Cleansing isn't for sissies

I could cleanse for a week. I could probably cleanse for the rest of my life, if not tempted by cake pops, coffee cake and the stringy pieces of my son's grilled cheese as I pull apart the little squares I cut out of it for him. But in the real world, with cake pops, coffee cake and grilled cheese sandwiches, I can't take this any more.

I think I've hit a wall.

I will admit it: I caved. Minutely, yes. But for someone who always colors inside the lines, barely goes over the speed limit (okay, is 7 over 'barely'?) and tries to follow schedules, plans and requests to a tee, I disappointed — but didn't surprise — myself.

(So yeah. I ate a cake pop, and a piece of coffee cake, and one little bit of cheese from my son's sandwich. I do promise that's it.)

I know no one's perfect, and I did not purchase any of the offending items myself, but this is what I'm always talking about. I said it myself in a previous post. Why do we self sabotage? Why do I cheat myself? I'm feeling good. Sometimes a little hungry. But I hit the gym on Saturday for the first time in years and I had to stop an enormous grin from spreading across my entire face. I really MISSED that place. I hopped on my favorite treadmill, plugged into my tunes and looked out the window like 2 years had passed in 2 days. It was awesome.

So maybe I'm being too hard on myself for "cheating" on the cleanse. Maybe some of the other participants have cheated. Maybe, what's that? Oh yeah, maybe I'm human, not Super-Mom-Bot.

I don't know why some of us succumb to temptation more quickly or easily than others. I'm sure it has to do with layers and layers of complex mechanisms including everything from family life to religious upbringing to the time of day. Really. But I find myself wondering, when will I get over that? When will I put my childish ways behind me? That's no way to raise a child, for example. When my 8-month-old looks at me and grabs the curtain again even after I just told him not to, that's one thing. He doesn't QUITE get it yet. But if my 2.5-year-old were to do that? He'd be two infractions shy of a time-out.

Many a mother has said it: Sometimes I wish I could take a time-out.

I'll give myself a point for joining the gym. I'll give myself another point for already going once, and another point for literally putting my workouts on the calendar so that I don't forget in my mommy-brain moments to actually go to the gym on the days I plan it. But when it comes to beating my food and finance demons, let's not beat around the bush here: I still need some serious growth in my head and heart space before I come out on the other side. Because there IS another side to this all. One doesn't have to live life constantly fighting against temptation.

Yeah, you heard me. That's right. You don't have to live your life constantly fighting against temptation.

How's that possible? Well, I believe it's possible when you get to that sweet spot where you're eating to live rather than living to eat. You stop thinking about food so much (the cleanse helps with this). You don't break so many rules. You're not driven to rebel. You like the way you feel, look, speak and act when you treat your body right rather than feeding it unhealthy foods and thinking unhealthy thoughts. You're not tempted by the junk. You see it and it doesn't call out to you. That cake pop might as well be a 2-by-4.

I don't know this because I've talked to women who no longer eat cake pops. I clearly don't know this because I've already cruised on over to the other side and I'm reporting back to you from the land of broccoli and kale chips. But in all things, I have faith. And I believe that, after planning the work and working the plan, one can achieve a state of mental and physical synchronicity in which (1) we are blessed with the knowledge that the occasional chocolate chip cookie or margarita on the rocks will not kill you and is, in fact, required course work for living and enjoying one's life, thereby not causing more than a millisecond of guilt or regret; (2) more important things in life take up our mental and physical energy, like spending time with family, in meditation, exercising (for pleasure and health!) and working; and (3) that sort of life no longer feels like a stretch to us — it comes naturally; healthy living is easy-going, comforting, the norm — and we finally understand and validate our priorities day after day after day.

It's all that business about "planning the work and working the plan" that takes forever. Making time to dig deep, to really think about things, to identify, accept, acknowledge and adjust takes time. I don't believe there are many people out there who know a lot about food and how it affects our health who then consciously make the decision each day to eat crap because really, my life sucks and we're all going to die anyways. (Maybe I'm wrong. But that's not how I want to go out.) However, it's not every person who is willing to take the time to examine the thought patterns and behaviors that form our relationships with food and dictate why we act how we do around potato chips and hot wings.

I think part of my problem is that I'm trying to work the plan, but I never planned the work. Right now I'm a hodgepodge of self-help books, prayer, aerobic exercise and protein shakes. Is that really a plan? Have I been one step ahead of myself this whole time? I suddenly feel like the blind leading the blind. What right do I have to even be sharing my thoughts in this forum?

(I promise I'm not rolling my eyes; of course I have the right to be here. Just trying to prove my point.) Cleansing, healthy living, heck, riding a bike takes practice — and intention, intention, intention. It doesn't HAVE to be hard. It won't ALWAYS be hard. Just like I said about the end to my "healthy eating on a budget" posts, I'm tempted to say I'll never write another post like this until I have things figured out. That will either leave you with a lot of faith-based prose from my "food, faith and finance" trifecta OR maybe I'll actually learn how to use the snazzy new camera I got last week and you'll see pictures of my every neurotic meal.

Smile. You love me. I know you do. And you know I can do it. I know YOU can do it. So before I entirely abandon my whining about how I can't resist a chocolate cake pop, I'm going to do it — I'm going to plan the work so that I can work the plan. I'm going to figure out all the areas of my life — internal and external — that I need to address to finally have my head on straight when it comes to how I think, speak and act around food, exercise and health in general. And when I'm done identifying the issues in as crystal-clear a manner as possible, you guessed it: I'm putting nose to grindstone and I'm gonna do something about it, come hell or high water.

AHH it feels good to take a stand, once and for all! I really don't think I've ever looked at it this way before. I'm usually a follower when it comes to these ventures, not a leader. Give me a meal plan and I'll shop the crap out of it. I will cook that quinoa until my middle name is casserole. But...it's not the same when someone does that part of the work for you.

If I haven't lost you already, keep up. Come back. I will continue to be me here, lumps and bumps included, and all are welcome. Cleansing isn't for sissies, but neither is life. Plan the work, and working the plan will sound NOTHING like this.

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