The Delights of Distraction No.66: What if you could make this easy?

One of the things both of us struggled with this year was to fit workouts into our day. Despite more flexible hours at the office, we just couldn’t find the motivation. Despite the best of intentions; running shoes at the door, a well-researched protein shake for post-workout amping and a FitBit for all the “calories burnt” notification dopamine hit - we just couldn’t find the motivation.

For Ami - she found herself a personal trainer, who would make it a point to reach her home at an assigned time and drag her out to the park, come rain or hellwater! He’s well worth his training fees.

For Viv, it took a moment to consider what was actually holding her back. If she wanted to exercise more, why didn’t she?

She realized that she felt blocked by the act of changing into workout clothes. Especially that damn sports bra. All you top-heavy ladies in the house, you know what we mean? Just the act of shaping yourself into a pretzel to get in and out of that breast-contorting-contraption would set your Fit bit on fire.

So Viv asked herself, "What if this was easy?" “What if I didn't have to wiggle into a sports bra to workout?"

The answer was: Viv would try a 10-minute, low-impact, simple routine every morning, right after she woke up, before her morning shower. In her bedroom, in her pyjamas - no torture contraption required. The starting routine was short off a Youtube video: just squats, push-ups, and crunches.

How many times have you identified a barrier in your life and instead of being curious about your limitations, just told yourself to "buck up"? Viv could have convinced herself she’s just being a lazy sloth, “unproductive,” lacking in “grit” - just need to wash her face with really cold water and suddenly she’s have the energy and drive of a thoroughbred (nope - did not work). Instead, she embraced her limitations and found a way to move within them. In doing so, she removed what habit expert James Clear calls, "the bend in the hose."

Culturally we tend to look down on taking the "easy" way. Despite the past couple of years being the most traumatic of our collective lives, extending into slow-motion trauma, we still don’t want to give ourselves a break.

Ironically, it's actually easier to hide in big goals we'll never achieve ("Run 5 km before 7 am 5 times a week") and miss out on the easy habits we'll actually do.

We don’t have to struggle for life to be meaningful, or for it to matter. You don't have to push yourself to your limits - why risk burnout when momentum is so powerful? When you hit a roadblock today, try asking yourself: "What if it were easy?"

Viv finally discovered more comfortable back-clasp support bras, and in a slow, comfortable way has graduated to one-hour long classes, followed by a few glugs of a protein shake and a sense of smug self-satisfaction.

“The habitual tendency when things get tough is that we protect ourselves, we get hard, we get rigid. But...that’s the time to soften and see how we might play or dance with the situation.”– Jeff Bridges

To read: As women who have made friendships one of our core circles of support, we really enjoyed this deep-dive on friendships and how they change (or don’t change) over the course of our adult lives. “Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, such as marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure. You wouldn’t go months without speaking with or seeing your significant other (hopefully), but you might go that long without contacting a friend.” 

There are three expectations of a close friend that are valued across the entire life course, ““Somebody to talk to, someone to depend on, and someone to enjoy.” Yet sadly, because adulthood is mired in the things we have to do —we have to work, we have to take care of our kids, or our parents— yet because with friends we choose to do things for each other, so we end up putting them off. They then end up falling through the cracks.

Michael explores the complex relationship we have with coffee in our life while he sets on an experiment to get over his caffeine addiction. You'll learn how caffeine affects our body and how it provides that fresh boost of energy every morning to prepare us for work. While the boost is great, it also brings with it some side effects. As women who drink multiple cups of coffee every day, we might want to reevaluate your caffeine consumption after reading this piece.. Okay, no kidding, obviously we’re still coffee fiends.

To joy scroll: Artist and photographer finds faces in foodA Collision of joy and colour in these gorgeous prismatic portraits.

To watch: Made to Measure is an experiment that asks if you can reconstruct a person based solely on their digital data trail. Can you build a doppelganger of a person you don’t even know? Record, recreate, and replay the life of someone and their personality in detail? This is exactly what we attempted to do. In Summer 2020, we published spots on social media requesting personal data from people with access to Google and Facebook. More than 100 people from all over Europe answered our call and anonymously handed over their data.” This is, an immersive documentary and requires 80m or so of your time – it is, though, really interesting and very well-made, and is a nicely-practical antidote the “They’re watching us” ’ fearmongering documentaries lately. (And yes, of course they’re watching us, but we’re all too unimportant to really matter).

To discover: We love this – Neglected Books is a site which reviews and writes up books on authors who have fallen out of fashion, obscure imprints, anything that’s a bit musty and unpopular. If you’re interested in quirky books and literature then this is an absolute treasure trove.

To learn: A Simple-but-excellent culinary guessing game – you get presented with a list of ingredients and a photo, and your task is to guess which nation the dish is from. It’s multiple-choice, which makes it a touch less daunting, and it’s a really interesting way of learning about cuisines from around the world and also of learning about regional similarities in ingredient usage and flavour combinations.

To marvel: Imagine a library where, in place of books, you’ll find humans—equally riveting, and multifaceted. You can borrow a person, each with their own title—"unemployed, refugee, etc.— and spend 30 minutes listening their life story. The goal of the project is the humanize the labels we place on one another, ultimately fighting prejudice and building empathy. Such an incredible concept.

To cook: We are so excited about this new Youtube channel launch - Ottolenghi’s test kitchen! It serves up the methods and insights into recipes from their new book, and as always their dishes are a surprising yet delish amalgamation of global flavours you wouldn’t ever think of putting together. This is the demonstration video, and this is the recipe to their Curried cauliflower cheese filo pie, which actually makes the thought of “gobi” sexy! To life hack:

There are a lot of questions better than ‘what do you do?’ but unfortunately most of them are either way too naff or way too personal to ask someone you’ve just met. So instead ask:

What are you working on at the moment?

They can tell you their job title if they insist, or what they’re actually working on at work (which will be a more specific and therefore interesting answer), or any hobbies, side-hustles, creative projects, pets, or “finding ways to reaffirm my OCD with my Dyson vacum cleaner” It allows for joke-responses, so you can evade the question without seeming evasive. It’s just an all-round upgrade!

To end:

Field Guide

by Tony Hoagland

Once, in the cool blue middle of a lake,
up to my neck in that most precious element of all,

I found a pale-gray, curled-upwards pigeon feather floating on the tension of the water

at the very instant when a dragonfly, like a blue-green iridescent bobby pin,

hovered over it, then lit, and rested. That’s all.

I mention this in the same way that I fold the corner of a page

in certain library books,
so that the next reader will know

where to look for the good parts.

Hope you enjoyed your precious weekend preciouses, we will see you next week,

Viv and Ami