Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Power of Kale Juice, and the Force Field Surrounding Me...Like a Blanket

I did it. I completed a three-day raw juice cleanse and I didn’t cheat. It was like doing burpees (not my favorite) – you just get through it.  And I am so happy to be on the other side of it.  I did it for two reasons. One, I had read/heard that cleansing can result in more energy, and two, clearer during-the-day thinking. In my job I have to think. A lot. I’m part of a research center/think tank. If my thoughts are muddled I’m worthless. I need to be able to write coherently and focus like a stalker. If I had to pick a superhero quality for my job it would be laser-like, 20-fathoms deep with no chance of re-surfacing, focus. Forget a higher IQ or more brain cells. Focus is truly the best ally a researcher and writer can have because it increases the odds of producing a) work, b) quality work, and c) and the ability to keep distractions of all kinds far, far away.

If my during-the-day energy has increased post-cleanse, it's to a degree I cannot determine. Weirdly, I clean more.  Toward the end of the cleanse I became sort of passionate about cleaning my house (mid-week cleaning heretofore has not been my “thing”).  Without food to concentrate on I found that I couldn’t stand any in-your-face disarray or dust, so I grabbed my caddy of cleaning magic and did something about it.

I didn’t necessarily sleep better, which I had had high hopes for, given that my late dinners (and wine) were out. The cleanse directions explained that refraining from eating (or drinking) two hours before bedtime helps the body (and organs) avoid working overtime. After I’d read that bullet point, I stroked my liver (through my clothed skin) and said out loud: “I’ll try not to do that to you again…but no promises on New Year’s Eve or my birthdays.”

There was a third reason for doing the cleanse, but one I wasn't counting on.  It was to lose a couple of the pounds that had crept to my middle, despite my frequent, persistent workouts. Without reservation, the number one change I experienced post-cleanse was weight loss. I had been “good” prior to starting so as not to shock my system during the detoxification process, which meant I had already lost a couple pounds, and the cleanse clearly kicked the metabolic process into overdrive. I’m now back at my fighting weight (mini flyweight) and it didn’t take the normal two months to make that happen. Although, I am never doing a cleanse again in the middle of December; cold, raw juices are not what the body needs during a cold front.

The weight loss was a “win,” but there’s always a price to pay. On Day 2 I did not feel like a ray of sunshine.  By the evening I had chills, appeared and felt (if that’s possible) pale, like a stomped on paper cup left to decompose in the gutter on a cold, wet night. I kept thinking about the last glass of red wine I’d had (randomly) – Sutter Home Cabernet (say what?) every time I felt like lying down. Looking back, at the nights especially, I noticed that the cleanse – and it’s no-wine and pretty much much no-everything policy – loudly brought to my attention the fact that all the frozen meals, late-night dinners, leftover Halloween candy, and red wine I’d fed my body had nearly become unconscious habits.  I'd go through the motions, zombie-like, casting minor thought - if any - on the actions I took. It was there, so I consumed. And then it wasn’t there, yet I still was. Prior to the cleanse, I had worried how that part would go. It turned out I was fine. I was fine, fine, fine (if a little whiny here and there). And I didn’t miss any of it. I was hungry, yes, but not for all that. As an innately nocturnal creature, it felt good to feel all my senses operating at capacity even that late in the day. And I was sharper, not duller, as the night crept on. And I cleaned the kitchen every night.

I had read (and heard) that people missed the juice-only diet after it was over because it had been such a straightforward world to which they’d swiftly (and for some easily) adjusted – and though temptation loomed, it felt mostly empty, just like my stomach. There are six juices to plow through, some (slightly) more exciting than others. I remember the juices somewhat fondly, but I still prefer a world where I can still palm a holiday cookie if I feel so inclined, and savor it in an almost feral way when I think no one is looking. I also never fully felt full. My sister said she could never finish all the juices prescribed for one day. I drank every single one to the last drop and wanted more. But I did get more OK with feeling hungry, and that’s carried over into my non-juice world. Sure, I need to eat, but not to the point of Las Vegas buffet-style explosion. I don’t have to eat everything on my plate (or drink everything in my glass). I know there are hungry (and sober) children in China, but they won’t benefit from my getting stuffed to the point of waddling (or wobbling) afterwards.

In the end, I’m glad I got to round out the year with a cleanse. A week later, I feel like I have a force field around me, ready to deflect holiday temptation at every turn (especially in my clean house). This year was a truly momentous one that I’ll never, ever forget. I changed jobs, I moved to a new city, I got engaged, I started working out with serious intention and commitment, I tried acupuncture for the first time and it changed my life, and I freaking lost weight during the most festive month of the year when sweet treats are everywhere, holiday drinks (the alcoholic and non) sing an especially tempting siren song at parties and cafes, and heartier foods become more the order of the day (and night). And I also learned how to dig myself out of some bad habits, and remain happily above ground (sometimes with a sponge in my hand). I just never thought unpasteurized kale juice would do it. I am sure happy it did.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Many Thanks

I'm a sides girl. When it comes to a Thanksgiving meal, I like the stuffing, the canned, cylindrical mass of cranberry, and especially the jello and whipped cream "salad" my Aunt prepares every year -- the serving size of which she's increased, especially now that she has identified the family member who attacks it with the most vigor.

It's true I'm getting older, and therefore possibly more introspective, and it's true I have easier access to apps that allow me to figure out the the caloric value of all foods everywhere. So maybe that's why I have less and less of an eye toward the feast and more of a focus on the "thanks" part of the holiday.

I've created my own tradition of taking a purposeful step back to assess the long mental list of thanks I've created since the beginning of the year.

I'm thankful for the Usuals (family, friends, gourds), but a day like today punctuates the gratefulness I try to carry around daily just a bit more. I'm also grateful for another recognizable list of items: my job and the boss who advocates for me, the house I live in, the car that transports me faithfully, and the soundness of my body and mind. I also thank my lucky stars for the people in my life who frequently demonstrate kindness, compassion, commit random acts of altruism, and display infectious passion and courage, which in turn inspires me more than they possibly know.

But, I'm not the only who's thankful. Herewith, fellow guest bloggers have offered up a few sentences that capture their gratitude in 2011.

"I am grateful for the 15 years of companionship in Blue. He was protective, loving, loyal, and a mischievous little trouble maker and I miss his presence every day. From the eye rolls, to his constant patience..I think he's still keeping an eye on me from doggy heaven and for that I'm grateful.

P.S. I also think that Blue sent Diggy my way because he knew we could cheer each other up."


"I'm thankful for Siri, the genie inside my iPhone. Just to see if we were on the same page, I told her I loved her. She said 'You are the wind beneath my wings.'

I'm also thankful for KCRW, the antidote to LA traffic."


"I am so thankful that I have a beautiful daughter, a wonderful job and fantastic friends. I am also thankful that 2011 is drawing to a close."


"I'm thankful that life changes and provides you new opportunities. I'm also always thankful for my job (teaching 4th grade). The kids are continually funny and caring and are happy to see me even when I think they shouldn't be."


"Thankful that my only stresses derive from '1st world' problems rather than '3rd world' problems.

Thankful that I don't have to fight for my freedom.

Thankful that I will have a challenge outliving my relatives (all lived past 85, grandma lived to 102! all in '3rd-come-1st world' India!)

And... thankful for beta carotene rich, vine-ripened, autumn seasonal fruits (a.k.a. GOURDS)."


"I'm thankful for my many friends on many continents and for the health and happiness of those closest to me."


I am thankful for so many things: laughter, fresh air, walks, family, friends, taste buds, and spontaneity. Health and prosperity, too, but those are a given. You can also quote that I'm thankful for GOURDS, Thunderbirds, and Greeks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Cold Budweiser" by Christine Macpherson

I turn and look at Charles’ hand. The can is upright and I think about the forces inside his body which must make the beer spill onto his lap soon: blood pumping at a slower pace, muscles giving over to nothingness, fingers forgetting the purpose of objects. His mouth hangs open innocently, which reminds me of my Uncle Jim, asleep after every family dinner. Charles stirs, tips the can, wakes up and catches it at a 45 degree angle. His face registers shock and relief. We glare at each other for about 30 seconds without malice, without silent greetings, without meaning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"First Meeting" by Lynda Pires

Part 1

He could only brace for what lay ahead by thinking of the squirrel dancing in white underpants. His son begged him to replay the clips until the dancing floored the boy with uncontrollable giggles. “Thkrul” was difficult to pronounce without front teeth, but Mr. Dancy-pants had become a weekly ritual. Barnabus Tilson felt his waistband for a well-tucked shirt, adjusted his belt, and straightened his crisp collar. He washed his hands, again, as he checked his shaved mug in the men’s room mirror. With squirrel’s dancing in his head, he returned to the previously crowded lounge to find a lone woman.

Part 2

“Hello, MaryBeth Donahue?”
“Yes! Bar, so nice to finally meet you. From Jane’s description, I didn’t think you would be quite so tall. Please call me Beth.”
“Alright… Beth. Our table may not be ready… I am happy to buy you a drink.”
“Thank you. That would be nice.”
Her eyes grazed him completely, before the blue-grey glance made itself over to the list above the bartender - who suddenly appeared, to take her request. He imagined this happened often - people suddenly poised for command. It made her a formidable head of school. “I am glad we could meet before September.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Status Message" by Megan Allison Wade

“Not something I ever thought I'd post on Facebook, but the more of the masses I tell the less individuals. Mom passed away yesterday at 6:35am. It was peaceful and since her body was no more a habitable place really the best thing. She will be cremated Friday and we're planning a remembrance party for mid-September.”

I am young, preadolescent. Their house on Grant Street; the Canned Foods Outlet parking lot; the generous backseat of an ancient car. Ferried between school and choir; Julie embarrassed by her sisters (one with Down’s, one just a brat). Thanks for the ride, Ms. Kaiser.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Umbrella Girl" by an NYC Resident

Crossing the Westside highway, a beautiful brunette, who was shaking her umbrella off, nearly punctured my eye. I stepped around, hearing the words “I’m sorry.” “No problem.” I replied. I walked across and into the open rain again. Drenched and walking, the umbrella girl kept pace with me. As I reached Greenwich street, I stopped for traffic. My peripheral vision caught sight of the umbrella girl making her way to the front of the pack until the rain stopped falling on me. A smirk broke on her lips as I glanced at her. “It’s the least I owe you.” She said.