Many people have written to me about the Dreaded Brown Rice Diet posting. I obviously hit a nerve.....the Motivation nerve, that is. I guess we all want, at some point in time, to change the way we live - stop smoking, stop drinking, start exercising, go back to school, start eating healthier, lose weight, gain weight, change jobs. Anything that will make us feel better, give us more energy and a positive spin on life.
Years ago I quit smoking. Well, like many, the quitting part was easy. I did it at least 100 times. Usually it was when I had my annual bout of pneumonia. When one feels so sick that you can't get out of bed, it's easy to quit. Then I would get well and start back up again. My daughters would hide my cigarettes, break the last one in the pack, and even flush them down the toilet. All that did was make me want to have another!!! One of them even made me a pretty pink and blue papier maché ashtray that says “DO NOT USE” around the outside and on the inside, a Surgeon General’s warning “The Surgeon General has determined that smoking is hazardous to your health. SO REMEMBER IT!!!” I still keep it in my living room.
Just to show you how different they were. Joanna, my older daughter, would be indignant and tell me, in a very haughty tone I might add, that I was a murderer – killing her with second hand smoke. Sharron, my baby, would cry and tell me I was going to leave her an orphan if I didn’t stop. That just made me want to have a cigarette, too.
So, as you can see, none of the “good” reasons to quit worked. What worked for me was a sudden “AHA!!!” at work. My boss and I had to attend evening meetings with a group of volunteers, many of them older or committed non smokers. For a long time, smoking was allowed in the meeting room. Then it was decided (rightly so, in hind sight, but unpopular with the smokers at that time) that there be no smoking during the meetings. My boss and I would take turns and sneak out for a quick hit in the hall. It was one of those evenings, as I kept looking at my watch and not being able to concentrate on what was being said around the table, escaping for two or three deep drags on the cigarette, returning and having to ask what was happening, that it hit me. How could I let this take control of my life?! That was 17 or 18 years ago and I’ve never had one since. The first few weeks were challenging. I couldn’t have coffee or tea with dessert (that was a trigger and favorite time to smoke). I don’t remember being difficult to live with, but others do, I’m sure.
Now, the losing weight issue – that’s another story!!! I used to get on the scale and be disappointed with myself, whining about NOT having a waist anymore and wishing I looked like some twenty-something model, complaining about having no energy, thinking “I haven’t weighed this much since I was pregnant”. Usually it would just make me eat more chocolate and cookies. Sometimes I would even start exercising (that never lasted very long-probably because I would go overboard and hope for magical improvements in a week) and actually try one of the latest fad diets. I did lose 15 pounds on the Cabbage Soup Diet, (but put the weight back on almost as quickly). All of them were short lived. I suffered for a week or two on the plan and then was back to over-eating.
So here’s my current (hopefully more mature) strategy. Exercise a little more (short walks every day plus a little something when I can) and eat smaller portions of whatever I want.
Every six months or so I do the Brown Rice Detox Diet. It forces me to stop the cycle of overdoing and restart the cycle of paying attention to ingredients, both nutritional content and portion size. The first two or three days of the diet are usually fine especially in the summer when fruit and vegetables really taste good all by themselves. By Days 4 – 6, I’m getting bored with grilled vegetables and salads with only oil and lemon juice as vinaigrette. Most of my favorite vegetarian recipes call for ingredients not allowed at this stage (no honey, mustard, soy sauce or salt). And, of course, I really don’t like the brown rice much so I’m eager to move on and reintroduce foods. Bizarre as it sounds, I get excited knowing that during days 1-4 coming off the diet I get to add honey, rice pasta, avocados, tomato sauce and mushrooms to my menus.
I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, so when I start to reintroduce foods into my diet, I actually do it faster than suggested and this time around I actually stopped one day short. Our cousins who have been here on sabbatical for a year are heading home soon – we’ll miss them. We were invited over for home cooked Indian food – how could I resist!?!. It was wonderfully delicious!!!
Today, I’m back on plan and looking forward to tonight’s dinner feast of pasta with mushrooms and my own lazy tomato sauce. Lunch will be salad with one of my usual vinaigrettes that has some Koslik’s mustard and sherry vinegar added. A very tasty day!!!
Oh - and the most important thing - I DO NOT FOCUS ON WEIGHT. What I mean is, I don't get on the scale every day. Instead, I focus on how I feel (what's my energy level like, are my fingers less swollen, am I less huffy when I'm out for my daily walk?) and look for signs that encourage me to continue.