Review – 2012 Year of Efficient Eating

People generally think of explorers as those who were first to travel across a new land.  Consequently, the act of trying something new has been defined as exploring.  Certainly, there were things this year new to me:  baking ricotta, sometimes successfully;  buying fish from the markets, although I still overcook it;  and regularly drinking a glass of milk, albeit still with some added flavouring.  However, “discovering new lands” is too simplistic a description of what an explorer does.  This year had a bigger impact than that.

According to a great anthology of explorers’ writings I’ve been reading, exploring can also involve viewing a well-traveled route with fresh eyes.  That idea really sums up this year.  Countless times, I’ve tried to tackle my bad eating habits.  This year, I succeeded because I used a fresh perspective.  First, I heartily recommend a personal Year Of as a way of organising a lifestyle change.  Second, using Efficient Eating, ie discovering the minimum daily requirement of particular food groups, was novel enough to keep me interested.  Check out “Leverage versus Leaverage” as an example of this fresh eyes approach.

Along the way, I learnt that you can’t leave nutrition to chance.  I don’t have a rigid meal plan, but I do have a rigid shopping list.  There has to be enough protein in the fridge on Sunday night for the rest of the week.  If I want to buy from the farmer’s market, I can’t schedule other activities for the few hours it’s open on Saturday morning.

Explorers look at where they are and compare it with where they were.  From just such a comparison came the most compelling arguments for the success of this year.  My new energy levels are amazing.  Plus, and I don’t really know how to describe this, there is a sense of freshness and lightness that has nothing to do with the number on the bathroom scales.  These were unanticipated benefits.

Bathroom scales and comparisons remind me that some aims for the Year of Efficient Eating were not achieved.  No weight loss.  I will not recommend this strategy, on its own, to fix obesity.  As the experts say, exercise is a must and I didn’t exercise much this year.  That said, in spite of the lack of exercise, I did not put on weight.  So, I’m pleased to write that my new eating habits were useful in that regard.

The other key aim was to spend less by avoiding processed foods and take-aways.  The avoidance part is working, but I have no idea how much I’m spending.  Actually, I don’t care if I’m spending more.  I now think of food as an investment; it is worth it.

The explorers created charts and wrote diaries.  The scientific amoung them studied the stars, the flora and fauna, and the people they met.  They documented and recorded.  What did I do?  I started a blog.  It’s not quite the same!  There were only 27 posts.  However, working on this blog did keep me on track.  As a type of journal, it did its job.

Why am I using explorers and exploring as my analogy?  Why not present it as a journey, as so many have done in the past?  To explain this, I return to the  anthology.  It states that travelers return with information but that explorers change the world.  It is the link between explorers and change that I found useful (ignoring, for  now, the negative changes that explorers brought to some peoples).

My little exploration into the land of efficient eating has changed other areas of my world.  For example, I wrote about a beautiful magpie’s nest because I marveled at its efficiency.  It barely looked like it would last the season.  That got me thinking about the inefficiency of my home and the need to expand the idea of the “minimum requirement” into other areas.  I’ve started clearing, and organising, and giving myself more room to move.

This was my third personal Year Of.  The first was gentle, with little disruption.  The second started to make inroads into habits and mindsets, and the impact has been dramatic.

Makes me a little scared of what I might dream up for next year.


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