My Starving Brain

This morning, as I ate my breakfast, I realized I was way too tired to go running. In fact, after staring out the window for about ten minutes, I realized that what I needed was a nap. The morning nap is a double edged sword. Sometimes I really need a nap in the morning, but the price of napping early in the morning is that, unless I’m super crazy tired, I’ll become groggy, and spend the rest of the day as a coffee zombie. Today, I was not quite as tired as I thought I was, and I turned into a coffee zombie.

After my nap, I got up, did some work, cleaned, read for a while, Googled my professors for next semester’s classes (I’m taking a class from one of the guys who invented quantum teleportation.… yeah, I know,) and then went to meet a friend for coffee… half an hour late. I’m rarely late for things, mainly because I know that I naturally tend toward lateness. I overcome this tendency by being compulsively early to appointments, classes, meetings, and outings with friends. Today, I was late because – although I knew we were meeting at 4:30 – in my mind I was supposed to leave at 4:30.

Combined with the fact that yesterday I forgot my violin when I left for my violin lesson, I was starting to worry about my mental health. All sorts of possibilities ran through my mind – not enough sleep, too much sleep, the new vitamins I’m taking – and then I realized what the most likely culprit was. I thought about what I’d eaten today: eggs and lentils for breakfast, a bowl of lentils, ham, and sauerkraut for lunch. That’s it. According to my calculations, that’s about 1600 Calories, most of it protein. It sounds about right, for having eaten a third of my allotted food for the day, but when you consider that 1) the Calorie is a ridiculous way of gauging food value*, and 2) eating since has made me feel more awake and like my brain is working, I think it wasn’t enough.

As soon as I got home from missing coffee, I bought a sugary mocha frappucino and a rice crispy square, and I felt like my brain went from around 30% efficiency to 80%. Yes, the caffeine helped, but I had two cups of coffee this morning, and it did very little for me. I’m pretty sure it’s the carbs.

So it seems there are two ways to fix this. First, I could pound down lentils like there’s no tomorrow. I’d guess I would need to double my lentil consumption to get enough carbs. Second, I could start eating some foods with a higher glycemic index (rice, for one.) Either way, I think altering my diet to include more carbs will help.

I think it’s safe to say that today’s segment of Discipline Week was rough, but it was not a failure. Why wasn’t it a failure? After all, I didn’t run, I hardly woke up at 7, and I didn’t accomplish any of the other cornerstones of Discipline Week 2 that I’ve run into so far. It was a success because I learned something. This isn’t just about practising discipline, this is about learning how to be more disciplined. It’s about learning to control my urge to put things off, learning to increase my concentration, and improve my life and studies. Learning that I need to alter my diet in order to stick to my goals is just as valuable – if not more so – than sticking to them in the first place.

Sometimes a failure is even more valuable than a success. When you succeed, you might not necessarily know why. If you can duplicate those circumstances in the future, maybe you can even succeed again. But when you fail, examine your failure, tweak some variables, and try again, you learn more about the problem as a whole. And once you know enough about the problem as a whole, you can manipulate it to your favour.

I’m thinking about converting my morning run into a morning walk. A morning run seems like a big, huge step toward a life goal, and while it’s exciting, I don’t think it’s realistic to jump into it right away. Running at night is fine, but especially this week while my aunt is visiting from Chicago, I know I’m not going to get to sleep in time for a 7:30am run. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.


*I’m no biochemist, but protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fibre are all broken down by the body differently. To try and assign a scalar value to the energy they produce in the human body, or to try and estimate their value seems pretty silly. Also, different people seem to use different nutritional components differently, so to assume that everyone needs X amount of protein, fat, and carbs seems silly as well. Come at me, nutrition majors.


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