Category Archives: Of Interest

Breaking the Habit Loop

As I continued to consider how to live with my weight loss, I began the Mindful Eating course in the Ten Percent Happier App. It is led by Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist who focuses on using mindfulness techniques to break habits and addictions.

Brewer uses a particular kind of meditation called a body scan. You move your attention through each part of your body in a methodical way, aware of any sensations you feel. If your mind wanders, you bring it gently back to the body. Brewer’s idea is that by honing your focus in this way, you can, when cravings strike, catch yourself before you dive into the habit loop of mindless eating. His TED Talk is a good introduction to his approach to breaking habits.

I installed his Eat Right Now app and am working through the 22 -week weight loss course. It offers 15-minute modules each day that work through the concepts he outlines in the talk with a focus on eating. (He also has a smoking cessation app.) The app includes interactive tools including a stress test and want-o-meter. I have explored them but haven’t had a chance to use them on a regular basis.

One of the activities in the course is the raisin challenge. I’ve done it before in a couple different workshops, and it can seem silly. (Dan Harris notes his own sense of silliness even as he and Jud work through it; his skepticism is part of the reason I like him and his app so much.) The scenario is that you are a Martian who is given a raisin. You know it is edible but before you eat it, you need to prepare a report for your bosses. So, you take your time using all your senses to get to know this item before ultimately putting it in your mouth and eating it slowly.

One observation Brewer makes that I hadn’t heard before is to take the time to notice how your arm, elbow and hand all work together without thought to get that raisin to your mouth. You literally don’t have to think about it but when you do, it’s pretty amazing to consider how your body works without your mind. Brewer talks about it here as part of a teacher training course. He uses a great term I hadn’t heard before: craveogenic. I love listening to him talk about his relationship with specific foods and whether they lead to cravings or not.

A Slice of Farm Life

Tom Turkey

A little slice of farm life: we have two royal palm male turkeys that are at least five years old. They are semi-feral, venturing far afield and foraging for themselves but always returning to their roost on our back yard fence each night. They are brothers and they act like it: some days, they spend the whole day fighting. Other days, they just hang out: resting, eating, gobbling at sirens together.

One recent morning, however, we only found one turkey wandering around and a whole lot of turkey feathers strewn across the driveway. Something, it seemed, had taken our turkey. His buddy gobbled for him all that day but we never heard an answer. Night came and the lone boy roosted in the usual spot. I felt sorry for him: they do like companionship so I contacted a local friend to see if someone might be interested in adopting. He would be happy just hanging out with a  flock of chickens.

The afternoon of the next day my husband got a call from our neighbor Charlie. Think country neighbor here: they live across the cotton field from us, probably a quarter of a mile or more by road. Right now, we can’t see their house at all because the cotton is so high.

Low and behold, our turkey was hanging out in his back yard. My husband took a drive over but wasn’t able to catch him. “He didn’t want to be caught,” he reported. He did confirm that the bird seemed fine, missing some feathers, but walking and gobbling and eating. Charlie said he thought he had heard the brother calling, but it would have been a long way for this guy to get back through the cotton. I think they both had just given up and were resigned to their lives as lone birds.

We went back at dusk to see where he was roosting. He had chosen a trailer in the back yard but jumped down the minute we approached and wandered towards the woods. We really didn’t want him to roost in a tree so we backed off, returning after dark. He was back on the trailer, and we were able to grab him and get him into the back of the pickup truck. Once home, it took some coaxing to get him out of the truck but once out, he quickly found his way to the roost. They have been back to their usual behavior for the past two days.

We have a bit of a mystery as to what might have attacked him and scared him enough to run that far. (They really don’t fly for any distance but maybe in a panic, he was able to lift himself in the air.) Sussex County does have coyotes, but we have seen no evidence like scat.  Our security cameras did not seem to pick up any unusual activity. It is a reminder about how close we live to the natural world here on the farm, with patches of actual wilderness, or at least what passes for it here in the suburban southeast Virginia corridor.