Sunday, May 19, 2013

the joy of guilt and celery

I skipped training Saturday morning. For those who don't know, I completed a ten-day cleansing fast, aka the "Master Cleanse." Since I reintroduced food into my life, the clarity and simplicity I knew for that week and a half has faded into a weak signal, like I'm still on the road trip but my favorite radio station's broadcast doesn't reach quite this far.

I took the break because I have not returned with all the good habits I anticipated I would carry. Example: early on in the fast, around day three when I was enjoying the company of a low-grade headache, I became clear on identifying "hunger" versus "craving." By the eighth day, I still hadn't experienced hunger, but I was eager to gobble a celery stalk, of all things. Celery!!

I HATED celery as a kid. My parents used celery as a punishment, once. If you want to reinforce a child's disdain for something, make it part of punishment. And if you don't understand sarcasm, I wasn't being serious. The worst thing you can do is to mess with kids' opinions/associations with good things, unless you want your kid to have issues with self-love and healthy development. (I might hypothesize that Western kids don't meditate because they already sit mindlessly in classrooms.)

And, yet, here I was, craving celery, the scourge of my developmental years. If I ate it on day 8, I might have ended up with major abdominal pain, since my body hadn't been digesting anything beside water, lemon, maple syrup,* and cayenne pepper. Raw food and roughage is as tough on the system to process as a big, ol' chunk of cow.

I started with simple carbs when I returned to my fast; interestingly, potato chips are loaded with simple carbs, and when I went shopping, I bought a bag, along with pita chips, hummus, and cocktail olives.

By Friday night—apologies for the confessional bluntness—I had already been drunk, snarfed the potato chips along with a bag of cheese curls, and then a buddy invited me over for Korean short ribs and wine. I don't understand Korean-style short ribs, but that's a different story, and I had a craving. Plus, ending the cleanse was a little like getting out of jail. I abused the new freedom, and I abused myself.

I did, however, work out extra on my own after training Thursday, and on Friday I looked at my new, svelte self and said, "You need shoulders." so I went down to my weight room and tried to do some incline flies. I did not train for health; I trained for vanity. Then I stayed up late and treated myself badly some more. By Saturday morning I felt older than I did when I started training a couple months ago.

I can make better use of my time today recovering than training, I thought, and I called Sifu. Even on the phone with Sifu, I felt like I was making an incorrect choice somehow, yet one I needed to make. I just didn't know why. I haven't been training for a long time, but I have felt stronger and more balanced than I have felt in a long time, and I attribute much of this to training with Sifu and the kwoon. Yesterday, however, I felt like something had gone missing, and I was invited to meet another friend and consume yet more things that involved dead animal (tasty dead animal, but...) and staying up past my bedtime.

I got to realize the nature of craving not just poor food but poor life. I began to understand the feeling in my stomach just before I arrive to train, where I know that Sifu is going to push me past my cardio limits, show me how to punch (yeah, I don't know how to punch), or have me stand in horse stance until my thighs catch on fire.

Now, however, my resting heart rate is 20 bpm lower than it was 10 weeks ago; I weigh 15 lbs. less than I did 10 weeks ago, and at home I can watch a run of commercials on television while holding horse stance—without being afraid to feel that burn. Sifu and Sidai Shunyuan even showed me Thursday more about self-defense than I have ever known.

So, what did I learn while not at training Saturday? That I will be at training next Saturday. And Tuesday night, and Thursday morning, and now I need to figure out where to get my fourth session in.

Shi zu, thank you for being gracious and gently insistent on the phone Saturday morning. Thank you for letting me make the mistake. May my actions show this new wisdom.

Peace, all. I am going to see if the celery in my fridge is still crisp.


  1. This mistake would be the best mistake you ever made: joining FMK sessions! :-)

    1. Understood and agreed, Kang! Thanks for reading.

    2. I was wondering where you were Saturday!

      Thanks for the post. It's great to hear how much you've improved in a matter of months!
      I have to admit I definitely feel out of it too when I miss out on class. It's like a drug, but in a good way. lol you know you want to keep coming back for more, because once/twice a week just isn't enough!

      hmmm now that you mention it, yes,,, to find some celery...(with ranch though, lol )

  2. I must admit, I will be feeling your pain soon friend. I am going on the Paleolithic diet as of today. I will no longer be eating dairy, bread (or any grains for that matter), potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar or processed oils and will be limiting my food consumption to grass-fed meats, eggs, veggies, fungi, roots and nuts. I know that this will be difficult for me as I am a caffeine addict and because my only source of caffeine comes from soda, I will be going through heavy withdrawals. In addition I will be amping up the amount of time I spend training because I am very serious about losing a certain amount of weight. 50 pounds to be precise. All that being said, I do not know you pain entirely friend, but I soon will :)

    1. Well good luck. It will definitely be worth it. Don't give up.

    2. Charlie! Don't talk yourself into a caffeine headache. They are actually one of the easiest addictions to get over physically, especially if your body can handle a couple aspirin or Tylenol.
      Take either before bed, then a couple more the morning that you're going to leave the caffeine. This will curb the headache.
      A caffeine addiction is physically done in 24 hours. The habit of consuming it...well, that's another trick of the mind, same as how you handle the "restrictions" of the Paleo diet. A great practice for you as a Christian, Charlie, while you enter the Paleo diet is to recognize the distinction between the "born again" experience, where you are changed in an instant from sinner to sanctified, and the process of learning grace: particularly being gracious to yourself as Christ gave himself for you to be free to be.
      I'm not saying go back to soda! But let yourself ease into it. I got through the cleanse this last time because I understood my reasons and the implications of doing it--regardless of the outcome.
      You are a crazy combination of light and intensity, Mr. B. Give yourself the Lord's burden assigned to you: the easy yoke. He's done the hard work.
      Enjoy how you grow, Brother Charlie, and I, too, look forward to growing with you in the swoon. Thanks for the comments.


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