Monday, September 21, 2015

My Son's Green Smoothie (or A.M. Prep for W.L.C.)

It’s 8:40 a.m.  I just spent the last 40 minutes in the kitchen. I pulled out all the fruit and vegetables I use for my son’s green smoothie. (I know that sounds obnoxious, that my son drinks green smoothies, but he just started last year and, at 15, those may have been the first vegetables he’d ever eaten in his life. I don’t know how or why he agreed to try a green smoothie, but he did, and now I get to say “my son’s green smoothie.”)

Into the smoothie goes apple, cucumber, avocado, carrot, lemon, OJ, spinach, frozen strawberries, chia seeds, and, today, celery (because it was going to go bad).

My green smoothie, which I will have later, is similar (water instead of OJ, and I add ginger and protein powder), so I cut up extra of everything and put it aside so my smoothie will take 30 seconds to assemble rather than 5 minutes. I also cut up even more of all that stuff for tomorrow morning’s smoothie – just because I had it all out already. And while I was cutting, I decided to make some quinoa, which takes 15 minutes, and hard boil some eggs (also 15 minutes) and to cut up some broccoli and marinate some chicken breasts which I will throw in the oven for dinner.

I did all of that, including vacillating about using the cucumber because of the salmonella recall and cleaning up, in 40 minutes and I now do not have to worry about pounding nuts all day because there’s nothing in the fridge ready to eat.

After I write this, I’m going to make some quick egg salad with some of the hard boiled eggs. The others are going to be thrown, with some chopped veggies (cucumber, tomato, celery, olives, avocado) into the quinoa for lunch.

I do not do this every morning, but I wish I did. I have a day today that will start with a meeting at 9 a.m. and end after a meeting at 9 p.m., and it is jammed with work (and a necessary hair appointment) for pretty much every hour in between. I absolutely believe that the 40 minutes I spent doing this is doing more for my health than an exercise class. If I get a 30-minute walk in later, I’ll feel great.

I’m telling you all this because I am not organized, I don’t like to cook, I don’t ever feel like I have enough time in my day, and I go through many periods of every day feeling like I just want to sit down and have some delicious food to settle me. And this is how, on some awesome mornings, I deal with that set of circumstances.

And (except for your son drinking green smoothies, which I cannot promise), I’m pretty sure you can too.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Whole Life Challenge Parable

Once upon a time, I went to a nutritionist. I was sent to her by an acupuncturist whom I was recommended to by a chiropractor. I saw all these people because I was having recurrent pain and tightness in my back.

The nutritionist asked me a lot of questions, some of which made me cry – not because they were particularly probing, but because once upon a time almost any question about anything made me cry. 

After an hour and a half together – time spent listing all the foods I ate each day and taking a lot of blood, she suggested I might want to consider varying my diet – namely, having something else for lunch besides my daily tuna salad on a bagel.

“I’d rather die,” I told her, and at the time, I meant it.

I’m not sure what it was about tuna salad on an onion bagel in 1995, but I could not imagine a day without it. I had a great bagel store in Hoboken and the bagels weren’t huge but they were really dense and doughy. I looked forward to my tuna-salad bagel from the moment I woke up and upon taking the last bite, I started pining for the next day’s lunch so I could do it all over again.

“We often feel that way toward foods we’re ‘addicted’ to,” she said. “Those foods we really crave are usually the worst for us.” She was talking about the bagels and I felt my eyes start to sting again, a typical response to my being told I shouldn’t be doing something that’s not good for me.

“That’s just bullshit,” I said, and I left her office armed with a few vitamin supplements and absolutely no intention of ever giving up bagels.

I now cannot remember the last time I ate a bagel. It has surely been years. I mean, I can’t remember the date, but I can remember the experience: plain bagel, cream cheese and capers. As I was eating it, I was pretty sure it was the best thing I’d ever had in my entire life. It’s like I got high from it and I thought, Why don’t I eat these all the time!?

I also cannot remember when I started moving away from bagels as a staple in my life. I’m sure it had something to do with wanting to lose weight, but even when I’d “diet,” I’d manage to find ways to maintain the foods that soothed me in my diet.

And that’s what bagels do. They soothe me. Bagels are like a nice big dose of Xanax – they simply take the edge off everything.

For a bit.

And then I need another hit.

I don’t know how much I’ll be blogging about the Whole Life Challenge this time around, but it’s starting on Saturday (9/19) and if I do, be forewarned, most of the things I have to say about it will probably fall into this category:

If we are not happy with our energy levels or our health, it probably has a lot to do with how we are or are not taking care of ourselves. And if we’re not taking good care of ourselves, it’s probably because we’re partaking in things that may not serve us, but that soothe us. No one is asking anyone to go around unsoothed – that’s not a good plan – all I’m suggesting is try going for a day, or two days – some teeny tiny amount of time – without your usual “bagel” and just see how it feels. Keep a bagel nearby just in case it’s intolerable. If it turns out not as bad as you thought…that life really is worth living, even without a bagel for lunch, see if you feel like that the next day. No pressure. Just see.

There's never a good day to give up bagels, so you may as well try it today.

If you’re reading this thinking, oh I wonder if this is some message to me because I said I haven’t been feeling good lately but I'm also not “ready” to give up the things I need to give up in order to do the challenge, the answer is: yes. It is.