How To… be rational, not rationalize.

In our home we often say humans are not rational creatures, we are rationalizing creatures. That is to say, we spend more time thinking about why we do what we do, explaining and justifying our actions, as well as those of others, than we do thinking through what we are about to do and planning ahead. There is a lot of research into why this is, but it boils down to:

  • most behaviour is driven by instincts and thus most processes begin before we start thinking
  • we are often stressed, which lets instincts run wild
  • we don’t actually think of our future selves as “us”
  • we want to feel good about things we have already done
  • we want to feel good about the people “in our tribe”

This is why your average person will see chocolate cake, feel hungry, eat it distractedly, feel briefly bad about it, then excuse it and seek validation from others for the excuses, even though it is not in their long-term interests to eat the cake. Quite simply, instincts and now won out over reason and the future. It is also why depressive cycles can be so strong, why we enjoy disassociative drugs, or why people with personality disorders often feel the best about themselves.

But there are ways to improve our ability to be rational, that is, to think about our actions in general, our future, and what we do… before we do it.

1. List your instincts and their intensity.

We all have three base instincts that give rise to other instinctive behaviours. Think of which apply to you, as you might find one or two do not, and think about how easy you find it to resist them.

1: Survive.

  • eat
  • hydrate
  • sleep
  • hide from danger

2: Reproduce.

  • partner
  • have sex
  • create safety
  • locate resources

3: Find worth.

  • relax
  • work at something you enjoy
  • feel pride
  • feel belonging

So, for example, I would say my drive to eat is very strong, whereas I can resist the need to drink or sleep for a while. I would also say my drive for sex is strong, but still far weaker than my drive to partner, and that my drive to partner comes before my drive to avoid danger or feel group belonging. This means I am very centered around what I eat and around Jon, and not easily swayed by groups or fear.

2. Consider the biological reasons for your instincts.

There is a biological reason for every instinct. Those you feel intensely are probably there for two reasons:

  1. They are hardwired in almost every human.
  2. They were reinforced during your childhood.

For instance, a childhood lacking much parental security, group solidarity and physical resources has made me very prone to disordered eating and eager to attach to one person very intensely. Both are at their core instinctive, but they were reinforced later on.

Likewise, your instincts will have a purpose.

3. List your life goals and how instinct may interfere with them.

But not all instinct is good nowadays. We have an instinctive urge to get fat, because at times of scarcity, we never got too fat, just about fat enough to keep us through a famine. But today there are no famines and the instinct doesn’t work. Likewise for every instinct. Fear becomes paranoia, sexual need becomes single motherhood or multiple child benefit claims, desire for pride becomes arrogance, desire to belong becomes dependence. They can all become dysfunctional when let run wild.

4. Whenever you feel an urge, ask if it is instinct.

Now you know what they are, when you feel a pull towards something, ask yourself what instinct it could be based on. The urge to buy the latest smartphone may be a need to belong, or a need for a partner, or a need for sex. The urge to eat the chocolate cake may be a need for food, or for drink, or for safety. The urge to slap someone may be a need for belonging, or a sense of fear, or a spike of pride. Every self-destructive knee-jerk is your instincts screaming in confusion at the modern world.

5. Whenever you identify an instinctive drive, think long term.

You won’t catch every instinct, but you need to think long term as soon as you spot one. Think about your bank, or future purchases, or the group you belong to before buying the smartphone. Think about your weight, your health, or bad habit cycles before eating the cake. Think about social and legal repercussions, loss of friendship or the risk of physical harm before slapping someone. Ask yourself where your actions will take you, and whether you really want to be there.

In summary:

1: Know yourself.

2: Know your body.

3: Know your priorities.

4: Identify your problems.

5: Plan ahead.

Because it may be easier to rationalize, but it does nothing to help you better yourself.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

FitFriday, FatFriday XII.

Baby.

Well, I had a continual headache from Monday morning through Wednesday. That wasn’t fun. Jon said it sounded like a migraine from how much pain and confusion it was causing, only it didn’t react to light or sound. So just an awful headache. Went to the drs, just in case. Apparently some women “just get them” and after a check up they said no risk of pre-eclampsia, but let’s check the iron levels. Will find out if I was anemic by Monday. Though I have a faint suspicion that some lemon squash I was guzzling might have had something to do with it. No squash = no headaches. If it was the culprit, I’m not sure if I managed to overhydrate again or if it has a compound that triggers headaches in me.

But I’m finally getting used to baby’s “routine”, which is good. He will wake up with me and kick me in the intestines until I have my morning coffee, a bit after which he calms down. Unsure if this means he may have the same hormone issue I have, or if he’s just reacting to my own hormone regulation. OTOH, he is very little and probably not developing anything disordered yet, OTOH, caffeine passes through the placenta far better than hormones, so it’s probably that he reacts to. Then he will have two busy days for every quiet day, so on quiet days I will hardly feel him and on busy days he won’t stop kicking me senseless. And every day, when I lay down to go to bed, he kicks about a bit, rolls over several times and seems to settle into a pattern of resting and rolling as I fall asleep. I guess he appreciates the stillness after a busy day!

Diet.

Doing pretty good. I was so sure I was getting fat, and then I find out my weight is STILL stable. I’d better not be losing muscle anywhere. More pics when Jon has the time to get a nice full-body one of me not looking too slouchy or unclothed.

Managing to keep within my calorie ranges and the baby is growing fine, so, considering everything, I’m just going to stick at it. Lowering my sugar intake in favour of more complex carbs, though, because fresh and dried fruit and plain sugar have crept up and I’d like to not go on a sweets binge. Less sugar, more starch and protein.

Exercise.

I have been very, very bad with weights this week. General activity: great. Some gardening, resistance bands, yoga, walking the dog, nice long walk to the drs for that blood test… Weights have sort of been missed a lot. But there’s always something. Either I’m overtired, or I have lessons, or we have an errand, or something. I hope next week I can get back to it, because I know that if I don’t keep my weight workouts steady, I may suddenly lose some power and will have to roll the weights back for another six months. šŸ˜¦

How did your week in fitness go?

“What is a normal bump?” 5 Pregnancy Variables.

At the moment I get a lot of “you’re still so small!” Especially when it comes to weigh-ins and I still haven’t gained since that week of super-gains at the start of the second trimester. But when I look at pictures of other 21 week women online, I see plenty of women my shape and smaller at this stage. And plenty of variety in the shape and size of bumps at all stages. Some women have huge bumps and have hardly gained weight. Some have tiny bumps but are heavier. Some gain more of both, some almost none of either. And these are women who all went on to have perfectly healthy babies. What gives?

Here are five variables I have found that seem to make all the odds.

1: Age of the mother.

A big one: younger women stay smaller for longer, then “pop” more in the third trimester. Almost across the board, the younger you are, the less bump there will be until later.

2: Sickness and cravings.

We will all likely get at least a little queasiness and a bit of the hungers at some point during our pregnancy. But some are affected more than others. If I had had my travel sickness 24/7, I’m pretty sure I would still be 68-70kg today. There is no way I could have ate anything like that. Likewise, if I was as hungry all the time as I get some of these days, I would probably be nearing my 80kg safe-limit already. Your appetite will sway you one way or the other, regardless of how hard you work to eat well.

3: Muscle tone.

I had figured I would “pop” fairly quickly, due to having been obese as a teen. I thought that, seeing as my abs have already been overstretched, there would be no resistance for the baby to grow against. Turns out it doesn’t work like that. Because I do plenty of core exercises in my yoga, lifting and belly dancing, my abs are pretty solid. And solid abs are solid abs, stretch or no stretch.

4: Height.

Yeah, it seems obvious, but if you’re a shorter woman: you could still be carrying a 6-8lb baby. And that means you will have a “regular” bump on your petite frame. It’s going to look huge. Likewise, on a woman with hips as big as mine, or a much taller woman, the same bump may look moderate or even small. It’s an optical illusion you can’t escape.

5: The other mothers around you.

Finally, this will not change how you gain weight, but it can create another optical illusion. As I said, I have been told I was quite small for my stage. Which I may be. But I live in an area where many other women are older, unfit, overweight and happy to snack on sugary things. My culture does not lean towards small bumps. On the other hand, women from a closer group to me (same age, same fitness and dietary habits] tend to be about the same size as me. I might only look small. Likewise, you may appear bigger or smaller if you compare yourself to a demographic which does not represent you.

And you can’t really win with this. At first I was terrified of getting fat. Then I was disappointed at how small the bump was. Then, when I knew baby was healthy, I was proud I was controlling me weight. And now I’m somewhere between thinking I’m too fat, but the bump is too small. No winning at all. I guess you just have to work hard to stay healthy, see where pregnancy takes you and work out where to go from birth when you get there.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Quick Fish Noodle Dinner.

Jon’s review is “nice sauce (approvingly] lots of noodles (not so approvingly]”. Perhaps a few less noodles and some veggies might be an idea next time!

Still, it took a grand total of around ten minutes, was amazingly rich and if you fancy a hot noodle dish with fish, a thick sauce and plenty of comfort, this is awesome.

Ingredients:

  • 200g fish pie mix
  • 300g salmon
  • 100g squid
  • 200ml double cream
  • 400ml milk
  • 150-250g dry rice noodles
  • powdered vegetable, chicken or fish stock
  • 1tbsp mustard
  • 2tsp worcestershire sauce

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • pot with lid

Recipe:

  1. Chop the fish into roughly 1.5″ bits. Put in the pot.
  2. Cover with cream and milk. Add stock, mustard and worcestershire sauce.
  3. Simmer until the fish is cooked.
  4. Add the noodles and stir through. Take off the heat once stirred.
  5. Making sure the noodles are submerged, cover the pot and leave a few minutes.
  6. Serve hot.

Fast, satisfying dinner. šŸ˜€

What quick meals do you like at your home? And what would you call an appropriate noodle-fish ratio?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

FitFriday, FatFriday X. Carbs it is.

Baby.

Went to see the consultant and the look on his face basically said “why have they sent her here if she’s managing it herself?” So now I’m back with my midwife full time. šŸ˜€

Starting to see a bit of a poke that isn’t just fat now, so it seems the bump is hardening. Still have hardly gained weight although I’m at 14.5 weeks, though, so I need to keep an eye on that and if I don’t gain after another week or two I’ll see what the midwife recommends.

Also had an awful blood sugar crash. Fortunately from working with people who have diabetes I worked out what it was, and now I can recognize one coming on and have some fruit or juice or a sweet, but the first one was a shock. If you start feeling a little numb in the legs and then sick: go sit down and if you get dizzy have some sugar. When they run through it feels like you just stepped out of an ice bath: cold sweat everywhere, sick, cramped and shaky for ages.

On a final good note, no other symptoms that have hurt or bothered me. So my tally is: motion sickness on long car trips, a torn ab muscle, aversion to mussels and a single blood sugar crash. Doing pretty good on my goal to having a peasant-girl style pregnancy and just keeping going until baby arrives.

Diet.

Diet has changed a bit. Higher carbs split down through the day, especially in the morning and night, to prevent crashes. Which naturally means my fat intake has to go down and my protein has to go up to balance calories, insulin and appetite. Not that I’m minding, right in the middle of stone fruit season and with almost infinite jam and pie fillings to use up!

Weights.

Missed for a couple of days due to the crash, but before that I was still making steady progress. First session post-sugar-crash should be about… now.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

5 Diet Tips For Minimizing Morning Sickness.

With week 14 well underway, it’s pretty safe to say: I beat morning sickness. Woo-hoo!

Good thing too, seeing as I have an irrational fear of vomiting that could have put me into shock and possibly meant a hospital trip.

Now, I know a good part of this is luck, maybe genetics, but I did get the odd burst of queasiness. And I managed to not just suppress them, but nip them in the bud. There’s plenty of advice out there on managing morning sickness. This isn’t about that. This is about doing everything in your power not to get it in the first place. And it won’t work for everyone, but it’s just my personal experience in hopes it could help someone else who struggles with emetophobia.

1: Avoid slushy, easily digested food.

The one thing sure to bring on a rumble in my stomach or the smell of reflux was food that dissolves when it hits your stomach. Gooey cakes, yoghurts or even chocolate, any combination of smooth fats and simple sugars is a nightmare. Fast food and other foods with a high GI cause the same mess. Likewise for smoothies, juices and other blended foods. It’s like a food volcano.

Instead, opt for eating whole foods as much as possible. Fresh fruit and vegetables, well cooked lean meats, roughly mashed beans and starches. Minimize simple sugars, fats and salts and focus on fibre, protein and starch for a bedded stomach.

2: Eat plain, dry foods often.

This isn’t just for when you feel it coming on! Almost every well-seasoned mum has told me that if you nibble often, you can mitigate or even send away morning sickness.

Pick something bland and plain, preferably starch or fibre based, that is nice and dry. Corn cakes and home-made bread were my foods of choice, but crisps/chips, rice cakes, crackers and wafers work too. Try and go for whole grain or high fibre options, though, as the plainer and whiter the starch is, the more likely it is high GI or sweetened, which could bring you right back to step one.

3: Trust your nose.

I hadĀ an aversion the whole first trimester, but it was a huge one: mussels. Jon and I were eating a Thai fish noodle thing. And he was raving about it. But it tasted… very wrong to be. Still, cause Jon was enjoying it I put on a brave face and finished my bowl. BIG mistake. The next day I had reflux, was almost sick when I sat up and got stomach cramps. Bear in mind this was not food poisoning: Jon, whose digestive system normally can’t handle my “healthy snacks”, ate the whole bowl and then had more the next day and the following day with no issue.

So take this note: sniff your food, lick your food, spit it out if you need to. But don’t swallow something your body is repulsed by. Because even if there’s nothing wrong with it, if your body says “no” it will come out anyway. Your body laughs at wholesome tomato salad. Your body does not believe in a lentil soup. One way or another it will come out.

4: Sip and nibble when in motion.

Motion sickness really got me. Fast moving was fine, but a long car trip was the closest I came to actually experiencing morning sickness in full. Almost constantly queasy, tired, smell of reflux on my breath. And the one thing that beat it down, counterintuitively, was constant sipping and nibbling.

Eating properly will make it worse, as will a proper swig of fluid. But just let morsels the size of an average coat button pass your lips every thirty seconds and you should find yourself not getting (as] sick when you’re out and about.

5: Move deliberately.

Again, this ties into motion sickness. Because a lot of my sickness was actually caused by movement, I worked out that slower, more deliberate movements reduced my motion sickness and made me happier.

Think about your movements before you start. Don’t do anything that could spike or crash your blood pressure, basically. Get up slowly, sit down slowly, lie down slowly, walk slowly, have a good look at stairs and hills before climbing them. Just be mindful of your movements to reduce motion sickness.

And that’s what I did to reduce my morning sickness whenever it surfaced. I understand that for many women it’s just an ordeal that needs to be got over. But anything you can do to reduce it, in any way, matters. So I hope I helped!

How did you handle your morning sickness? Any other tips for women who are having morning sickness troubles?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

FitFriday, FatFriday IX. I could eat a house.

Baby.

Still nothing obvious other than we saw the scan and s/he’s literally floating around in there. And I still can’t eat mussels or pilchards. They’re nasty, apparently.

Keep wondering about an odd sensation I get. It’s like a period or digestion cramp, but weird and “bouncy”. Makes me curious as to whether that’s when baby bounces off the wall, like s/he did during the ultrasound.

Weights.

Sticking at my 6×4 routine and working my squats up to 60kg before I can’t do squats any more. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but my damaged abs might not hold much longer.

Everything else is going great, though, and all this work in the garden, squatting on hills as I plant beans, making steps up and down the hill, moving rocks and weeding beds, is keeping me nicely busy throughout the day. Got drenched through when the sky literally opened a few days ago, but seems I managed to get in and change fast enough to avoid catching anything.

Bee haven:

20150928_184120

An overview of the garden a week ago:

20150928_184659

Pictures of the edibles (potatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes, assorted berries, turnips, leaves, etc] will be up next week, when everything has bedded down enough to get a good look!

Diet.

Why am I so hungry???

Oh yes, baby. šŸ˜›

In all seriousness, I’m not sure if I’m running a low level deficiency, starving for protein or just overdoing the gardening, but I am starving right now. As I type this I have had rhubarb tart with a pint of sweetened soy milk for breakfast, two hard boiled eggs and half a mango for snacks, egg and sausage oatcakes, another slice of rhubarb tart and am still eyeing up some corn cakes to load with peanut butter. A part of me wonders if I need more calories, but another part of me knows that you only need to add around 200/day in the second trimester and that my calorific needs are well under 1800/day when I’m not hiking around with 27kg on my back every day. And I am well over 2200 today anyway.

Still want to eat everything, though. šŸ˜¦

How did your week in fitness go?