Friday, April 7, 2017

Thirsty and Childish

April is National Poetry Month, so what better time than now to post a poem?

I'm currently reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History, and am about 1/3 of the way through it. In the passage I read this morning, one of the characters made reference to his shabby, self-given haircut being "very thistly and childish, a la Arthur Rimbaud." I'd not heard of him, so I had to look him up:

I see where Tartt was coming from.

Rimbaud had a rather short and tumultuous life, writing most of his poetry between the ages of 15 and 19, and described his poetic philosophy this way, in a letter to his mentor, when he was 16:

"I'm now making myself as scummy as I can. Why? I want to be a poet, and I'm working at turning myself into a seer. You won't understand any of this, and I'm almost incapable of explaining it to you. The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering, but one must be strong and be a born poet. It's really not my fault."
His style was a blend of classical and surreal, with seemingly-approachable poems often twisting in strange and unexpected ways. What follows are two of Rimbaud's poems - ones I find especially enjoyable.


Graceful son of Pan! Around your forehead crowned
with small flowers and berries, your eyes, precious
spheres, are moving. Spotted with brownish wine lees,
your cheeks grow hollow. Your fangs are gleaming. Your
chest is like a lyre, jingling sounds circulate between your
blond arms. Your heart beats in that belly where the double
sex sleeps. Walk at night, gently moving that thigh,
that second thigh and that left leg.

A Sleeper in the Valley

A green hole where a river sings;
Silver tatters tangling in the grass;
Sun shining down from a proud mountain:
A little valley bubbling with light.

A young soldier sleeps, lips apart, head bare,
Neck bathing in cool blue watercress,
Reclined in the grass beneath the clouds,
Pale in his green bed showered with light.

He sleeps with his feet in the gladiolas.
Smiling like a sick child, he naps:
Nature, cradle him in warmth: he's cold.

Sweet scents don't tickle his nose;
He sleeps in the sun, a hand on his motionless chest,
Two red holes on his right side.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Whole30 and Wholly Satisfied

At the end of January, Mr. Awesome and I decided that we needed to do something drastic to help our health and well-being. We were eating poorly (going out a couple of times a week, eating more processed foods and lots of sugar), had gained weight, and were generally feeling pretty blah. We were both feeling sort of sick, and tired, and something had to change.

So, after researching various eating styles and plans, we decided that, in order to really get the garbage out of our systems, we wanted to do a Whole30.

What is a Whole30, you ask?

For 30 days, you cut out all the processed garbage and potentially inflammatory foods that exist in our diets, and eat only real food - unprocessed meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and coconut. There are a lot of don'ts on the Whole30:

  • No sugar at all, except that which comes from whole fruits - no honey, maple syrup, agave
  • No grains of any kind, including whole grains, quinoa, rice, oats, etc.
  • No dairy, except clarified butter (ghee)
  • No legumes, like beans or peanuts, and no soy products
  • No harmful oils - no canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, etc.
  • No alcohol
Pretty extreme, right? Well, not really. I mean, yes - for someone who ate spaghetti and cereal and lattes and frozen meals and yogurt almost every day (like me), and someone who has a cocktail or a beer every evening (like me), this is extreme. But you know what? If I can't stop doing something for 30 days out of my life, in order to see some positive changes in my overall health and well-being, then I have a problem.

So on February 2nd, 2017, Mr. Awesome and I started our Whole30. And it's been incredible.

Day 30 was Saturday, March 4th. The overall experience for both of us has been nothing short of amazing.

We cooked every meal except one at home. The one we didn't cook - last Thursday - was at Texas Roadhouse and we had a very compliant steak, sweet potato with no topping, and steamed veggies. The rolls didn't even tempt us!

There's a great deal of talk about non-scale victories (NSV) with the Whole30 plan, because this isn't a weight loss plan, but rather a way to assess where you are with food, and what may or may not wreak havoc on your system.

For me, the NSVs have been many, most importantly to me right now is that my clothes are fitting WAY better. Yesterday, I wore a pair of jeans that had been relegated to the "not right now" shelf for 2 years. Last week, I wore a pair of corduroys that I hadn't wore in so long, there was a lunch receipt from May 2015 in the pocket. My stomach is flatter, my thighs are slimmer, my face is slimmer. I like this direction.

From just about the first day, I've had more energy and a clearer head. I describe it like having that "after-exercise" clear head all the time, instead of just after exercise. I don't have stomach aches or bloating at all, and I feel like my asthma is better. I'm generally happier, and haven't had a random mood swing (except this week when I got my period and my dog died - more on that later).

My cravings for sugar are pretty much nil. And this is HUGE. I love sugar, and all things made from sugar, but I am totally satisfied by some berries, or the occasional Larabar, or even some almonds. I haven't counted a calorie in 30 days, and have really good strategies for dealing with cravings when they happen.

I feel more fit and energetic, and want to exercise more. I am actually considering taking CrossFit classes.

One of the hardest things to deal with has been what to do on weekends. Our go-to weekend activity has been going out to dinner. But when that's not a good option, we have had to find other ways to fill our weekend time. We went to a movie for the first time in months, and went to a Kansas City Jazz Orchestra performance last Friday night for the first time ever. Instead of planning activities around food, we plan activities around activities.

We planned and cooked every meal, and nearly everything we cooked was really, really delicious. Finding suitable - nay, better - alternatives to our favorite foods like spaghetti, and making homemade ketchup that's leaps and bounds better than anything sold in a store, has been revolutionary.

As for the scale victory - I've lost 14 lbs in the last 30 days and I have seriously never felt better.

Back to my dog... Finnie died last Thursday, very suddenly. She got sick from something she ate, and we had to make a tough decision and it sucks. Even through that, we stayed compliant. We didn't want to stay home that evening, so that's when we went to Texas Roadhouse, and even then we brought our own ghee and ketchup in little containers.

This past weekend was really hard - we miss having Finnie in the house and in our lives. Our house and hearts feel empty, and it's a struggle to make them feel filled. Late Saturday night, I thought I'd celebrate my Whole30 success with a beer. I took one sip and it was awful - way too sweet and not at all enjoyable. So I put a wine stopper in it and put it back in the fridge. Maybe I'll try a different beer another time, but I prefer a kombucha for the time being.

What's next? We have both decided that this is a good way for us to eat, and we're going to stick with it, skewing more Paleo. I don't know what we will add in or when, but it will be carefully considered when we do.