It’s not really a secret that at some point in the nearish future, my husband and I would like to have kids. When my mom told me I was too skinny to get pregnant, I didn’t pay much attention, but when my friend Degra, who is a Certified Professional Midwife, said it might be a good idea for me to gain a few pounds, I took her seriously.
It’s very strange to be intentionally trying to gain weight. I started swallowing a spoonful of coconut oil every morning like medicine, eating before bedtime, and grocery shopping on a mission for fat, buying piles of avocados, walnuts, olives, full-fat yogurt, and cheese.
Degra also told me to keep a food journal for two weeks so she can see my daily calorie-intake and make sure I’m getting good nutrition. She sent me a page from The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care about a diet that parents should start following before conception. I find this diet to be so insane, I have taken to doing dramatic readings of it for my friends:
“Four tablespoons of butter…” I say, pausing dramatically, “daily.”
“At least one egg daily, preferably from pastured chickens, with,” and here I look everyone in the eye for greater emphasis, “as many additional yolks as possible.”
The diet also includes liver, daily beef (always consumed with the fat), bone broth, daily lard, and lacto-fermented beverages. The picture of the front cover of the book shows two sweet-looking children playing with barnyard animals… Yeah, because their parents are eating all of the barnyard animals and their by-products!
“You should make bone broth,” Degra told me over the phone the other day. “Preferably with venison.”
“Look, Degra,” I said, “I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not going to do that. I’m just not going to make bone broth.” I wouldn’t even know how to go about obtaining deer bones, much less how to turn them into an edible soup.
But, I can do the food journal, and for the past week I’ve been writing down everything I eat. Knowing that I’m going to write everything down makes me more conscious of what I’m eating and has perhaps been making me a little bit healthier. Do I really want to write down that I ate two cookies as a snack? Maybe I’ll have yogurt with walnuts and honey instead.
The other day I got the app Track Your Happiness, which sends me text messages at random times each day and asks me how I’m feeling. I answer a few questions, and the information is not only used in scientific research about happiness, but over time I can notice patterns about my own happiness and what factors are associated with it.
But it’s more difficult than it sounds. I have a really hard time answering how I’m feeling on a scale of Very Good to Very Bad. I feel neutral, I always think at first. I’m neither happy nor sad. But then I start thinking, well, shouldn’t I be feeling good? I have my health and my husband. I have a cute apartment with a spiral staircase. The sun is shining and the sky is blue. I get to spend part of my day working on writing. Aren’t I grateful for all of these things? Yes, I am, I just don’t take the time to think about it. I don’t know. Maybe I’m happier than I think.
Even though I find the text messages difficult to answer and somewhat obnoxious, they are making me more aware of my feelings. They are reminding me to stop each day and take note of what’s going on inside of me.
I was talking to my friend Chris the other day, and he was telling me about a religion in which practitioners must look to the sun four times a day as a way (at least this is what it seems like to me) to orient themselves on the earth, to clear their minds, to be aware of the present moment.
I think that’s what both the happiness tracker and the food journal have the potential of doing for me. Now that I’m writing down my food, I can be more aware of what I’m putting in my body and more appreciative that I have delicious, healthy foods to eat. And now that my phone is asking me how I feel four times a day, I can notice my moment-to-moment emotions and be more aware of all I have to be grateful for. Maybe what it takes to be happy is taking the time to notice all the things you have to be happy about.
As for gaining weight… we’ll see how that goes. After three days of doing shots of coconut oil in the morning and putting butter on everything, I was feeling sick and lethargic. I was doing too much too fast. So I’ve gone back to my normal eating habits, but I’m trying to add a little extra each day — an extra bite here, an extra snack there, 2% yogurt instead of nonfat. Baby steps, Eva. Baby steps. Look towards the sun and ask yourself: how do you feel?