Day 10 and 11: The Never-ending Quest for Health

Sometimes I just gets the eats.

bad, and bad for you
bad, and bad for you

Habits are funny things. You do them because that’s what you do. I’ve had a couple close calls on this diet – my autopilot goes to the pretzel jug – but I haven’t fallen off this soy-is-a-villain-coconut-is-cool diet. Yet.

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Day 7: The Never-ending Quest for Health

Most of the stuff in this diet is old stuff to me. Lots of fresh food, grown and sold close to home. In other words, eat close to the source. I’ve agreed with this philosophy for a long time. But some stuff is new. And that is the challenge.

An old dog can learn new tricks, they say. Or is it ‘an old dog can’t learn new tricks’? At this point in the diet, all attempts to confuse me might be successful, since now I am using solid oil to cook my foods. I can’t remember the last time I allowed solid oil near my stove top. I know the label reads ‘coconut oil’ and the book swears that the stuff comes from heaven, but it looks like Crisco to me.

New Rules
New Rules

So these new rules about cooking might be just the newest in a very long line of diet fads. But there are some interesting pay-offs that I am hoping will stay around for the long-haul. Even though my main hope in following this diet plan is better health, my clothes are suddenly just a bit bigger than they were last week. Just a bit.

Still, if the oil looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably Crisco.

Day 5: The Never-ending Quest for Health

So I know you can’t eat butter in this Virgin diet, but can you eat beurre? I sat in a very nice restaurant debating whether I really needed to scrape off that wonderful-smelling sauce or if I could eat it (AKA cheat.) The restaurant turned out to be a really great combination of Central Cal Cuisine and French (hence the beurre,) so I could tell that the sauce was worth tasting. I had done so, so well with everything else on the menu and had been so, so good sticking to the drill these past couple days, I just wasn’t sure which way this would go. I’d already passed the bread basket to Stanley, who had been quite pleased. Since there was a sweet little array of boutique bread in the basket and yummy stuff to dip it into, I’d already paid a tremendous sacrifice.

Even the view was outstanding, and the weather spectacular. How could I ruin the day, whichever choice I made?

Photo courtesy of Mom
Photo courtesy of Mom

Day 4: The Never-ending Quest for Health

The author of this diet book stated that we do not need to eat grains in a healthy diet.

Glorious Grains
Glorious Grains

She could not possibly have been talking about all-round health, though, because everyone knows how wonderful grains make you feel.

Grains – whatever it was made into -flatbread, loaves, rice cakes – in whatever culture you come from, make people happy. Perhaps you can live a physically correct life without grains, but you cannot live an emotionally content life. Healthy diet versus happy diet – it can be a problem.

Have I been that long without pretzels? No. I can manage. But don’t even think of taking away my oatmeal.

Day 3: The Never-ending Quest for Health

It’s not so hard to dig out grated cheese from a field of lettuce. Our favorite Mexican Food restaurant serves a wonderful Pollo Asado Salad. The Virgin Diet is dairy-free for the first 21 days, so I had remembered on our visit today to ask for salsa instead of their wonderful avocado dressing. It wasn’t the avocado that was offensive – it was the sour cream that hides behind the other flavors. But I had forgotten the cheese sprinkles that come on top. So I pulled them off. No big deal. One by one. Even the little hidden squigglies under the lettuce. No big deal. Really.

The big deal was not being able to begin the meal with the best tortilla chips known to man. I thought that being without pretzels was going to be the most difficult part of this diet venture, but there the chips lay, right in front of me, reminding me of the great texture and perfect taste. The salsa sitting beside the chips, I could eat, but how was I going to get the salsa into my mouth without the chip?

Stanley was no help. He grabbed the entire bowl over to his side of the table and moaned with delight at each crunch.

At least the day provided one brilliant discovery:

Sparklingly wonderful
Sparklingly wonderful

I drink a lot of clear tea, but not a lot of water. So, for at least these 21 days, I had to find a way to drink more water. Perrier with lime to the rescue!

Day 2: The never-ending quest for health

Not just red meat, but coconut milk and coconut oil: Things I had thought were really bad things are now on my list of acceptable foods.

Of course, so are all the usual vegetables, and in quantity. I had decided that the beef could wait until Thursday’s farmers’ market, when I can buy grass-fed beef from a local rancher. I’ve bought it before for Stanley, who gave it a thumb’s up. But I found some at Trader Joe’s and decided to surprise Stanley with beef hamburger in his tacos.

Maybe it took me some time to remember how to prepare beef hamburger,

Not what you do with beef
Not what you do with beef

but I thought that the result was pretty good.

“What’s wrong with the hamburger?” he said as soon as he saw it, cooked with farmers’ market peppers and onions, and waiting on the stove.

I didn’t know what to say to someone who could immediately see the difference between grass-fed and old-style hamburger. We ate, and there was nothing wrong with the hamburger. But I must say, my first foray into red meat after so long was dwarfed in significance next to the realization that my husband of more than 30 years had a talent I’d never realized: hawk-eyed red meat know-it-all.

But the diet is just fine.

Day 1: The never-ending quest for health

I am in good health. Maybe I should just be thankful and go about my merry way, doing all the basically good things I have been doing all along. I love veggies, don’t eat red meat, get lots of exercise. I sleep well. I am as happy as the world will let me be. But we all have some things that might could use some fixin’. Me, too.
Enter the book that my aunt recommended.

recommended reading
recommended reading

It is written as if the author is giving a sales pitch. I’d already bought the book, so she really didn’t have to keep up the spiel. ‘Drop 7 foods, lose 7 pounds, just seven days,’ she kept on saying. I kept thinking about my pretzels. But a promise is a promise, and I had told myself I would give this a try.
It started out with almond milk, instead of soy, in my coffee.

liquid almonds?
liquid almonds?

No big deal. In fact, I have such great coffee, maybe I should just drink it plain.

All day long, I stayed away from bread, dairy, sugar, and soy. All day long, I stayed away from the pretzel jug.

And the day ended with a bowl of freshly-made applesauce topped with chopped nuts and cloves. Really, truly, this day was not all that different from most of my days.

But tomorrow… tomorrow I have to figure out how to begin to include red meat into my diet after several decades of abstinence. Red meat??? In a diet that proclaims itself healthy? We’ll see.
But Stanley will be very pleased.

Day 0 – The never-ending quest for health

Today is the day before the first day of my attempt to become younger, better, happier. All this home renovation has left me with a real need to get ahold of my health before it disappears forever. During this remodel, I’ve been neglecting good eating habits. There’ve been too many strokes with a paintbrush, too many bags of rocks to carry, too many long days that lead to short-meal-prep-time. We haven’t been eating ‘fast’ food, but we haven’t been eating slow food, either. Let’s call it going nine miles above the speed limit – you won’t get pulled over, but you’re way off the limit. I haven’t noticed weight gain so much as I’ve noticed a crumby disposition. Several family members have tried a particular ‘diet’, with some good results. Stanley, the human humingbird, eats whatever he wants whenever he wants and never pays any consequences. So this 21-day health challenge isn’t for him. It’s for me, Marsha. Maybe I’ll find out what’s ailing me.

I’d been wondering for awhile whether I had a wheat intolerance. Since my daily dose of these

love at first sight
love at first sight

is massive and brings me great happiness, having to do without wheat may be a life-changer. Still, good health is a good thing, even if it means life without pretzels. … Did I really just say that?????

And maybe it wasn’t wise, but I spent this Day 0 doing things I won’t be able to do for three weeks.

I had this

How can honey be bad?
How can honey be bad?

as I do every day. It’s not the honey that is bad, but the quantities I consume. Two cups a week can be a problem, I’m told.

I also had this

cheese, glorious cheese
cheese, glorious cheese

And this morning, in my coffee, for the last time this month, I poured something I never thought might be bad

soy, soy bad for you
soy, soy bad for you

We’ll see how it goes. I’m willing to do some things for health, but give up pretzels??? Maybe that’s going too far.

Just a Fling?

                                   The Saga Continues

It’s always a struggle, isn’t it? “What is?” you may ask. Well, everything. Loading the dishwasher last week became one. The simple stretch from standing up to leaning six inches with a nearly weightless fork in my hand resulted in a ‘ping’ I recognized as a warning from my back that I had forced it to do something for which it is not, at this time in life, designed.

How can a person know when leaning over is a good thing or a bad thing? It all seems so much the same. Thirty times a week, I can lean over to the same dishwasher with the same fork (I bought cheap forks four years ago and we don’t have many left) and nothing goes wrong. The thirty-first time becomes a different story.

Once when I had been talked into three sessions with a physical trainer, the tiny young sweet girl related that you never strain your back if you remember to tighten your gluts before you lean. I looked at her, smiling, nodding my head, and never once letting her see what was going on in my mind. First, the thought that everything is simple and flexible and sooo doable when you’re nineteen. She probably didn’t even need to think about her gluts or leaning or tightening. It just all worked. Simple, she said with a smile. Which leads to the next issue. What exactly are gluts?

Maybe I’m the only one on earth, but all this referring to body parts by their scientific name – even shortened ones – is a bit off-putting. Lats, flexors, fascia. “Use your deltoid,” says the training instructor. I’m sweating, straining and tired, and now I have to put my mind to figuring out labels from a uni-sex naked body on a poster from my doctor’s office that I study for 36 seconds twice a year when I visit her. Something’s going to give, with that much concentrating, and I’m hoping it’s not my mind. If the trainer would just point, or use general vocabulary, “Tighten your arm. No, farther up,” that might work. Come to think of it, pointing is the best solution, especially for someone my age. Which is my final comment.

I’m not at the age when I’ve given up trying to focus my mind. But I have learned that I should focus on one thing at a time. Lean over and think about leaning over, meta-cognition about something that should be instantaneous, for me is really a multi-task, and I have given up multi-tasking. I can tighten my gluts, after I remember where they are, and I can lean over, but those two (three?) functions are not going to happen at the same time. And leaning over? That task is so automatic it requires no thought at all, making me mentally back-up to stop that reflex action. So to do what the trainer assumes is as simple for me as for her, I would really have to think about four things at once.

  1. Don’t lean over until I tighten my gluts
  2. figure out where my gluts are
  3. tighten them
  4. then try to remember what I was going to do and why my bottom is all squeezed up.

It makes me long for my yoga days. In fact, I credit the fact that my back gives me warnings – instead of emergencies – to sun salutations and the occasional back-stand and spinal twist. Maybe, after this fling with spin class and Zumba, yoga will remind me it was my first love.

For a couple days, I relived the ping in my back, a wonderful reminder two or three times a day to stop whatever I was doing and stretch. I swam more and funked less. A week passed. Things got better. Never once was I motivated to name that specific place in my lower back that pinged. But, I can sure point to it.

Well, Funk That

It had to come to a title like this, funk being what it is.

So the story continued, even though the writing did not. Contrary to the rumors, the funk did not kill me. By my third class, I was hooked and loving the simple fun of movement and music. I forgot about arm waggles and the finer points of the samba.

People kept passing by the large glass windows of the defunct business that continues to house our scrubby dance class. They smiled and looked entertained, families with young children and couples on dates.

Life being what it is, I was interrupted by a visit to our college-graduating son, a funeral for a friend, pipes that broke under our concrete foundation, and the impending threat of my book being published. Being retired has been a tangle of things unpredicted, but I have figured out one thing.

The most important muscles to exercise are the ones that help you laugh. And for that, the laughter, things that waggle are some of the best motivators. Laugh, because you will not die of this disease. I am fond of my arm flaps. They remind me I am here, grateful, and continuing to figure out what comes next.

And the funk? I think I’ve pretty much always been funky enough.