Clean Eating and why we need cheerleaders

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Roommate and I, we have these little competitions… usually I am the only one interested in the competition part, but in the end, there’s a goal and a prize, and it’s always some sort of treat. And roommate likes special treats. Each month we’ve been choosing an area when it comes to nutrition and physical health to work on, together. We aren’t into dieting, it’s not practical for our everyday lives. We’re not super into rigid exercise schedules, because we both like to not feel burdened by the “have to’s” more than we already are. We enjoy food. We enjoy social connection. We like doing things together. She get’s me. She’s rare. She’s a gem.

She doesn’t need to exercise for weight loss. She’s thin as a rod. She loves pepsi and hot dogs and chips and dip. She’s the kind of friend that will go out with me at 9:30 PM after a particularly heart wrenching day, and pick up chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and Dr. Pepper and enjoy them together, as we process the day. She’s a lover of chocolate and anything salty, of ice cream, and cheesy nachos with a side of quesadilla. She runs occasionally, to justify eating more.

Me on the other hand. I have long since passed my thinner days. A few years ago I gained a lot of weight and it’s sort of just been around for a while. I’m the healthiest eater in my house. I’m typically the dinner maker, plan initiator, got-to-get-out-of-the-city-and-exploreer in our house. Ice cream hurts my belly. I still have candy from two halloweens ago and three Easter’s ago. I cook 2lbs of brussel sprouts and a head of each cauliflour and broccoli a week. And lentils..we have lentils a lot. I need to exercise, but am not physically able to in the ways I used to; in ways I hoped to. But I do have an extreme love for doughnuts.

We’re sort of anomalies, her and I. But it works. We work. And it’s a privilege to be sharing a home.

We didn’t intend to start this health initiative. It just sort of happened. I’m not into New Year’s resolutions. But I am HUGE into reflecting and trying to remember. Back in December, I was reflecting on the year, on positives and not so positives, on people, on relationships, but mostly, on myself. I prayed for several days in this reflective time and made a list of areas to work on in 2015, a page to come back to over and over again when I felt unsure of whether I should really be investing my resources and capacity on these things.

Five categories: Mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational. I got really clear about what areas in each of these I hoped to grow in and how I was going to give myself the best fighting chance at it. I didn’t share it with anyone. It was for me. I was less interested in all the specifics I hoped for coming to fruition (though I hoped they would), and more interest in being clear on what I was going to invest my best into in order to pursue, regardless of the outcome. I had long ago learned that though people might care and love me, life, in many ways, involves many individual decisions and choices that are for me alone to decide, solo. I don’t always like it. It’s just the cards I was dealt. And I do the best I can.

I have long been correlating how all these areas link together, how one area interacts with and is affected in part by choices made in another area. I didn’t get the best genes. I didn’t have the most calm childhood. I have had more health issues than you have time to hear. You could say I sort of have most things going against me when it comes to these 5 areas. In spite of it all, for some reason, God chose someone like me, who’s very different and not really understood very well, because He’s into creating a kingdom that’s not conformed to the image of this world and he needs some differently minded people (more on that another day). So here I am.

I’m not sure when Roommate and I decided this, but sometime in December we wanted to make a shift in our physical health, together. It’s much easier when you have someone with you, someone on your side, someone for you. People who cheer you on and encourage you are rare finds. But so very needed. She’s with me. I’m with her. We’re in this crazy want-to-give-ourselves-a-fighting-chance place together. And it’s really fun.

I’ve received feedback here and there from friends who have loved what we are doing and wished they had someone who committed to doing it with them too. It’s nearly impossible to go at it alone, at least in a way that’s sustainable. Yea, I am thankful for Roommate often. She goes along with my crazy research and gets on board with trying to live into wholesome living, not just for herself, but for me too. She cares about what I care about and wants to support me in my challenges. Sacrifice. She’s a keeper.

So we’re 11 days into “clean eating”. That means nothing processed, with more than a few easy to understand ingredients, nothing dairy except strained plan greek yogurt, lean meat/fish or organic red meat, no processed or added sugars (local honey is okay), and we took it a step further and eliminated gluten-mostly. We eat rice and lentils and grains often. We eat a ton of veggies and more fruits. I eat more meat than I’m accustomed to, which is good for me. She eats far less salt (I am working on eating more, because I need to). We try new foods and dishes. It’s been fun. We grocery shop/farmer’s market together. We cook together often, and sometimes I cook alone, but we always eat together. I love that piece.

We’ve made mango-cashew chicken curry, lettuce & tuna wraps (from the garden!), roasted veggie assortments, grilled almond and sweet potatoes, lentil & carrot soup, curried lentils, yogurt and dill cucumber salads, asian salads, to name a few. We allow ourselves one whole wheat product a week together, this week will be home made whole wheat tortillas. We get a tiny thumb nail sized square of chocolate a day (I sort of ate my whole bar, that was supposed to last the month, on the second day…).

And we give each other and ourselves grace with it. 

We stick to it, but recognize some situations will require flexibility if we want to sustain it. We were invited to a friend’s for dinner and she made a meal that wasn’t on our clean eating list… but we ate it. I had ketchup the other day. I sort of really wanted it, and it turns out, she had it too! We need some flexibility to live. We went into this to grow, not to be more weighed down by obligation.

In order to make lasting changes in any circumstance, they must both be realistic and sustainable. These changes must not expend all our resources nor take over all our capacity. We need adequate support in our lives and from those around us to maintain these changes or additions into our lives. We need people who are with us and for us, cheerleaders encouraging us along the way. We need people like Roommate, who are willing to give, bend, grow, and struggle alongside us, in the muck of everyday. So we’ve been excited as we process what the changes so far have been like for us, what we’ve learned, and challenges we’ve come up against in it so far.

There’s something special, something that’s so right about having someone near you, by your side, for you. This isn’t just about being physically healthy. This is about learning relational health, and emotional health, about mental health. There’s been a lot of processing of life and creation and how it all intertwines in this clean eating journey so far.

I thought this was to help my body physically, but really, it’s been about healing my body holistically. And I feel fairly confident that God intended it that way.

 

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