Process vs Product

One of the things I’ve “stolen” from the knitting community is the idea of being process vs product oriented. A process oriented person does things because they like the DOING of the things – they knit for the pleasure of knitting. A product oriented person knits for the END RESULT, and while they might enjoy knitting, they enjoy having a finished object more than they do the actual process of making it.

Most people are a little bit of both.

I have discovered that, in many aspects of my life, I am primarily product oriented. I don’t have any love for following a process, for the step by step doing of a thing, for the repeated effort of working on something. I get my fix from finishing stuff.

I do this at work (so much so that my boss knows that if I’m having a week where I’m bogged down in the process of five or six big proposals, she’ll assign me something small and quick, just so that I can have FINISHED SOMETHING DAMMIT that week). (My boss is awesome!) I do it with crafts – I like projects where I see the actual process quickly – big knitting on big needles, or small projects, or mandalas that only take a few hours to complete. The majority of the craft work that I do takes hours – not days, weeks, or months – to finish. I even hesitate to START big projects, because I know I’ll burn out on the process and they’ll sit, unfinished, for years.

And, I’m noticing, I do this with exercise.

Weight lifting is the first exercise program I have stuck with for more than six weeks (other than walking). The difference? I see real, measurable progress. I love doing yoga, but seem to have motivation issues to do it long term, because yoga doesn’t have any real markers for progress. Sure after months of work, I might notice I can go a little bit deeper in a forward bend, but it’s extremely slow, and yoga itself is essentially noncompetitive (which is part of what I like about it). With weights? I see progress – or not – every time I pick up a dumbbell. I have a little log book that tells me that in October, I could deadlift 35 lbs, and that this week, I can deadlift 90. While it’s not “finishing” something (I don’t suppose I’ll ever be truly finished), it’s giving me a real measure of accomplishment and results. (It’s also making the product about something I can DO, and not about how I LOOK, which is a good thing too.)

I know that I’m still in the “honeymoon” phase of lifting, where I’ll see fairly rapid gains in strength. I’m told that lasts 6 months to a year, and then the real “slog” begins. We’ll see how I do at that point. I am hoping that by then, this will be enough of a habit that I won’t be as bothered that I’m not adding weight every few weeks. For now though, I’m going to continue to pick up the heavy things and put them back down.

Gluten Free Adjustment

I kicked gluten out of my house about 4 months ago. It still shows up on occasion (like at Thanksgiving, for a big shared meal), but other than that, I’ve been gluten free. Or at least, I’ve stopped BUYING anything with gluten in it.

I’ve not always been super good at not EATING anything with gluten. Sometimes it’s things I don’t even think about, like making pound cake for a friend and licking the spoon, only to have horrendous stomach trouble for the rest of the day. Other times I start eating something – like fried mozzarella sticks – only to realize halfway through the first one that it’s been breaded and fried. (And then have horrendous stomach trouble for the rest of the day, and sometimes the next two days as well.) Or, at the beginning, deciding I didn’t give a flying f-sharp and eating a cupcake (only go have horrendous… well, you know).

This last week I decided, since I’d been doing so well, to try a normal beer and see if I was ok. I’m not sure why I thought I would be, as beer is fermented barley mash, and barley contains gluten, but I love beer… so I tried.  Been sick for two days too. No more beer for me, unless it’s sorghum beer.

I’ve found that I don’t really crave a lot of things I thought I’d miss, like pasta (easy enough to make rice or rice pasta instead) or breakfast cereal (GF oatmeal woo!), or even cookies, which make up pretty easily with gluten free flours. And after getting really sick from most of those things, I find they’ve lost a lot of their appeal.

Bread, however, I can’t get away from. I love bread. I spent years getting good at making yeast breads.

And now I’m having to really think about this whole food allergy thing, and how I will never be able to eat those breads again.

Which is kind of huge.

I’ve had some decent gluten free breads too. They’re just not the same as wheat bread. They taste good; they have good texture… but they are different. And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

When I started out this GF thing, it was all an experiment, a sort of side strategy to help with my joint pain and with my tummy troubles that my arthritis doctor said I should do for 3 months to see if it’d help. While I didn’t think it’d do much, I figured I’d at least try. I got past the freak out pretty quickly (about a week of freaking out, really), but it was always “I can do this for 3 months”. Even when I felt better, when I was finally having a normal relationship with my digestion* for the first time in my adult life, it was still “I can do this for 3 months”.

But it’s been three months, and I’m still doing it. And if my little beer experiment means much of anything, I’m going to still be doing it three months from now. And the three months after that.

I know I have it easy, that 10 years ago there was almost no support for people who couldn’t process wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. On the other hand, there’s a big perception that gluten intolerance is the latest fad diet**, and so many restaurants don’t take it seriously. Heck, for awhile I didn’t even take it seriously.

Three months later and I definitely take it seriously. I know what I can eat at restaurants (Asian and Mexican foods are my staples for eating out), and I know I have to plan in advance if I’m going to be able to eat on my lunch break and not have to eat noodle soup every day from the local Vietnamese place. I know where I can shop in the grocery store and what parts of the store I don’t even have to visit anymore.

As much as I’ve learned, though, I’m still feeling like I’m adjusting to a totally new way of food. After all, “never” is kind of a long time to think about.

*For the record, it’s really nice not to have to plan my errands around which stores I visit after eating, and whether they have bathrooms I can tolerate.
**It’s a fad diet I kind of understand. For a lot of people giving up Gluten means giving up all processed foods and eating more fresh vegetables and lean protein – a change that would make just about anyone feel better if they’ve been eating a lot of processed junk. That said, there’s a difference between “feeling better” and the kind of gastric distress someone with an actual gluten intolerance (or a systemic histamine allergic reaction type allergy) will have.