Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Raw Tip No. 2

You know, if you aren't doing it for the right reasons, raw food can seem like constant deprivation. After all, when you're raw there are people all around you snacking on the things you used to or still love - potato chips, French fries, samosas, etc. This is a good time to re-evaluate what you're doing raw foods for.

Ideally, it shouldn't be something that you'll reach an end goal for, such as weight loss or running a marathon. That's one event. That's one point in time. (Okay, well, for weight loss... maybe one point in time.) It shouldn't be part of a punishment, or part of self-hatred (whee, weight loss again!). And it definitely shouldn't be something impossible.

See, there's a difference between not reaching an end goal and impossible. Not dying is impossible, but you won't reach an end goal if your goal is to reach newer heights with your training program (such as running), or to better your health. There's some amount of ambiguousness you must have when you plot your reason for why you want to be raw. However, you can't just say, "I want to feel better", that's too ambiguous and it won't motivate you for long. There's a balance, as in all things.

You won't have that balance if you feel deprived, though. It can be pretty easy to be deprived when you're feeling jealous, too. The trick to not feeling deprived, I've found, is to re-affirm your reasons for doing raw for yourself. That is, don't make it into a sacrifice; don't make yourself into a martyr for your health. It doesn't work, it just makes you and everyone around you miserale.

No, what you want to do is remind yourself why you are doing this. Why you are choosing to better yourself, be it your mental, physical or emotional health or your running time or to be able to live long enough to see your grandchildren go to college. That's the trick, see? If you feel deprived, you feel jealous, you start designating "bad" foods... and you wind up binging in the back of your car or otherwise breaking raw.

So, Raw Tip No. 2: Rawism isn't a sacrifice, and you ain't no martyr. Don't make things into something they aren't. If you do, it just leads to you giving up on what may be one of the most important physical/emotional improvements of your life.

So remember... raw food is healthy, colourful, fun, and above all - tasty!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Raw Food Tip No. 1

This will be an ongoing series; because I know how hard it is to transition to raw food since the nature of cooked food is extremely addictive (I mean - I had to re-start rawism three times for it to stick!), I will be posting little tips on how to stay raw occasionally.

So, tip No. 1 is...

When you are 'craving' or feeling like you absolutely must have [insert cooked food here], have a bunch of fruit, vegetables, raw nuts or seeds instead.

The thing is, when your body is not getting enough calories, it will start to panic and make you crave cooked foods. Do not think that you are a 'failure', a 'weakling' - it is not your fault: it's just that your body isn't getting enough calories.

You may look at those fruits, vegetables, raw nuts or seeds and think, 'but I want ____ and I want it now!' - don't sweat it. Eat the fruits/vegetables/nuts/seeds (or a combination of all of them) and you will feel better because your body is getting enough calories. You will no longer have cravings because your body will be getting what it needs - and trust me on this, you'll feel much worse if you eat that pie (as was my craving a few nights ago).

A little more information on how I found this out... When I was restricting to ~200 calories a day, I would constantly sit and fantasise about McDonald's breakfast items. And I was (and am) an ethical vegan! I was starving my body so horribly that it was pummeling me with fantasies of the most calorie-dense food it could imagine - which was, as you can tell, McDonald's breakfast items.

That stuff is absolute crap and not good for your body in any way.

But I needed calories. So I fantasised about them. I never did have them, but I realise now what that was about, after having conquered cooked food-cravings by eating a couple of oranges or some watermelon.

It's all about taking care of your body. If you don't, especially if you have a history of an eating disorder, it'll start to panic and crave - eventually craving so hard that it will shut down your brain and make you eat - whether it's cooked or non-vegan food, your body will make you eat it if you don't feed it!

The Body's Golden Rule #1: Feed me enough, please!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Exercising the Devil

(Yes, I know that it's 'exorcising'; it's a play on words. Stay with me, here.)

I was a very active child, as are the vast majority of children who are not naturally sickly. I loved to run around, skip, jump and occasionally crawl through the grass looking for garter snakes to keep as pets. In short, I was a fairly average child.

I began to lose my zest for activity when I was, oh, nine. That was, not entirely coincidentally, the year that I began menstruating and growing breasts and otherwise "filling out", as they call it. Looking back, it was mostly the fact that I no longer looked like my peers that made me loath to play with them; they knew it and I knew it and that isn't a good combination in any case. I had those big flappy arms; I had little nubs of breasts; I had... a belly and thighs. (Horror, the horror.)

In short, I was growing up - I was doing what all girls are destined to should they live long enough. Biology is destiny when you are talking about the biological process of puberty. But somehow, this message got lost; I was ashamed of my body... and frankly, I wanted nothing to do with it. Ever. Period. (Or, you know, preferably not.)

It wasn't so much that I was growing up as it was that I was growing up more quickly than my peers and was ostracised for it - not that I hadn't already been for my "weirdness", but now I could see the difference in my body and my peers' bodies. Now I was The Official Freak.

So I went to the computer and distracted myself, 'turtling' and divesting myself of anxiety and unhappiness through the internet (namely, Neopets).

This trend of avoiding exercise at all costs carried on through middle and some of high school for me. I remember that once, my middle school P.E. teacher forced us all to run/walk a mile on the track... and I was the last one in. It completely, utterly humiliated me, and that only made me more afraid and more ashamed of my body.

Angela Stokes is wrong. It isn't that fat people are ashamed of their bodies naturally, as she implies in her book Revealing the Hidden Changes - it's that other people, both thin and fat, make us feel ashamed of our bodies. To make fat people feel like exercising (and I say this as a stalwart anti-dieting activist, mind), we need to get rid of these prejudices that say that they have to exercise and make exercise feel like fun.

I am quite sure that is why I didn't voluntarily exercise for most of my pubescent and post-pubescent life: it wasn't fun for me. More than that, other people had made it not-fun for me because they used it to set me apart from my peers. Soccer I would always, always willingly participate in: we got to play soccer perhaps once a semester. Dancing, yes, that too, on occasion. But most of the time, things like running, jogging, walking, dancing, swimming, basketball, volleyball - all these things were constructed into my mind as activities that other people would use to humiliate me.

Exercise should not be humiliation.

And yet, when I was actively eating disordered, I would constantly exercise - twitch, twitch, twitch, how many calories can I burn by swinging my legs back and forth? twitch. So, as the diet credo has designed it in our minds, exercise is something necessary, not-fun, not-stress relieving, not-playful, not-happy. Exercise has been constructed as necessary toil.

And it's not. I have come to learn that, now, after having taken up running last year and this year and having made the breakthrough, using my raw food diet, of training my chest not to burn every time I run for more than two minutes. Now, running is fun for me - it just took a little while to get there, a little bit of learning how to again. The process was actually quite quick and the results enduring, given that I stopped running for about four months between last Tuesday and my last run of 2007.

So... I guess what I'm trying to say is, the world's fucked up. Don't let it get to you so much; find a physical activity (not including guns) and do it, and enjoy it. You'll love it, it'll pay off in mental health, peace and better sleep, and you will discover another way to love your body.