Thursday, March 28, 2013

teaching an old dog new tricks

today's lesson: old dog + new tricks.
in this case, the old dog in our scenario would be me.

last month matt and i went away for a couple of nights with two other families from our girls' preschool, and after some very delicious and kind of rich meals, my friend kaite announced, "i think we should do a cleanse when we get home", to which i smiled and didn't say anything because of course, i knew there was no way i was doing a cleanse! first, i kind of feel like our bodies are built to filter and digest so i don't know how much i buy the cleansing the body's toxicity thing (but feel free to refute me in the comments section.) second, i didn't really feel like giving up many of my favorite foods for three weeks. third, and most honestly, i didn't really think i could do it. 

kaite kept talking about "the cleanse", and somehow it became like the amazing power of advertising- you swear something is the ugliest thing you've ever seen until you keep seeing it everywhere and in magazines, billboards, and tv shows, and suddenly you find yourself declaring how you really want to purchase that item. (case in point - my evolution from vowing never to wear horizontal stripes to somehow getting sucked into stripey mania the last couple of years, even if it makes me look even wider. but hey, stripes are cute.)

the cleanse slowly became my striped shirt, 
because lo and behold, 
even though i just outlined my very logical reasons for not doing a cleanse, 
i suddenly decided, "well? why not? i am going to do a cleanse"

so for three weeks i decided to say no to the following things:
gluten & all its friends, dairy, refined sugar, coffee/caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, eggs, red meat, some nuts including peanuts (& then for the last week, i also cut out fruit)

it seemed crazy. it seemed impossible.
people, i do not like green tea. or fish. or tofu.
i mean, wasn't that all i'd be able to eat?

and then i remembered my friend nicole, who did an elimination diet (whole 30) last year, 
and has stuck with it ever since, to amazing health results.
and then i also remembered how stubborn i am. (very.)
and i thought about how much i like sugar and butter and flour and how delicious anything is when it is a combination of those ingredients, and how irresistible said sugarybutteryflouryanything is to me.

so i decided to reboot my body by decreasing my craving for those items by taking them out of my diet for a few weeks.
and to force myself to avoid my default meal choices 
(you know, the ones that are fine, but you just do because that's what you eat for breakfast. 
i'm not talking about donuty levels of unhealthiness, 
but something like my regular english muffin with cream cheese. 
well, no gluten, no dairy, so had to figure out something else!)

so even though i woke every morning dying for my cup of coffee with cream and sugar in it? 
i drank green tea. and i complained and had a splitting headache for a few days, but i survived.

even though i took my regular snack breaks in the middle of the night when working on freelance?
i found something else to eat. like a boring old carrot. but it mostly hit the spot, even though i did miss sugarybutteryflouryanything at 2 am when i was needing a sugar rush.

it's funny-
despite my reticence to make the plunge,
i ended up kind of loving the cleanse.

i ate more intentionally.
i felt strong and healthy and whole.
i recognized that no one else really cared or noticed if i ate a modified diet 
(ahem, kind of big for people-pleasing-tendency-me).

and the biggie for me:
i was really self-controlled. i didn't cheat once. (actually i take that back- one time, but it was a choice and not a "slip-up") i think i've had this misguided self-perception that because i have spent much of my life struggling with my body type and related weight issues, that i must not be very self-disciplined. overweight = i'm obviously a flaky glutton (or something along those lines). these three weeks of changing how i ate reminded me that when i make decisions i am actually very much in control, and don't have an issue with healthy boundaries. oh, and that i make a lot of really healthy choices already with food and exercise. (insert the self-talk that says, "don't be so hard on yourself susannah, especially since you are believing untrue things.") that might not seem like much of a revelation, but it was pretty powerful to me.

so a couple of weeks out i've gone back to eating like "normal" but with some ongoing modifications. 
i eat less a lot less dairy, gluten, and sugar. i haven't had any artificial sweeteners (i do miss you a little, diet coke.) i drink less of my husband's delicious cocktails. and i think a lot more about what food i am putting into my mouth and why.

(p.s. don't get the wrong idea here-for the record yesterday i did eat multiple peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that my friend nancy made. because they were AMAZING. but then i also stopped and did not eat the entire plate. even though i almost should have. they were really that good.)


  1. food self discipline is tough but the pay off is worth it. you go girl!

  2. well done!! i am going to go eat a boring old carrot now...

  3. 1. i am so proud of you. i am a total old dog and can not imagine cleansing. i could only handle 2.5 days of the master cleanse and that was pre-kids!

    b. i've seen what you call 'breakfast' - some green leaves from your garden, quinoa which really looks like chia seeds i rubbed on my pet in jr. high. maybe an almond.

    and finally, i was thinking the other day about how much joy i get from good food, good drinks, awesome desserts. i was weighing the options - could i enjoy life without those things in order to have a size 0 body? my answer was no. but i agree with you, it's all about moderation. please bring me a peanut butter chocolate cookie. one or two is fine.

    1. hahahahahahaha no chia seeds here :)

      but we all know i enjoy food and drink with the best of them (hello, i went to pizzaiolo last night), but just trying to be more mindful. i would give you a cookie but MATT FINISHED THEM OFF. so unfair.

      we do have 10 boxes of girl scout cookies...come on by!

  4. OK we must talk, did you know I have been gluten free for the last month????? And I've been Paleo for almost 2 years before that. And I love cake!! And cheeseburgers!! And fries!!!

    Ser. Call me.


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