Growing up, I worked at Wall Pool in Brookhaven, MS, for more summers than I care to think about. The town itself was on the small side; but, there was nothing small about that pool. Olympic and a half long, Olympic and a half wide, the thing was a monster built a million years ago. Okay, so maybe not a million, but I remember taking lessons in its frigid water when we moved to the town in 1969. I was tiny, but I remember the cold water and my teacher, Mr. Leonard whose swim trunks were white with different colored handprints all over them.
Anyway, the important thing here is that the water was FRIGID. That whole gigantic volume of water was fully filtered every thirty minutes which kept it extremely cold. After a couple of cloudy, rainy days, it would take your breath away to dive into; but, that was the only way to get in. If I tried to ease in, it just prolonged the torture. I dove in, took the shock and got it over with.
I thought about that as I wrote yesterday’s piece on changing food choices and eating habits. That’s one thing I could not have dived right into. I had to take some time to get used to the water.
Sunday morning, I met my friend Mark at his house so that we could carpool to where we were meeting friends to go kayaking. He had made breakfast before I arrived – cinnamon rolls, sausage, biscuits and sausage gravy. None of which I could eat. I’d eaten breakfast before leaving home; but, I still felt like a weirdo refusing the rolls and biscuits, “No, thanks. I haven’t eaten bread in a few weeks.” “Sausage? Thanks, but I haven’t eaten animal protein, either. ” Finally, he just pointed to the coffee pot. “Um, well, you see, I haven’t had caffeine in ….”
How different from when I first began The Big Reduction!
When I first began, I ate no meat on one day of the week – but I probably had eggs even on that day, I don’t remember. One day, I ate only fish; but, the other days, I ate whatever meat I wanted – beef, pork, chicken, turkey, whatever. I just watched my portions. I could no more have gone three weeks without animal protein then than I could have run a marathon! I still can’t run a marathon; but, I’m doing just fine without consuming animal protein.
I started my journey by reducing my meat and wheat intake and by increasing my non-starchy vegetable intake. I concentrated on getting the most nutrients I could for every calorie I consumed. I stayed full, reduced cravings and felt healthier almost immediately. As time has gone by, I’ve reduced my meat and wheat intake still further until, now, it’s almost non-existent. However, I don’t necessarily advocate that for everyone.
As I’ve said before and will say again (I’m sure): listen to your body. Get the highest number of nutrients you can for every calorie you ingest. Limit or eliminate empty calories; but, (and here’s the really important part) craft a menu and food regimen (I refuse to use the word “diet” here) that works for you. Adopt it at a pace that you can live with; but, start it.
If you can take the plunge all at once, more power to you and go for it! However, if you’re like me, you’ll need to ease your way into a thoroughly healthful plan.
You’ve got to get used to the water first.