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.