I had a fantastic and glorious summer full of world travel for my next album #ProjectELECTRICO (Venice + Campagnari, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey) and personal adventure (Reykjavik, Iceland; London, England; Madrid + Toledo + Seville + the island of Majorca, Spain; Riga, Latvia; Helsinki, Finland, then NYC, Chicago, and Milwaukee) before heading home to Austin, Texas. Phew!
I knew I was going to be on the road for seven weeks straight and in five different time zones, which meant that as a career-insomniac, unless I had a prescription sleep aid with me, I was going to be a jet-setting, jet-lag-crazed, lune-ball (translation = miserable + unproductive while on the best adventure of my life = bummer).
On the flip side, seven weeks of world travel also meant that I knew I would be immersed with extraordinary amounts of fun and the most delicious food palette on planet earth—the Mediterranean cuisine—which I could either embrace and enjoy its delicacies (translation = delightful + 5-10 lb probable weight gain = acceptable), or shun and restrict (translation = a kill-joy + no weight gain = boring).
As well, I knew that I was going to be hitting seven different countries and three different U.S. states for our “Beer 50-50” plan.
So, what was a girl to do to prepare for such a journey?
1. Insomnia + Jet-Lag: I filled a prescription for a 60-day supply of Ambien (5 MG), which was probably not the healthiest thing to do, but Ambien works wonderfully for me as a sleep aid—it’s been a miracle-find, and it cures jet-lag quickly.
2. Food: I made up my mind to enjoy, embrace, and delight in truly the most amazing food in the world while visiting the Mediterranean regions—from Spain to Italy to Turkey. Heck, I could do an entire blog post on the health benefits of the native olives served at every table in Spain, Italy, and Turkey alone—spectacular!
3. “Beer 50-50” Plan: I set out to seek, conquer, and indulge. To see what “Beer 50-50” is all about, check out “Beer 50-50: Helsinki” where we sampled a Finnish, unfiltered, Pilsner beer called, Keisari:
In essence, I got out of the way of myself. I conquered any anxiety I might have had over sleep-deprivation…before it was bound to hit and I had it. I let go of any cares in the world over the possibility of gaining 5-10 pounds, after all I knew that when I got back home to Austin, I could reign-it-in and reset any over-enjoyment I had in exchange for the experience of tasting local foods and beverages from all over the world. I know it may sound a bit strange to “reset over-enjoyment,” but I’m really referring to striving for an overall balance in life. It’s awesome to indulge, and then it’s awesome to have discipline, or vice versa.
And that’s exactly what I did. I gave myself permission 1) to get the sleep necessary to be productive and be on vacation, and I gave myself permission 2) to enjoy the elegant cuisine, and 3) to sample beers for our “Beer 50-50” plan entirely guilt-free. Yes, I got out of the way of myself.
Now that I am back in Austin, and the Fall schedule has begun, I have initiated my “KB’s Discipline 3-30-3.”
What is KB’s self-imposed (“get out of the way”) reset plan? KB’s Discipline 3-30-3 combines a regimented sleep-wake-productivity cycle with a regimented food-exercise-lifestyle plan enveloped into a consecutive, three-day time period—whereby a structured routine allows me to stop making excuses, or to blame external events, because a routine is inarguable. KB’s Discipline 3-30-3 puts me in control. I’m in charge, I’m the boss of my own life. My Facebook post explains:
KB’S DISCIPLINE 3:30:3
Tomorrow I start my self-imposed, KB’s after-Labor-Day Discipline #3-30-3: For the next 3 days I’m committing to a 3-mile walk-run each day + a 30-minute vocal exercise each day + a maximum of 30 carbs each day (no alcohol) + a wake-up at 6:30am each day, and a dedication to 3 hours of uninterrupted writing (blog or music) each day. Yes, I’m going into the fray and into the cave. If I wasn’t a busy, scheduled-up mom, it would be a no-brainer! Why would I do this? Because it’s time to take charge of life and ambition again. I had a fabulous summer full of world travel for my next album #ProjectELECTRICO and personal adventure; I enjoyed a fresh palette of tasty cuisine, and I lived life unencumbered. Why wouldn’t I make 3-30-3 longer than 3 days, or 3 miles, or 30-minutes, or eat no more than 30 carbs, for example? Because sometimes we have to break it down into baby steps to reset and train-up before we can run the marathon and complete it without a heart attack, a heat stroke, or dehydration. — Kathleen Blackwell
I’ve run a marathon (Los Angeles) and a half marathon (the original marathon from the city of Marathon into Athens, Greece), so I know the kind of trouble we can get ourselves into if we are not properly conditioned. Yes, thankfully, I completed both without dehydration.
Food-Exercise-Lifestyle: In the past, the Atkins, Lindora, Paleo lifestyle eating plans have worked for me to achieve a fit condition and reset my body chemistry. The Atkins and Lindora plans both center on going into a state of “ketosis” (where the body uses fat as energy while preserving lean muscle) as a necessary start for a low-carb lifestyle. Typically, the best way to achieve ketosis is to limit your carbohydrate intake to 30 grams or less for 3 days, though some people can achieve ketosis with 60-100 grams of carbohydrates. The food focus is on high protein and high fat (meat, cheese, butter, cream) for Atkins, and lean protein and fats for Lindora. Naturally, exercise helps everything move along.
FOOD DETOUR! (LOW CARB RECIPES BY KB)
LUNCH: WARM PARMESAN-CHEDDAR TUNA SALAD ON CRISP CELERY STALKS WITH RADISH GARNISH AND SUN TEA
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 12-oz. can solid white albacore tuna
- 3 tbsp. real mayonnaise
- 1 oz. hard parmesan cheese
- 1 oz. cheddar cheese
- 6 fresh celery stalks
- 4 radish
- Fresh ground pepper
Directions: Blend tuna, mayonnaise, and grated cheese in bowl. Warm tuna mix in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Scoop tuna mix into the fresh celery stalks. Add ground black pepper on top to taste and garnish with radish. —KB
DINNER: OUTDOOR GRILLED FILET MIGNON WITH GRILLED BUTTERED ONIONS AND SOUTHERN WALNUT SALAD AND SPARKLING WATER
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 2 8 oz. grass fed filet mignon
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 cups romaine lettuce
- 8 whole, natural walnuts
- 1 tbsp organic, unsweetened butter
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 tbsp low carb, homemade salad dressing (below)
Salad dressing (low carb):
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp real mayonnaise
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 packet Splenda
Directions: Outdoor grill filet mignon to taste. Chop onions and place in a tin foil pouch, add organic, unsweetened butter and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, place tin foil pouch (with top open) on grill and cook to taste. Chop 2 cups romain lettuce. Chop 8 whole, natural walnuts and sprinkle on top of lettuce and drizzle salad dressing (see below) on top of the salad. Serve sparkling water, like Pellegrino, in wine glass with ice. (Dressing): Whisk all ingredients together and pour into old salad dressing bottle. Use as needed. —KB
BREAKFAST: FRIED EGGS + TURKEY BURGER WITH SWISS CHEESE AND VINE RIPENED TOMATOES WITH BREAKFAST TEA
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 6 eggs
- 2 turkey burger patties
- 2 slices swiss cheese
- 1 tomato
- Buttered-flavor Pam
- Sea salt + fresh ground pepper
Directions: Sear turkey burgers on high heat in skillet with Pam. Lower heat and cover turkey burgers with lid to seal in moisture, cook thoroughly. Turn heat off, remove turkey burgers, top each with one slice swiss cheese (heat from burgers will melt cheese naturally). Using the same skillet (to keep flavorings), turn heat on, respray with Pam, crack 3 eggs, cook over-easy, repeat. Slice tomato, add salt and pepper to taste. Pour breakfast tea, add half-and-half to taste, or drink straight. —KB
But I divert, anyway, over the past 15 years, I have intentionally achieved and remained in ketosis a half-dozen times or so to reset and maintain a healthy weight balance. Certainly there have been times when I have been unable (pregnancy or external stress), or unwilling to, but I liken it to making the bed in the morning, when I’ve made a choice to create less chaos in my life by getting back to basics, everything else fell in line and came together.
Sleep-Wake-Productivity: If you battle with insomnia like me, here is a recent homegrown test that I experimented with which worked for me to get a natural, incredible night of sleep. We all know that awesome sleep translates to increased productivity and sharpness, without blinking an eye, and finding a way to get optimum sleep just might be the best gift you could give to yourself and those around you. You’ll thank me in the morning.
HOW TO CONFINE AND CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT FOR SLEEPING
We have a walk-in closet with carpeting that could easily sleep one or two people, and I have used the closet many times to hideaway and rest or read. The closet has a beautiful skylight, though it’s not conducive for sleeping after the sun rises, but everything else about the closet is perfect for creating a confined, controlled environment, so here’s what I did:
1. Communication. I informed and enlisted the help of all parties in the household of my plan.
2. Light. Sealed off the skylight with a piece of large cardboard and nails.
3. Comfort. Put two comforters on the floor to create a cushion for a bed, used a high-quality, down feather-pillow, and enough blankets to add or subtract as needed.
4. Climate. Changed the Nest thermostat to 70 degrees to create a cool, consistent, temperature-controlled climate.
5. External Controls: Ran an extension chord from the bathroom to the closet so that I could plug in a white-noise machine for outside sound reduction, a lamp (in lieu of the overhead, closet lights), and an iPhone charger to keep track of time. While I used my phone to understand what time it was, I did not use my phone to check emails, scroll through Facebook, or provide extra light, as the artificial blue light on the LED screens cause us to slow melatonin production that naturally induces sleep, amongst other known sleepdisturbances.
6. Method / Process: I had a half-glass of warm milk and I settled my brain and my system down by first quietly reading, then turning on the white-noise machine, shutting off the lamp, turning over my phone, laying on my back, and intentionally turning over my thoughts (anxieties) to the universe.
PS: Don’t forget to close the closet door for an optimum controlled environment, or any door of a room you may be trying this in.
Result? It worked like a charm! While it probably took me 45 minutes to an hour to fall asleep after shutting down, when I officially woke up in the morning, I felt incredible. 100% rested. I’m now on “day 2” of my 3-day plan and boy do I feel GREAT! I’ve got a pep in my step, a passion in my poise, I am giddy, bubbly, enthusiastic, and determined.
Addendum thoughts: As an artist-entrepreneur (AE), I sometimes want to burn the candle at both ends. Work hard, play hard. I am also inherently an introvert, which means that I have the desire and ability to work, create, or fixate on a project for extraordinary amounts of intense, uninterrupted, extended amounts of time. But as a mom (with an inherent schedule—school—and naturally disruptive activities—homework, extra-curricular activities, an ER visit), and a productive person in society (with rules), I also know that a large part of the world operates on a fixed schedule, and therefore burning the candle at both ends doesn’t always work for me. Plus, there are often unintended consequences (like sleep imbalance, lack of exercise, or biz burnout) that can result from too much of an “artist-entrepreneur” lifestyle.
Short of changing the structure of our modern society to fit a more natural routine for introverts, entrepreneurs, and artists like me—which is possible, I have a few ideas on how we could reinvent society—the best, temporary solution is to go with the flow of a structured routine for a period of time (KB’s Discipline 3-30-3) whereby the end result is rejuvenation in lieu of extended chaos. If you’re game—try KB’s Discipline 3-30-3 and let me know how it goes in the comments!
Now, I must hit “publish,” as it’s time to finish conquering the world.
Follow my journey and join the conversation on Twitter: @KatBlackwell / #ProjectELECTRICO / #GlobeTrotMusicBuzz