Dinner and a Movie (and more Dinner)

skitched-20100221-073517.jpgWatching television during meals is a bit of a no-no these days, but can I help it if I find it extremely comforting to, for example, make a big batch of tacos, refried beans, and a massive salad, and curl up with some quality programming like The River Cottage or True Blood? And maybe a couple of Negro Modelos?

This weekend, we decided to stretch our attention span with a couple of movies. On Friday we watched District 9, one of the most original sci-films I’ve seen in a long time. On Saturday, we watched Julie and Julia, a film which intertwines events in the life of chef Julia Child with that of wannabe-writer Julie Powell, who challenges herself to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s cookbook during a single years, an effort she chronicles in her blog.

Julie and Julia is a fairly average film, perfect for those nights when you don’t feel like thinking very hard about anything. Though the film itself doesn’t inspire any deep analysis, it did get both Tim and I thinking about a lot of things beyond the film.

Tim noted how blogs have popularised the concept of challenges, for example, doing one thing every day for a year. In fact, some of my favorite blogs about these sorts of life experiments: Living Healthy in the Real World and The Great Fitness Experiment, just to name two. The thing I like about these challenges is that they have a definitive goal, and their tendency to be fairly extreme make them fascinating to read about. But is this trend really the way forward as far as health is concerned? I wonder.

We both agreed that a challenge like “do one thing every day for a year” just isn’t the way real people live. And what if you miss a day? It’s the end of the world! I don’t know. At the same time, maybe a “challenge” is a good way to kick start a good habit, be it walking or cooking or writing. But if there’s anything that the Seinfeldian Chain taught me, it’s that doing one thing every day for a year is really hard to maintain, and to me, feeling like a “failure” doesn’t qualify as healthy.

Julie and Julia also got me thinking about my own blog here at SmarterFitter. Strangely, after all that lamenting about goals and challenges, I started wondering what MY goal was with this blog wishing I had one that was better defined. Is this why I haven’t been blogging for the last two months? Maybe… I fell out of the rhythm after my winter travels and just never got back into it. Is it because I didn’t have a goal to push me forward?

After a bit of soul searching, I decided that I didn’t want SmarterFitter to feel like an obligation – this is supposed to be a labor of love. Its only “goal” is to help me tune my life towards those activities that make me happy and healthy (and here, happiness and healthiness go hand in hand). So what are those things? Well, maybe THAT’s the challenge.

On the surface, it’s very clear that I like cooking and eating. Let’s face it – I’m obsessed with food. But there’s a broader lifestyle thing going on here – living in the country, going freelance, buying “forever things” instead of shopping at Ikea – that I’m still trying to figure out. Who knows – maybe blogging about it will help me get there.

So I’m going to write about things that help me get happy, healthy and free. This will usually involve food, but sometimes it will involve all the things around it, like growing vegetables, climbing mountains, writing for a living and building a clay oven (I hope).

Now I realize that I’m blogging about blogging. Gross. Oh well, it’s good to be back. Now on with it!

4 thoughts on “Dinner and a Movie (and more Dinner)

  1. Sagan

    Thanks for the shout-out 🙂

    I feel the same way you do about the challenges: they AREN’T something that can realistically be kept up “forever”. What I like about them is that they present a nice little mini-goal, and a chance to do something that otherwise I would never try out. It also keeps things interesting and motivating by changing up the different ways that I eat and exercise. And pretty much all of my challenges have to do with awareness, too; raising awareness about the nutrients in our food or how our food consumption impacts the environment, etc.

    Glad that you’re back, and I agree that blogging is a labor of love. Everything’s connected, so it makes sense to blog about a whole bunch of different things!

  2. Mom

    Monica, it’s wonderful to see your words crossing my screen again. Yes, our visiting time got rather hectic and intense at times, and I, too, have not quite fallen back into my regular routine just yet! As for challenges, I believe a person who continues to search, and stretch, and explore will constantly up the ante. It’s not that we are not content with life as it exists. No, there’s a fire burning inside, fueling that hunger for life, for things that have meaning, give us joy and make us feel richer than ten Donald Trumps.

  3. Bruce

    Just as success in academia requires (or rewards) an obsessive personality, success with a Seinfeldian chain requires (or rewards) a compulsive personality!


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