Food! Glorious Food!
One thing I had expected this cleanse to change was a few eating habits. I LOVE food. I love eating. It's fun. I've had to learn self restraint as all of us do eventually, and even more when I started cutting weight and at various other points when size became important. (After a costume fitting for example.) I always found methods that got me down to where I needed to be, but the motivation is different when you're training for something athletic than when you just want to stay at a certain size. (An entry for another time.)
At some point over the years I had entered into this cycle of being really regimented with my food over the weekdays and then kind of laissez faire over the weekend. It had gotten to the point where weekdays were almost deprivation and weekends were almost binges. Obviously that can’t last forever, which is why I was falling off of my loose plan more and more over the week. I needed to change my relationship with food a little bit.
When Dean and I first looked at the menu for the cleanse, we were intimidated to say the least. Tons of meals, lots of recipes, lots of 'specialized' food. (No sugar. Ever had a brown rice tortilla?) We finally pulled ourselves together, decided we were going to find a way to get through this hard part and sat down together and went through it. We decided we would pick out a few meals that looked like they would work for us and go for those. We knew we had a show we were working on, so meals that could be transported, eaten cold or reheated well were preferable. We made all of our weekday food and made plans to cook together over the weekend.
When I sat down and looked at our menu, one of the first things I thought was, "Look at all that food. How many calories is that? Am I going to GAIN weight on this thing?" I then reminded myself that we were not supposed to be counting calories on this cleanse and I was going to see this through the right way.
It was great at first! I enjoyed cooking with Dean! I LOVED having pre-packed food ready for every meal! It took the guesswork out of it and I no longer came home tired and hungry, ready to make a bad choice and just grab some chips and dip them in hummus because I didn't feel like steaming yet another two cups of vegetables. I was eating tons of food (at least that's how I felt) and still losing weight.
One thing I neglected was to look at my carb intake. Because we wanted foods that could be eaten cold or reheated well, we were doing a lot of salady type things with chicken. I was getting lots of fiber and protein, very few carbs. My workouts started to suffer and finally I ate one of the allowed 'snacks,' Ezekiel bread with fresh ground almond butter and smashed berries, after an arduous four mile run that should have been easy. I instantly felt better.
The next week we took that into consideration and workouts have been great. My weight stabilized (I'd like to drop two or three more pounds, but slower is better) but I lost fat and gained muscle compared to last week.
This was a huge shift for me. I'm hoping I can keep some of this up. The variety of food was great and Dean and I learned some new recipes that we like. (One of our goals.) The food was expensive and we spent a lot of time cooking, neither of which is permanently sustainable. That being said, we do want to keep some of it up.
We have three days left of the cleanse. Afterward, we think we'll move from some of the more expensive, completely sugar free items that we had to commute to the Mariano's for, to some more reasonable, but still healthy items that we can find at our little store. (Whole grain bread rather than Ezekiel, natural peanut butter rather than almond, etc.)
We had a regular coffee date on Wednesday mornings where we used to have breakfast together before work at a local coffee shop. During the cleanse we replaced this with cooking together before work. We enjoyed it! We've decided to try and continue this on an every other week basis. We had to get up much earlier to do the cooking thing, so if we have a late rehearsal, we'll do the coffee shop instead. We're also planning on cooking a meal at home together one night a week.
One of the greatest things was how we naturally fell into a teamwork frame of mind when it came to this cleanse. If one person had to work late, the other would cook or at least get the meal started. We'd bring our healthy sandwiches to the theatre for each other. We proactively helped try and keep the kitchen clean, no matter who 'messed it up.' I enjoyed that aspect and hope we can keep it up!