Yesterday, I might have set myself up for a fall. I tried to go on a cleanse yesterday. I thought I’d just drink green smoothies for a week. I’ve done cleanses before. They always feel good, especially after overloading for several weeks on junk food. But that kind of restriction can be a set up for a binge for me.
Today, I was extra tired from a long train trip on Monday and Tuesday. I slept in until nine. That might have seemed early to me even ten years ago, but now I’m of the mind if it’s light out when I get up, I’ve wasted the day. I was still groggy when I climbed out of bed. I felt good in my body, because I’d had a pretty light day with the food the day before. I didn’t manage to stay on the cleanse even for the whole day, but what I ate last night was pretty simple—strawberries, yogurt, oatmeal and nuts.
My mind is a bit crazy when it comes to food, though. If I make a plan, such as a cleanse, and don’t stick with it, I beat myself up. I have this problem with wanting to be perfect. I know I am human and can never be perfect, but that desire still rattles around in my brain and my body.
I got on the scale. I’d dropped four pounds in a day. Scales are useful tools, but I find that whatever the number is, I can use it as an excuse to eat or to beat myself up. I think, like food, they should be used in moderation, but I also find it a difficult habit to moderate. When I was in my twenties, I lived in Berkeley for a few years and took classes at the Berkeley Psychic Institute. In one of the classes, in an attempt to let go of the power the material world had over us, we were to destroy a physical object. Some people brought in photographs of exes. I brought in my scale. It was very liberating to break it. Sometimes, I ask my boyfriend to hide my scale. After a few days, I start to get anxious because I don’t know where it is. I knew, today, if I ate any more than I ate the day before, which I probably would (since I’d eaten so lightly), that I’d gain weight again. However, I didn’t feel great, pretty sluggish, so I started the day with a hot mug of lemon water and later had a smoothie and handful of nuts.
Do you see how small my world becomes when I’m struggling with food? How I’m sitting here writing a blow by blow of what I ate, how I tried not to eat? Small and boring world! So, I’ll skip the rest of the food details—I had a productive morning, finishing a script for an upcoming performance and taking care of some work emails and such. But by afternoon, I was headfirst into the sugar. In the middle of my fourth pastry I was planning what I was going to pick up on the way home.
The thing that concerns me is that I know how vicious this cycle is for me, what the consequences are, yet a part of me doesn’t want to stop. But I WANT to want to stop. And that’s a starting place. A mentor tells me that the part of me that is attached to the misery for my sugar binges is the monkey mind and I need to learn to ignore her.
But there’s this other part of me that is so attached to my role as a baker. I saw lovely French macarons that a Facebook friend posted yesterday. I don’t know her personally, but many people in town have told me I should connect with her because we are both cooks and bakers. I asked her if she would teach me to make macarons and she agreed to make a time to do so sometime in the future. She was also spending the day experimenting with cauliflower pizza crust and other healthier baking alternatives, so I got to thinking about my Sweetie’s Yumhouse Kitchen flyers that offer specialty baked items: vegan, gluten-free, sugar alternative. I started daydreaming about starting a local bakery with this woman, offering guilt-free products as well as our guilty pleasure specialties. It’s been such a long-held dream to start a bakery café.
But I have other dreams to. And I’ve had other dreams that I had to let go of. Even though starting a bakery is unrealistic for a thousand reasons besides my relationship to sugar, it’s a dream I have trouble shaking. It’s so core to who I think of myself as. There’s all these dreams I’m chasing. And all that longing. I suppose I identify as a person who exists in painful longing. What if I stopped living in longing and started living in the joyful reality of all that is actual and present in my life? My life is abundant with friends, purpose, and creative projects. If I stop focusing on what I don’t have now, and focus on what I do have, perhaps I can translate that to my relationship with sugar. I can’t have sugar, but I can have the strawberries from the local strawberry stand, that just re-opened a week ago. Nothing’s sweeter.