Sure, cooking can enjoyable and fulfilling, connecting me to food and expanding my creativity. But not of late; it simply feels like a ton of effort. After I finished a workout this morning and felt hunger pangs urging me on, I tried to get excited about making pesto
scrambled eggs and wilted garlic spinach. Fail. I ate a banana, whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread (you can make your own! I bought mine) with peanut butter and half an avocado.
I recently read a phrase about how to be successful in your life pursuits, be they work, fitness, relationships, whatever. It suggested that the best thing you can do for yourself is be honest about your weaknesses so that you can plan around them.
The alternative is what Joan Didion calls “magical thinking.” For those of us who are perpetually late, magical thinking goes something like this, “Of COURSE I can get there in 10 minutes. I did that one time, you know.” In reality, 99% of the time it takes 25 minutes, but we prefer to think that magically what we want to happen will actually happen. Basically, it’s our successful self delusions.
For instance, I can say, “Tomorrow I’ll get up early, go for a jog and feel great all day! Woo-yah! ” In truth, I love sleeping far too much to get up for a morning workout. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve succeeded in rising with the alarm with nothing but my willpower driving me. This is a
weakness that I can choose to ignore and then feel guilty every single time I hit the snooze button. Or, I can find a trainer and PAY someone to kick my ass 4 days a week, knowing there’s a group of fit ladies that I want to compete with. When the alarm sounds, I remind myself that I paid good money for this, that the trainer is waiting, and when the Super Spartan race comes around, I’m going to be so glad I did those 4,000 lunges and hours of holding plank position.
Same for cooking. Part of me WANTS to cook a wholesome, flavorful meal that I can sit and enjoy, and happily pack up leftovers. But truthfully, if I’m cooking for one, I just want to make something relatively healthy in 10 minutes or less with minimal decision making or brainpower required. Enter one of my favorite fallbacks: New York Times’ 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. (This came out in 2007? I’ve been using it for 5 years? Feelin’ old now). Though I’m not sure “Boil a lobster” is an easy option in my definition, there are some winners.
In sum: self-delusion is out, self-reflection is in. And cooking be damned.