Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Frugal Accomplishments

Monday, I received a check for $17 for writing a tutorial about rebuilding a carburetor (after Googling “what is a carburetor,” then “how to rebuild a carburetor”).  It was unusually warm for January, so I decided to walk to the library, and then swing by the thrift store to spend my income-stream money.  I had a dozen library books to return, and they didn’t all fit in my backpack, so I put them in our wheelbarrow, after power-washing it in the garage.  It’s a two-mile trek to the library, and the wheelbarrow was listing pretty seriously to the right, so I returned home after a block.  I put half the books in my backpack, and the other half in the ticking-striped front-pack I used when my son was an infant.  It smelled faintly of breast milk, Desitin, and optimism, and I slung it on happily.  I hurried to the library, realizing I looked a bit like a post-menopausal suicide bomber.

After returning the books, and checking one out (the book jacket promises that I’ll never buy graham crackers again, once I realize how easy they are to make), I stopped at the thrift store.  First, I donated the ticking-striped front-pack, and scored a 30-percent-off coupon.  I then bought an over-sized Fiestaware mug, an unopened package of embroidery floss (50 colors!), a flannel sheet that I’ll use to make 36 cloth napkins, a maroon sweater-vest from Lands’ End in a boys’ husky XL that I think will fit me, and eight Mason jars (they’re actually less expensive when purchased new, but they’re “greener” when thrifted) (not literally…literally, they’re blue).  I couldn’t carry everything, so I called my work-at-home husband, and he picked me up.  We stopped for Mexican food, because we love Mexican food, and because it was a special occasion (MLK Day).  I used a coupon, but tipped generously.  I took half of my enchiladas home, and cooked them with eggs the next morning.

Tuesday, after a delicious and economical breakfast, I walked to my neighbor’s house, and offered her two homemade pumpkin muffins in exchange for a 4-inch sprig of rosemary from her indoor herb garden.  (Recently—after Halloween—the same neighbor gave me four carved pumpkins in exchange for walking her Labradoodle for 20 minutes.  I cooked, pureed, and froze the pumpkin, and later used it to make the muffins.)  She agreed to the swap, and I immediately used the bartered rosemary to make Rosemary White Bean Soup.  (For my birthday, my sister gave me a Door Snake that she filled with white beans, but I already have a Door Snake, so I cut the new Door Snake open, poured out the beans, and soaked them.  I then cut the Door Snake fabric into 5-inch squares, and tucked them into my quilting cubby.)  When the soup was done, I took a photo of it, and attached the photo to a thank-you email I sent my sister.  My husband and I enjoyed the bean soup for lunch.  (To be honest, he didn’t specifically claim to have “enjoyed” it.)

I put the leftover soup in the thrifted over-sized Fiestaware mug, and walked to my aunt’s house, a block away.  It was a chilly day, but the hot soup kept my hands warm.  While I was visiting my aunt, I trimmed her polydactyl cat’s claws, and—to show her appreciation—my aunt gave me a box of empty baby-food jars (the cat is a picky eater).  I returned home and organized my office-supply drawer, using the jars.  She also gave me a cutting from an aloe plant.

Wednesday, I got word that my great-niece lost her first tooth and had her very-long hair trimmed.  I requested the tooth and the hair trimmings from her mother (my niece).  She agreed to the request (“whatever”), and I dropped by midmorning and picked up the tooth and the hair.  I then cut two 3-inch circles from the Door Snake quilting squares, embroidered my great-niece’s initials on one of the circles, and stitched the circles together using embroidery floss.  Right before I finished the circular stitching, I stuffed the hair and the tooth inside.  I added a small loop for hanging, and I plan to give the ornament to my great-niece next Christmas (it’s very cute…the fabric is red plaid).  Tangentially, my niece (the mom, I mean) recently began using flannel sanitary pads (guess who made them for her?!?), and I asked if I could have some of the “soaking water” produced, because I read that it’s excellent for plant watering (I was thinking about the aloe start), but she said no, and I respect that.

At 2:30 that afternoon, I had an appointment with my OB/GYN (who happens to be my best friend from high school!).  In exchange for an Annual Exam, I gave her a pint of apple butter (made with gleaned apples), a halter-style gingham sundress for her school-aged granddaughter (made with fabric inherited from my mother-in-law), pumpkin muffins for her staff (see above), and a handwritten haiku about my vagina (matted and framed at JoAnn’s, using a gift card and a 50-percent-off coupon).  (The haiku was matted and framed, I mean.  Not my vagina.)

Thursday, there was a snowstorm, and I stayed home.  I watched a few youtube tutorials, located a box of nitrile gloves in the home-improvement closet, and expressed my dog’s anal glands.  I sent a group-email offering to express the anal glands of friends’ and neighbors’ dogs, but there were no takers.  There were some off-color jokes, but no one was willing to rototill my garden this spring in exchange for a monthly Expression.  There were also some off-color jokes about “rototilling my garden.” 

That afternoon, when a young Hispanic man knocked on the door and offered to scoop our driveway and sidewalk, I was enthusiastic.  I gave him a list of a dozen tasks that I would trade for snow removal, including data entry (QuickBooks), medical transcription, button replacement and zipper repair, small-group non-kosher catering, and—of course—anal gland expression, but he insisted on ten dollars, cash.  I think if my Spanish were better, I could have made my case. 

Friday, I made a coupon book for my husband’s birthday, with one coupon for each year he’s been alive.  I included coupons for his favorite meals and desserts, for his favorite…wifely duties, for pretending to listen when he talks about Pink Floyd, for not gagging when he puts green olives on his turkey burger, for remembering to wish him a happy Aphelion Day and a happy Perihelion Day, for laughing when he shares a Brian Regan line, for refraining from rolling my eyes when he calls me to his computer to see yet another photo of Emilia Clarke, for loving him even though he refuses to concede that Rush Limbaugh has no redeeming qualities, for watching all three Bourne movies in one sitting…that kind of thing.

Saturday morning, after staying up late and being inspired by the hunkiness that is Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, I asked my husband to cut my hair.  “Scary version?” he said, which made me laugh (even without a coupon).  He used my Dollar Tree scissors, finished in less than a minute, and I looked nothing like Franka Potente or Julia Stiles.  I didn’t blame him.  “It all went sideways,” he said, and I laughed again, there in the bathroom.

That afternoon, my sister and I went to Walgreens, suspecting that the price of Christmas candy had been drastically slashed.  90-percent off!  Better than expected!  We bought everything that wasn’t obviously for Christmas (so we could pass it off as Valentine’s Day candy).  We bought 82 boxes of chocolates for $26.  Once home, using red construction paper from my art-supply stash, we made 82 heart-shapes with the words “From a Fellow Traveler” scrawled across the front.  We drove 40 minutes to a neighborhood near the homeless shelter, and began handing out boxes of candy.  There were requests for money, cigarettes, sex, real food, and transportation, and one suggestion that we take our privileged white asses back to the suburbs, but no one turned down the chocolates.

Sunday, my great-nephew visited, and we made cookies.  He wanted to make snickerdoodles, and I had cream of tarter, so I said yes.  I substituted whole-wheat flour for white, brown sugar for granulated, olive oil for butter, flaxseed for eggs, baking powder for baking soda, and nutmeg for cinnamon.  I’ve been “shopping from the pantry” for a while, so stocks are getting low.  We’re out of salt, but I suggested omitting it, after considering using fish sauce.  “Are they supposed to get all flat like that, and touch?” he asked as they were baking.  “That happens sometimes,” I said, which wasn’t a lie.  They were tasty!  I washed out a baggie and sent some cookies home with him, for his family.

That evening, my husband and I went to my brother’s house and watched several episodes of “Game of Thrones” on HBO.GO.  I took some of the snickerdoodles-in-bar-form, a quart jar of hot spiced cider, and some sliced meatloaf from lunch.  We ended up taking all of that (and more) back home, ‘cause their snacks were better.  We had fun, though!  It was a good week!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Weight-Loss State of Mind

I recently lost 50 pounds in five months.  To achieve optimal health, I need to do it again immediately.  So, this is an interim report in the form of a blog post, focusing on Lessons Learned.  Item #2 includes two rules, and the rest of the items are guidelines, or musings, or hypoglycemic blather.

1. Eating less than you want to in an attempt to lose weight can really mess with your head.

The instant I form the thought, "Starting immediately, I'm going to eat less than I want to in an attempt to lose weight," a less-reasonable part of me responds, "No!  Please...no!  We'll starve!  And if we manage not to starve, we'll always be hungry!  We'll never be full!  We can't possibly be that attentive, day in and day out!  If we're not allowed to spontaneously and un-self-consciously eat French fries from a loved one's plate, there's no reason to live!"

Occasionally--infrequently--I recognize this less-reasonable part of me as wrong.  I created her, of course, and I did so by depriving myself of food in my late teens and twenties, by telling myself that half of a small baked potato sans toppings constitutes a meal.  The more-reasonable part of me can quiet her (gently, affectionately) by pointing out that my plan is to eat slightly less, but still plenty, and all the good things.

It's easy, though (if one has known only over-eating and under-eating) to suffer Leonard Cohen's "panic of loss" when faced with an alien and perhaps-tedious middle ground, and to anticipate facing it forever.  Equanimity, patience, and assertiveness are key, as are self-awareness, self-care, and expectation management.  And it's a good idea to limit blaming, complaining, and excuse-making (especially if you spend any time at all hanging out with me).

2. A plan-of-eating needs to be less like a balance beam and more like an airport runway.

In the beginning, eating less than I want to can be difficult, and after a month or two I begin to look for a way out.  The easiest way out is to fall off the wagon, eat everything in sight, and then climb back on the wagon a year (or five) later.  Desiring a long-term solution to my recurring obesity, I designed a plan-of-eating with only two rules:

Daily, count the calories of everything I eat, and log that number.

Weekly, log my weight.

The first rule prevents mindless eating.  At restaurants, I make one careful estimation of the caloric content of a meal, and then I stop thinking about it.  At home, I'm more careful; I weigh and measure the ingredients of most meals.  During the last five months, I've eaten as few as 950 calories and as many as 3600 calories (my average is about 1650, and I always round to the nearest 50 calories).  Physical, emotional, and social states affect my eating choices, and I'm comfortable with that.  Sustainability is everything.

The second rule ensures that I'm actually on a weight-loss path.  After the first two weeks, I've averaged a 2-pound loss a week, losing a minimum of 0.6 pounds and a maximum of 3.8 pounds.  This rule dictates that I must hop on the scale at least once a week, but I can do it more frequently if I like.

I cut myself a little slack with this rule, allowing myself to record any weekly weight as my official weekly weight.  My weight-logging day is Monday, but, if my lowest weight happens to be on another day, I  can log that weight.  I find that this results in fewer bleak Sundays (Sundays are bleak enough without limiting dinner to a bowl of watermelon, 'cause it's a diuretic).

3. A plan-of-eating needs to include plenty of protein, fat, and fiber.

There was a time when about 90 percent of my calories came from carbohydrates, and I was willing to feel ravenous day after day because I knew the feeling would culminate in skinniness.  No more.  For the last five months, I've been aiming for 20 to 30 percent of calories from fat, with the rest of the calories evenly divided between protein and carbohydrates (with lots of fiber and very little sugar).  I'm no longer ravenous.

4. A plan-of-eating needs to include all the foods you enjoy.  In fact, those are the only foods that a plan-of-eating should include.

I know this is obnoxiously first-world, but if your meal is disappointing, stop eating as quickly as possible.  Put your fork down, take a deep breath, and imagine what you want to be eating.  Then, if possible, eat that.  It's a mistake to gaze at a menu, or gaze into a pantry or refrigerator, and ask, "What choice will make me thin?"  Keeping in mind that sustainability is everything, a better question is, "What's yummy?"  Or, "What would I choose if this were my last meal?"  Or, "What would I choose for someone else, perhaps someone I was attracted to sexually?" 

5. A temptation-free environment is a fantasy.

I know it's widely recommended that we purge our environments of foods on which we might binge.  And it's true that I don't want to see a 2-pound box of See's chocolates or a family-size bag of BBQ chips every time I open the pantry.  But if one is adequately motivated to overeat, one will, whatever the environment.  I once made a decent batch of bar cookies using nothing but oatmeal, peanut butter, and concentrated apple juice.  And if you melt enough part-skim mozzarella over any whole grain, and add a few drops of Sriracha, you've got a tasty snack.  Additionally, there are five fast-food restaurants within a half-mile of my house, and they all take credit cards.  Or, if I'm already in PJs, I can have pizza and/or Chinese food delivered to the front door, and--because of efficiency and proximity--the orange chicken and crab rangoon will arrive within five minutes.

It's a friendly neighborhood, so just as I purge my home of temptation, a neighbor might drop by with fudge, a Girl Scout might drop by with cookies, or my sister might drop by with lasagna.  All are welcome.  Because temptation is everywhere, it's much more realistic to learn to resist temptation (or to succumb to a degree with which you can live) than it is to cocoon yourself in a temptation-free zone.  Who wants to live there?  When my nephew suggests a late-night trip to the Chevron ExtraMart for snacks, I don't want to respond with, "But sweetheart...you know Aunt Polly's on a diet!"

6. Exercise is a great idea, and I admire anyone who occasionally gets off his or her ass.

For the last five months, I burned calories by running errands, by traipsing around a split-level home, by standing up while waiting for a booth at my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I did a modicum of housework, a soup├žon of yard work.  At least fortnightly, I took the dog for a 20-minute walk.  Now that I'm in Phase II (the next fifty pounds), I take the dog for a 30-minute walk every morning.  Eventually, I'll do a bicep curl with a soup can, or attempt a half-dozen jumping jacks, or power-walk a 5K.  Just not yet.

7. Weight loss doesn't need to be physically painful if you're making the right choices, but be prepared for emotional pain.

I numb myself to painful emotions by eating and--especially--by bingeing.  Grief, guilt, fear, anger, envy, and uncertainty all melt away during the process of becoming painfully overfull.  While adhering to a plan-of-eating that results in weight loss, I'm frequently visited by these unwelcome feelings, and I have no tools, no strategies, no defense mechanisms to make them go away.  I am bereft.  These feelings wash over me like ocean waves, and I let them.  I sit quietly, and I let them.

That said, there's no harm in trying to maintain a serene (if not cheerful) mood.  When crap happens, I pause and ask myself, "Is this important crap?"  It usually is not, and, while I don't banish the feelings of agitation or upset, I do nothing to encourage the feelings to linger.  

There's also no harm in trying to have a good time.  Right now, I'm working on a list of Activities That I Always (or Almost Always) Anticipate With Pleasure.  I'm up to seven.  And I try to schedule one for today, one for this week, one for this month, and one for the next six months.

8. Beware the crutch, especially if you don't have absolute control of the crutch.

A crutch is a useful--and temporary--tool for navigating a difficult situation.  Maybe, when I'm eating less than I want to eat, I shop a bit more, or nap a bit more, or watch "Ally McBeal" on Netflix a bit more.  I pay close attention to what affects my mood, and I protect my mood, as much as possible.  If that borders on narcissism (or laziness) (or both), so be it.

But it's essential to avoid crutches that can be unceremoniously kicked out from under you.  Years ago, I relied on a malfunctioning gallbladder to keep me from overeating.  As a crutch, it worked well for months, but eventually I had surgery, and two days later I was making up for lost time at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  I've also used the attention of men (in person and in cyberspace) to distract me from eating.  That particular strategy makes relying on a diseased body part seem like a brilliant idea.

9. Don't be influenced by the weight-loss efforts of those around you.

A weight-loss buddy, or even a group effort, can be--but probably isn't--helpful.  Perhaps you've been inspired by others, so smile gamely when someone is inspired by you, and wants to hop on the weight-loss bandwagon.  Keep in mind, though, that it's not really one big bandwagon, but many individual bandwagons.

As stated earlier, the best weight-loss state of mind is one of equanimity and patience.  Competitive feelings of envy and/or superiority are not useful in this endeavor.  I sincerely wish everyone the best, because if people are successful in achieving and maintaining healthy weights, it's good for the individuals, the nation, and the species.  However, my path is the only path that I can see clearly, and it behooves me to train my focus there.

10. If you feel pressure from anyone to eat more or to eat less, ignore it.

I once said to a friend, "Don't you hate it when people exert subtle--or not so subtle--pressure on you to eat more or to eat less than you want to eat?"

"No," he said.  "I ignore it."

Freak show.  Could that possibly work?  Could I change my responses to people, rather than trying to change...people?  When my stepmother jokes that my helping of veggie fajitas could feed a small village...when my sad friend suggests that the only way out of her bad mood is to share a family-sized sundae...could I remain unaffected by the comment, and eat exactly what I want to eat?  Of course I can!  I am always in charge of what I eat.

11. The rules and guidelines don't change simply because there's a well-loved child in the room.

Eating with children has always been a challenge for me.  I'm already feeling a little stress (because I'm temporarily responsible for another human life), and suddenly we're at Wendy's, and someone wants nuggets, fries, and a Frosty.  Or at least a couple of nibbles of nuggets, fries, and a Frosty.  I don't want to throw the leftovers away, and I don't want to take them home, and all that grease and salt and sugar is calling my name, and I cave.  Later, there are additional snacks during a movie or a tea party, and I find myself eating gumdrops and animal crackers, and sipping some turquoise version of juice.

Recently, I quit that behavior cold turkey.  I was actually beginning to resent the children, which was ridiculous.  Now I ask myself, "Would I eat this if I weren't with this child?" and I only proceed if the answer is yes.

12. As much as possible, detach from outcomes.

Granted, it's almost impossible to do.  When you weigh yourself, you're going to care about the number.  I like to imagine measuring other things: chopped walnuts for cookies, fabric for a skirt, a room for new carpet.  I can do those things without an emotional investment.  Weight-taking is merely an element of charting; it's not an indictment of my body or my character.  It's useful information, and that's all.

I follow my two rules, and I manage expectations.  Sometimes, after a couple of days of Big Macs and TV, I lose 3 pounds.  Sometimes, after a couple of days of veggie chili over brown rice, with dog walks at both sunrise and sunset, I gain 3 pounds.  I don't know why.  And it's not in my best interest to get all spun up about it.

In all of my endeavors, it doesn't make sense for my mood to be dependent on something I cannot control.  I can control how well I stick to my rules and guidelines, and it makes sense for my mood to be somewhat dependent on that.  I'm a firm believer in the science of weight loss (and I roll my eyes at the suggestion that losing weight after menopause is tantamount to raising quadruplets or winning an Oscar), but there will be fluctuations in weight that I am unable to predict or control.  The only option is to detach.  Obsession and extreme behaviors will lead to agitation, when what you need is serenity.

13. The bad news: Weight loss doesn't make everything okay.

It will almost certainly improve your health, but--even as you wiggle into those size-eight jeans--loved ones are still dead, dreams are still dashed, cruelty and tragedy and inequity and despair still reign.  You're only thin.  That's all.  Don't expect more.

14. The good news: Jettisoning the impediment of obesity is worth the angst, and worth any sacrifice of food or drink.

Obesity is unhealthy, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and expensive.  It's limiting.  It can make bold people shy, and active people sedentary.  It can create people who are experts at avoidance, rationalization, and deception.  But once you figure out a way to walk away from it, it quickly loses its grip, and the freedom is exquisite.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Go List Yourself

This afternoon, my older sister and I were sorting through a stack of books that belonged to our dad, who passed away two weeks ago. We stumbled upon a book called "List Your Self: Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery." It'd be great if I could lovingly share the contents of the book with youhis memories, his fears, his favorite thingsbut the book is as bare as it was the day my sister or I sent it to him in 1997. Don't fret, though: That same year, I bought a copy for myself, and I have a record of life as I knew it in the late nineties.

Chapter 1: Yourself

Under "List the activities you'd do if you weren't so afraid," I unwisely include "pick up a hitchhiker" and "be a hitchhiker." I didn't do those things, but I did "learn to swim," and I occasionally "say what I'm feeling."

Under "List the compliments you receive on a regular basis," I enthusiastically fill the page, including "you don't act married."

Under "List what consistently worries you each day," I fill the page once again, including "that I have (or will soon have) cancer, Alzheimer's, or an STD."

Under "List the animals that really scare you," I include worms and bears.

Under "List all the qualities in yourself you like the least," I include but 2: "my tendency toward procrastination" and "my pesky shyness."

Under "List all the things you'd like to say to your mother," I include 13 items ranging from "I miss you" and "thanks for staying up late sewing for me" to "I'm sorry I was occasionally disdainful" and "let's go shopping for slutty clothes."

Under "List all the people who love you for who you really are," I limit it to 6 people: husband, son, an ex-coworker, two neighbor children in Dallas, and cousin Suzy.

Chapter 2: Daily Life

Under "List the things you do between turning off the alarm and walking out your front door," I include "weigh myself," "check email," and "open the blinds and verify there isn't a drowned child in the pool."

Under "List all the things you've lent that have come back broken," I write "Nothing, that I recall."

Chapter 3: Business

Under "List what you'd like to shout out loud to your boss or coworkers," I write 1 thing: "Shut the fuck up!"

Under "List the names of all your past bosses," I list 14, including "Dad" and "some guy at Camp Williams."

Chapter 4: Change

Under "List all those events you went into with doubt that turned out surprisingly well," there's a blank page.

Under "List the attitudes and habits you've had to give up to get through life," I include "being nice is all-important," "men are trustworthy," and "people want to see other people happy and successful."

Under "List the ways you sabotage yourself from getting what you want," I include "I'm unwilling to compete, confront, work hard, or be inconvenienced."

Under "List the menu for your Last Supper," I include 5 items: fresh-squeezed OJ, warm cashews, corn-on-the-cob, a thick slice of white bread with Sally's strawberry jam, and a mint truffle.

Under "List the major changes you feel you need to make in your life right now," I include "stop backing away socially," "stay the budgetary course," and "stop eating meat."

Under "List the rivers you've crossed," I include "I stopped fearing dogs" and "I stopped chatting online."

Under "List all the elements of a perfect vacation," I start with the most important: "low expectations."

Chapter 5: Culture

Under "List the contests and awards you've won," I include 6 items, the most memorable being "an apple-bobbing contest at 6th-grade sleep-away camp."

Under "List all the things that could happen to you when you park in an underground structure," I include 4: I could wind up murdered, trapped in a collapse, lost, or "seduced."

Chapter 6: Men and Women

Under "List all the typical reasons you end a relationship," I write 1 thing: boredom.

Under "List what's wrong with women," I include "they're unreasonable," "they're too attached to possessions," and "they use words like boobs." Under "List what's wrong with men," I include half-again as many items, including "they leave," "they don't say good-bye," "they're awful in groups," "they believe in UFOs," and "they wear hats too often." I have no idea to which UFO-believing, hat-wearing man I'm referring.

Under "List the reasons for getting married," I include "being pregnant," "wanting to be a stay-at-home mom," and "needing health benefits."

Under "List the reasons you haven't met the man or woman of your dreams," I write "I have."

Chapter 7: Greater Truths

Under "List all the things you don't want to think about," I include "getting old: being weird, sexless, demanding, pathetic" and "watching Dad get old."

Under "List what heals your aching heart," I include 4 items: a diet Dr. Pepper on ice, talking with my husband, a long drive, and a long walk. In fact, on the last page of the book, I jot down a Kierkegaard quote: Solvitur ambulando. "It is solved by walking."

Chapter 8: Health

Under "List all the self-improvement techniques you've experimented with," I include 3 items: "Mormonism," "that book on est," and "that Franklin Quest class on time management."

Chapter 9: Growing Up

Under "List the foods, candy, and other treats that you loved to snack on," I include goober peas, Big Hunks, tacos, and coconut-rolled-oats cookies.

Under "List the warnings and old wives' tales you were taught," I include "men are more interesting than women," "all women are potential threats," "sexiness is good," "perfume is essential," and "don't wear ankle straps (always unflattering)." Gee, I wonder who was advising me.

Under "List all the details you can remember about your childhood bedroom," I include many, but my favorite is "my neatness, and Sally's lack of neatness."

Under "List who you wanted to be like when you grew up," I include my mom and Norma.

Under "List the experiences you had as a child that you knew were truly significant," I include (among others) "epiphanies related to Don Black" and "ditto Marvin Payne."

Chapter 10: Suddenly...

Under "Suddenly your house is on fire. List the stuff you'd grab to save," I fill the page. I start
of coursewith son, husband, and animals. I add photos, favorite furniture, and layabouts. By the halfway point, I include mini-skirts, "vests and nighties," field jacket, Franny and Zooey, award-winning pinewood-derby car, and teeth-bleaching trays.

Under "Suddenly you are as thin as you want. List what would happen now." Again, the page is crowded with my small, neat printing. Very few items have to do with health or happiness (or sanity or humility or devotion or adventure). I'd probably still want to "swim laps," but that's about it.