The snow is lightly falling; it is just past dusk, and the holiday lights are twinkling in the neighborhood. The smell of turkey, stuffing is in the air. The gingerbread dessert, apple pie, and pumpkin pie aromas waft from kitchen to dining room and on to the bedrooms. The December holidays as remembered by a child. You don't separate and define each of these contributions to the holiday atmosphere; together, they create the environment that says: Celebrate!
In my lifestyle journey, there are visual and comfort cues that make it easier for me to "get on with it" without feeling stressed. Here's a scenario. On work mornings, I am still thinking about -- am I ready to deliver the 7.30 a.m. presentation, and I am the one responsible that the room is set, AV equipment ready, I can meet / greet at the door, and the facility may not open its doors until 7.20 a.m.? Do I have everything needed to leave that site, proceed to the next site, and then transition to personal fitness activities, all without returning home, and without a "home base office" (other than my car - which is less than ideal in below "freezing" temperatures)?
So I definitely need "grab and go" foods because the mornings are a time when I am pre-occupied. It is not enough to say: "plan it the night before". Being a presenter over a number of years -- this is my sticht, this is part of the "what can go wrong, and how am I prepared to deal with it" that gets rehearsed in the 1-2 hours before the presentation(s). I seem to think more clearly in daylight hours, even if there is no sunlight. So I am working very hard to make this mental rehearsal effective at a time when it is not the ideal.
I perceive food prep as a necessary, but boring activity. I have learned to pair it with listening to music, to audio documentaries, to the afternoon drive home radio show.
For activity, I am both a participant and a teacher of my chosen active movement. As a participant, I am so at home with the possible requested movements that there is little stress in taking part in classes. It may not be "fun", but it is social and refreshing to me.
Because work life is necessarily stressful, with the constant moving from site to site, with time constraints and the unknowns of weather, traffic and construction delays, I can easily hear the siren call of "forbidden" treats and prepared foods of over-sized portions and ingredients that are too calorie / fat / sugar / sodium dense. I hear the siren call because the stress of work makes me think (my own misinformed thinking) that I am deprived, that I need something hot / cold / visually appealing to assuage the stress.
So the ideal motivation gives me the atmosphere - eat around people, not by myself, in a car; the ideal portions and combinations of protein, carbohydrate, fibre; the visual appeal of complementary textures and color; all of which helps me stick to the nutrition plan. I use flavored water because the available water at work sites meets local standards, but is of variable personal appeal (how the fountains are used, the smell, the temperature, the aftertaste).
The ideal motivation for activity includes Plan A, Plan B and Plan C that motivate me to both lead and to participate. (Please remember, that is what works for me -- it certainly may not suit what anyone else might need). If energy is low and work preparation is high, you will find me at the teaching studio, but not at the gym. Activity has to be "safe" for me -- so you won't find me outside in the early morning hours or after dark. I don't have a network of buddies for that kind of activity on whom I can rely or with whom I could regularly commit.
And what keeps me thinking about all of this is the reflection of keeping some kind of journal. This helps me to consider the choices of family members; where those choices took them (in some cases, how it directly contributed to premature death); and how other choices could have had other outcomes. I take the time to reflect, because I want to take responsibility for the quality of life to come. I take time to visualize some of my happiest moments; they include creativity, mental clarity, and movement.
The clothing I use for activity - it sets the tone the way the snow falling and the holiday lights twinkling moves me.
The food prep that I do while I am distracted by getting ready to eat a meal that is heating / cooking simultaneously - I smell the goodness and the food gets packed in a way that stimulates color and texture with my own quality control of macronutrients and fibre.
The settings in which I reflect - in traffic, in transitions, at specific times and places - allow me to use music and memory to stay in touch with what matters. I daydream and imagine as a little child in the December holidays.
So there it is. The ideal of nutrition, activity, and reflective practice. This combination is my motivation to live in balance, to live sustainably.