Because I am breastfeeding a growing 9 month old who isn’t very interested in other foods, I have been feeling really run down, physically. I hate to complain because one of my first signals that something was off was that I have lost too much weight. Before anyone hates me, please let me just say that I do recognize how ridiculously lucky this is. And in fact, between the fact that I weigh the same as I did in High School (though I think this is not necessarily healthy) and I now have big (big is relative – for me, B cup is big) nursing boobs, I probably look better right now than I will again. Ok, now go ahead and hate me. But there is something not right about me weighing the same as I did in High School, and between that and the fact that I have not had a full nights sleep in over 9 months, I am very, very physically drained. So I recently started going to this Nurse Practitioner, who is ½ western medicine trained and ½ into the ‘alternative’ medicine. This suits me, as I am always looking for ‘the middle way’ (a Buddhist reference, for those of you who wouldn’t otherwise catch it). The appointments have been helpful in determining that I am, in fact, deficient in several vitamins and minerals, but this has led me down a path of a full-time supplement regime. I literally have 2 things I am supposed to take twice a day, 3 things I am supposed to take three times a day, and 3 more things that I only have to take once a day. 4 of these things I am supposed to take while standing on one leg, 2 of them while standing on my head and 2 more while I am on the toilet, simultaneously shitting out the prior six. Ok, slight exaggeration, but this how it feels. I am willing to try this for a short period as I am desperate to feel better. The other things that she ‘suggested’, I have been in denial about up until now. You can probably guess what they are, but she has suggested that I cut out the 3 pillars that get me through my daily life: coffee, sugar and alcohol. While there are 4 recognized food groups, these are my 3 recognized supports. Though they are maybe not really beautiful supports, like the columns in Rome, but more like the crooked, knarled tree branches that one sees holding up one of those make-shift tents on the desert. These things prop me up when I need it – coffee to wake me up, sugar to cheer me up and alcohol to ease me down. So, to remove these ‘props’, is more than a little scary, but I recently decided to give it a try – because I really, really, really want to feel better. Feeling desperate may be a call for desperate measures.
Coffee (must be said in a cookie monster voice the way he talks about his cooookiiiieeeeessssss). Like any addict, and I am one, I fully admit, I am putting myself on a mental program around this. I first out flatly rejected the notion of having to give it up. I didn’t think it was necessary and more frankly, did not want to. My 3-year old uses this argument all of the time: “Why didn’t you put your toys away Max?” – “Because I didn’t want to” – it’s a good answer – straight forward and honest. But often I reply with, “Well, sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to, Max”. Yeah, yeah, I know. Since the supplements alone are not working, and to be fair and give this health-plan a fair shake, I am giving up coffee. I decided 2 days ago. I can still have caffeine in the form of tea, just not coffee, so this most certainly has made it easier. I like tea, I just don’t love tea like I love coffee – it doesn’t inspire me like coffee does. On my first day I actually made myself a cup of coffee and let it sit on the counter while I drank my cup of tea. The cup sat there, as a mental back-up. If any point I felt I could not handle it, I knew I could, at least, take a sip of that coffee. That was comfort enough, and I never did take a sip. On the second day, I didn’t make the back-up cup of coffee. Today, I am at a coffee shop. I started to convulse at the cash register to keep myself from ordering a cup of coffee and instead ordered a chai latte (yes, full of sugar). But in between convulsions, before I even knew what was happening, I ordered a huge cinnamon roll – the ones they place right next to the register so that the proximity alone produces a sugar trance. I effectively replaced one pillar with the other. But it’s a start, right?
Sugar (go ahead and use the cookie monster voice again). I have always had a sweet tooth. It’s so much a part of me that I honestly think that people who say they don’t like sweets are lying not only to me, but to themselves, and that this inner conflict will surface in some sort of heinous act involving, possibly, an axe. I have given up sugar in the past – cold turkey – and I know that if I get over a hump, I don’t crave it so much, but honestly, life is better with chocolate. And since my metabolism has been turbo-boosted due to nursing, I feel it’s a gift from the universe that I can eat chocolate, ice cream, cakes, and all sugary goodness in any quantity I desire without gaining a pound. I know, I know, sugar makes our system crash and blah blah blah, but I am Linus and my love of chocolate is my long blue blanket, being dragged with me everywhere I go. I have also vowed, in a rather uninspiring way, to “reduce” my sugar consumption this week to see if it makes a difference. That means that due to the cinnamon role I just inhaled in one very gratifying and satisfying minute, I can not have any more desserts today. Not any “real” desserts that is – I can still have my organic, all natural, ginger snaps because they are healthy and aid in my digestion. It says so right on the box. Before you worry too much about my children – we are a ‘minimum sugar’ household with our kids. My family felt sorry for Max because his first taste of ice cream was not until he was 18 months old. He only discovered candy, really, since last Halloween, when he was 2 ½. But I myself have to laugh at the parental advice not to say things like, “eat your broccoli and then you can have dessert” because it “teaches kids that dessert is better than broccoli”. If anyone has a child that needs to be taught this, then please show yourself and sign your kid up with the circus to travel with the bearded lady and 2 headed snake. I LOVE vegetables and broccoli is my absolute favorite – but I dessert is just better. My “poor Max” is being taught that dessert is a treat that we get after our bodies are well nourished. I know – I’m a real parental rebel.
Alcohol (no need for cookie monster voice, but do use your most refined British accent, to give this one it’s refined stature it has in my mind). I lived in the UK and hung out with tons of Europeans and then I moved to France for a year. I had a French boyfriend for 3 ½ years. I lived in San Francisco (close to wine country) for another 4 years. If these things don’t give me some license to pour freely, then what does? I am not talking about getting bombed, or even buzzed, every night. I am talking about a glass of wine with dinner. But let me assure you, stating that you have 7 – 10 drinks a week at the doctor’s office raises an eye brow (well, there is a glass of wine with dinner plus the couple of cocktails on girlie night, plus that one night where a second glass of wine was really necessary). This is actually the easiest one for me to give up, but like chocolate, I just feel life is better with wine. All of my European friends, and most of my American ones, agree, so there. And the Mediterranean Diet – hello, anyone? But, again, I am ‘cutting back’ for a couple of weeks to see how it goes. I really, really want to feel better.
Because I have been struggling with parenthood recently, I find myself living for these daily ‘rewards’. My other rewards are a workout, a 20-minute meditation session and a nice seared halibut with steamed veggies and rice (outside of my sugar addiction, I eat pretty healthy), so I still fall into a reasonable world of balance. I need water and air. I love chocolate cake and espresso. I also love big salads and a 5 mile run. Most of all, and I am working on this with my therapist, I love me. Since I am getting some help to cope, mentally, I can concede that my current state of diet-like things isn’t really working, and I am willing to start chipping away at a few of my pillars. Stay tuned for this could be the fall of Rome.