Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Plan

I have never considered myself an "exercising" sort of person. Perhaps it's due to the prejudice of my upbringing: memories of my private high school include the principal intoning, "Christians work: pagans exercise!" So I've always tried to make my work my exercise: unfortunately, most of my work these days requires sitting at the computer, and the "fasting" diets I used to follow no longer work now that I'm approaching my fortieth birthday and my seventh pregnancy.

So I am hesitantly about to try to make a change: I am commencing the 12-week Body For Life diet, in an effort to get into shape (I am of course, modifying it to account for the pregnancy). In a way this is nothing new: being a home-birth veteran, I'm used to a different diet during pregnancy: all my midwives enforced one. The difference is counting calories, rigorously drinking water, and (sigh) exercising. As of this writing, I can say I have been taking morning walks on our country roads for about a week and a half now, and can actually do about a mile or two without breaks.

Although I cringe at the "workout" culture, with the necessary ugliness of water bottles (I'm toting one now, and wishing it were beautiful), there is a certain beauty in the plan of a diet and exercise regime. Unlike the stereotypical free spirit, plans for life fascinate me. I'm not afraid of being put into a box: boxes have always seemed to be wonderful things, like the cardboard ones my children cut holes in and make into houses, cars, robots, anything their imaginations can dream up. The highest forms of art are the seemingly effortless formation of patterns: sonnets, Golden Rectangles, symphonies. So although I dread gyms, I read with absorption the day-by-day dietary instructions and routines and wonder if the sprawling chaotic monster of my daily life could be harnessed, gentled, and run eagerly ahead with the help of schedules and patterns like these.

Alas. We can always try. "Fail to plan and you plan to fail," intones this book, so I made a plan, a grocery list, bought multivitamins, protein-rich foods, and a tolerable-looking water bottle. I admit I do like diet foods, what this book lovingly calls, "women foods": spinach, cheese, almonds, brown rice, hummus, herbal teas, beans, seafood, chicken breast, even tofu. They look like food (except tofu, which I admire as a Master of Disguise: seasonings can turn it into anything!). And since my default mode is: skip breakfast, skip lunch, eat a vast amount of dinner and dessert; it's nice to eat six meals a day like a hobbit. (Next meal: pasta, eggplant tapenade, imitation crab meat, and salad. Yum!)

I remember having a vision once (after dreamily reading too many idealistic books) of distributism, whole foods, Craftsman philosophy, the Montessori method, rural living, and Catholicism all merging together into a beautiful and harmonious way of life that Thomistically, encompassed all and made everything lovely. I smile now when I think that I could accomplish such a synthesis. But how nice it is to plan!

So I am planning, and trying. Fortunately this book urges striving for "80% of perfection," so maybe it's doable even for me, a sanguine who loves new things but whose stamina and attention span are ... not as great.

But then again, I did walk a mile today without a break. So maybe there's hope!

Wish me Godspeed!


Suzanne said...

Regina - It's definitely possible to have a diet and a beautiful life! Besides, it doesn't seem very "Catholic" or beautiful to eat one meal a day! :) And what could be more beautiful than long walks in the country?

The trick is not to think of it as a "diet." You've just changed what you will buy and eat as your favorite foods.

I started the Schwarzbein eating plan a few years ago. I love it because it emphasizes the importance of eating whole foods and eliminating fast foods, processed foods and simple carbs from one's diet.

After a few weeks, "forbidden foods" were completely unappealing to me. Your efforts are in my prayers.

Willa said...

I wish you Godspeed!

I share your love for patterns and beautiful life structures, and your dislike for "exercise" in the abstract.

Chesterton says "A man ought to take exercise not because he is too fat, but because he loves foils or horses or high mountains, and loves them for their own sake."

I don't think I've commented before, but I love your blog (found it through Elizabeth Foss's Real Learning blog, I think).

LeeAnn Balbirona said...

Hmm, I'd never heard that particular definition of sanguine. Uncomfortably familiar. :)

I applaud you on your continued efforts to eat and live more healthily during pregnancy. I must admit, I've not been so faithful to the tenets of natural living. I started out with my first homebirthing, eating super healthy, no caffeine and devolved to planned epidural (I've had two natural and two with epi--for me, I want the epi to slow labor down, otherwise it causes uncomfortable complications) and a shocking single glass of wine during my last pregnancy (#4) AND I drank my Diet Coke throughout, although only about half-a-can daily. To make it worse, my last baby was nearly "failure to thrive" and had to be bottle-fed formula about sixty percent of the time (the others were all exclusively breastfed) so now I feel like a total earth momma failure (not really, just poking fun at myself)!

I'm reading The Children of Hurin now. I've made it through chapter two after four days; I remember when I could have read the whole thing in one day uninterrupted--sigh. I always wondered about the elves and what parenthood was like for them. Do baby elves make dirty diapers? Did Elrond ever spit up all over his father's elvish chain mail? Do elves even have childhoods? Or did they spring full-grown like Athena from their parents' thoughts? Probably I skimmed over some details in the Silmarillion way back when I was reading it twenty years ago. But so far, I'm enjoying Hurin quite a bit. The text is more immediate and full of dialogue than the Silmarillion.

CrunchyMom said...

I finally got a Google account so I could comment, but I have been reading your blog for a few months and have found it so inspiring.

After I suffered mild ppd during and following the birth of my 2nd last year (I had lost my mother during my pregnancy to Bipolar disorder), I determined that if diet was going to affect my mental health, and I could control my diet, I had to do something. I started following the teachings of Weston A. Price regarding food.

However, though it took quite a lifestyle change, I got a new understanding of the beauty and spirituality of food. It made sense to me that the closer food was to the way God created it, the healthier it would be, that hands preparing food would be healthier than factories, and that animals treated with respect would produce healthier food than those abused in factory farms.

I am not trying to sway you to my opinions on food, but I am sure you can find the "beauty" in healthy foods consistantly. Food is so spiritual. Afterall, Christ comes to us as food and asks we share the ultimate feast together during mass. Our changes in diet have come organically along with our other choices for simplifying our possessions and choosing beauty over quantity.

I am a sanguine easily bored and distracted, but I have found our new diet to not lose its luster. WAP focuses on whole animal fats, properly prepared grains, and elimination of processed sugars, and it has made both my husband and I lose weight and feel better without ever feeling deprived.

Faith said...

I have been lurking at your site for several weeks now. I love your sense of beauty and order. I always get up and tidy a bit after visiting your blog! I think I might have to check out Body for Life. I feel so defeated about food and health lately, but your post has made me feel a little bit hopeful!

Matilda said...

Congratulations on your new blessing!

WondrousPilgrim said...

what a vision! perhaps the heavenly feast will be like that--as opposed to an all out food orgy. Because that's not very catholic of us, is it!

Good luck, and God bless!

ps. DON'T forget the best of the power foods, FRESH BLUEBERRIES!!!

Jane said...

Water bottles aren't so ugly if you have a Nalgene bottle, especially if you have one like the ones from Powell's Books that have the names of philosophers, mathematicians, or literary figures alongside the ounce measurement. I find drinking a lot of water a bit easier if I think of it as trying to get past Marx and Kant to work my way down to Augustine and Plato.

Just a thought.

Good luck with The Plan!

regina doman said...

Thanks everyone!
I just got back from vacation, a place where I had rare internet access. I had hoped to keep blogging, but the library computer unreasonably blocked all blogger sites, so I couldn't even have your comments posted! I'm sorry it took so long for these comments to appear. But now I'm back and hopefully will be posting again soon.

Thank you all, so much, for your encouragment! I managed to walk 2 mi a day on vacation, so I'm feeling good!