Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Whole Life Challenge, Day 4 -- Distractions

Both my sons have ADHD -- one more severe than the other -- and I witness daily the way their brains function with and without medication.  Sometimes, a task (like teeth brushing) can take 10-15 minutes, depending on what stimuli are present in the bathroom, or what song is playing in a kid's head, or -- as is frequently the case -- how much sugar they had in the past hour.  I think brains are naturally predisposed to place attention on the most attractive thing around.  One can see how that works when we rubberneck on the freeway because some car stalled out and is pulled over on the right shoulder.  Admit it, we all do that! 

I can think of at least a dozen things in the bathroom that are more attractive than my toothbrush swirling around in my mouth.  The trick, as I see it, is in minimizing distractions so that they can find a clearer path to task completion.  With luck, not only will they get to Point B, they'll notice something about themselves and actually incorporate that learning into the next time and the next time.

I suspect that I have the same "disorder" but never got diagnosed.  I catch myself from time to time doing something completely different than what I was intending to do at that moment.  When that happens I realize that I'm pretty much out of my head and completely unfocused. 

This phenomenon comes to mind because the WLC has managed to bring it into sharp relief.  Each week, participants in the WLC are given a "Lifestyle" challenge, a directive that I think is there to help us stay on track over the eight-week period.  This week's challenge is avoiding distractions while eating.  Basically, we are to turn off cell phones, computers, and tablets during meals.  No social media, no surfing, and no work while eating a meal. 

Here's how it's explained on the WLC website:
It can’t come as a surprise, our state of health. As a culture of “progress” we’ve largely disconnected from that which nourishes our body and our soul. We make time for it, do it in passing, sometimes even as an afterthought. And we’re paying the price. 
It’s time to pay more attention to eating. Not just what we eat, but how we eat. How we choose, what we choose, and how our choices affect not just us, but the world around us. Because it’s become impossible to ignore how our choices have a direct impact on the world around us – our productivity, our bodies, our spirit, and our planet. 
I've been successful with this challenge so far.  But today my day was full of crazy -- so much to do! Work work work, call call call, email email email!  And I was so busy this morning I didn't even have time to eat breakfast.  As I rushed out of the house, late and hungry, with my laptop, my water bottle, and my lunch, I determined that I was going to be successful at eating my lunch free of distractions.

My lunch consisted of a salad I'd hastily thrown together the night before from leftover salad and half a baked chicken breast, plus about a quarter of a honeydew melon, cut up.  Normally, nearly every day, I eat my lunch at my desk, which has a computer monitor at each corner, each showing something different.  Today, I ate with the screens turned off or locked, with the cell phone on silent and the phone placed face down on my desk so I couldn't see the little light flashing to tell me I had a message or email. 

So many discoveries!  First, I noticed my very "loud" salad.  Very little lettuce, and mostly carrots, celery, and red cabbage to crunch.  Second, the chicken, while very tasty last night, was dry and didn't taste as good today.  Overall, I did not enjoy the salad.  The sweetness of the honeydew balanced out the vinegary salad dressing, and I ended the meal with a net positive.  Third, I noticed that I was hurrying through the meal.  Got to get that computer back on so I can get to work!  I looked at the other desk in my office, empty, with no computer, and considered for a couple of seconds that perhaps I'd be better off eating at that desk instead, but I decided to slow things down and tough it out.  I think I made it last for 10 minutes, which is about average for me.  But because I didn't have Facebook or a news blog to read, or work emails to answer, or clients to talk to, I got to taste my meal in its entirety.  I am feeling the slight soreness in my jaw from crunching all those damn vegetables.  And I'm really, really missing chocolate right now.  But I'll get over that soon.

I had a great workout today, and the body soreness is starting to fade as I get back into the routine.


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