I'm Just Saying…

July 14, 2010

Just the Flax Ma’am, Just the Flax

It had to happen sooner or later and finally it did. It was the flax that did it. I’m out, I’m done, I give up. The entire process of eating properly and exercising, a/k/a “living a healthy lifestyle” has defeated me. I can’t do it.

First it was the exercise. I’m not known as a highly energetic person. I have two speeds: nap and REM. I tormented myself about getting in shape. I thought about it, discussed it, planned on it. I didn’t actually “do” anything about it. I was hoping all my mental effort would burn off the extra calories.

Then came the infomercials. You know what I’m talking about. Those infamous thirty minute “programs” on at 2 a.m., 6 a.m. or Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. They’re teeming with trimmed, toned, happy people exercising while someone explains how you can have a whole new body in 6 weeks or less. Drop a dress size in one week! See results in as little as 10 days! Order now and get express delivery! I’ve done it all. I’ve used the step benches, the toning cords, the DVD workout systems. And yet, I’m an addict always needing another fix. I’m up in the middle of the night, the channel flipper in one hand, the phone in the other, my credit card at the ready for that next product that will do the trick. Ironically, I look relatively the same. I never got the tight, toned arms, the bootylicious backside, and, at best, I have two-pack abs. Okay, two and a half. 

But I wasn’t done yet. I hadn’t tormented myself enough. It was time to move on to healthy eating. I erased bread from my diet; I stopped eating potatoes. Potatoes! Who doesn’t love a potato? My dinner menus were massacred. Who knew a humongous bowl of spaghetti drowning in butter and salt is not a well-balanced meal? Not me. My entire food pyramid collapsed. Since when are hydrogenated fats and oils not good for you? Says who? I can’t speak for anyone else but my day is not complete without some gum acacia and Yellow #5.

My mood soured. I became irritable, tired, and depressed. Trips to the kitchen were not fun anymore. All I found in there were blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cans of tuna. Then fiber and acai berry became the new stars in the food firmament, and every product had to have one or the other or both. I’m waiting for the new crop of products, acai berry peanut butter (with fiber), acai berry crackers (with fiber) and what I’m sure will be a huge hit, acai berry pizza (with fiber). You wait. It’s coming. They will find a way. 

I drank the Kool-Aid. I jumped on the bandwagon. I scoured the organic foods aisle. I poured over food labels. I became obsessed with calories vs. fat or is it carbs vs. calories? I even considered doing a cleanse. Aside from the whole “depriving your body of much needed nutrients” issue, I have another concern about cleanses.  Let me explain. Every time I eliminate “toxins” from my body (read: avoid eating anything I enjoy), every time I choose fruits over fat, whole grains over high fructose corn syrup, something bad happens. After a day or two, I don’t feel well. As a matter of fact, I feel awful: nausea, stomachache, headache. Last time I went through this a co-worker diagnosed my condition: “You’re cleansing your body,” she said. “You’re eliminating the toxins.” I didn’t like the equation: feeling like death = healthy. After a few days of misery I was driven to apply my own remedy: I ate a cookie. Okay, two cookies. Before you could say “cocoa butter,” I was as right as rain.

I just read in the news that Demi is doing a master cleanse. Every week Gwyneth Paltrow shows up in an article on the Huffington Post on how she’s cleansing, clearing, firming, or whatever. Now, I have nothing against Demi and Gwyneth. I think they’re wonderful actors, and from my vantage point, they seem like nice people interested in good health. But if I could send a message, I would say, “Ladies, please. I’m already overwhelmed by my own inadequacies in health/fitness/appearance. My inner critic is on call 24/7, working overtime, doubletime on Sundays. Can’t you help a girl out and take a twit pic of yourself eating a Double Dutch Chocolate Muffin? Can’t you take one for the team?” I’m just saying.

These days, I’m admittedly more of a if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it kind of person. When I read up about cleansing I remembered a skin care mishap I had in my younger days. In my naïveté, I let myself get talked into trying a new facial cleansing regime. There wasn’t anything wrong with my skin. I usually received compliments. But since my fadgirl jackpot buzzer went off, I tried it. I exfoliated, I cleansed, I toned, I refined; my skin broke out until it resembled a wicked case of connect-the-dots. I complained to my “beauty consultant” about the less than stellar results. Her response? “That’s wonderful! It’s bringing all the impurities to the surface.” And that was when I learned an important lesson: I like my impurities exactly where they are, embedded deep down in my dermis where no one can see them.

I finally went over the cleansing cliff, in a way. I purchased flax. I was very excited about the flax. This flax was going to do wonderful things for me. It would clean my system, keep things “moving.” It even came in convenient packs already pre-measured for easy pouring. So I made my oatmeal and dutifully dumped in my flax pack. An hour later, my stomach rumbled. Ten minutes after that, I made my first trip to the bathroom. The hounds were released. At three in the afternoon, my colon fell out. I was walking down the hall to my office. Co-workers noticed I was dragging something behind me. “That’s just my colon,” I said. “I’m so cleansed I don’t need it anymore.”

So what have I learned from my exercise/diet/flax experiences? Probably not as much as I should have. I should have had a “eureka!” moment where I truly got it that I have to accept myself as I am. I should have learned that you can’t escape the law of averages; someone else will always look better, thinner, prettier. We torment ourselves with the idea that all the qualities we’ve got going for us aren’t enough because if we just had that “something else,” then we’d be happy. I suppose it’s possible, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

I still watch infomercials. I still see exercise products that I think will do “the trick.” I lean forward in my chair, a twinkle in my eye, my heart rate rises, and I start looking around for the phone. Then I hear my mother say, “You have every exercise product known to man, knock it off.” I sigh, knowing she’s right. So I sit back in my chair and finish my oatmeal. Just oatmeal. The flax didn’t go to waste though. I’m using it as a drain cleaner.

I’m just saying. 

J.

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