Monday, March 21, 2016

Eating Omily: Eating Well

Maybe eating should be simple. I think there are times and circumstances in which it is. But for a busy twenty-something building a career in Brooklyn, it's not.

It's joyful, inspiring, comforting, grounding, surprising, and satisfying...but it's not simple.

In fact, sometimes it's frustrating, annoying, anxiety-provoking, drudgery.

Over the years, what I eat, and how and when I eat it, has shifted dramatically along with my circumstances.

In college, I made bacon and eggs for breakfast on the regular, sometimes enjoying it on a toasted whole wheat English muffin, or folded into an omelet, along with a glass of milk and a glass of fruit juice. I put a tiny tupperware full of tuna fish tossed with Italian salad dressing into a zip lock baggy, and filled up the leftover space with ice, and took that and another baggy of baby carrots across two boroughs to my classes on the Queens campus. I ordered take-out a grand total of three times during my entire college experience. I just couldn't afford it. Food was precious.

In my first year of marriage, I packed lunch religiously, piling left-overs into a larger tupperware, and creating surprisingly yummy dishes along the way. It wasn't uncommon for a co-worker to poke their head into the minuscule break room after I opened the microwave, demanding to know what twist on the casserole formula I was enjoying that day. There were a couple months when bean stew was on the menu almost daily because it was so cheap, and so nutritious. Food was precious.

These days I talk about things like chia pudding, and green smoothies with a straight face. They're absolutely the corner stone of my diet and my saving grace amongst a whirlwind of activities, and a dire need for potent, complete-protein-rich nutrition.

But it's so important for me to point out that I eat these things because I truly find them delicious, and satisfying. Not because they are 'fat-burning', 'detoxifying', or somehow morally superior to other foods. They just WORK for me.

Let me just say this right now, if you're eating anything because you think it's any of those things, stop. Put down the fork, spoon, straw, or chopsticks, and take a hard look at your relationship with food. Food is precious.

Food is there to FEED you! Not to make you feel better about yourself, not to help you conform to insane expectations surrounding female beauty, not to take anything away from you at all, but only to ADD.

The day that clicked in my head the way I ate changed forever, and if my blood test results from my doctor are any indication, for the better.

Eat foods that are good for you, that have good things to offer you. Don't get obsessed with super foods. You don't need to eat goji berries, or acai (although you can of course). Berries that grow closer to home will do just fine. You don't need to treat cacao like a nutritional supplement. Just eat really dark chocolate, maybe even raw chocolate, because it is delicious, and has good nutrients for you. AND. You don't need to be afraid of anything as long as its food (If it had to be made in a factory, like trans fats, or added flavors, be wary)!

Not animal fats,
not flakey croissants,
not red meat,
not alcohol...

which isn't to say that you have to eat all those things. I steer clear of processed grain products generally because my body doesn't seem to like them much, but I dare you to try to get in between me and a pastry if I'm in the mood for one.

When I focus on putting good things in my body, I don't have to try to limit the not-nutritionally sound things that I eat. They naturally take a backseat. I indulge in stuff that is so delicious, it pays off in mental health dividends, because its a form of self-care.

I think this is a solid guiding principle for eating. From it, I've developed a food lifestyle that includes a green smoothie most days. My body just freaking loves smoothies. I feel full, energized, and ready to WERK when I have one!
Also they're just so damn delicious! This was some strawberry-banana-ginger love with mustard greens!
That may not be the case for you. Maybe you feel hungry right after having one, or maybe you find you need to step straight from the blender to the bathroom when you have one, or maybe thick, frosty beverages just do not excite you. If not, then screw it. NEVER have a green smoothie!

Take your time to find a way to eat that is MORE satisfying, joyful, and easy than it is frustrating, anxiety-provoking, and exhausting.

Don't let anyone tell you how or what you should be eating, unless you recognize that your relationship with food is so distorted that you need professional outside help to find your way again, and if that's the case, make sure it's real, professional help. Not magazine articles. Not people on tumblr. Definitely not me!

You know how I roll: I hope your eating lifestyle involves lots of local foods! I hope it involves lots of wonderful nutrients to power your body and brain! I hope it involves foods so delicious you can't taste them without needing to sit down and SWOON! I hope it involves bliss in the kitchen watching flavors evolve under the magical effects of heat, and time. I hope what you eat clues you into when, and where you are in the universe.

I hope you eat well. :-)

Monday, March 7, 2016

We're Going Around in Circles!

Today I went from shivering in my leather jacket over a flannel shirt dress, with scarf, hat, and gloves, to feeling free and breezy with my jacket unzipped, no hat or gloves! It's that time of year...too early to trust the weather, but when we get those early tastes of spring...it's glorious. It feels like a miracle! That's why I love living where there are four distinct seasons, including a cold, snowy winter (sometimes; not enough snow this year for me). Experiencing the renewal of the earth, and measuring time by watching the world change around me as we roll around the sun, keeps me grounded, connected, and so, so grateful.

This spirit of observation, coupled with a sense of awe, is something that yoga and meditation have helped me cultivate, and maintain. Of course, it's a constant work in progress to maintain that practice, and that spirit. Before I did any meditation, and when I was very new to yoga, I stumbled into hula hooping, and discovered another present-moment-based practice that enhanced my joy, and sense of connection to my body. It was powerful juju at a time when I was struggling to adjust to living in a new place, being in a new stage of life, being separated from my boyfriend (who later became the husband), and having to start all over building a social circle.
I spent many a happy hour in the Spring of 2007 (and acquired quite the reputation) hooping in the sun, blasting a playlist of jams from my university laptop, learning how to leave enough clearance for my cat ears (of course I was wearing cat ears, every damn day) when doing body-to-hand transitions. Fun times!

I have pictures of me hooping on front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, in the middle of second avenue by 9th street in NYC, and on stage at way too many local concerts. I took hoops with me everywhere, including into Madison Square Garden for a Killers concert, on the Staten Island Ferry, on every subway, so many airplanes...hooping was a way of life, a philosophy about trusting the rhythm of the universe, and the wisdom that everything is connected.

And then a few years later I discovered aerial arts, and my hoops started gathering dust.

It felt like a natural enough transition, but the few times I dragged my old collapsable hoop out to the park with me, I remembered why I loved hooping so much in the first place. When my silks coach reminded me that to work consistently, I needed a ground act up my sleeve, I wondered allowed if hooping counted. It did.

So now I have a hoop coach! Life is good. Except that having been self-taught for years, my hooping technique is, as my silks coach like to say, le poo.

Free-style hooping to dope tunes in the sun has been replaced with frowning at myself in the mirror as I will my body to move less and less while still maintaining a flat, fast rotation in the hoop, and counting off the beat when switching arms in an out while chest hooping.

It would be easy to get frustrated...but I LOVE learning new skills! Training in old-school cirque-style hooping feels like meeting the hoop for the first time all over again!

Just like the Spring feels brand new, yet so very familiar year after year...

There's a Buddhist expression I love: "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind, there are few."

Letting hooping feel new to me will open up so many possibilities as I re-conquer the basics and start building choreography.

And embracing my status as a newla doula is keeping me from feeling too nervous as I prepare to attend my first few births. Without a short list of techniques I've used again and again, I'm free to consult a whole list, and go with what feels right in the moment, and appeals to the birthing person. It's a powerful place to be!

What are you new at this spring? Anything you're rediscovering? If the learning curve is driving you up the wall, try legs up the wall! Or another yoga pose ;-).

Live Omily,
~em