Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cleansing Free From Sin

I tried a cleanse.

These are perhaps the four most unexpected words to come out of my mouth (or from my fingers, for that matter) in the the history of ever, and just thinking about what I went through makes me physically cringe. 

Granted, it wasn't a typical cleanse, like the cayenne pepper nonsense (who LIVES on that?!) or a juicing spree (I love chewing too much to ever try that), and I could eat unlimited vegetables and still keep fruit, but it was a solid week of no grains, carbs, starches, sugars, caffeine, and all the things that make life worth living. 

Don't get me wrong -- I love me my green stuff. (Not that green stuff; a food addiction is quite enough to contend with, without adding anything unsavory -- *HeHe* -- to my list of fatal flaws.) But I didn't realize, eating mostly clean and healthy these past few years and probably too lean, that protein was actually more important to me than I'd thought. Seared beef steaks, the aroma of butter rising from it as a vibrant, cheery scarlet streak of juice swirls into pink happiness on a snow-white plate. Gamey bison burgers, with its toothsome feel and substantial heft as the granules of meat distribute in my belly. Flaky, pastel-hued salmon, which teases with initial resistance as you flake the chunks off, only to have it give in at the last into beautiful morsels of healthy omega-3s. Even chicken, that least pretentious of meats, with its subtle charms and people-pleasing personality, yes-ing you agreeably by taking on the personality of the sauce it's dressed with. I could write an ode to all of these things as I try to forget the horror of the cleanse.

It was definitely a learning experience; I found out quite few things about myself during this period, with one of them being a renewed sense of joy in meat that I'd lost through years of calorie counting and calorie-saving for empty, meaningless snackies, like pretzels and chips. 

Here are some of my discoveries:
  • I don't mind being told what to do, but heartily resent being told NOT to do. And immediately think about doing it. Options, people; I like having my options!
  • Hangriness causes me to question my relationships. Paranoia ensues. Annoyance results. 
  • When given the choice, after a week of vegetables, I choose meat over simple carbs and grains. Who'da thunk, especially after a season of pignoli and rainbow cookies galore?
  • Deprivation makes me depressed. Literally. I was a big gray cloud of despair and abject sadness, pathetic and joyless in all things. 
  • I should be quarantined when cleansing/sugar detoxing (which this actually was.)
The only thing that kept me from quitting in a storm of tears and temper is my trust in my trainer, Tristan Phillips, who I'd been working with since I'd moved back to New York and has become a personal friend. After logging in many hours at his box-style gym, Primal Strength doing hard-style kettlebell training, kickboxing boot camp, and Primal Move (he's the only one on the Island certified for this interesting, to say the least, program) and seeing amazing results, he advised it was high time for me to separate emotions from food. In hopes that it'd make me a better, more objective rather than hedonistic writer, and more in control of my cravings rather than vice versa, I reluctantly agreed.

So, this sugar detox is still going on. I still can't have simple carbs, but rather than restrictively counting my calories, I'm filling in little Scantron-style bubbles (which the nerd in me loves) that lets me check off how many veggies I'm eating. Believe it or not, I'm dropping LBs like Eminem drops rhymes (I know! I just SAID I was a nerd ...) and eating more than I ever have before in terms of volume and quantity! Also, it's made my cooking FAR more inventive, and appreciate my Chinese roots that allow me to eat very veggie-centric, with no scruples about meal-appropriate foods. 

Unfortunately, that means my posts about cake will have to be reminisces until further notice, but don't worry -- I never forget what I eat. But for now, that means I, along with you, dear reader, will be eating vicariously as well. So cheers to that!

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