13 Nov An Inconvenient Life
An Inconvenient Life
A guest post written by: Rebecca Weiss
After living in New York City for a few years I had a pretty iron-clad approach to walking in the city, I would cross the street at the corners that provided me the most direct path, and I would become really irritated if construction or a bunch of other pedestrians required me to cross at the north corner when I needed to go south. Having to cross back over, or even waiting for the light to get where I needed would drive me crazy. I’m wasting time here! This is so inefficient!
In my career I’ve faced this irritation too. Why don’t we have a separate drawer in the printer for letterhead? Why do I have to hand-feed these sheets of paper? At home, it was: Why not clear the table and start the dishwasher during the dinner party? Why does minute rice take 20 minutes to cook? I have to admit I’m often impatient, and I know it turns some people off.
Aside from the interpersonal issues this might bring up, my impatience has become a big part of my struggles to get fit and make better food choices for myself. Oh, would I complain bitterly when the escalators at Penn Station weren’t working. I could justify having pizza for dinner more than once a week because it’s more easily delivered than, say, a grilled tuna wrap.
Now, I won’t say I’m a Zen master, but by accepting an inconvenient lifestyle, I’ve gotten much healthier.
First of all, I always take the stairs now. If you want a benchmark for your fitness level, forget the scale, or your pants size, and try climbing the same sets of stairs every day. I can see a continued improvement in my ability to climb the stairs in my daily commute, and I have the additional benefit of avoiding those long lines for the escalators. And, I like to think that all that stair climbing helps supplement my workouts on days I don’t get a chance to ride my exercise bike.
We’ve all heard about how fast food is one cause of the obesity epidemic in our country, and the main reason people eat it, I think, is convenience. But, you know what, there are lots of restaurants around that make fresh, healthier food, and if they don’t deliver, or you have to drive or walk to get them, maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Getting out of your car to order, pick up and pay for your coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts may actually save you calories. Waiting in line, thinking about whether you need a box of Munchkins to snack on, might actually change your mind. But, in the car, reading emails and ordering to the voice in the box at the drive thru? Well, why not add some more sweets to the order?
Having kids and commuting to work, I really value having trusted people who help us out around the house. But, you know what some of the best exercise is? Mowing your own lawn. Raking your own leaves. Painting your own walls. Walking your own dog. When I consider that I’m actually accomplishing multiple goals at once: Getting the closet painted, saving money and getting a good arm workout, I realize I am being quite efficient.
I also think about what my impatience teaches my kids. Do I want them to learn to always choose the easiest, fastest option? Isn’t it my job to show them that hard work, patience and follow through are the best ways to accomplish important goals? It’s easy to see how this plays out for them with food, too. Yes, we all love those sweet slices of lemon loaf or pumpkin bread at Starbucks, but how much more satisfying is homemade banana bread? We can take those mushy bananas on the counter at home, add our own ingredients, wait for it to bake, and at the end we have a house filled with a wonderful aroma, the excitement of pulling out the loaf and slicing it, and something equally tasty—without any mystery ingredients. We may have spent an hour on something that would otherwise take two minutes, but I think the end result is sweeter because we made it ourselves.