The confetti has been swept, thousands of Champagne bottles have been recycled (I hope), and the mayor and Rahm-bo have long since left the building. Everyone in my area of the museum has a jumbo-sized opening week excitement hangover, but the new wing and all its inspiring features are, in fact, launched and chugging along nicely. Hordes of visitors are pouring into it for free as I write. Art and handmade pasta for the people! Yes! We! Can!!
It's a given that my brain is fried. But on Sunday, once I consented to peeling myself off the sofa, I walked over to a mirror to confront what 10+ months of monster-truck-sized stress have done to my body. And people, I am fat. Not Biggest Loser fat. Just there's-no-way-in-hell-I'm-going-to-fit-into-last-summer's-pants fat. And last summer? Not exactly a moment to celebrate in my personal journey toward glowing health and fitness.
I've made three decisions about this. 1) It is not going to be my new norm. Noooo, nononono. NO. Change is coming to these hips, America. 2) It's time to put the kibosh on the stress. And 3) I will eat my kind of food to return to a healthy weight. No sense in pretending that I'm going to forgo real food pleasures for, well, anything ever. I'll just have to pace them somewhat more between fresh seasonal produce, whole grains, and...um, something else that my take-out habit has fogged up my brain cells too much to remember.
To brush up on these weighty matters - sorry, couldn't resist - I downloaded Jillian Michaels' new book Master Your Metabolism on my (amazing, awesome, stellar) Kindle. I never watch her show. But I do relish her refreshing talent for honest, sweaty, ass-kicking fitness, and the fact that the book focuses on endocrinology intrigued me greatly.
It has me REELING. Michaels relates how in past years she meticulously consumed 1,200 calories a day and spent over six hours in the gym a week to keep her bod in top form. No shock there. But if she "relaxed" and ramped it up to all of 1,800 calories with the same workouts, she gained 15 lbs. almost immediately. I know dozens of people who can relate to a similar scenario...just none who look like her or have her discipline. An endocrinologist treating one of Michaels' clients eventually tested her and found that literally every major metabolic hormone in her system was totally out of whack - thanks to years of dieting, stress, lack of sleep and consuming processed foods.
And it's that last item that has me reeling. I always knew that processed foods could trigger allergies or lead to long-term health issues like heart disease, and I've minimized them without getting too worked up over it. But I didn't imagine that they could so quickly bring on a vicious cycle of obesity, for one. Or ovarian cysts. Or premature puberty. Or depression. Or any of the other honestly serious immediate dangers triggered by hydrogenated oils, FDA approved preservatives, and additives. In short, if wellness nazis like Jillian Michaels aren't immune from the effects of this toxic junk that's completely taken over our culture, then America, my friends, we are all deeply, truly effed.
So I have to believe that this is where Darwinism kicks in, and the smart ones will take the advice to thrive in spite of the overall environment of crap. Which means going all-out, full-stop organic. And breaking up with diet Dr. Pepper and protein bars for good. And learning the entire number system for plastics so I know which ones will alter my DNA if put in my dishwasher. None of which sounds so terribly daunting, but just try to go stand in line at Cosi and order lunch with all this spinning around in your head.
As usual, my friend Dar has a way of just knowing like Yoda. She sent me a package from Zingermans this week as a gift, and when I opened it, I was greeted by a box of Rabitos Royale ...Spanish figs filled with brandy liqueur, dipped in chocolate. No, not diet food. But here's the thing: it wouldn't even occur to the Spanish to fill this unreal little bonbon with toxic crap. In the US, we'd slap an "ALL NATURAL" banner on the front and sell them for 300% markup. But this little darling is exactly the one special treat of my day that won't make me miffed about doubling up on the salads.