Recharging

This ain’t your grandma’s diet.

Today, I’m laying down my cards for all to see; I’ve always been pretty irritable. Okay, that’s an understatement. I’ve had a slight bitch streak since I was a kid, and it oftentimes came out at those closest to me. Has it bitten me in the arse and made life altogether less happy? Sure. Am I embarrassed about it? Absolutely. I’ve tried to control it and have done a lot to change my life philosophies to squash it since my teen years. For example, it takes a lot less energy to smile and be pleasant to somebody than it does to be rude. My years in customer service helped on this front, too, but when I get hungry or tired or any other myriad of other strange feelings, it still comes out. Let’s just say my husband is a saint.

Going hand-in-hand with my irritability comes my inclination towards depression. (See? Cards, meet table.) From my years in therapy, I can pretty much self-analyze quite well and have determined that the depression is based on the traumatic event that shaped much of who I am, the death of my father when I was three years old. Hormones, general life stresses, and my tendency to over-think things are a big trigger. As long as I’m not on the suicidal train that I once was, I’ve foregone the anti-depressants that once numbed me. But, depression doesn’t go away; you just have to find ways to cope with it in life and find what fulfills you.

Oh, yes, and I’ve had head rushes (you know what those are, right?) for years ‘n years ‘n years. I always thought that it was due to my chronic sinus issues, but it didn’t always make sense. As of the past year or so, my joints have started stiffening and getting sore…more sore than a 29 year old should be experiencing.

Why am I telling you all of this? Really, there is a reason. Yesterday, I was researching the idea of a possible detox. (Don’t roll your eyes yet, wait for it.) I’ve noticed that my weight is at the highest it’s ever been, I don’t feel “in control” of my food choices (and many things in life, actually), and my fatigue level is at an all new high. That factor, the fatigue, is what had me looking up how to re-energize myself, put the passion back into life, and actually get the projects I long to do DONE. Every time I use the bathroom, I feel that I’m letting myself (and my husband…and my cats…and people I’ve never met) down that it’s not complete yet, but the energy just won’t show itself to me.

While researching, I found a silly little quiz to see if a detox is right, or if a different type of change might be needed. This quiz had me answer a variety of questions that hit eerily close to home about my recent fatigue, general lack of energy, depression, joint soreness, head rushes, and even where I’m gaining the weight. After saying “yes” to 16 of the 18 factors, I figured I should look into this “adrenal fatigue syndrome” thing.

After reading more, I determined that a slightly changed diet for a couple of weeks may show a marked difference in my mood and energy levels, and it’s a heck of a lot healthier than drinking only cabbage juice or shooting lemonade with hot sauce (pardon me, I also have serious acid reflux and a hiatal hernia, so that wouldn’t be in the cards for me, anyway – so much acid!!!), or fasting. I’m hoping that this will help me to recharge, both physically and mentally – and, perhaps, spiritually, if I can get my mind wrapped around the concept.

While I’ll be doing more reading to determine how “serious” this diet (I hate calling it that since it’s not like I’m “on a diet” — I’d rather look at the word in what it truly means, ie the foods that one eats) should be, the first couple of weeks I’ll be taking it pretty damn seriously. I’ll be doing the following:

– Way more veggies. Lots ‘n lots ‘n lots. Dave was shocked at how full the fridge was when he opened it today, and I’d say 2/3 of it is veg. Mind you, he did go shopping with me yesterday…I guess it just looks different piled up in the fridge.
– More complex carbs, in the form of quinoa and brown rice – in combination with more legumes, as well.
Fewer fruits, but when I do eat them (6% of one’s daily intake should be fruit), they have to be certain kinds. Pears, apples, mangoes, etc, are fine.
– Staying off wheat for awhile. This. Is. Tough. I don’t want to turn myself into a celiac (that may be very ignorant of me to say, but I’m not an expert on the disease), but I can understand that wheat gluten has a sluggish effect on folks. But, seriously, no pizza ever again?! (I live in Central New York. You can’t try to get a gluten-free crust passed me. Not gonna happen.) Found some brown rice pasta, though.
Sleeping, when possible, later and/or longer. This week, that’s pretty possible (except for when Dave gets up for work…I have a hard time staying in bed when he’s gotta drudge off for the day), but summer school will be starting soon. However, I’ve been going to bed close to 9 for awhile, so an early start time may help.
Eating at certain times of the day. Breakfast before 10 (like, 8 or so), lunch between 11 and 11:30, a healthy snack around 2, dinner between 5 and 5:30, and a light healthy snack is acceptable. If we get the blue popping corn, Dave can still make me the occasional popcorn snack, woohoo! Of course, I won’t be eating the entire bowl, as usual, nor eating it slathered in butter. (See below.) Sea salt is good, though!
No cow’s milk, for now. They say that goat’s milk is closest to human (ew), but, for now, I’m trying almond milk, and, so far, it’s just as good as cow’s milk. This goes for butter, for now, too.
No *gulp* sugar. Generally meaning refined, for this version of a detox that I’m doing over the next couple of weeks, this means no turbinado, either. For now, I’m using local honey (not raw, I’m not really sure how to use that stuff…it’s, like, a soft solid…huh?) in my tea and if I use a marinade for my meat.
– Yes, meat is okay to eat. But, I’m going to try to watch my portions as far as this is concerned. Protein is important (hello, quinoa!), and it’s said that 36% of the meal/diet can be meat – the same percentage of vegetable. Luckily, the meat that we have in the house is all local, grass-fed awesomeness, so I’m happy that when I prepare a meal, Dave can pretty much eat what I’m eating.
I’m nuts! Well, yes, clearly, that, too, but I’m uber happy that nuts are a part of the plan. I’ve got sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in bulk, as well as some almond butter (with celery? Yum! Hello, afternoon snack!!) and peanuts. If any are seasoned, they only have sea salt on ’em, and apparently the sea salt is something that I need, as part of the whole shebang. So, cool, who knew?
No vegetable oils. Or, at least, not those uber-refined ones. Olive oil is good (THANK GOD!!), as is coconut oil (they highly advise it…but, do any of you know how to use it? It’s another one of those soft solids. Use it like a combo of butter and oil?), but things like canola and vegetable are no-nos. I tend to only use those for baking, anyway, so they’ll be kept in the house for bake sales and things that I’m not planning on consuming.
Light exercise. This is a good thing, anyway, because when I DO exercise, it tends to stress my body out because I’m a perfectionist and overdo it a tad. No, lots. I go gung-ho crazy and nearly pass out. So, trying some yoga and light walking with the objective of relaxing the body will help prepare me for eventual jogging…or here’s hoping.
No caffeine, no booze. Let’s just say I had a very lovely dinner last night during which we consumed lots and lots and lots o’ wine, knowing that I’d be “off” of it for awhile. Otherwise, I’ll be drinking water and herbal/green teas, sweetened with honey (or agave, when I pick some more up; gotta find a coupon, though, ‘cuz that shiznit’s expensive…but delicious and tastes more appealing than bee puke).

I think that’s it! Ha, that’s it – good one, Meg. In all seriousness, as I alluded to, this may last (in the severity) for a week, or two, or a month. I don’t foresee that I will not be using whole butter to raise my kids (we’ve had enough butter conversation to have determined that, damn it, if it was good enough for our parents and grandparents, it’s good enough for us), or going my entire life without drinking wine with friends.

However, if this works out to be a practical lifestyle change, many of the above points will become part of my life. In a strange way, having a bit of a regime to follow (rather than just listening to doctors who say “more fruits and vegetables, less junk food” then promptly ignoring them) will help me to avoid those things I shouldn’t eat. I’m pretty optimistic about this thing. Wish me luck!

By the way, I started this morning. My breakfast was puffed brown rice cereal (seriously, nothing but brown rice that’s been puffed, no sweeteners or anything) with almond milk and strawberries, and tea. My lunch is beans and vegetables (specifically, onion, garlic, red pepper, rainbow carrots, mushrooms, zucchini) with brown rice. I’m thinking of salmon for dinner, with quinoa and veggies. I’m looking forward to a green salad with pear and goat cheese, and eating up the local goat cheese spreads we got at the farmers’ market Saturday on rice crackers; gotta get more excited about the vegetables, though. 😉

First Meatless Monday

Yesterday, I received a cheerful, super-excited email from Dave with a link to a CNN article about meatless Mondays. While this concept is nothing new — especially both growing up Catholic (which made Fridays the meatless days rather than Mondays) — and Paul McCartney, among others, have been doing it for awhile — it’s new to us. Or, at least, a new idea to try. So, we made a couple of large salads and ate plenty of pasta with veggie-laden tomato sauce. Oh, all while watching the 3rd installment of our Netflixed Ken Burns’ “Jazz”. Fun night!

So, after one day of it, what do I think? So far, it didn’t feel like anything different. I think that if we went vegetarian for a few days a week, it’d be much more noticeable. But, we were still excited to be making an effort and, in a way, feel like we’re part of a bigger “movement” — although we’re not ones to be categorized (especially politically, and particularly since Dave takes his news job very seriously) or do things because a group is doing them. 🙂

Last Sunday, we did some shopping at Hannaford to start our process, from buying their bulk corn meal and raw sugar to picking up some great fruits and veggies. It’s hitting the pocketbook pretty hard, but it’s not getting us down. Oh, I even got some organic shampoo and soap, which Dave loooooves the smell of — I’m getting used to it. 😉

I’m now off to research soap-making. I find myself getting distracted by about a million different things to research, from safe cosmetics to Earth-friendly cleaning products, when I’m suddenly hit with “get simple about it — look up historic ways of doing this” to stay true to my historical interests and to avoid overdoing things. Thanks for checking in! Things are definitely going very well and even bringing Dave and I closer and closer together.

By the way, check out Dave’s blog, Dave’s Path to Enlightenment, where you can follow his thoughts while reading and learning more about the how to incorporate Buddhist concepts into his everyday life.

Earth Day — in our own way

My fiance, Dave, and I stumbled upon “Food, Inc.” on PBS last night and were equally touched and horrified by what we saw. I gotta tell ya, well-produced documentaries sure are the way to get tears and fears out of me, but I suppose that’s what they’re meant to do. I hate to fall into the trap, but I agree with and accept the information they provide — in general.

While watching it, my mind started hopping from thought to thought. Why are we so dependent on big business? Has it been given too much of an opportunity to grow, thus take over our lives? Are Americans (well, many humans, not just us) so ignorant that they follow the leader so eagerly (and lazily)? I don’t want to sound overly hippie, but this all turned my stomach…well, it could’ve been all the slaughter scenes, but anyhoo….

One reason that Dave and I get along so well is that we seem to transcend time. No, we’re not Dr. Who or Marty McFly. We’re just very connected to past time periods. I’m not sure about him, but I’ve always wished that I could live in a different time, from the Colonial period to 19th century to the 1940s to the 1960s…hard to live in the now, but we are where we are. I know the grass isn’t always greener, but when it comes to eating, I wonder if we’d be a lot better off living a century ago. So, my first extreme idea was to buy a farm, quit our jobs and start a whole new lifestyle.

Go ahead, take the time you need to finish laughing. I can wait. 🙂

Not even sure Dave understood what I meant when I tearfully explained that. But, I never expected it to become a reality. The second idea was less extreme…but still extreme: moving away to an area that has more resources for healthy living. Of course, this would mean leaving family, friends and jobs. Not something that we’re currently ready to do.

So, the compromise that Dave came up with after sleeping on it a bit was to take our first steps to get healthier — and we don’t mean in order to lose weight, but to retrain our bodies not to depend on the salt, sugar and fat that they have thus far grown to crave. Mmm. Sugar. *shakes head* That’s gonna be a tough one.

In our area of the country, we’ve gotta drive about half an hour to a modestly-sized city (where Dave works) or an hour to the east or west for a larger option. We’re between suburban and rural; we’re relatively close to farms but they still seem foreign. Many of my students live on farms, and a lot of the kids I went to school with back in the day (a town over from where we currently live) also lived on farms. Oh, and suffice it to say, Dave’s from the above city and my parents both grew up on farms (Mom eventually dated a dairy farmer, so I spent lots of time on it during that time — being a youngster on a farm has its merits), so farms are a little less foreign to me since I’ve vast experience scraping cow pies into gutters. Yessiree.

While you’d think that a quasi-rural area like this would allow us tons of great organic produce, it isn’t necessarily the case. We still rely on Walmart, Aldi (man, why can’t they have more organics?!) and Hannaford for groceries; the harsh winters take up most of the year, so farmers markets get set up for the summer — making it rough the rest of the year. Also, much of the “goods” the local farmers create are for a larger market, so they’re feeding (literally) right into the big business hype. *sigh* Sometimes we think that if we lived closer to a city, we’d have an easier time living differently. Strange how that works.

But, there’s some good news (albeit not cost-effective), and it’s what Dave’s great idea is. We found a local buying club called The Foodshed Buying Club on Facebook which, depending on the time of year and availability, offers eggs, meat, produce, etc from local farmers. You can order by Sunday night and pick up your goods that Friday or Sunday. There’s an annual $15 fee for their services (can’t blame ’em, and that’s not too bad, is it?), you get organic, hormone-free foods, AND support local farmers who, in turn, support our cause — buying locally.

So, here’s our first step — talking. Ohhhh, it sounds so simple, but rather than jumping in and spending a fortune (which we don’t have) on everything the Foodshed has to offer, we’re going to discuss our priorities and what we can’t already buy at a sufficiently healthy level in a “normal” environment. So far, my priorities are as follows:

  • MEAT!!! Ew. What are they FEEDING us?! We were raised as the traditional, all-American omnivores (with a big accent on the meat and potatoes…or heavy pasta), which there’s nothing wrong with. Well. There sort of is. We’re flabbier than we probably could/should be, and that probably has something to do with it. Regardless, once I’ve used up all the bulk goodies in the freezer, I’m buying no more meat from the grocery stores (unless specifically labeled as grass-fed…which is rare around here). This is one area that we will pay a pretty penny, and rightfully so.
  • Dairy – All the corn-fed (corn sounds healthy…it’s not…and it ain’t natural) cattle are producing hormone-infested milk and cheese products. Now, we’re not big milk-drinkers (didn’t we drink it, like, constantly as kids?) but I’d like to get into the habit of not grabbing whatever plastic container is cheapest, especially since we’d like to have a brood of our own one day. Instead, here’s one place that we’re a little luckier. Hannaford has organic milks as well as some locally-produced no-hormone brands which aren’t uber pricey — so, shall we say score?! Yes. They and the Foodshed also have great cheeses and yogurts which, although slightly expensive, aren’t enjoyed that much in the McCoy-Dellecese household, so will be a nice splurge here and there.
  • Produce – Here’s where I’ll have to do some experimenting. I’m not completely ignorant; I know that just because it’s a fruit or veggie, it’s not necessarily “good for” us. But, this is also the area that I think leaves us the most wiggle room. It’s still way healthier than hormone-laden meats and poultry, so, for now, we’ll work on getting fruits and veggies that help us stay within our budget.
  • Grains – Since I don’t bake as much as I should (why can’t I be Donna Reed?), I figure I can splurge on the whole wheat and organic flours from Foodshed. The harder thing is figuring out what to feed my guy — brown rice is always a go-to, but pretty boring, and anything with a strange-sounding name is a no-no. He’s a little like a child with some foods; I guess we all are in our own ways (I hate hate HATE raw tomatoes). Here’s where I’ll need to do some research. ANY SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME! 😀

We’ve already gotten well underway with our beverage consumption (except for that moo juice!), drinking mostly seltzer or flavored waters with zero additives, juice, plain water, etc. The occasional soda (ginger ale) gets tossed in when we’re feeling naughty. Oh, okay, and beer or wine, but those are social or mental health beverages (rough day at work much?), and consumed rarely.

So, that’s a start, I think. We’ll update when things get further underway. I know there’s a lot more in our area that’s still untapped. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to take a new stance on our own impact? Well, at least I’m not crying over meat anymore.