Wednesday 21 April 2010

Food Personalities

Food really can be a nuisance for some: One can't live with it and one can't live without it either.

After many years of leaning, observing, trying, and experimenting I however think, that I am starting to get the bigger picture. I wrote an article once in which I suggested to become a graser - people who similar to cows nibble small portions throughout the day - and I am now realising that this is only one part of the puzzle.

I so far have indentified at least two significantly different personalities with different needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle: Grazers and accountants (this is in lack of an animal kingdom similarity, at least I didn't find one). No offence to the profession of accountancy, it is meant as a compliment even. While the grazers are eating when they get hungry, and have to stick with little portions because they are actually hungry all the time, the accountant personality is eating at set times.

These are the two extremes which are repeatedly suggested in literature, internet and TV, as the ones to strive for in order to maintian a healthy lifestyle. This can be utterly confusing as the accountant can't comprehend how grazing could ever work and vice versa. So keeping this information in mind the first question to answer for a food troubled mind is:

What type am I?

Or better: What would be the type of personality which I would be able to adopt?

As for me, I am definitely a grazer. Hence the previous article and hence me thinking that my ways would save the day for everbody else. So let us investigate some of the issues the respective groups are facing:

The accountant food personality
The accountant actually has it quite good. They are the 'take 1 hour of lunchbreak' personalities. Only the time and the portion size has to be determined, probably the one or other emergency strategy for travel or social events needs to be thought through, and life can proceed as usual. Since accountant types lead a rather organised life anyway, for them it is no problem to stick with the schedule and once the body gets used to it, things go like clockwork. Hunger will not occur anymore out of hours, and since they take a dedicated time to break they even will have some recovery time after food intake.

The grazer food personality
The grazer on the other hand is leading a different lifestyle. They either have jobs where they travel a lot, dynamically manage many tasks at the same time, and often they are maiden for everything hence attending to other people's needs. Thus there is no rhythm in the daily tasks around which meal times could be scheduled, and energy consumption varies within the day and between days. Given this lifestyle, hunger kicks in randomly, whenever the depots are empty. The task is to see for healthy food provisions readily availabe as there is no time for preparing a proper meal, or taking a proper break. Additionally a proper meal is too much for the grazer, as it has the capability to trigger sleepyness, a feature not appreciated.

Relationship hiccups
So now we want to imagine the once unhappy food junkie managed to find the matching personality and adopt it. All the rules are set, the adjustments are done, and success shows in a healthier and stronger body. That is when one has to address the matter of social environment: meaning friends, spouses, and family in general.

It will be a successful relationship when they are all of the same species, but they usually aren't. A grazer and an accountant in one househould wanting to stick with the social conventions of having mealtime together depicts a setup that is bound to fail. And here it shows why accountants have it that good: Social convention is accountant oriented. The hard work lies and always will lie with the grazers. They will have to determine certain slots during which they will join their counterpart - e.g. twice a week for dinner - and for the rest of it they will have to go separate ways food wise. If they fail to find an agreement the grazer inevitably will get fat by doing the grazing for hunger plus doing the set meals to please social convention.

Which brings me to another hiccup: I already mentioned that the grazer quite often is taking the role of 'maiden for everything' which more often than not includes the preparation of food provisions for the rest of the office working family. Which basically means that the person who will not take part in the meal is supposed to prepare it. And that is a real nuisance. The only solution I can see is to pre-cook, freeze, and show dad how the microwave works!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday 8 April 2010

My Choice - My Challenge!

Having done a lot of mulling and moaning during the past couple of month or so, I have now put a new focus on my sport activities. It was a matter of remembering what it was that brought me to Incredible Ladies in the first place, what it was that made me feel happy and successful and healthy. So on one hand I am doing this for myself, but on the other this brought me back to thinking about the charity side of things as well.

Oh my, I have been so grumpy and jealous, seeing all these celebrities running marathons, climbing mountains, waterskiing through the Channel. All these examples of overcoming fear and challenge taking I found more off-putting rather then inspiring. How is a normal person supposed to compete with that? How am I to measure my success against theirs? I am bound to fail miserably. These guys have a public face, they have a team helping them, they have the best of equipment, and of course they are raising huge amounts of money. Why should I work my bud of, almost killing myself in a challenge, if only about 5 people will pat my shoulder, and if I am lucky I may raise 500 quid. One celeb can cover the efforts of about a thousand of normal people. Under efficiency point of view we should let the celebs do all the fundraising.

And actually, it is not just me claiming the same praise for a similar effort; one is getting measured against these achievements. “What? You only did one marathon? Well, here is a pound, but you know - Eddie Izzard has been running 50 of them in one go – THAT is great innit?”

To be honest: I feel like a resentful arsehole now. Because it doesn’t matter how I compare to those guys... and the poor bloke really did suffer!

It is important that
  • I like what I am doing,
  • that I achieved something that I couldn’t do before, what gives hope that I can replicate that and become even better the next time, and
  • that whatever people give me as sponsorship goes to the charity that matters most to me.

Oh, and there we are with the next rant! The choice of charity – I did Race for Life, Cancer Research; after three years it was almost impossible to get people excited about it: ‘We know that you can do it, why are you doing it again?’

Does it matter? I am collecting money for a worthy cause, for crying out loud!

And then I came across the orangutans and I just knew that is what I want to support. Well now I have to defend my choice because I am not helping humans or children. The extinction of a species... hmm, aren’t their more pressing problems in the world?

Fighting extinction – why does it matter?

I don’t have one of those official, scientific answers to that – all I have is a story.

When I was a kid at school we went to a history museum and all of a sudden I found myself face to face with a strange stuffed bird in a diorama: A Dodo. I always was into wildlife and wanted to visit all the places to see all the animals, and so I asked the teacher where they live. He pointed me to a little label that said: Extinct.

I didn’t know what that meant, and so he explained that there is not a single place in this world where this animal is still alive. That they all got killed hundreds of years ago and that the stuffed ones are all that is left of them. It was the first time that something that grand hat hit my little brain. I had not been travelling at all back then, for me this world was an endless resource; how on earth could it happen that something just vanished. I felt for the first time what it means to be ‘too late’, I felt deprived of an opportunity, and later when I went to university they had a museum with a stuffed Dodo. I visited him often and imagined how nice it would be... just once to see him waddling along between trees.

Later my imagination got caught by Jane Goodall and her Chimpanzees, and of course I wanted to travel to Tanzania and live in the rainforest. And of course I didn’t. Well and many years later I bumped into the orangutans on the telly and edged my way closer to the scene of people actually doing the rescue work. I learned a lot about all the issues which make them an endangered species, and I would not be able to bare the thought, that one day a child would be standing in a museum in front of a stuffed orangutan and asking the same question I asked about the Dodo, only to find the same label attached to it.

And knowing what I know now, about evolution, habitat, gene pools, and so on – Now I know how easy it is to make something extinct. We may be next.

And that is why it matters!

Related Links:
Orangutan Land Trust (OLT)
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS)
Interview with Michelle Desilets about OLT