Rich informed me last night that Thanksgiving is the official National Day of Overeating and that he plans on doing just that. I have not known this fact. And in fact, I don’t plan to overeat. Why? There are a few reasons. First, as I get older, I can’t brush off overindulging as easily as I used to. There were days (and some of you who’ve known me a long time will attest to this) where I overdid to extremes. And slowly, over time, my body has told me that those days are over. I can’t eat like crazy anymore. I can’t stay up all night (unless it’s a *very* special occasion and then I pay for my indulgence later). I can’t drink until I see that blurry haze, like a misty rain that covers everything.
I spent time in that world and I can’t anymore. Nowadays, my desserts tend to be fruit. My drink of choice is herbal tea or my own homemade ginger ale. My mood-lifters are yoga, swimming, or hiking with Hatha. I’ve changed, and I am grateful for the awareness that has led me to this place. It’s actually pretty instant feedback. If I overeat (especially the wrong things) my body lets me know in no uncertain terms. When I am overly full, I have some trouble taking in a full deep breath. A yoga breath or a prep breath for singing become impossible while the food is working itself through my system. And you know what? I *like* taking those deep, healing, cleansing, relaxing breaths. So, I don’t overeat to keep that ability. In the end, I’d rather sing and breathe.
The sugar: I gave up sugar as a sacrifice. It was a deal I made with the universe back in April when Kimba was missing for five days. Some may think it’s ludicrous to make these kinds of sacrifices in a prayerful effort to make things better. To me, it’s a profound “put my money where my mouth is” opportunity. If I want things to be better, I have to do something to make them better, universally better.
It doesn’t matter to me whether or not the things I do are in the exact same topical arena as what I am trying to achieve. If I add to the good in the world, and I’m doing it holistically, then the net “good” in the world is higher and that works for me. Here’s my rather circuitous logic about the sugar. I work regularly to help kids learn how to save the Earth through environmental literacy and education. It takes just about every bit of energy out of me to do it (and being hypothyroid, I don’t have that much energy to begin with). So, I need to do everything in my power to maintain my energy levels to do the work. Sugar, especially processed sugar, is a drug to me. Once I start eating it, I have an awful time stopping. And it saps my energy. I know it does. I can feel the sugar high/crash cycle every single time I pop some delicious sugared/processed bite of food into my mouth.
The same goes for bread. About 20 minutes after I eat bread, I become soporific. And, I don’t just mean a bit tired. I mean I have trouble keeping my eyes open. I sit and I don’t move and my brain shuts down. This lasts anywhere from an hour to three hours depending on what else I’ve eaten. So, if I want to maintain any kind of energy level, I need to stay away from bread. But, get this: I love bread. I don’t just like it. I LOVE it. Like potatoes, I could eat it at any time, day or night. Toasted with a good cheese or some butter or better yet with some Nutella is my favorite way to eat it (and now that I’ve gone vegan, those aren’t options anymore, either). And yet, I’ve given it up. It’s not wheat that I have to give up. It’s, somehow, bread. Maybe it’s the yeast. I don’t know. What I do know is that tortilla wraps, especially whole grain ones, don’t sap me the way bread does. Other grains: quinoa, brown rice, etc. don’t sap me either. It’s bread that’s the culprit, and bread had to go in order for me to have the energy to do my work.
The same goes for french fries. Notice, I didn’t say potatoes. I said french fries. They are probably my biggest bane. I can eat potatoes at every meal and be content. I can eat hash brown for breakfast, fries at lunch and a baked potato at dinner and be perfectly happy. But, while potatoes that aren’t fried add to my energy level, fries sap me also. So, I’ve given them up, too.
All of this stuff was given up in sacrifice so Kimba would come home and so I could do my work. I made the deal with the universe. “I’ll keep myself as healthy as possible to keep being able to do the work of helping kids to care about the Earth if you’ll help me find my lost kitty.” Giving these things up is a hardship, believe me, but it is way more than worth it, even if there is no causality in the “real world.” I don’t care about rationality here. I care about the outcome. The outcome? We found Kimba. I’m eating better. I have more energy to do the outreach that is so close to my heart, and I feel better and healthier (when I get enough sleep).
There is an additional side benefit to eating the way I am eating. And don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a small side benefit. It’s a big one and it’s one I’ve struggled with since I was nine years old. Those of you, who know me in real life, know that I am shaped rather like a mushroom (as opposed to some who are pear shaped or apple shaped, etc.). I have small hips, and large shoulders and very large breasts. It’s taken me many years to come to terms with the way I am shaped and it has provided many challenges: everything from not being able to run easily, to back issues, to having all sorts of trouble finding clothes that fit.
Yesterday, I discovered I now fit into a smaller size shirt. No way am I buckin’ that trend. 😉 Thing is, I haven’t particularly been dieting. I’ve given up some bad-for-me food (processed sugar, fries, bread) and I’ve gone vegan, but other than that, I eat what I want, when I want. Interestingly, my body feels more like it’s changing shape than that it’s getting smaller. Things are moving. Muscles are building in certain areas and fat cells are shrinking in others. I have no idea how much I weigh since I haven’t stepped on a scale in forever. But, I can see that my body is changing. And it’s in a good way.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to run more than a third of a mile before things start killing me, but I used to not be able to run more than a block, so I guess that’s progress. The back issues? Well, they are easing up as my body changes and as I do more and more yoga. So I’ve set myself another challenge for the next year. My challenge for the next year? Yoga. Every single day. No matter what. I like these challenges. They help me compete with my self. I’m never going to be one of those non-competitive types who does something just because it’s the right thing. I need a reason, a goal. If I don’t have something to strive for or push against, I tend to lose interest. I need to motivate myself and these challenges do that.
The yoga will help in my next two steps. They are: stress reduction and more sleep. Once I achieve these two, I’ll be even better prepared to do the work that calls me. If I want to write more books, create more music, teach more kids about ancient civilizations, ancient music, and saving the Earth, perform more, play more, sing more, travel more, and love more, well then, I need to be at my best and that means giving up the things that stand as obstacles.
So, I guess, in the end, I am not truly sacrificing anything. I am making an investment in my next book or song or experiment or class or hike or new place visited, or new connection forged. To me, that’s what it’s all about.