Leaving Patagonia

June 5, 2012

I’m sitting at a café in Zapala, Argentina, en route to Buenos Aires, listening to a sometimes cheesy nonstop 80s mix that changes approximately every 45 seconds. Everybody Wants to Rule the World, one of my all-time favorite songs ever, was just mixed into MJ’s The Way you Make Me Feel, a song Ginny and I used to dance to at the ranch.

It’s strange being back in a place with sidewalks.

Patagonia, Argentina

The town of El Huecú. No sidewalks.

I’m feeling a little anxious. Partly because of this town, partly because I’m in transition, and partly because I asked a woman working at the bus station if there was somewhere I could leave my two bags so I didn’t have to drag them around town with me during my 6 hour wait between bus rides. She directed me to a red booth. A guy let me in to put my bags in a side room and then turned to the next customer. I stood in the doorway – Nada mas? – No name? No ticket? Nope. Nada mas. Ok. Ok, Mister Señor, I am going to trust you and leave everything I own with you – my entire winter and summer wardrobes, all of my journals and jewelry-making supplies, all of my Vibrams and underwear, all my books and the geodes I found in the mountains, my yoga mat, my meditation cushion. I guess I’ve got all I really need in the backpack on my back – my iPod, my Macbook, my toiletries, my sleeping bag, a pen and journal and my kindle…

The Gibelli's

On the way to the Gibelli’s ranch.

Current 80s mix song: Roxanne

Why is it so hard to pack less shit? Do I have that little faith in my ability to be comfortable and happy, to adapt and survive in any situation? I’ve got this deep fear, this anxiety about not having enough… I’ve been trying to change that programming for as long as I remember, being a child of packrats (or “collectors”); I keep letting go, letting go, letting go, but I still don’t feel like I’ve got much less than I used to.

IMG_1042

Free as a bird.

It’s a Tuesday morning, 10:30am on the dot. People are lined up outside the banks as they often are in Argentina, about 20 deep. Driving into this small town on the Cono Sur bus, I saw spray painted on a wall: “Guns and Fuckin’ Roses.” Now that’s a fan. On the way to this café I passed by a clothing store with a cute jacket in the window. I haven’t seen a clothing store in two months. I haven’t had that temptation, that thought – Do I want to buy that?

IMG_2134

It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing when you’re branding cattle.

The simplicity of country life. It is so profound – no stores. No advertising. Hardly any people. No traffic, aside from the occasional herds of cows and goats that block the dirt roads and stare at you dumbly. No restaurants or cafés.

The Gibelli's

This is where I learned to drive stick. Put the clutch in when cows appear!

Current 80s mix song: Danger Zone

That was one of the things I loved about Burning Man – for a week, you didn’t have to think about money. Your brain didn’t have to go through its automatic, silent, constant calculations – do I want to buy that? How much would that cost? How much money do I have with me? What’s my checking balance? Do I want to spend $4 on a cup of coffee right now? I would look cute in that jacket. I wish my skin looked as good as that girl on the poster. Maybe I need to buy a new facial scrub.

Patagonia April 2012

“Shopping” for patio flagstones.

Current 80s mix song: What I Like About You

When you’re in nature, you’re not calculating. You’re not comparing. You’re not processing the million bits of information that come at you when you’re in a city.

Patagonia April 2012

Air doesn’t get any fresher than this.

In the countryside, you’re admiring the clouds. You’re breathing clean, fresh, pure air. You’re seeing the colors of the leaves turning from fall to winter, the branches reddening. Your fingernails are never clean for more than 20 minutes after a shower, because nothing’s paved and dirt and dust are a part of your environment that cannot be separated, conquered and divided, or controlled.

Patagonia April 2012

Fall colors at the Chacra.

Current 80s mix song: Can’t Touch This

It’s peaceful. I had a profound sense of contentment, of peace while I was at Ginny’s ranch in El Huecú.

Patagonia, Argentina

My view from the house every day. I love this mountain!

My skin is incredibly clear and soft right now. Is it because I’ve hardly been drinking any coffee? No milk (aside from powdered) or cheese, no eating out at restaurants, no pizza, no ice cream? The lack of air pollutants? Lack of stress? All the maté I’ve been drinking/ I can’t remember the last time my skin was this clear.

Patagonia, Argentina

Typical Saturday lunch: goat asado and tortas fritas.

I’m having a cup of coffee. It’s not very good. But the sugar packet has a cute drawing of a mountain, sun, waterfall, river, and some kind of hoofed animal – it looks like an Impala, maybe, with horns. Do they have those here?! It does say Patagonia on the bottom…

I stopped at a kiosk on the way here to get money for my cell phone, and a few bars of chocolate for the bus ride. They had about 30 different kinds of high-quality chocolate bar, a more impressive display than I’ve come across even in Buenos Aires. In El Huecú, you only had 2 or 3 kinds of quality chocolate to choose from.

Patagonia, Argentina

They scream like children when they die. Rest in peace, goats.

Current 80s mix song: Material Girl

This café I’m writing in is half full. People are rushing by outside. I’ve seen a two women with unusual headdresses, perhaps some kind of folk dress. There is a lot of noise. I haven’t heard this much noise in two months. In El Huecu, the only noises were dogs barking, roosters crowing, the occasional truck, wood cutter and turkey gobble. Horses whinnying for hay, birds chirping madly or the strangely indigenous loro parrots shrieking by the hosteleria.

Patagonia April 2012

Mountain shrouded in mist.

Current 80s mix song: She Bop

About 24 hours from now I’ll be back in one of the densest cities on the planet. I am not looking forward to the polluted air or the noise of traffic. I am looking forward to acro-yoga classes and getting a delicious fresh-baked medialuna, and for the adventures to come.

IMG_1044

Adios, nos vemos!

Goodbye, Patagonia! I loved you. Two months flew by and were over sooner than I expected. Thank you for your space and silence and fresh air. I know you were responsible for the beginning of a new chapter in my life, I’m almost certain I’ll be back to see you again.

Patagonia April 2012

Sunrise hike.

Current 80s mix song: Groove Is In The Heart (I know, technically 90s, but damn I love this song)

Advertisements

This is your brain on sugar. Street art in Buenos Aires.

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!

 

Sugar + Honey + Frank

February 19, 2012

I’ve been refined sugar-free for six days now!

I’m feeling happier. I think there are two reasons: 1. Sugar causes mood swings and 2. I’m not hating on myself for sugar binging or not acting in integrity with what I want to be: healthy.

The cravings haven’t been too bad. I did eat a lot of dried fruit and nuts the first few days, and I’m eating more dairy than I usually do (which is barely any). But I’m ok with that!

Yesterday I bought some freshly-made organic yogurt and honey from the El Galpon Farmer’s Market in the Chacarita neighborhood of Buenos Aires (the only place I know of where you can get organic stuff in BA…). The yogurt comes in a big beautiful bottle and was delish with the super-dark grainy honey:

Argentine Yogurt and Honey, fresh from the farm.

Yes, honey’s technically a sugar but, unlike refined sugar, honey’s not toxic to your system, doesn’t cause dramatic blood sugar spikes (it may actually IMPROVE blood sugar control)  and has an insane number of health benefits: it’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. You can use it to help heal burns and wounds, you can use it on your face to clear up acne (which I do occassionally). It can help with sore throats, allergies, even weight loss! As I’m reading more about honey the list is getting way too long (athletic performance, free radicals, cholesterol, immune system, anti-cancer…jeez!) so for more info check it here and here and here. (I’m pretty sure all of these are from raw honey, not the honey you by in a regular store, which is probably counterfeit honey from China.*)

Unfortunately, according to one of those honey sites, the answer to the question “How much honey can I eat every day?” is NOT “Eat as much as you can.” Damn.

Even the Bible mentions honey, according to the editors of Wikipedia. Funny honey quote:

“While Jonathan was passing through the woods during the war against the Philistines, he found honey dripping on the ground; he plunged his spear into it, and ate enough to restore his lost strength. He was, however, sentenced to death because he ate honey on a day of abstinence”.

D’oh!!!

 

So, this next part has nothing to do with sugar or honey, but… Well, actually, it does, in a roundabout way.

I was reading The Daily Love and came across this awesome blog by Mollie Angelhearthttp://thedailylove.com/always-come-back-to-love/

Some of my favorite bits:

“All those paths lead to one answer “we are all one and our only job is to be unconditional love and remember”.

It’s all in the remembering… From broken and alone to whole and complete and part of the whole that is The Uni-verse…

I am broken when I forget and whole and complete when I remember.”

Mollie’s bio led me to google the documentary she produced, May I be Frank, a documentary “exploring the transformations possible through healthy eating and positive thinking”:

Which looks AMAZING.

So, to tie this all together – I’m pretty sure Frank was eating way too much sugar. I haven’t seen the entire movie yet, so maybe honey even played a roll in his transformation.

I think we’d all do a little better with less sugar, more honey!

 

*If you are getting your honey from Walmart, Target, Cost Plus, Sam’s Club, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, CVS, or individual packets from Smucker’s, McDonalds or KFC, there is a 70-100% chance that it’s not actually honey, as defined by the food industry (containing pollen), and could be watered down with high fructose corn syrup. Trader Joe’s honey, thank goodness, is legit.

I Confess!!!

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.

Until Friday.

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…

Fuck me.

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.

With pizza.

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.

 

It’s R-October, and I’m ready to R-October out on a few challenges:

1. Buy all produce locally – I love me some Farmer’s Markets, and I noticed that Trader Joe’s apples are being flown in from NEW FRIGGIN’ ZEALAND! Not cool. If they’re gonna pay for something to fly between here and NZ, it should be me, not a apple.

2. On weekdays: No coffee, no meat, no dairy – all acidic and not so good for me. Hmm, I guess I’ll pretty much be going Vegan, since I only eat eggs if I’m having brunch the weekends.

3. Every other day: No processed sugar – cutting all sugar is quite complicated…I’m gonna give myself a break this month. Sugar does include alcohol.

I’m also meditating daily and doing Positive Aspect work.

I like my challenges. They stop me from being complacent, and from drifting aimlessly through life (which I’m inclinded to do).

I came across these good quotes from Jim Rohn the other day:

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

Speaking of changing direction, I also started training for my first half-marathon!!! I’ve never been much of a runner, but after doing the 50 Mile Challenge Walk for three years now, shifting over to wearing Vibram Five Fingers a year ago, and reading Born to Run, I’ve been thinking more and more about doing a half marathon.

The one I picked is up in Santa Barbara (love it) and ends with a wine-beer-music festival (love it). I figure if I can walk 50 miles, with proper training I can run 13, and drink afterwards. I’m hoping to do it in my Vibram Five Fingers…so, I’m planning on training more than I need to, and hoping I don’t injure myself in the process.

One more quote for the road:

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In stopping to think through the meaning of what I have learned, there is much that I believe intensely, much I am unsure of. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Oi…how do the days end up flying by so quickly?? Seems like I need to do another 30-day Blog-A-Day Challenge after this… my intention to blog every other day hasn’t panned out.

So, Day 13 update of my No Caffeine/Alcohol/Refined Sugar/Processed Food/Red Meat/Dairy Challenge = I am feeling fabulous. I’ve been eating apples and almonds and spinach and asparagus and pears and swiss chard and cucumbers and carrots and summer squashes and chicken and dates (hmm a chicken and date dish…sounds nommy!).

I was walking around my office the other day & realized that I felt totally rested and relaxed. Not tired, not groggy, not tense, not anxious. I’m gonna guess the healthy eating is to blame – I don’t have the ups & downs of caffeine & alcohol & sugar, my body isn’t taxed digesting processed foods & red meat. Also, going out is less appealing when you’re not drinking, so I’ve been getting plenty of rest, and getting up early to walk or jog or do yoga. The other morning around 7am an old man yelled at me – “I SAW YOU SPRINT – INSPIRATIONAL!” A good way to start the day.

Alcohol & Caffeine: In the past 13 days I’ve had one non-alcoholic beer (which still has minute amounts of alc) and a decaf coffee (also has small). But aside from that, I’ve resisted offers for free drinks, bottles of booze lying around the house, and multiple urges to stop at Urth Cafe or Point Cafe or The Conservatory for Coffee or Vee’s Cafe for a tasty beverage. Can you tell this has been challenging for me?

Refined Sugar: I haven’t eaten any refined sugar in its most obvious forms – chocolate, desserts, ice cream, etc. I have had two “Cheat Meals,” out with friends, and one of them included TWO CUPCAKES…and I gave both of them away to co-workers!!! EVEN THOUGH it was a “cheat meal”!!! Imagine – two (basically free) cupcakes in my possession (one Red Velvet, and one Chocolate) that I carried all the way back to work and gave away without taking a bite. This is HUGE for me. (I actually didn’t get dessert at either of my cheat meals). So, I applaud myself on the sugar front.

Yesterday, I had to go to a work lunch (I got a salad), and for dessert they ordered Tiramisu and a beautiful-looking Strawberry Mousse. Again, I resisted temptation, though I’ll admit I felt a bit better when they started choking on the Tiramisu’s cocoa powder.

Processed Foods: Aside from my two Cheat Meals (involving sandwiches, and one involving fries), I haven’t had any fried, fast, frozen, or packaged foods. I have had whole-wheat pasta a few times (with non-dairy pesto and summer squash!), and though that’s technically packaged, it’s not considered “processed” since the flour hasn’t had its nutrients processed out of it. I had bread during my Cheat Meals, but aside from those 2 sandwiches I’ve only had a few bites here & there.

Dairy: I did break down and eat a few little cheese cubes at Whole Foods – they had samples of my FAVORITES, Campo de Montalban and Robusto. Ok, so maybe I have 15 or 20 FAVORITES, but those two are pretty high on the list. I have resisted ice cream on a few occasions, which is huge for me. Oh and I also resisted Garlic Cheesy Bread at Claim Jumpers. But I did have some Bocconcino cheese at the Point during my Cheat Meal. With little orange heirloom cherry tomatoes (do those even exist?). And it was delicious. My Cheat Meal sandwiches both had cheese.

Red meat: The only red meat I’ve had was bacon (bacon also falls into the Processed Food category) during my Cheat Meal. It was REALLY GOOD, perfectly crispy bacon. I have been wanting a hamburger. Or a steak. Or some ribs… Hopefully at Burning Man! (Am I gonna find any red meat at Burning Man, or are there too many hippies?).

So, I feel like I’m doing well. Out of 39 meals, I’ve only cheated on two, and aside from a few bites here and there, have pretty much stuck with my Challenge. Oh, one thing I forgot – in a moment of unconscious amnesia/habit, I accidentally took a bite of a Red Vine during Movie Night. I swallowed it but threw the rest away. It was stale anyways.

I have about 16 days to go. I’ll be doing just short of 30 days, cuz on Aug 30th I’ll be at Burning Man. Drinking booze and coffee and eating bacon and ribs and candy. And god knows what else.

Willpower & Change

August 6, 2010

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change, and others are not.” – James Gordon

Many people seem to get upset when I tell them I’m going to stop doing something for awhile. “But WHY?!” they say. WHY aren’t you drinking alcohol? WHY are you at a nightclub, drinking water? WHY are you ‘torturing’ yourself by ‘denying’ yourself dessert and chocolate and cheese?

I have two answers: Because I WANT to. And because I CAN.

I find when I’m ready to do these challenges – giving up booze/caffeine/dairy/refined sugar/processed foods – it’s not all that hard. It’s still challenging, of course, but it’s not so much of a struggle, and it doesn’t make me unhappy – because I WANT to do it, and I’m CHOOSING to make these decisions in my life.

A lot of people don’t feel like they have the power to affect change in their own lives – either they don’t have the willpower, or they don’t have other options. I think this is because most of us are taught as children that we don’t have choices or control, and we get conditioned out of trying – a milder form of  “Learned Helplessness.” We’re conditioned to conform and go along with what everyone else is doing, rather than listening to our own guiding voice and deciding what’s best for us personally. We’re taught to just do what we’re told and do what ‘normal’ people do.

Well, I don’t feel like being normal. See my blog on the Psychopathology of the Average for more on that – “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” said Jiddu Krishnamurti (love him!).

I don’t want to drink alcohol this month – it makes me tired and look dull. I don’t want to drink coffee or caffeinated tea – when I pay attention to my body, I can feel that caffeine makes me anxious, and it dehydrates me. I don’t want to eat sugar.* I DO want to eat a lot of vegetables, and maybe a pound of dates in a day if I feel like it. I don’t want to eat dairy** – it makes me break out, and I can get calcium from almonds and beans and kale (kale chips are really easy to make – put some olive oil on them & throw them in the oven!).

I still love wine and coffee and chocolate and cheese, but I’m just taking a break from them for awhile. I’d like for them to play a much rarer role in my life; I know I’ll feel better, and I’ll enjoy them more. Or, I end up enjoying them less, and not wanting them anymore. It’s a win either way.

*The average American consumes around 160lbs of sugar per year – and that’s not including sugar from fruit. That’s up from 115 lbs of sugar during the 60s. And that’s compared to only 25 lbs of dark lettuces consumed per year.

**The protein in dairy & other animal products may actually leach calcium from bones – animal protein is acidic, and you body alkalizes it by pulling calcium out of your bones. Interesting…

I’ve decided to do the multi-faceted cleanse/challenge/diet craziness that I did back in May again this month:

No alcohol

No caffeine

No refined sugar

No processed foods

No dairy

No red meat

Basically, I try to follow the diet my Ayurvedic doc prescribed me. I made it for the whole month of May with only a few cheat days – a vacation weekend and a couple meals out – but at the end of it I felt amazing, and (judging from the number of separate incidences in which people used the word “radiant” to describe me) I looked good too.  I started yesterday, and after walking 20 miles with my mom, I was proud of myself for resisting one of my favorite things in the world: Claim Jumper’s Cheesy Garlic Bread. Of course, the night before I’d pigged out on deep dish Chicago pizza and a literal mountain of banana caramel chocolate cream pie, but that’s for another blog.

It helps that I just watched that video (and am reading the book) by the neurologist who blames cancer on sugar. It also helps that I went to Vegas last month, not to mention Palm Springs and Santa Cruz, and had a Bacon Donut, and had Bloodcake and various other forms of Pork Fat at my favorite gastropub, Waterloo & City. Again, that’s for another blog. (W’NB!).

I do Challenges regularly but, aside from the Blog-A-Day-For-30-Days, I haven’t been the best at keeping the public updated on my Challenge experiences. So I’ll attempt to blog about my no alcohol-caffeine-refined sugar-processed foods-dairy-red meat experience at least every other day.

P.S. Serendipitously, DailyOM posted an article about Inner Spring Cleaning today! Though it’s summertime… Not that you can really tell in LA this year.