Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Case For and Against Detox

As you might know, Brandon and I planned to detox throughout the month of January after happily indulging in all things sweet and fermented for the month of December.  It only seemed right to respond with the same or more fervor about diet as we had given toward gorging ourselves with holiday treats.

We started off well.  I think a solid week went by in which we adhered to our own strict guidelines (based primarily off of the Whole 30 plan). Then, a new wine bar opened in Ashland.  

Maybe you missed this news because you are so fascinated by yet another post by me about eating. 

THERE'S A WINE BAR IN ASHLAND.  In Ashland, Ohio.  I'm not kidding.  It's called The Happy Grape, and it's so lovely.  You must go.  

Which is what I did, two days in a row, the first day because it was opening day and when something as wonderful and unusual appears in Ashland, Ohio, you have to be there for opening day, and the second day because Brandon and I required a detox-free date night.  That particular day came with a whole host of heaviness, and we needed to unload.  We went to our favorite restaurant, The Cabin, and then ventured to the Happy Grape for dessert.

After date night, there were nights I got home at 5:30, and Brandon knew he was leaving for work the next day, and there weren't any leftovers left, and ooooh wellllll, order a pizza.  And then there were football games and friends, birthday parties and potato salad and cupcakes, and we partook of all that is good and sweet and fatty and alcoholic.

Here at the end of detox January, I am declaring our detox a brilliant success.

Because not once did I say to myself, What do you think you're doing?  You can't eat that! nor did I whisper to the little troll that controls my appetite, Okay, little troll, since you've failed today and permitted yourself these two slices of pizza, you are free to give up, you failure. Go sit in the corner and be quiet. It's no use.

Neither of these thoughts occurred to me because it's just food.  

We are a culture of extremes.  Starve yourself!  Stuff yourself!  Be the Biggest Loser!  Food is King!  Worship food!

But I say, stop idolizing food.  It is fuel to keep your body running.  In order to operate with the most functionality and wellness, to run with the fewest belches and rattles under the hood, the body needs to eat good food.  

You know crunching through an entire bag of chips and eating all of that cream and drinking all of that alcohol and indulging in all of those desserts isn't good for you.  It might taste good, initially.  It might feel okay, at first.  But then there's the gurgles, and the rumblings, and the gas, and the indigestion, and the heartburn, and the headaches, and the hangovers, and the 2 p.m. slump.  This is your body saying, I hate this!  Stop doing this to me!  

The body appreciates when we don't make it work extra hard to digest stuff that isn't natural; it runs best on certain types of food.  And when the body is running best, it stops being an uncomfortable distraction, allowing you to focus on other areas of health and wellness.

The body isn't just a piece of machinery that needs a particular combination of oil and transmission fluid and gas in order to work.  The body is also emotional.  The body is also thoughtful.  The body is also spiritual.  The body is also relational.  The types of food that you consume should not dictate or trump the rest of your body's needs.  Celebrate with those who celebrate!  Enjoy the company of friends and their delicious chocolate chip cookies without beating yourself up over it, but remember that your little troll can still say okay, that's enough now, two cookies is probably plenty. Go drink a glass of water, you sugar addict, you. 

Health is about more than just diet, and trying to extreme diet 100% of the time is the same sort of dysfunctional behavior that drives the appetite to eat whatever it wants.  Health is about exercise, and social interactions, and worship/prayer/meditation, and recreation, and sleep.

But health is also about diet.  In spite of the many pierogies and cookies consumed by me in December, in general our daily diets are clean.  I'm not tempted by soda anymore.  We have raw honey and maple syrup handy for sweeteners but otherwise we don't add sugar to much.  There's no dairy except sharp cheddar and greek yogurt in the fridge, and it's been so long since we've had pasta or bread in the house that it doesn't even cross my mind to buy it.  When we go to the store, we mostly perimeter shop, spending most of our time in the produce section and lingering for a few minutes in the meat section, mostly waiting for Henry to stop staring at the lobster tank.  

So when we determined to "detox" in January, the intent was not a radical modification of our existing lifestyle.  It was simply a good opportunity to reset after a season of much celebration, of much sweetness and thick pierogies and desserts and drinks.

Now, we're back to eating mostly meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and seeds, eating until we're full and satisfied.  We're back to bi-weekly date night and the occasional glass of American Honey or wine to relax and enjoy each other's company.  We're back to Friday night pizza night.  If there are 21 meals in a week, two to three of those meals might fall out of the healthy category.  When those meals occur, the little troll doesn't get the night off.  He simply sits back for a couple slices of pizza until the ticker tape runs that says, I'm full now but I just love the way this tastes, and then he flashes his warning signal.  Time to stop now.  It was good, but don't make yourself sick, silly indulgent person.

So as the good King Solomon said once, Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved of what you do.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Status Update: TLDR

I learned a new Internet abbreviation this week, TLDR, as in "too long, didn't read," which has me all kinds of sad because, well, here you are on my blog that by design goes "on and on and on."  I am the definition of "long-winded." 

Before you click away from this page after adding "TLDR" to the comments section (which has never happened to me yet), the following week in review is going to be a bullet list because all of us in any kind of field that requires marketing know that bullet lists are the only way to deliver content to a generation of overstimulated Internet users.

I had a really good week, by the way.
  • Wake Up Time: I didn't have to use my alarm all week long because of this guy to the right. Upon reading the Mary Oliver poem "Why I Wake Early" on Writer's Almanac, I composed this little poem, "Why I Wake Early" in response.
  • Work: Even though I'm now back to a five-day work-week like most of the adult world, I only had to work four days this week due to Snowmafreezebrrgeddon 2014. I shared this "Template for the Brief Bio" on Wednesday.
  • Writing: Besides these cheeky things, life in messay land was mostly sunny this week. (Watch out, this is where the bullet list goes crazy, indents and everything)
    • The spring semester of the Ashland MFA program started this week, and I am working with the fabulous Jill Christman this term.
    • I started sharing some marriage-based essays with The Good Men Project, including these two pieces, previously appearing here and on Brevity:
    • My poem, "Night Swim" circulated through the Every Day Poems newsletter
    • Writer friend Kate Hopper interviewed me on bearing witness, faith, family, and writing on her blog Motherhood & Words
    • Last night, I heard from the fabulous editor at Full Grown People that "Know True Love Ways," an essay about dancing with my dad on my wedding day, will be published over there.
    • Rejections and success seem to come in waves, and this wave is much appreciated after a couple of months of rejection slips.
    • I hit the landmark 5,500 tweets on Twitter, a rip-roaring 770,000 characters of wit, sarcasm, and links to wit and sarcasm. That's kind of an embarrassing landmark. Maybe I should delete it.
  • Welvis: My husband is off for nine days straight. Hallelujah!
  • Whole 30: BW and I started our detox on Sunday of this week, and I'm happy to report that my pants are starting to fit right again, the 2 p.m. slump is going away, and I'm back to sleeping like a rock. We don't eat poorly normally, but a brief detox period (30 days) right after the holidays is a good reset for me after letting my food impulses rule throughout December. And there's also all that American Honey and whiskey I was drinking...
  • Words with Friends and Candy Crush Saga: I continue to butcher and be butchered by "friends" on WWF, and now, I drift off to sleep with visions of red jelly beans switching with yellow lemon drops in my head. I'm on Level 50. Someone please uninstall these apps from my phone and Kindle.
How was your week?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolution Time!

Here's a tip for next holiday season: It's probably a bad idea to eat leftover pierogies every day after Christmas through the New Year. Maybe this wouldn't be such a big deal if it wasn't also coupled with nut roll. And baklava. And buckeyes. And other delicious calories consumed the last two weeks, all of which I do not regret. Well, I regret it a little bit. Approximately ten pounds of it. 

I'm not too worried about it, because it's RESOLUTION TIME! Wooooooo!

The last couple of years, I jumped on board the resolution train. I love lists. I love goals. I love benchmarks. (I love lamp.) The ritual of checking in annually with life and its measures seems like kind of a good thing, like an annual physical. How's your blood pressure? What did you hope to do last year? What do you hope to do this year?

Top of my list right now is to detox. Brandon and I are planning on doing the Whole 30 again, and I am so excited. My favorite part of the Whole 30 is demonstrating to myself that I do indeed possess self-control, and I am capable of exercising it whenever. For real! No, Swells, you do not need to eat that piece of chocolate, because you have self-control. No, sweetheart, you do not need to drink that glass of wine, because you have self-control.

It will also feel good to fit in my jeans the right way.

Besides trimmin' up the ol' spare tire, it's also been something like two months since the time changed, so I guess I have to stop using that as an excuse not to exercise. Last night, I broke out the Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess book and started Round One again. Boy, am I out of shape or what. What a disappointment to be almost back to square one (I say "almost" because I still managed 20 regular push-ups, which is way more than I could do before *roar*). But this, too, is manageable; after all, I've done it before and I know the rewards. What's there to lose?

In 2013, my resolutions were far less quantifiable than 2012, but I did set the goal of blogging every other week, and I am pleased to say thanks to my daily advent blogging, I wrote an average of once a week. Outside of December, it was closer to three times a month. So, for 2014, I think I'll aim for once a week again. The MFA thesis is well on its way to looking like something more than a collection of typed pages, and I don't think it's an unreasonable goal to write more blatherings like this one in 2014.

Here's a few more things I hope to pull together in 2014:
  • Read twelve books (one a month? totally manageable)
  • Cut debt in half (We are SO BAD at this. People, you know that self-control thing I was talking about above and how fun it is to exercise it with food? Well, we're real lazy with this one. But if you don't set a goal, there's nothing to aim for, right? Here's to 2014 and debt reduction! *meow*)
  • Finalize the MFA thesis. I kind of have to do this by next December. Yay! Something I'll be able to check off!
  • Read through Book Two, Three, and Four of the Harry Potter series with Lydia
I know I said I was done with pierogies in the New Year, but there are a few leftovers from 2013 I hope to maintain in 2014:
  • Maintain sanity
  • Pray and give thanks daily
  • Remember the promises given by God in the Bible and remind my family about them regularly
  • Continue preparing healthy meals for my family
  • Go out with my husband once every two weeks
  • Play with my kids
  • Expand the garden
  • Go on vacation (Disney! Sea World! Yee!)
I think that's enough. And, if/when I fall short, there's always this:

Looks like 2014 is going to be a good year, folks.

Boy, I've been at this thing for a while now. :)