I started reading this book yesterday, “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules,” written by Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott. I found out about this book at a perfect time, in need of a little inspiration, having moved back home to NJ 6 weeks ago, and more importantly towards the end of my one month Korean detox/cleanse. Rule 1 is “You will receive a body.” We should try to be in a healthy (positive) loving relationship with our body. We should take care of it and praise its redeeming qualities. And before we try to change it, we must accept it for what it is, and then, maybe it’ll be more willing to do the things we ask of it. I think the same is also applicable to other relationships we might have in life.
Tomorrow also marks the fourth week of my time in the Korean version of the X-Men mutant test center, where in I am Wolverine and my fat is the mutant. Before I elaborate, I need to let you know two things: this is the first regime of its kind I have ever undergone and that I have placed myself in willingly. Doctor J at the Bliss Acupuncture Center in northern NJ (their 2nd office location) made it sound so simple that I left that first day, four weeks ago so confident I could do this. Then again, he, unlike me, doesn’t have to fight 23 years of pastichio and fresh doughy shmelty feta-filled tiropitakia memories.
This cleanse has been fantastic, mostly because by forcing me to evaluate my relationship with food, it has made me evaluate other relationships in my life. Until this point, my stomach was running the show, like a whiney insatiable kid who keeps asking for more toys (or Nutella) from its parents, my mind and body, which had become soft (literally) after living for years as push-overs. So now, I try to eliminate as much as possible the no-do-gooders: salt, sugar, caffeine, alcohol. Basically, everything I had ever consumed in solid and liquid form prior to this point. One of my best friends actually asked me at my last family BBQ, “Steph, did you put salt in the tzatziki?” I had, but not as heavy-handedly as my former self would have. I was mortified. For me, under-salted food should have been the 7th deadly sin. Forget gluttony. Without salt, it’s very hard to be gluttonous. Check out the sodium levels on the labels on your favorite guilty pleasures and you’ll see my point.
You might also be wondering, what is it I hope to cleanse? Well for starters, the daily froyo and the twenty-some-odd years of soutzoukakia-filled summers. Every time my father, who is in pretty good shape for his age, alludes to the simplicity of eating well, I must remind him he had a competitive advantage: he was raised on the Greek village diet (including daily goat chases and hours of hard labor in fields) in a time before the Oreo cookie.
So how I get into all this holistic-ness anyway? It’s because my father is part Asian. Okay, so he’s not really part Asian, but he could have been in a past life. So when he stumbled across a group of Eastern medicine practitioners by his office in NYC, he decided to give it a try. There he found an acupuncturist, a chiropractor and a massage therapist, and shortly thereafter, it became a family affair.
Week 1- My program consisted of me eating “small” meals, bites even, throughout the day. The kind, friendly Korean doctors explained to me that this was a process to shrink my stomach. My thoughts on both of these things were, ti ine auto to “small meal?” I know “small” and I know “meal,” but these words don’t usually party in the same crowd. I was also skeptical because, like, why would I want to shrink my stomach? That would mean it won’t be able to fit as much food! Silly concept if you ask me.
Week 2- It only took a few sessions and I was hooked. I started to enjoy being poked and prodded, moisturized, massaged and drilled. Why? This is the attempt to make blood flow and fat melt. You might think Bah! What tomfoolery! But, I assure you it’s not. But this is not why I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it, because I felt like a lamb on Easter Sunday. Except for the killing and consumption parts, the rest is really enjoyable, at least in my world it is. I mean, being filled with garlic, coated with olive oil and spices and slow roasted in the oven? Save for the garlic and spices, this lamb marination process is quite similar to the one I endure during my weekly Bliss visits.
Week 3 – 10 day liquid detox. All liquid (Japanese plum juice). No food. Enough said.
Week 4- Maintenance. In other words, stay away from the refrigerator and anything that resembles a cookie.
Seeing diet from a different less “salty” cultural perspective has also helped me break down some of my Western-based perceptions of health and nutrition. I’ve also started to learn what hunger means. I realized these past weeks, I don’t think I’ve been hungry once in my life. This is probably because Hunger is an unwelcomed guest in most Greek households. However, Food Coma is not only welcomed but expected to attend every gathering. I guess I thought it would also be interesting to see my body transform, so in the first week of eating “small meals” (or normal-sized portions for the average person) and losing almost 9 pounds, I thought to myself WOW! This is fantastic. Of course, I birthday-suited up and went for the mirror inspection. I thought- where the hell did the 9 pounds come off of? My big toe? So, in the kindest voice possible, I tried telling the extra-fluffy cushion which has been protecting my hips. I told him, “It’s been a good run, but I relinquish you of your duties, I gotta let you go.” He looked at me with sad panda eyes. So, I said, “okay you can stay a few more weeks.” I now wish I hadn’t extended that invitation.
But, it’s not just my lovely lady lumps that I’ve been talking to over these past few weeks. I’ve also taken this time as one of contemplation and reflection. During this time, I’ve realized that there lives inside me a monster who I felt needed to be fed. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover he’s not completely irrational, and oftentimes more patient than I gave him credit for. In the end, my cleanse allowed me to re-evaluate the food = love concept, deeply ingrained in this Greek head of mine. So what’s there left to do now? I mean, less food shopping, cooking, eating (and subsequent napping), leaves a Greek girl a lot of free time. Hmmm…. I wonder if Food Network Star is on?