It’s been a while since something has arisen large enough in my experience to invite me to the page here, at least with respect to CrossFit journeying and the nutrition re-education path I’ve been on these last years. I’m coming to think of this path as a spiral, because I’ve spent the month of January (re)learning things I already know, but in some senses also did not remember, or at least know in this pandemic rendition of fitness and health. Reflections for staying on the spiral then…
This past Friday brought some unexpected and rather unfamiliar sensations of craving I’d not experienced in a while. Or perhaps it was simply desire, without the judgmental nuance of ‘craving.’ The week’s workouts had been good but also wearying. My body was more weary than usual at the end of a week. I had a hunger for something as I stopped by Dorothy Lane Market on my way home from the gym. For Saturday, I still planned on my sacred rhythm of arising-coffee-drive-CrossFit-drive-breakfast then into the day, but I did decide that a weekend of a little both/and paleo-and-not food-planning was in order. I got the beef-stew meat to make the paleo beef-stew I’d found, and I got the crusty loaf of French bread to go with it. And while I was there, a blueberry-bran muffin that DLM offers, which I’ve enjoyed in seasons past.
As I arrived home, putting the groceries away and eating breakfast, I noticed I was moving even more slowly… I had been ravenous, however, so perhaps just needed calories for the day. I tended to my work until about 2:30 or 3 p.m., getting ready to make some herbal tea for the afternoon. It dawned on me that I was done. I could hardly keep my eyes open. So be it, I figured, laying down to rest my eyes for 45 minutes. Two hours later, Brian stirred me, wondering if it was cocktail hour yet. Wow...a two hour nap? Marvelous! As I rubbed my eyes, I realized I was taking the weekend off. “Sure,” I told him. “Pear martini please. Hold the simple syrup but bring on the rest!” He smiled.
We had a delightful evening of some listening to music, catching up from the week, watching The Expanse (the sci-fi TV I’ve actually enjoyed, believe it or not), and working on a puzzle (for me). The paleo-beef-stew wasn’t bad, though I wasn’t sure I’d make it again. Three pounds of beef, then celery, carrots, and parsnip. Dried shitake mushrooms (ground in a processor til they become a powder) created the thicker stew-texture of the dish, instead of flour (hence, paleo). The best, though, was the crusty loaf. It’d been a long while since I’d had bread right out of the oven. My martini lasted well all evening, a good sipping drink over time. I’d made Brian banana bread earlier in the week, a sign of the way he desires to be loved. I’m not usually tempted by it, or least much of it, but I treated myself to a slice. It was delicious. I slept well enough--though awareness more below--and the easy coffee-and-breakfast-muffin in bed was luxurious. I don’t think I got out of bed until 9 a.m. It was a marvelous beginning to our weekend of rest...
The (re)learning parts are no less significant, of course. I eat the way I eat now because I love how I feel each day--the energy I have, the extensive activity I enjoy, the movement(s) I get to play in, and more. I rarely feel ‘deprived,’ in other words, though something clicked in this weekend that hit a whiff of that chord in me. So, carbs and sugar. Have at it, I told myself.
Surprise and remembrance then. I must have had over 64 oz of water that night, though the stew wasn’t that salty, and the volume more than accounted for the ounces of vodka. Thirst was intense, with dry-mouth and all. I smiled, remembering. Yes. And of course, this promised waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Smiling and worth it. Getting up in the middle of the night, however, I noticed this incredible discomfort in my stomach. Not quite nausea, but whiffs of that feeling. A weight in my stomach. A bit of discomfort. Nonetheless, back to sleep I went. The muffin in the morning was still tasty.
Brian and I went on a long loop through the nature preserve close to our home. I’ve loved these walks together, and alone, with Nala, these last months. Feeling my feet on the earth. Enjoying the landscaped campus of Mount St. John/Begamo and the less tended woodland-prairie paths. A full long loop is probably about 2.5 miles, with varying terrain and a huge hill to climb at the end of the walk. I’m eager for spring when afternoon walks can become a part of my usual routine again. For this weekend, though, I was shaky hungry by the time we returned home for breakfast. This is one of the main reasons I stay off of the carbs and sugar. It’s exhausting to get so hungry, so shaky, attempt to eat normal portions of a meal, then crash-rest afterwards. The upside, of course, is that I’m reminded how much I hate this cycle. It motivates my return to healthy clean eating for myself. All a part of the spiral, then.
A couple times throughout the Saturday-Sunday rest days, I would feel that whiff of discomfort in my stomach again. I’d drink some water and it would diffuse, go away. Of course, me being me, I began to wonder about the ulcer or stomach cancer that it probably was--my overactive mind simply cannot help itself--but the digestion of food not usual for me anymore simply took a bit more effort, methinks. All part of the spiral...
The Monday morning workout was a “30 min time cap,” I saw when I walked in. It was good to be back in my fun-space, and I was looking forward to the movement. I’d done nothing beyond the walk, really, except nap and read all weekend. I was surprised at how the workout felt, however. I’d guessed that the carb-fest of Friday night/Saturday morning would have passed through my system 48 hours later. But I could still feel the shakiness, the internal edginess and weariness. It was still fun. I still did just fine, scaling the workout to make it well under the time-cap. But I’m smiling at the body-awareness and sensitivities. I’m thankful, even as it’s also a bit unnerving. I’m so much more aware of my own body’s responsiveness to what I choose to eat. It’s a gift to be sensitive. It’s also a challenge in our food-cultures today to be sensitive.
The pieces I’m remembering are simply I do better in my own nutrition and fitness choices when I’m within a community that holds space for me to get to choose what’s best for me. I used to feel so alone in my body-journey, guilted-shamed about food-choices and highs/lows/crashes I never could manage well, isolated about what science knows and what is lack of willpower, etc. Being wise about my own nutrition and fitness doesn’t work in that cultural storm. It also doesn’t work if there’s an obligation to do so. I resist obligation anymore. It doesn’t work for me if there is an authority ‘above’--whether I place him/her there, or others do--saying “you must, if you want to be healthy.” But it seems to work every time when I set the pieces in place for me to choose my best self. A community, a sister on the other end of the food diary, then body memories of why I choose what and how I do? It works ever time. I choose my best self much more often, over time.
I suspect that at least once a year, it’ll simply be good form for me to return to higher-accountability practices for myself, to examine closely where I am on the spiral path that this is. I can remember how much I’ve already learned, but more importantly, be reminded that this is always a learning journey as my body changes and my tastes cycle through menu and food-prep choices.
And during an election-season, holiday-season, then into civic-unrest season that we’ve been living, it’s not the least bit surprising that food began to become once again an emotional salve for feelings I did not want to hold consciously. I began to focus on the workouts “to burn off the extra calories and less attentive food choices” I was beginning to make. Whenever I land in the “I’ll eat this and then work off the calories of it” habit of mind, I need to reorient once again. Find healthy ways to tend to the feelings I don’t want to feel. Take a break from things that are stressing me and return to what gives me joy. Ultimately, get back on the spiral path… Sojourns off of it need not be bad--some things are to be enjoyed in life for a foodie such as myself--yet getting too far off the spiral requires relearning and being reminded of the habits it entails, beckons, invites...
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