Monday, April 9, 2012

Rumination, no. 6 | Notes on Lent & Body

My body adjusted surprisingly quickly to my morning routine of sun salutation—that first week was, admittedly, a clumsy one, but in the second week, my muscles and limbs seemed to melt graciously from one pose to the next, working those rusty, creaking kinks out of my shoulders and hips as I fully awoke to the intention of my own breathing.  In fact, I felt, immediately, so much more relaxed and in-tune that a fifteen minute bout of yoga became part of my afternoon routine as well—upon coming home from work, after letting the dog out and changing my clothes, before starting dinner, along with some strength-training exercises.  My posture, now, which I’d always been somewhat proud of (read: vain about), is positively impeccable—I feel taller, stronger, like the tenderloin muscles in my back are actually made of thick, indestructible, hemp rope. 
I noticed less positive change regarding my giving up of sweets.  Perhaps that’s untrue and unfair to say, but let me explain.  The first couple weeks of Lent, I was completely surly and impatient—in other words, I was going through a very real withdrawal.  Eventually, those withdrawal symptoms dissipated, only to be replaced by a permeating glumness.  I never, in those first three weeks, got over the inherent sadness that is passing up a dessert cart; in my book, there is not much more depressing than that.  I was expecting a renewed store of energy those health nuts so smugly insist is a benefit of a sugar-free diet.  It is true that I don’t fall asleep on my afternoon bus ride anymore, but I’m not ready to give my dessert-fast all the credit for that.  Right as Lent started, after all, I’d just quit my part-time job and newly had evenings and weekends off—meaning less time commuting, more time at home, more time in which to spread out necessary chores, and therefore more time to relax.  And then there’s that whole yoga thing I just finished writing about.

But, for the sake of full disclosure, I should admit that during that first period week post-Lent, I basically adopted that “I don’t give a fuck,” attitude which was so common to me a few years ago, when I was spending quite a bit of time with some bad influences (albeit lovely women whose company I miss frequently).  Wolfman and I discovered birthday cake Oreos, and devoured not one, but two packages, within two days of purchasing each.  And, because I am being oh so honest, I should admit to you that I don’t even care that I broke my self-induced Lent.  I was hormonal and angry and sad and worried about finances and my husband (the Crimson Wave and Wolfman’s broken thumb occurred at the same time).  I needed some refined sugar to get me through those days.  So, yes, almost exactly at the half-way point of Lent, I gave in and gave up.  I’d told my husband that after period week, I’d re-give up sweets.  But instead, we walked to the convenience store a couple blocks from our house and bought a slushie to share and some Whoppers.  Three weeks without sweets and hating every moment of it, followed by one week of eating sweets and not caring, one week of eating sweets and feeling a nagging kind of guilt, and one week of almost totally forgetting I’d tried to give up sweets in the first place.
However, I must admit that I think my relationship with dessert is healthier now.  Several times during my first three-week abstinence, I found myself encouraging Wolfman to go ahead and buy some ice cream or cookies: “You don’t have an addiction like I do; you’re allowed to indulge.”  Wolfman’s response, however, was almost always, “I don’t need it.”  (Essentially, he, too, gave up desserts for those three weeks in solidarity.  My sweet man.)  He’s right, of course.  None of us need chocolate chip cookies or lemon meringue pie or cupcakes with frosting piled high.  But life is so short, and cookies taste so good.
So, no, being the hedonist that I am, I am not going to stop my sugar intake, and I can only begrudgingly admit that attempting to give up sweets for six weeks was a good idea.  I think perhaps if I partake in a form of Lent next year, I may focus entirely on adding something to my life rather than subtracting.  I feel better about having a positive new habit than I do about my forced asceticism, this fasting from something I enjoy, something I feel does make my life not necessarily better, but happier.  Still, though, point taken Conscience, I now know I am fully capable of going a day without sugar.
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