Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Driving By Surprise

We've all experienced it before. We're driving along and suddenly, a car cuts across three lanes of traffic to make a turn. Sometimes they don't even make the turn and cut back across three lanes to make a U-turn to catch that exit they missed. Heck, some of us might even admit to doing the same thing ourselves.

I call it driving by surprise. It's a lack of mindfulness of where we're going. Perhaps we're getting distracted by the scenery, too involved in a conversation with a passenger or singing along to a song playing on the radio. Whatever the reason, it's a dangerous habit and when you're not paying attention, it's easy for the twists and turns to take you by surprise.

Having a route planned out and getting ready to make turns ahead of time is all part of being a responsible driver and staying accident free. If we're making routine trips like the daily commute to work and back, less planning is required than when you're going somewhere you've never gone before but either way, to get where you want to go, you need to have a destination, a route and the mindfulness to make the right turns at the right time. Depending on how important it is to arrive on time, you may even plan for alternate routes and backup plans in case of traffic jams or accidents.

It seems like most people eat by surprise. I've certainly been guilty of this most of my life. My trip through the day would rarely include a plan for what I would eat. Poor planning left me with nothing to pack for lunch and not enough time to whip something together. Then I'd engage the cruise control through the morning until somebody asked if I was hungry and what I was in the mood for. A poor choice for lunch would be followed by an equally poor choice for dinner: either some junk in a box nuked for a few minutes or another trip out.

It took me many months to develop new habits, but one of the best aspects of the paleo ideal is to make all your meals from scratch. I started one meal at a time. I transitioned from toast with peanut butter for breakfast to bacon and eggs. At first it took a lot more time to prepare, but I found that I could cook up big batches of bacon at once, store it in the fridge and reheat a few strips in the skillet while I'm preheating it to cook the eggs. Then I learned that I could cook up big batches of food over the weekend and assemble lunch while I'm fixing up breakfast. Now this 30 minute routine in the morning can set me up with all the meals I need to get me through a workday.

It was just a matter of mapping a route to a new destination, planning ahead and sticking to a decision to stop eating by surprise. A little bit of effort put into making some time yields tremendous rewards. I certainly waste far less money on food now that I'm not eating out all the time and even though I'm no culinary genius, my homemade food is infinitely tastier than anything served out of a box or through a window. Best of all, once the routine was established it was easy and I can't imagine going back to feeling hungry and agonizing over deciding what I'm in the mood for.

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