Challenged

I am not the sort of person that loves residing in her comfort zone. I just don’t like it there: it is too comfortable. So before I even have a chance to truly settle anywhere, I usually find a way to shake things up. I guess you could say I do it to myself? Restless soul. So these days, I translated that habit in miniature form (no moving abroad for me) and started some new challenges, ranging from silly to rather demanding.

A dress a day

This one started with my girls saying “mum, you have so many dresses but you always go to work in jeans”. And they were right.. After a forced quarantine lasting several months, they were more right than ever.

I have to admit (blushing red cheeks while I do): I have an incredible weakness for dresses, from the little black dress to flared flowery summer-dresses. I still wear dresses from the time when I was 16, I also have hand me downs and secondhand ones, dresses of all lengths and in all colours. So I started the “dress a day”-challenge with my girls and posted a collage at the end of every week. And after six weeks, honestly, it is getting to a point where it is embarrassing to keep posting. But the nicest thing about this challenge is that friends and colleagues feel inspired to do the same. Do not wait for a special occasion, an especially warm day or a party, please wear it now! Wear it for your online zoom-meeting for all I care, but wear it.

Vegan-challenge

I need to add some background before this one makes sense. In Africa, I had the advantage of fresh produce every day: tropical fruit, milk straight from the farm, mangoes picked from the tree.. And on top of that, there was the unexpected side-effect of less temptation to eat processed foods or refined sugars. Yes, there was less choice but I find that a shortage of choice can be a source of riches as well, especially when the shortage is merely a lack of luxury and excess.

So when we moved to South America, my body reacted. All of a sudden, we had supermarkets filled with imported food, Starbucks at every corner, Ubereats and more things that I had forgotten about and that my children never even knew. And it wasn’t so much a case of indulgence (although we did, believe me we did), but I just had to adjust I guess? And before I even did that to the full, we moved again. Throw a mental depression and a Corona-quarantine in the mix and I ended up with 10k of extra dead weight and feeling like shit.

Make a long story long: something had to happen. I joined Strava, for one. Running has saved my mind before so it could do that again, running makes me feel like I have wings so I needed to get that back. But clearly, diets are not for me: I get cranky, hangry. I experimented with gluten-free, intermittent fasting, less meat, keto.. ugh, it just did my head in. And let’s not forget I am getting older: the same effort of the past does not give the same result.

And then I watched the documentary “The Game Changers” – and everything just came together. A healthier diet, a more ethical choice, a lower risk to develop diseases, more power to work out. This was it! And it has been. This is not an attempt to convince anyone, I am the last person to tell someone else what they should do. In the meantime, I have seen more documentaries and have researched websites and have read books from the library, subscribed to newsletters, spoke to vegans.. It took me some time, but I am starting to know what I am doing. It is a pity, it takes so much initiative and effort from an individual, it should be easier. But anyway. I made that effort.

Do not get me wrong:

  • I do not think everyone should do this. The world’s biggest problem is not that humans eat animals. The world’s biggest – and underlying – problem is that there are too many of us. The fact that we need food to feed us all, is just a side effect. The fact that first world people eat food that is too rich and eat too much is a completely different chapter even.
  • I do not think it is unethical to eat animals or animal products. Humans have large intestine for a reason. I also would not raise my children vegan. But when I see battery chickens, I am repulsed. When I see the crap in our oceans that fish swallow, I am disgusted. Yet again: the problem is that we take things too far. The solution is less people, but until that happens, I think I have the luxury to do my part? (Otherwise Covid will do it for us, it seems.)
  • I actually do feel better. I was already eating less meat, definitely less red meat, just because I think that due to my age I have less need for it. But a plant based diet did give me the calm in my health that I was seeking. This is a completely and utterly personal thing. In the beginning I thought: no one tells me I have to stick to this 24/7 so when I feel like ‘cheating’, I will. And I do not even feel like it. I will never embarrass anyone by not eating what a host offers me, but I do not crave anything.
  • It is extreme, yes. And I was naively thinking that I could keep this quiet because I do not want to come across as a middle aged hippie. But every coffee asks for soy milk, and turning down a piece of cake or chocolate when it is someone’s birthday does sadly get noticed. I have even noticed it stresses people out and as soon as restaurants open again, or when people start inviting friends to their house again, I am sure I will need to explain or might not get invited 🙂 I guess that is on me. I will carry my own soy milk then.

And so the job in times of Corona, the limited social life, the battle to get to see my kids, the university studies, and the training remain, but while I am wearing dresses and eating plants, I see that spring is upon us, summer on the way. Challenges definitely work better in the sun.

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