March 11, 2012
I know I’ve done a horrible job at sharing Argentina with you via this blog. Not to mention my road trip across the US last summer. I was reviewing some photos and video last night, and there are some beautiful ones. Perhaps someday when I’m bored and have absolutely nothing to do, I will finally disinter those photos and videos for you. But considering the infinitude of interestingness on the interwebs, and immediate access to practically every book known to man on my Kindle, I’m not sure if that’s realistic.
Anyways, as far as Argentina goes at least, I’d like to make it up to you by directing you to my friend’s blog, Go!Dream!Live! No wait, it’s Dream!Go!Live! Which, when delivered to my inbox, I always read as “dreamg olive”. She does what I aspire to do – consistently shares her experience and photos of life in Buenos Aires.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have been writing, lots, every day. I just haven’t been converting any of that into bloggage. I think I just need to get back into the habit of posting, and the only way I’ve successfully made habits for myself is by doing Challenges. But I’ve been focusing on the No Sugar Challenge. One at a time.
So! The No Sugar Challenge!!! On March 13th, in two days, I will have officially and successfully completed 30 days of No Sugar. This is, by a long shot, the longest I have ever gone without eating refined sugar.
What did this lack of sugar do? (And coffee – I didn’t really drink coffee at this time either, as they pretty much go together for me – I can drink coffee black, but here in Buenos Aires coffee means medialunas or cookies, and those were definitely out).
-Skin: My skin cleared up. The acne and little bumps I get, especially on my forehead, have pretty much gone away, and my psoriasis is less red. However, I did up my dairy intake exponentially while not eating sugar, so I continue to have a few pimples around my jawline and my psoriasis didn’t fully clear.
-Energy: I started waking up earlier. 5:30am most days. I love getting up early, and I love not feeling groggy. That could be as much from stopping coffee as from stopping sugar. This past week I’ve been feeling exceptionally exhausted, but I think that’s mostly due to the intensity of the Vipassana course I did last week, and a lot of emotional processing I’ve been doing. And, probably, my body trying to digest all the cheese.
-Weight: I lost a little weight, but not much, due to the large quantities of cheese and organic yogurt (sugar-free) that I’ve been eating. And steak, and pizza… I met a wonderful Dutch girl at Vipassana and during her four days in Buenos Aires I HAD to take her to all the best food spots. Of course. And, um, I bought a beautiful book called Pizzerias de Buenos Aires…
Oh and near the end of the month I also found that amazing raw sugar-free chocolate at Buenos Aires Verde, and a few days ago discovered sugar-free helado at Juaja, my favorite of which is the lemon ginger. YUM!
-Clarity/Mood: I have a lot more clarity when I’m not eating sugar – clarity as to what I want in life, what really makes me happy, insights into myself and others. Last time I gave up alcohol/sugar for a few weeks, a series of events occurred that led to me leaving Los Angeles and moving to Argentina. And this time, a series of events occurred that led to me making plans to move to Patagonia. Anyways there’s increasing research about the drug-like negative effects of sugar on your mood and body, and things react differently with different people. I definitely have a negative reaction to sugar. I’m aware of this. It doesn’t mean I won’t be eating sugar on March 13th – I will! – but I hope that sugar (like alcohol) will become an increasingly rare addition to my diet.
I love not eating sugar. I also love eating sugar. So, that’s that.
And aside from the dairy and sugar-free treats, 70% of my diet this month has been fruits and veggies, so that’s awesome. I’m quite proud that I went a whole month without caving to medialunas or the apple crumble and dulce de leche they had the last day of Vipassana, or the other things that tempted me every day of the last month.
As I was saying at the beginning, my apologies for not having shared more of my journey with you up to this point. I’ll be posting some photos and maybe a video tour of my current home here in BA, and hopefully filling you in on some of the best eateries and cafes (like the very photogenic Bardepan). My 33rd birthday is next week and a friend is flying down from San Francisco; we’ll be revisiting all of my favorite things about BA before heading down to Patagonia.
Love and light and cheese!
February 13, 2012
I am addicted to sugar. I never felt truly addicted to smoking or alcohol or drugs – none of which I put in my body anymore – but sugar still kicks my ass. Anyone who’s followed my blog these last few years has read about my trails and tribulations with sugar many, many times.
I am also allergic to sugar. It makes my system acidic, causing inflammation, which makes me break out (little tiny pimples all over my face) and contributes to flare-ups of psoriasis. I’ve had psoriasis consistently for almost two years now.
I’ve given up sugar a few times in the past, but never made it longer than a few weeks. I tried again at the beginning of 2012, but after 6 days (during which I felt amazing) I caved and went back to my cycle of sugar binging.
So this time, I’ve decided to place a wager. I’ve bet my friend China Brooks that I can go 30 days without eating refined sugar, starting today. She also is going sugar-free, and if either of us give into temptation during the 30 days, we have to Paypal the other $25. I don’t generally make bets but I’m pretty sure I’m too proud and stubborn to lose one. 😉
Many people are unaware of the truth about sugar – how addictive it is, how toxic it is, and how prevalent it is in processed foods. I’ve experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual gains that come with giving it up. I’ll be exploring these over the next 30 days as I share my experiences and struggles and, hopefully, win my bet.
November 15, 2011
The jacarandas are blooming here – spurts of vibrant purple; squishy flowers blanketing the sidewalks. Makes me feel at home, like I’m back in LA. A strange LA.
The school uniform for some children is a white knee-length coat. This makes them look like little mad scientists.
When you order a cup of coffee, it comes with a shot of sparkling water and a little cookie (or some kind of candy, candied orange peel, or chocolate). It’s like snack time.
A young fit-looking dog walker passed by the window of my favorite cafe. She had 14 dogs leashed to her. Big dogs – Burmese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Black Labs. A moving mass of fur.
Whenever you leave an apartment building here, you have to have a key to unlock the front doors to get out. Seems dangerous to me.
Walking along residential streets you often come across small booths with windows, about the size of a porta potty. Homeowners on the block hire guards to man these booths and watch over their property. The guards just sit in the booths all day. But at night, the booths are empty…
Breakfast here is coffee and bread – normally a couple of medialunas, mini croissants. Or a combo: today my combo breakfast came with a selection of muffin, pastry, and toast. I had a banana muffin, a chocolate croissant, and two slices of perfectly toasted freshly baked bread, with sour tangy cream cheese and some kind of fruit preserve that I can’t quite make out – passionfruit? It almost tastes like sweet sun-dried tomatoes…
The Argentine diet seems to consist of meat, pastries, and dulce de leche. Yet only 18% are obese, and 50% are overweight – much less than in the US. Is it smaller portions? Periodic skipping of meals? More walking and use of public transportation?
You can sit in a cafe for hours without being bothered, or talked to, or looked at, by a waiter. For them to come over, you must flag them down. Which can be nice, or can be annoying, depending on how much of a hurry you’re in.
February 17, 2011
I’ve fallen off the wagon.
Or rather, I’ve swan dived off the wagon, face first, mouth open, into a kiddie pool filled with liquid dark chocolate. And cashews. And caramel. And peanut butter. And cheesecake.
Allow me to ‘splain.
Since January 1st of 2011, I have been going through a cleansing process to break old habits of eating. Not the lemon-water-cayenne-pepper type of cleanse, but a whole/natural/unprocessed/organic foods type of cleanse. I’ve been eating mostly fruits and veggies from Farmer’s Markets, supplemented by hemp milk and dried lentils from Trader Joe’s. Little to no refined sugar, processed foods, dairy, red meat, and absolutely no caffeine or alcohol (except for a cup of decaf coffee – it was gross, even though it was Intelligensia – and a splash of wine out of a a roommate’s 2-week-old bottle that I put in some soup I was making for dinner guests).
I could count on one hand the number of times over the past 40 days that I’d eaten refined sugar.
It started with a free lunch. The VP at our company owed me lunch – I forget why – so I opted for Tender Greens in Culver City. Tender Greens is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. I’m not sure if it’s the mashed potatoes or the price point or the fact that the produce and meat is sourced from a farm in Oxnard, but I just love me some TGs.
They also have some of the best desserts in LA.
So that’s when the slide began.
I got a cookie. A delicious oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips and pistachios. Pistachios!!! The cookie was huge, round, perfectly crispy on the outside. Amazing.
That’s it! I thought. Not another grain of refined sugar for at LEAST a week!
But then… then the next afternoon I found myself in front of a table of Nicobello chocolates on a sidewalk on Abbot Kinney. Free samples – FREE SAMPLES – of some of the most – ok, THE most – delicious, vegan, organic, fair trade, locally-made, antioxidant-packed, all-the-right-marketing-words “HEALTHY” truffles I’ve ever tasted. PUMPKIN CHAI truffles, Blueberry Almond truffles, Ginger Green Tea truffles, Walnut Flaxseed truffles, Sunflower Banana Butter truffles, Pure Cocoa Bliss truffles…
I bought a sampler, with one of each flavor. I systematically destroyed the six truffles over a 30 minute time span – as I strolled down the street, as I perused an art gallery, as I drove home with the top down in the sunshine.
Oh yeah – I also polished off a (small) bag of their Maple Nut Munch, with 72% dark chocolate, Maple Pecans & a touch of sea salt.
That’s it! I thought. SERIOUSLY this time, not another grain of refined sugar for at least another week!!!
The next day I ate super healthy – fruit, veggies, leek & sweet potato soup.
But then… then my roommate’s friends came over to have a Grammys party.
And a huge glossy fruit tart from Whole Foods.
I hadn’t had pizza in about 50 days at this point, and I hadn’t had more than a few tastes of cheese on the occasional salad. I caved.
I don’t feel like I ate THAT many slices of pizza, but I was in pain for about an hour and a half afterwards. I’m guessing it was my stomach trying to figure out how to digest the huge globes of low-quality (and probably hormone-laden) cheese I was gulping down. Then there was the fruit tart with the sandy buttery crust that I love so much.
I may have had two slices of the fruit tart.
Monday I think I actually made it through the day without sugar. Tuesday, however, I had another slice of the leftover fruit tart (it was a friend’s birthday!), and then I actually dug into giant box of Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake that’s been in our freezer for a few weeks (I did not eat the whole thing. Thank god).
Today was the doozy – I went to Trader Joe’s, and my willpower buckled completely and I bought myself two kinds of chocolate – Soft Peanut Brittle, which is rather like a less dense Butterfinger, and Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels, which are actually a bit too chewy for me. That didn’t stop me from eating a few handfuls of each before dinner tonight (I did also give away 1/2 of the Peanut Brittle to the parking attendant as I left the garage – I like to brighten the attendant’s day).
So, that’s where I am. I am utterly failing at the No Refined Sugar part of my challenge.
But you know what? That’s ok. Along with my discipline challenges, I am also practicing self-acceptance and self-kindness. I could beat up on myself, be mad at myself, be disappointed, but instead, I’m going to let myself eat chocolate for a bit. When I’m ready to stop again, I trust that I’ll stop.
I also realized today the main reason behind why I have been binging like this – my period is a week late. No baby scares here, unless it’s the immaculate conception of the second coming of Christ. Actually, I’m certain it’s because I had some female friends spend the weekend at my place the week before last, and at least one was on the rag. My body syncs up with pretty much any woman’s cycle if I spend more than a few hours with her – I once didn’t get my period for two months when my closest female friend (and neighbor) got pregnant.
So, I’m fighting against the power of biology and whacked-out hormones. Additionally, I’ve noticed that my body tends to go into binge mode anyways if I lose any weight, which I have what with all the fruits and veggies I’ve been eating. It’s a bit annoying, but I can’t blame my body for trying to protect me from what it apparently interprets as risk of imminent death.
I’ll take these chocolates I bought from Trader Joe’s with me to work tomorrow to divvy up amongst coworkers. Hopefully I’ll be able to go hiking this weekend. Maybe I’ll try doing some eating meditations when I’m tempted to bing again.
And most importantly, I hope my hormones even out soon. If they don’t, I may need to invest in a larger pair of jeans.
February 5, 2011
A friend asked me the other day what I do to get so much energy.
There are probably 100 factors but here are a few I feel I have control over right now:
1. Eating Clean
I’m 36 days into my Clean Eating Challenge. I’ve dropped intoxicants (alcohol, caffeine) and severely limited refined sugars, processed foods (including bread), dairy, and meat (when I do eat meat, it’s chicken). I really feel like my body needs less sleep now – I’m guessing less recovery time from the stress you create in your body by eating foods your body isn’t made to process. My skin is so much softer and clearer. My memory is better – I realized recently that I now remember people’s names after hearing them one time (that one’s pretty strange), and I find I can remember everything without having to write it down (I’ve started shopping without grocery lists). My sense of smell is sharper. I have fewer emotional lows. My psoriasis is fading. The pea-sized subcutaneous cyst that I’ve had on my neck for a few years is almost entirely gone (when I put the paste my Ayurvedic doctor gave me on it it shrinks, but I have to keep that up or it returns).
What I AM eating is foods from Farmer’s Markets. I no longer shop at Whole Foods due to their policies on Genetically Modified Organisms and Monsanto, and I’ve been to Trader Joe’s about 3 times this year. I’ve started to get to know my Farmer’s Market vendors in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and Culver City, and they’ve started cutting me deals! Last weekend I made my Leek, Sweet Potato and Pear soup, with Ginger Asparagus Quinoa with a Carrot Ginger sauce on top of that. I’m also eating a lot of Bolani (available at both the CC and BH markets). Bolani is my new favorite thing – it’s like a quesadilla made with super-thin naan-like tortillas, and instead of cheese it’s stuffed with lentils or pumpkin or spinach or potato (the first two are my favorites). When I need a sugar fix, I eat fresh melt-in-your-mouth dates. If you have a sweet tooth and you’ve never had fresh dates, you need to try them.
Last year I meditated about 6 days a week; on the 1st of 2011 I made a 100% commitment to daily meditation, and intend to keep that for the rest of my life. Some days it’s 15 minutes, and some days it’s an hour. Some days it’s in my room, some days it’s on my porch, some days it’s on the beach. Like eating clean is clearing out my body, I feel like meditating is clearing out my mind. Science is proving that meditating is exactly like working out. Your brain is a muscle, but instead of physical strength you’re building focus and clarity. Ideas flowing to me.
I do yoga two days a week; I run a few days a week as training for a 1/2 marathon I intend to complete in May; I try to talk a walk every day either during lunch or after dinner, and I try to hike on the weekends. We all know that, paradoxically, exercise energizes you.
4. Saying No
In 2011 I’ve been practicing saying No to energy drains. Energy drains like intoxicants and refined sugar and sub-optimal foods, but also energy drains like people, or like doing things I don’t REALLY want to do. I’m simply being honest with people – everyone – including my boss. If I don’t want to do something, I tell them. If I’m not available to talk to them on the phone about their problems, I tell them. I make it clear that it’s not personal and my saying no is not a reflection of how much I do or don’t value them as a person or as a friend; but I’m just getting more real. It’s so refreshing, and I’m finding out that it works better for everyone.
5. Doing what I love
I wake up crazy early because I’m EXCITED to get up!!! I want to meditate and write and create! I want to read empowering and inspirational quotes on Twitter! I want to come up with ideas and work on co-creative projects with people I love working with! That could be #6: co-creative projects. I am working on awesome, fun, inspiring projects, (outside of my day job) with about 6 different partners right now. These are projects I’m doing just because I WANT TO, but working with another person keeps me moving forward when, if I were trying to do it by myself, I might give up.
I’m hoping that eventually I will be able to support myself I know that soon I will be able to support myself doing things I love with people I love. That’s my #1 goal. Create my perfect day, every day. And with these small steps, create my ideal life.
So, this is where I think I’m getting all this energy. Join me?
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
– Alexander Graham Bell
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.”
– Tony Robbins
[quotes shared by the awesome Mastin Kipp at TheDailyLove.com ]