Zero energy, zero creativity

Please tell me there's more coffee...It’s the new year! Time to get it together! Get going! Get moving! Get painting! Get writing! etc. etc.

And I feel like crap.

I had all these grand plans for this weekend, but thus far I haven’t been able to sit down to any of them. My first reaction was to start in on my usual mental flogging — “C’mon! Get that painting done! You said you love painting? Well, hop to it, dammit!” but I found I simply didn’t have the energy.

In fact, I slowly began to realize that this wasn’t procrastinating. I wasn’t doing stupid mindless tasks like playing video games or watching TV. Mostly, I was sleeping. I had been crashing hard every night after work this week and then having to use every ounce of my willpower to get myself out of bed in the morning. My first alarm in the morning is the cheerful whistling theme from Castle, but my second, fail-safe alarm is the opening cry from The Lion King. If that doesn’t wake you up, nothing will.

By Friday I was done. I went to bed early, slept until 9am on Saturday and then took an additional two hour nap in the afternoon. Painting? Pfft—not going to happen.

Energy Cycle

There are a lot of books and materials out there that remind creatives that you shouldn’t wait until you are “in the mood” to do your work. At the same time though, I’m coming to understand the importance of listening to your body. I firmly believe that many of the unhealthy things we do to our bodies have a lot to do with the unhealthy environments we must put ourselves through in modern life.

Like coffee… I don’t think there’s anything particularly natural about pumping one’s body full of stimulants a couple times a day in order to survive sitting in a non-stimulating cubicle for eight hours straight. And yet, recently I too found myself getting into the whole coffee-in-the-morning routine too. The fancypants coffee maker at work successfully seduced me with its mochaccino option and, before I knew it, I was in there first thing in the morning to fill up my cute little Starbucks travel cup. Not only was it an enjoyable chocolate-y, flavour-explosion, but I actually felt awake for a few hours. This, of course, doesn’t last and by the afternoon I was feeling tired, mildly nauseous and headache-y again. The stupid part is that the mild nausea and headaches are a consistent by-product for me when I have any kind of coffee product. Starbucks coffee brings on this reaction within a few hours, but the wimpy office coffee hadn’t until this week. Even when I began noticing it though, I was still there getting my mocha every morning this week.

I’m actually grateful for my body’s steadfast conviction to reject coffee. By the time I staggered home Friday, I had pretty much convinced myself that there would be no coffee-product for me Monday morning. Yes, feeling awake felt wonderful, but I could tell my body wasn’t particularly enjoying this method of jolting it.

Getting Healthy

A wise man once came up with this definition of insanity…

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. — Albert Einstein

This also perfectly describes my current eating habits and exercise regime that I have no doubt is contributing to my lacklustre energy level. I haven’t been to an aquafit class in months and I’m lucky if I get a full serving of veggies a couple times a week—nevermind the couple times a day that I know I should be doing. It seems to me however that if I want to paint and do wonderfully creative things with my evenings and weekends, I’m going to need to make some changes… and, like a lot of things in my life, I think attaching these changes to a desire to do the work I want to do, may be the push I need.

hungry-for-change-300x3001It was with this in mind that I stumbled upon the documentary Hungry For Change on Netflix last night. Now, I’ve done my fair share of diets which didn’t work and have read enough at this point that going into a grocery store has started to feel a bit like walking through a minefield…

(Oh dear God, don’t let the white bread get me! No! NO!!!)

…so it wasn’t that there was anything wildly new or earth-shattering in Hungry for Change. Still, they did have some interesting tidbits on the connection between certain chemicals and putting on unwanted weight. For instance, I found it interesting that the way you make a “fat mouse” for experimentation purposes is to pump it full of MSG. Mice are not naturally fat, but with MSG in their system they balloon up without any trouble. Considering the amount of MSG in our food—a “flavour enhancer”—it’s a small wonder that keeping unwanted weight off is so insanely difficult.

Another thing I appreciated about this documentary was its relatively even tone. Diets and dieters can sometimes be like religious zealots. I’m right, you’re wrong and mine is the only way. Mine, mine, mine! Of course, not all religions are like this and I think the best way to come up with a health regime is to do it slowly and thoughtfully. The people in Hungry for Change seemed to think the same way and I think it was the first health/diet documentary I’ve seen that didn’t propose radically altering one’s diet from day one. For myself, the moment my body hears the word “diet” it seems to become food obsessed so I deliberately avoid that word now in my quest to get healthier. Their advice is to simply add in more of the “good stuff” a bit at a time until it slowly but surely starts pushing out the “bad stuff”. I discovered after I finished watching the doc that Hungry for Change has a lot of good resources on their website, which I plan to work my way through.

Anyways, the upshot of all this is that I’m not going to beat myself up this weekend for not painting. I’m tired and my body is unhappy with me. For the sake of my creativity, I’m going to work on that for a bit first.