April's CR Diary

A diary of a 30 year old woman following CRON, or Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, for health and life extension.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

And With the Power of Conviction, There Is No Sacrifice

These little moments of despair are always so inspiring.

I felt terrible yesterday... anxious, tired, icky. As I was driving from hither to thither, despairing, it occurred to me, "I used to feel this way all the time!"

For the rest of the day as I interacted with people I thought about the wreakage of the Standard American Diet on on everyone's health, and how so few people know that it doesn't have to be that way. CR may be weak crude medicine, but it's a hell of a lot better than ending up in the ICU (or the CCU.) And the short term effects are so powerful. After feeling the way I did yesterday, I never want to go back.

One good thing about having a job/calling that makes you look at the world a different way from most of the people you come into contact with is that you get some practice doing that, so when you're called upon to do it again, you know what music to listen to. As I was listening to one of my favorite songs, Pat Benetar's "Invincible," I thought about all the struggles I've been through in trying to help working people take control of their work lives, and helping nurses get the power they need to stand up for their patients. I've given up a lot of things that are considered "normal" -- note absence of husband, children, big house, and free time -- but because I believe in what I do, it doesn't seem like a sarcifice.

I was thinking that CR must be a lot like that, for those who are "extreme" "hardcore" "serious." When you are convinced by all the evidence available to you that something is the right thing to do, you just do it.

And all of a sudden, some things that have been foggy in my mind started to clear up.

It must be frustrating for people who know very much to watch me struggle with my ON and get so much stuff wrong. I am reminded of what a good friend once said about my total lack of a sense of direction:

"Navigation, for April, is like a sea of darkness punctuated by small tunnels of light."

Meaning, I can remember the paths I've taken before, and follow them successfully to places where need to go, but I have no sense of the overall picture.

Nutrition has been like that for me. I know some paths, most of them defined by the Ornish world that I lived in prior to March 26, 2004, but those paths aren't getting me where I need to be. So I find other paths... like getting enough protein, or adding fat, or looking for a way to get more calcium. Sometimes I end up in the right place (like eggwhites), sometimes in the wrong place (like tofu). But the overall picture stays fuzzy at best.

I was doing some mental calculations and coming back again and again to why people who know a lot say it's hard to do what I'm trying to do in so few calories. It really is! You have no room for junk! Of course, you definition of junk may vary... two years ago, I would have been shocked that I would actually want to spend calories on fat.

The problem with my salad dressings is that they have sugar and other stuff in addition to the olive or canola oil. But they have taught me that I like red pepper and tomato flavors with oil, as well as lemon and garlic. So I can make my own dressings that use real red pepper and tomato and garlic and lemon, with evoo (which is Kenton's abbreviation for "extra virgin olive oil," not a character in Star Trek) and get the fat without the other stuff. I just don't have room for the other stuff!

It's not my fault that I'm a tiny person... if I were six feet tall, I could eat more, no doubt. But as of yet CRON has not made me one inch taller.

The other reason why I'm rather attached to a low calorie level is that the zen effects seem to fade at much higher levels. They don't fade after one big meal if I go immediately back on the straight and narrow, but they seem to disappear after much more than that, especially if it's sustained over a period of days.

My non-fat, unsweetened, plain yogurt, seasoned with lemon and garlic and cucumbers and a little salt, is working for calcium, and I really like it. I like it so much that I caught myself licking the bowl at lunch yesterday. I stopped before anyone but VLC noticed, and she said she thought it was perfectly acceptable to lick the bowl. She is a very good person. Between that and a glass of skim milk, I'm at 70% of the RDA for calcium, and I get a little more in the Grape Nuts.

Grape Nuts are an inelegant solution to a lot of nutritional problems, but they're working for now and they do wonders for my hunger management. They are so crunchy and delicious! I measured out two baggies for VLC and me to take on a trip to our Board of Directors meeting today. The food will be confusing there, and I may just eat salad with no dressing. I've made up my yogurt for later, adding red peppers this time, and I am going to eat the eggwhites before leaving this morning.

Yesterday was:

eggwhite scramble 140
glass of skim milk 80
125 of grape nuts -- was at the end of the box
yogurt cucumber thing 140 (if you say that there are 20 calories in a cucumber, which Walford does)
arugula salad with fifteen cashews and 1 tablespoon of olive oil dressing (20 on the greens, 120 on the dressing, about 150 - 200 on the nuts, I think. Does that sound right?)
glass of red wine 100 it was a big glass

Not too bad. Nuts are interesting. I hated nuts as a child, but have grown to like them as I get older. Needed more veggies, but I just didn't feel like eating any more food, even if it had been an almost zero calorie veggie dish.

I'm slowly getting better. And I love the process... even the frustrating parts are fun! Because the entire thing is an affirmation of one of my most strongly held beliefs: We have the power to dramatically improve our own lives, if we're willing to step outside of what is "normal." The status quo lands most people in the ICU way too early, and makes them miserable for most of the 50 - 75 year journey there. So what if people think we're too thin? I learned to deal with people thinking it was odd that I worked all the time and wasn't rushing to get married and have a family like most women do at my age. I deal with people making stupid jokes about unions and asking me if I know where Jimmy Hoffa is. If I can handle that level of annoyance, I can certainly handle people thinking I'm too thin, or that it's weird when I don't eat the same thing as everyone else. Today will be a good test: catered lunch served at the meeting. Salad only for me. I know I have my good food at home.

"You will have social struggles," says MR in my favorite post of all time, "RANT: Moderate CR."

Yes, yes, I will.

But if I could handle social struggles for the calling that is my life's work, I can handle it for the one thing that has a chance of giving me enough years to actually accomplish something in my lifetime!


  • At 5:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay, I won't say that your blog is definitely not boring, though a little positive reinforcement might come in handy on days when you're feeling pressured about finding time to write it. I do want to encourage you to keep it up, though, as it is both entertaining and instructive on how to apply the CRON principles (this easily justifies reading it without needing to think about deep personal psychological reasons).

    Kieffer would be proud of you for licking the bowl. He would think that you're finally getting it. But I must warn you not to let it get out of hand. People might think you've gone over the edge if you start licking their bowls.

    Glad that you like your new location so much and can spend more time blogging instead of sitting in traffic -- A Fan.

  • At 6:02 PM, Blogger Mary Robinson said…

    I really like reading your blog because it reminds me of what it was like starting CRON - the struggle and the wonder of it. It will get so much easier for you - trust me. But you lose the wonder a little.

    I also really understand your issues with the low calorie level - since I shoot for 1100, almost as low. People that are eating 1800 calories do not have nearly the challenge. But like you, 1800 calories is not CRON for me. 1100 calories is where my Zen starts. I like that word better than the whole "set point" thing in Walford. When you do CRON, you know what the Zen thing means. It's the level where you feel really good, really "light", really alert.

    I will have to look at Grape-nuts. I've been avoiding all normal cereals - treating them like "people chow" filler. They are usually fortified - which to me is cheating. But Grape-nuts don't look to be fortified off hand in the database and still have okay values. They only score .81 at 1100 calories. But I eat lots of things that score that low. (the score means that if I ate 1100 calories of Grape-nuts, then I would have gotten 81% of nutrients on average)


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