And a New Month Without Refined Carbs
By Leo Babauta
In my 5th month in the Year of Living Without, I tried going without computers or Internet in the morning.
It was more of a struggle than I’d anticipated.
My thinking with this month was that I’d be able to get more writing and reading done, and maybe more stretching and other physical activity, if I banned myself from the Internet before noon. This is actually true, and when I stuck to the ban I got a lot of good writing and reading done.
My problem was that I needed to do certain tasks on the Internet before noon, for work and also personal tasks like planning a trip with the family in the morning (looking up routes on Google Maps, for example). At first I would just write down the work task to be done later in the afternoon, and that worked fine for the first week or so. But later I made exceptions because I really wanted to get stuff done before I had other things to do in the afternoon.
Another problem was that, if I was out with the family all afternoon (which I often was), and I couldn’t use the Internet in the morning, that meant I couldn’t do a lot of my work until the evening. By then I was tired from a long day, so I didn’t do everything I needed to do. Then the next morning I’d wake up with lots of unfinished work, and no Internet access.
So that wasn’t sustainable. I learned that I should have been more precise with my exceptions, and that a blanket ban isn’t ideal for my work life. I never wanted to use the Internet for social media or news or anything, just legitimate work and life tasks.
Anyway, I made some exceptions then made more, and slid down the slippery slope.
I’ll share my lessons below, then talk about December, a month of no refined carbs for me.
Lessons from My Morning Internet Fast
Some things I learned in the past month:
- I really rely on the Internet for a lot of things. From work to email to looking things up and planning to learning and finances and more. Giving it up, even for half a day, feels like being handcuffed.
- I think a shorter ban would be more useful — say, until 9 a.m. That would give me some good writing time, but allow me to get other work done in the late morning.
- Perhaps a more surgical ban would be better. For example, ban most sites except a few that I need for work. An email ban would be useful for a few hours, but not the entire morning.
- Making exceptions to a ban is dangerous. If you make an exception, your brain starts to think it’s OK to make another, then another, and soon you’re not doing it. If you make an exception, be very guarded against making it a trend.
- Once you open a browser, it’s super automatic to be able to go to other sites to check on things you normally check on. Muscle memory. This needs to be guarded against as well.
- It’s really easy to lose sight of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, once you get distracted.
- Not having Internet is really good for writing. And reading. I want to make it a regular part of what I do — I just need to give more thought to how to do that.
A Month of No Refined Carbs
For December, I’m going without refined carbs.
The exception will be three days — Dec. 6-8. Why? Because I’m attempting my first 50-mile race on Dec. 7 and want to be able to fuel myself with refined carbs. Anything I want to eat. That includes the night before the race, and some recovery eating on the day after.
Other than those days, I’ll skip the refined carbs in December. Yes, that means no holiday binging.
What are refined carbs as I define them?
- Sugar or other sweeteners besides pure fruit
- White flour
- White potatoes
- White rice
So no pizza, white bread or rolls or pasta, French fries, desserts, sushi with white rice.
What is allowable? Whole grains (Ezekiel bread and cereal for example), brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruit, flours made from almonds or spelt or something like that. I’m allowing myself wine, and I’m considering one or two beers during the month. Most of the refined carbs in beer are consumed during the fermentation process, is my rationalization. I’ve gone without beer for the last six months or so, so I’m not worried about it.
I’ll tell you how it goes in a month!
A Month of Letting Go
If you’d like to learn more about the habit of letting go, join us in the Sea Change Program for December.