I hinted last week that today we were going to talk about a place (or more of a moment really), that thanks to a friend of mine I've come to call The In-Between. No, this has nothing to do with weird vines, Christmas lights and creepy monsters that take over the town and steal children like the Stranger Things' "Upside Down". Sometimes though, it seems eerily similar, not while you're deep in the throws of it, but when you have that moment of realization that you've been in it, and you need to come out. It's a moment that comes right after a big event but before a new one. That can be a trip, a birthday, a new year, a promotion at work, exam time, the holidays, a big event or dinner you're planning. It's that state of "I'll get back in the groove of things as soon as X is over". For all my fellow ex-dieters, this could also be called the "I'll start the diet on Monday syndrome". For all you procrastinators it could be called the "I can do this tomorrow" syndrome. I call it The In-Between.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend saying that I was in a complete and total rut. In spite of being a cook, in spite of being in the midst of testing all my holiday recipes for Brownble and all the dinner parties I host this time of year, I was in a rut when it came to my daily meals. I had days in which I stared blankly at an empty fridge, postponing my shopping trip yet again. I had days in which I had some items in there but my mind went blank so I opened the freezer door instead, only to find a bag of IKEA vegan meatballs, throw them in a pan and call it a day. For someone who decorates her own plate even when eating alone, I couldn't even recognize myself!
My friend immediately asked me if I was waiting for something. She asked me if there was a big event on the horizon, something that I wanted to get over with, something I was looking forward to that was keeping my mind occupied. Was it a birthday, an anniversary, a dinner I had to make or a course I was filming for Brownble? The answer to all of these was no.
Then I remembered something.
I was in that state of waiting and postponing shopping, prepping and cooking right before our recent trip to London. I had been deep in The In-Between. I hadn't wanted to do a big shop because we were going to travel. I had had to leave all our videos ready before we left, so we were only having leftovers of our filming sessions, I was so busy and running around that I started buying more convenience foods so that I didn't have to think about our meals. It kind of separated me from my routine, and every time I felt weird about it, I would tell myself: "As soon as I come back from London....".
One of the habits that went out the window was my batch cooking session. Since I became vegan many moons ago, I've had the habit of having one meal prep day a week in which I make big batches of some staples so that during the week I only need to add the finishing touches to my meals. This habit has SAVED me! It has also helped me eat more at home and enjoy mealtime much more. It has also helped me practice mindful eating more, since stress from cooking in a hurry is rarely part of the picture and I can actually slow down to eat. Well, in The In-Between there is no meal prep day, and that changes so much of my day to day eating.
As soon as I had this realization I felt an incredible sense of relief. suddenly the apathy I was feeling every time I opened the fridge had an explanation, and with it a solution.
I just had to start.
When we're stuck in these ruts, it can feel that this is simply the new normal, and that we'll either adapt, or we'll magically wake up one morning and be our old selves again. What had happened to me with my pre-London In-Between, is that I brought it back home with me. It didn't simply go away, and suddenly I was back home instead of strolling the beautiful streets of London without having to think of cooking since all our meals were at delicious vegan restaurants along the way.
So here's the deal, when you're in The In-Between, in a rut, postponing all those self-care habits that help you feel good, happy and sane, whether that be cooking more at home, exercising, meditating, journaling, going for walks, etc., you simply have to start. Start with one little thing and let that build up some momentum. If you need to get something new to help you feel inspired, do it! Sometimes shopping at a different store, getting a new tool for the kitchen, buying some beautiful plants for your house, a new journal or a cute new planner will give you that infusion of "newness" to actually give you the push to get started, and get started you must (says me in my adorable Yoda voice).
It's why as I write this today I have a pot of brown rice, a pot of quinoa, and a pot of black eyed peas on the stove, some sweet potatoes and regular potatoes roasting in the oven, some fresh herbs ready to be made into pesto, some cashews soaking for an herby cashew cheese, and a whole bunch of empty Tupperware ready to be filled. I started this morning with just the pot of brown rice, realizing then that with 5 more minutes I could have the beans going right next to it. Once that was on there I realized popping the potatoes in the oven involved no work at all. Suddenly my batch cooking for the week was done. What a relief, with the simple act of adding rice, water and herbs to a pot I had started, and just like that I had left The In-Between.
You can thank my friend Ve for this very useful life lesson. When procrastination and ruts have set up house, change your groove by just beginning. Right here, right now. It will take you such a long way into sustainable habits that help you feel great and be more relaxed throughout the week.
Is there something you've been postponing until after the holidays, after your family visits or the new year arrives? Nothing will excite you more than feeling good and happy now, knowing you're getting the ball rolling. Start with something small, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Get yourself out of The In-Between and right into The Right Here Right Now.
Just a little food for thought for this busy holiday season in which we sometimes forget to look after ourselves with activities that make us feel active and happy, cooking more at home, calming the mind, getting enough sleep and leaving stress and overwhelm at the door.