Archive for 2011
I guess I left the cleanse at a cliffhanger moment. Who won? Ghee or coffee? Did I complete it? Did I lose 100 lbs. in 10 days (Ask me how!)? Will I be joining an ashram any time soon? Perhaps I have joined an ashram, hence my not writing about such worldly things…
The truth is, I did slog it out. As best as I wanted to. I didn’t quit. The whiny entry was deep in the throes of caffeine withdrawal. Either it’s a really powerful drug or I’m a sensitive flower (who has the ability to withstand ultra-distance endurance events). For about one day there, it was like Trainspotting. I couldn’t concentrate because the pain in my head was terrible. Looking back, I wonder if that was my first migraine. (And if that’s what they feel like, or even a fraction of so, I am so sorry for y’all.)
We were counseled to get off caffeine a few days before starting the cleanse to avoid what I promptly ran into. I remember it was difficult last fall when I did it for the very same reason. Whether it was time (and my brain releasing its desperate pining for a fix) or a modified abhyanga just on my feet, on the third day I broke through. I didn’t even need to give in a little with some black tea.
I followed the rest of the cleanse much more loosely than last time. I wasn’t strict about the daily meditation or yoga or greasing up. Although food-wise, I followed it to the letter and enjoyed discovering a quick lentil soup that I’ll be making every few weeks or so. There was no major personal transformation or toxic evacuation or enlightenment. I’m anything if not stubborn and the fact that it cost more than $20 (yeah, kind of into getting my money’s worth) meant I wasn’t going to throw it all away, especially after the bodily pain. That said, there are a couple things that I have taken away from it.
As far as weight loss, sure, there was some. But that’s really not the point. And I’m not going to tell you. I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t believe in diets or fasts. But 10 days of focusing on simply digestible food, that’s seasonal and homemade—what could be better? I now differentiate between eating vs. nourishing my body. Sure it was a reduced range of foods that I took in (vegan except for ghee, no gluten, no alcohol), but by turning the volume down on the hoovering I usually do, I can listen to my body a bit more closely. As I introduced my usual foods back into rotation, I could notice if they truly felt good in my tummy, not just in my mouth.
I guess the biggest take-away has been mindful eating. To me, that plays into my selection of what goes in, how much I eat, and enjoying whatever I eat to the fullest, whether it’s quinoa or nachos (which I’ve been meaning to have, but haven’t felt the need yet). While I do believe there’s a possibility for scientific breakthroughs in nutrition research, most of the noise in the media is just a faddy flash in the pan. Common sense and simplicity rule my choices. I love frozen fake meat products as much as the next pseudo-vegetarian (I prefer vegaqurian because I eat seafood and fish), but wouldn’t I prefer something that didn’t come from a factory in a box?
A big buzzword (buzzphrase?) when I used to work in food was portion control. In the middle of the cleanse, I just ate mung beans and rice with spices for all three meals. And, yes, it was just three meals a day. No snacks. As a grazer and former athlete, I thought we had to eat many small meals a day for optimum health. Maybe, but are you really just eating mini meals? Our perception of serving sizes are out of whack, so five American meals a day ain’t gonna help nobody.
The cleanse forced me to focus on just that one bowl when it’s time to eat. Torture? Not really. How much is enough? When you think about how most of the world lives, a mono-diet of just rice and beans obviously has been sustaining people for centuries. Which appetizer to choose and dressing on the side are first-world problems. A simple bowl, maybe a bit more than I could hold in my hands, can be a hearty meal. Which takes me to my big idea for a best-selling diet/weight loss book… but that will have to be another post.
There was no hedonistic binge after the ten days. Like Marcy said in the comments, “Everything in moderation.” That’s kind of what I’ve been doing. No food is inherently bad. The amount of it and the percentage it represents of what I typically consume matters. So that means no drinking vats of fondue, as much as I think I’d enjoy it. But I’ll have a tater tot. Or a couple. I still don’t snack. I make sure to eat satisfying, but realistic meals. I don’t need to be constantly packing my digestive system with a steady stream of food. I eat, then I stop. Just like playing green light/red light. Repeat at lunch and dinner. That’s not so extreme is it?
Part of me wishes I did more of the yoga and meditation bits. I could roll out my mat, but haven’t really gotten around to it. When I need it, it’ll be positive addition to my life. I’ve run a few times since my birthday. I’m not ready to say I’m a runner again (although I would love to do the Reykjavik Marathon in 2012 with Mel and do a little Knitting Iceland thingy-doo), but I have run somewhat regularly and that’s a welcome return and change.
The most surprising change for me is coffee. I have not dove back into the brown waters of daily consumption. Part of me does not want to hurt like I did coming off of it, and indulging in it as before doesn’t seem prudent. I am sleeping better, waking up earlier and generally brighter and more clear-headed (not a raging detoxing addict). I miss the joy it brought me, the mornings together with Chris, and the delicious taste of great roast or perfectly pulled cappuccino. But I can make our Chemex for Chris’ morning mugs, I still walk the dogs to Sightglass for an after-work or weekend ritual, and on occasion I will enjoy a cup of joe. Just yesterday, my first post-cleanse Americano hit the spot.
Life’s too short for no coffee. But it’s also too short for bad (or bread or wine or cheese).
Finally, some wool up in here. Two balls in, starting the third. Row, row, row your Rowan…
EZ KAL with Sean.
While I’m certainly honored to be teaching again, I’m humbled by the other 59 teachers who will be there too. On top of that, I’m truly grateful that Tina and Stephanie have invited me to work with them and help put on this truly magical and fun event.
In other news, thanks for the kind words about my silly temporary coffee quitting. After a shower and light slathering of oil (much like seasoning a wok, it’s called abhyanga, Ayurvedic self-massage), I feel a world of difference. Maybe caffeine is loosening its grip on me. Or I needed a shower.
While my lentils simmer, let me tell you about quitting. Barely 48 hours in, and I feel like I’m done.
Before I begin, I realize the walking cliche that I am, posting about eating or not eating or changing my eating. Whining is one of my least favorite activities, especially in the written form. What’s more self-indulgent than complaining about a situation that I brought upon, nay, I paid for to be brought upon myself? If you came here looking for knitting or adorable French bulldog photos, move along. All you’re going to get is a bowlful of vegan soup and some roasted beets.
I forgot about the caffeine withdrawal. It makes it difficult to focus. Like a slowly closing vice on my skull. My brain feels like Luke and Leia as the walls were closing in. This was the worst part of the cleanse last time. I even chundered on the first day. While at work. Midday. I’ll always remember the day because that’s when I learned that word. Chunder. (The nice lady who said, “You better not chunder on my Marc Jacobs bag” did not like that I took to calling her “chunder thighs” after that, but who would?) I’ll also forever remember the cooked apple, zucchini and quinoa, but that’s a little much to dwell on right now.
The caffeine’s iron grip moved from the base of my head to the front. There were points today that felt like my eyeballs had been scooped out with a melon baller and placed back in the sockets. I had a dull ache behind my face. Not the best state for copy editing. All this pain has caused me to question coffee. Not to worry, I’ll be drinking it again soon enough. But, if something can wreak such havoc on your body to give up is that reason not to consume it? Or reason not to quit it?
It’s not like I drink copious amounts of the stuff, but two mugs are a regular part of my morning. Weekends can see a latte plus a cappuccino or two, and maybe the random after-work rendez-vous. I don’t “need” it to wake up or take care of other coffee-related business. However, clearly, my body makes no bones about having a difficult time of letting go, regardless of what I consider to be in the realm of reasonable. It does give me pause to only drink coffee when it’s really good. In general, unless I’m on a roadtrip, I’d rather go without than drink something that’s not going to be good. I’ve been known to go out to breakfast, only to leave the brunch joint un-coffee’ed to order a latte across the street. This kind of hurt is not worth sub-par swill. (After today, I doubt I’ll attempt this gastrointestinal retreat anytime soon.) Withdrawal is for quitters. And, I just can’t quit you, cup o’ Joe.
I knew things were getting bad when all I wanted to do was lie down for a nap. Even the thought of knitting does not bring me respite. I just want this feeling to go away. I am not myself, right now. Although there are plenty of healthy habits that come along with what I’m doing (yoga, meditation, sipping buckets of hot water, eating mindfully, freshly-cooked meals, soups), my gut’s not cool with hitting the pause button on everything it knows. Just cutting out snacking and focusing on 3 meals a day has been a bit rough. Granted, I’m not doing it by the letter of the law, otherwise I would have eaten three hours ago. Sure, I’ll suffer and let it slip on time, but I will stress over whether to eat butter, because the focus of our meals are vegan, except the ghee. (That’s clarified butter.)
Heck, maybe it’s not just coffee. It could be me. I didn’t do my self-massage with oil. (Minds out of the gutter. I really liked it back in the fall.) I was supposed to exercise beyond my yoga, but how I felt prevented me from running. The timing of my meals is off. (That said, I’m feeling better now as I hunger for overdue dinner than I did when I was eating lunch on time. I understand the slippery slope of cleanse into eating disorder. No fear of my falling off that cliff. There’s plenty of bread and caramels and seafood in my future.) I could beat myself up about not doing it perfect enough, but that’s not the point either. Food for thought. Or thought for thought.
The towel’s not thrown in, but I’m definitely considering it.
It’s clear to me that I don’t have the most altruistic and / or spiritually-enlightened reasons for doing this cleanse. Deep down inside, I’m hoping it a silver bullet to drop 15 pounds (very unreasonable over 10 days) and a kick-start to a life of healthy habits. If that was true, why am I doing it a second time? Shouldn’t the yogic living already be ingrained in me from the first time around? Why am I so upset by numbers on a scale? A scale that I have read (and experienced personally) to be inconsistent in reporting numbers. Nonetheless, I am. I know that doing this reflects a deep unsettled feeling or inadequacy in my psyche that I am attached to. Maybe I can just work on letting that go and let this be about 10 days of trying something new and developing a closer relationship with my body and learning how to listen to it more closely.
Heading over to the first class for the cleanse, kind of an intro meeting / dinner / mini yoga class, I was very stressed out. Of course I was running late, but the reason I was delayed was I had misplaced my wallet. Even upon calling the place where we had lunch, then figuring out it’s possible I left it at the coffee place, I felt unsettled, upset and not wanting to be there. I knew there was nothing I could do about my wallet at that moment and that I wasn’t going to devote the time to call up the credit cards to cancel, but still I was stressing. (Not to worry, it was found at the coffee place and they tweeted my dog to let me know.)
Walking into a yoga studio can either be calming or nerve-wracking. It could be a blissed out intuitive sanctuary. Or, it’s a new space, where I am not a regular, so I don’t understand how the flow of traffic, I can’t figure out where to put my stuff and change. Because of my own mind state and the oddly curtained narrow hallways and multiple doors to bodywork rooms, I was more of the later. Even before stuff began, I felt like I was wasting my money. That I would just fall off the horse again. That I was fooling myself and not really going to get a lot out of this because look at my life: it’s a series of failures and things I have quit. (I know none of this is true, but that’s how my mind works.)
That all said, when we stood up on our yoga mats, even in my jeans, I had a moment of feeling home. Look, I know I’m a honky who grew up in an evangelical Christian background, and that I dabbled for ten years of (really good) yoga at work, but never sustained a home practice. So it wasn’t so much that the yoga studio or the modality of movement (and we did minimal stuff) was perfect. My body was just really grateful that I was moving a little. It gave a little grin when I ate the dinner of rice, mung beans and simple salad. A whispered, silent “thank you” for doing something good for me on a deep, no, deeper level.
I still haven’t shopped for all of my groceries for the next four days of gentle eating. I’m relying on the crutch of the eating plan to drive my consumption. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to be holding onto a hope that this is temporary and that I’ll see infomercial-type results in the next two weeks. I’m already looking forward to a return to pizza, burritos, nachos, beer and bread. I don’t feel like I’m 100% ready to follow this to the letter of the “law,” and I’m afraid of doing this alone, without the support of my coworker Michele, like last time. Heck, I’m not even faking it until I make it.
But somewhere deep down, there’s that quiet voice. Maybe it’s even an invisible nod. My true self’s approval of living a little more in my body. Not going for the quick hit of superficial pleasure, but instead orienting myself on a path that is just a little more right. It’s not really about losing weight or cure-all’s. It’s a nudge towards more balance. A meaningful gift to my body and mind. A break from the easy way out and a moment in something truly better. It’s too soon to say whether this is going to be a miraculous transformation or the theme of my 38th year on the planet. And it may never be said. I’m just going to hop out of the way of indulgence and try to savor the joy and satisfaction and fulfillment mindfulness can bring.
I’m sure there’s a way to mindfully enjoy a beer, once a week. But that’s not part of this here and now. Not for the next two weeks, at least.
(Photo: A little leave-behind at Port Ludlow from the November silk spinning retreat.)
I’m headed there again this week for a wacky four days of Rockin’ Sock Club Sock Camp. I love my job. I love that I get to spend this time with my mom even more.
Fast Company just ran an article on yarn-bombing that included a quote from me. Shucks, thanks, but big props and mad respect to the real street artists out there going up every day, in yarn, paint, stencil or wheat paste. Compared to the real deal, I’m just a dilettante.
My next few weeks: two rows, twelve chapters in.
I finished finishing the Kerouac cardigan on Sunday morning and cast on before bed on Monday night for an EZ Bog Jacket. I’m having a micro knit-a-long, i.e. two-person, with my dearest pal Sean.
Why start one thing when you can start two? I’ve finally cracked open Rachael’s novel, How to Knit a Love Song. I’m pretty smitten with it. I suspect it will be finished long before the knitting.
Not much more to say here. Run on over to Clara’s blog for some thoughts I’m trying to sit with in my own life.