The Decision to Invest The Time (or Not)

Remember that wistful Willie Nelson ballad of regret, ‘Always On My Mind’? It’s an aching ode to sadness over gestures of TLC that could have been made but weren’t:

…”Little things I could have said and done…I just never took the time…” 

What I think Willie means is, in retrospect he realizes it’s not just time that’s required to keep a relationship solid, it’s effort.

One of the top five excuses I hear people sing like an aria when discussing the idea of eating clean in order to drop weight and/or just feel healthier: Cooking and food prep take time.

Well, yeah. There’s just no way around that truism. And I’m not minimizing the reality of most people’s busy lives. But if you’re resistant to food prep, it’s crucial to think about what you’re getting in return. A few off the cuff benefits I’ve received from the process:


* More Money – You’ll have extra cash instantaneously if you cut back on restaurants and take-out. And I personally would rather funnel the extra dough into a massage 🙂

* Quality control – Cleaner ingredients, including condiments and cooking oils (lousy ones can ruin the health factor of a dish or dessert)

* Fabulous leftovers – Rarely do I cook to make just enough for that meal. I love squirreling the leftovers into the freezer or refrigerator and viola – a healthy frozen dinner for when I’m seriously pressed for time or just don’t want to cook.

* Ingesting food made with Love <3 Any holistic healer will tell you how important the energy and intention from the preparer is. It’s a direct transfer and there’s no way around it. Who’s going to put more TLC into your Turkey Meatballs and Pasta? You, or an overworked, probably cranky short-order cook in a noisy and chaotic commercial kitchen? Ever notice how vastly different the experience is of eating a fast food burger vs. a burger at a family cook-out on the grill? It’s not just the grade of beef, baby, it’s the LOVE!


I’m not suggesting you have to cook from scratch every night of the week – unless that’s your thing. But at least shoot for four out of seven. Some families make it a Saturday or Sunday event, spending 2-3 hours assembly-lining the crafting of soups and casseroles for the week.

Believe me, I feel your pain with the time crunch. I feel it and have it pretty easy: Chef Bill and a low-maintenance 18-year-old. Some days, though, I resent that I have to stop, drop, and prepare. But it does help that I actually enjoy the process of creating my own meals. I realized, as I made a batch of black bean soup last week, that cooking and all that goes with it is my favorite form of meditation.

I’ve tried the sitting-still variety and vastly prefer this method: of focusing intently while I chop, stir, peel, and coddle. My mind is still. I think of nothing else but the temperature of the water, the texture of the lentils, or how much more garlic is required until it’s officially glorious. If you really dislike cooking, try looking at it as a meditation. And if that doesn’t work, approach it as the ultimate character-builder: undergoing a task you despise and seeing it through anyway. If we all did only the things we like and nothing else, a lot of the important stuff wouldn’t get done, would it?

Much like that the fact that a body requires regular movement and physical challenges for optimal health, it also requires quality food. If you’re wealthy and can hire a personal chef, then you’re free to retire to the splendor of your meditation room and Om out till dinner’s ready. But for the rest of us, better health demands the simple (but sometimes difficult) act of surrendering to what is. Fighting it just keeps you stuck.

I decided long ago it was a futile and destructive thing to be bitter about the time it takes to stay healthy. I didn’t want my life to be a look-back filled with regret over things I could have done to make me and my loved ones healthy and happy. My health issues are very minor compared to some, and I want to keep it that way. Ask anyone in a life-threatening battle for their health if they’d roll up their sleeves at the chopping board if it meant the eradication of cancer, Parkinson’s, or heart disease. I know how blessed I am that my ‘battle’ is to keep the weight off and my spirit nurtured. So how could I feel anything other than happy about cooking?




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