Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Books, Food, and Exercise

I've been reading a lot lately. A lot. I mean, I always like to read something before drifting off to sleep: a magazine, cookbook, a bit of a new book on nutrition, etc. But recently I have been devouring novels and biographies and nonfiction works about science. Devouring being the key word.
As soon as I read one book I'm picking up another one and tackling it.

Some books require some thought and concentration because the author's writing style and vocabulary may be advanced (so glad I have a nook so I can look up unknown words). Some books are like mindless eating and just pour into your brain without much thought (James Patterson novels for me).

**Am I boring you yet? Be patient. This is relevant to a blog about health & fitness. Promise.**

I once read a couple of books about how to read books. Both taught that I should spend time with my book. Get to know it. Take notes. Ask questions. Keep a journal and summarize each chapter. Have a conversation with the author by writing questions. Make an outline of the book. Give each chapter my own title. Discuss the book with another person and share ideas. Savor the book. 

I did as much of that as possible with Don Quixote but no one else I knew was willing to read it and discuss so I just thought about it in my own head and looked up online critiques. I noticed that when I spend time with the details and savored the book, I can remember details much longer. I don't forget the story because I spent time with it.  And before I was ready to just move on to the next book, I let Don Quixote sink in for a while. I paused before just moving on to the next.

Savoring a book is so much different than devouring a book. Savoring requires thought, care, and concentration with the task at hand. Devouring is like sitting in front of the television and eating a bowl of chips without tasting it.

And it struck me that I was thinking of books and food in the same manner. There's a lesson to be learned here. When food is prepared with the best ingredients like a well written book, it is to be savored and enjoyed over good conversation. Those kinds of meals are remembered and good for the body and mind. It is appreciated. Meals that are just a way to stick something in your body while sitting on the couch and devoured without thought are not the best for us.

That being said, I'm going to make an effort to treat dinner like a good book more often: sit down at the table, prepare beautiful food with healthy ingredients, savor it slowly, and enjoy good conversation without tv noise in the background. It's a little experiment to see if it makes a difference. The goal is to promote conversation, a feeling of peace, and slow eating instead of devouring. Enjoyment!
Good food is essential to the body but we are more than just bodies. I think it's important to feed the mind as well. That's one reason I like to do new things all the time. It's stimulating. 

While it is nice to be able to sit back and watch a movie or read an easy book to have my mind fed easily, I also appreciate more challenging ventures such as learning something new.

In an effort to feed our minds, Chuck, Rachel and I attended a lecture at the Houston Museum of Natural Science last night titled Neanderthals Deciphered given by Dr. Jean-Jacques Hublin who is a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Wow! Some of it was difficult to understand but much of it was fascinating like how the Neanderthals reached sexual maturity much faster than we do today. They were able to count how old they were by days using scans of teeth. Just incredible stuff!

Afterwards, as if we had read a good book, we went out to dinner and discussed what we had heard at the lecture. It was stimulating brain food. Loved it!
The last part of the equation for a happy, healthy body: exercise.
Of course Chuck and I did the Beach Dash race on Saturday but I need to be working on moving more during the week as well. Monday I went on a little 5 mile bike ride and it felt great to feel the wind in my face and see birds and turtles. It doesn't feel like exercise when you're having fun.  And exercise really is such a good mood stimulator.

Feed the brain, feed the body, move the body. Sounds like a pretty good plan.


  1. That last line is PERFECT! Words to live by for sure!!!

  2. I'm a book devourer but when they are really good I do a re-read of pages, chapters, the whole thing. (yea, that isn't going to work with food.) But I did buy some big and plump seedless red grapes recently. I ate them and savoured the flavors and noted hints of citrus and almost a cherry taste. (Kind of like wine labels that talk about notes of chocolate or berry or 'oak' or 'smokiness. Today I ate an apple with a little clove / cinnamon sprinkled on and heated in the microwave. Each piece was like a little apple pie. There's something to this, but why do I still want to eat on the sofa in front of the tv?




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