could when I was wildly unhappy. And though I don't want to be wildly unhappy, I'd like to be toned and domestic and content - all at once.

I've been working on that medium ground.

It's all about comfort and efficiency for me. I think that probably describes a lot of my personality actually. Here's what I'm doing to meet myself in the middle:
  • i make comfortable, easy, no-more-than-5 ingredient foods. always. the salad above (avocado, spinach, feta, nuts, mandarin oranges and homeade vinaigrette)...I eat that thing like 6 times a week. Never gets old. Well, not yet. Thing is, if you're only using a few ingredients, they have to be darn good ones, and my budget doesn't support lots of darn good steak or darn good cheese. So, we buy primarily vegetables, whole grains, fruit, good olive oil, and nice wine and belgian beer--and then put them all together in endless, simple, tasty (and inherently healthy) combinations. We probably eat too much of them proportion-wise, but one battle at a time.
  • i make activity part of something that needs to be done. I can't fathom going to a gym. For one, I can't afford it. For two, I've always hated the posturing, the fashion show and the meat-marketness. Running on a loop of rubber is pointless. Walking to the train, arm-in-arm with my favorite guy, meeting on the last car at 5:24 like clandestine lovers, then walking home through one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the that's efficient. And utterly lovely.
  • i count the reasons i should do something. if i can come up with more than 3 really good ones (to do or not do something) i tell myself i can't refuse it. It works like this: I get it in my head that I need to start packing my lunch. Cons: I don't get to eat amazing, awesome-tasting rich foods from a variety of places within walking distance of the office. (that's 1 con) Pros: I save money. I save calories. I control where my food comes from. I don't get so full I'm uninterested in whatever Mr. Rainey's likely to be grilling that evening. (4 pros. The pros have it!) Usually the reasons are "money" "environment" and "I'm-getting-pudgy-i'd-better-cut-this-crap-out." I find I can apply them to most anything I marginally want to do.
The prophet Jagger once said something about not always getting what you want, right? Yeah. I think I win.

*Because people who read this know him, and because I'm not angry about it anymore, I won't go into what I now understand as the subtext beneath all that, though I do still find it interesting.


Northern Constitutional said...

I think Avocado is God's favorite food.

Northern Constitutional said...

By the way, when I am happy, I am pudgy. It's just completely and utterly true. My ex, whom I dated for years before meeting Jake, always saw me at my fittest and most svelte, because I had SO much anger to take to the gym, which I also hated. As jake and I grew happier and happier, we just stayed in eating and eating. I think this is a pretty common occurence among women...this would make a great feature article.

Kendra said...

totally with you there on that last comment. that's exactly what my friend stephanie said, too. it's so true. blake and i cook, and watch movies, and putter about, and just enjoy each other's company...and while these things don't burn very many calories, they are so fulfilling. really, i'm not in heart-attack-terrible shape, and i'm really really happy, so i have very little to complain about. i'd rather be happy and pudgy than unhappy any day. :)