Weekend Reading
January 19, 2020

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I didn’t use to be much of a procrastinator, but unfortunately it’s a tendency that seems to creep up on me more and more with each passing year. It’s probably a good thing in some ways: back when I was doing my post-bacc, I was so overcommitted in so many directions that I actually couldn’t afford to delay doing anything. And while that wasn’t true for all of grad school, it was true a lot of the time.

My schedule nowadays is more reasonable and forgiving. But without that familiar level of busyness, it’s sometimes difficult to remain as motivated and productive as I used to be. I’m still figuring this transition (from overwork to regular work) out. I seem to be doing so with quite a bit of delaying and dragging my feet.

This week, I came across a tip in Rachel Hershenberg‘s book that was very helpful. Dr.Hershenberg offers the invitation to approach goals, rather than planning on either accomplishing or delaying them.

Appropriately, I didn’t start to implement this tip in any big or dramatic way. I explored it in small ways. When I had a home cleaning or organizing project that needed doing, I invited myself to tidy up or clean one area of my apartment, instead of trying to put aside hours to do the whole apartment at once. When it came to a writing project that I’ve been stuck on, I tried writing a few paragraphs only, and then allowing myself to call it a day.

This was really, really helpful. Giving myself permission to approach things slowly and in stages seems to keep me from getting overwhelmed by my own to-do list. It motivates me to take some action—any action—rather than remaining stuck.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen firsthand how important a softening of expectations can be. In my own nutrition practice, I’m constantly encouraging clients to set more realistic, achievable, and short-term goals (as opposed to the highly ambitious and demanding goals that a lot of all-or-nothing folks are attracted to). The idea of approaching a task is very akin to my friend Maria’s motto of leaving something “better than it was,” rather than perfect, which is a motto that I’ve borrowed from her very gratefully.

But sometimes we need a reminder of something that we already know. When it comes to tendencies that go against our own inborn tendencies (in my case, the tendency to be all-or-nothing in the way that I greet just about everything), we might need constant reminders 🙂

Slow and steady seems to work a lot better for me at this point than the alternative, and it’s easier to practice over time. Wishing you a week of small wins, too. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

A butternut soup with a spicy kick (and beautiful, deep color) thanks to the addition of harissa.

A cozy, nutritious, and meal-prep friendly curried cauliflower and chickpea bake.

The dreamiest winter comfort food: vegan creamy tortellini and vegetable soup with pesto.

Another dish of stick-to-your ribs, plant-based pasta! A WFPB version of lasagna with Bolognese ragout and béchamel.

Last but not least, something sweet. In this case, perfect vegan teatime scones.

Reads

1. I was super inspired by the video in which Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s opens up about her struggle with alopecia. I hope it finds and comforts many others who are struggling with alopecia and other autoimmune diseases.

2. A reminder to greet online claims about probiotics (and all dietary supplements) with a discerning eye, and to gather as much evidence-based information as possible before making an investment.

3. A smart, thoughtful meditation on recipes as a form of science communication from writer Amanda Baker. Couldn’t agree more with her closing line: “It is a process, and – like with any other skill we might seek to develop – just comes down to a willingness to try.”

4. An argument for why preventive action around mental illness on college campuses matters—not at the expense of, but in addition to, treatment options.

5. Finally, I loved this Food52 article about a historical NYC house and the tasty cake recipe that comes from it.

This week, a delightful new muffin recipe (in a flavor combination I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about yet—you’ll see what I mean!). Till then,

xo

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  1. Dear Gena, Thanks so much for your mention of my motto “better than it was”–I’m so honored that you continue to find affinity with it! I read somewhere recently that like doing something creative and getting out in nature, cleaning for just 5 minutes a day can help lift depression! That’s what I tell myself when I’m devoting a few minutes to cleaning up, instead of berating myself for not cleaning the whole house at one time. So yeah, here’s to the approach! Also wanted to say I watche Representative Pressley’s video yesterday and was moved beyond words. Thanks for sharing it here. Much love to you–

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