It all started with a little back pain.
It was the day before we were about to move from our temporary “corporate apartment” to our new home in Kansas City. With sheer glee, I was mentally scheduling each moment of the next day: sign the closing documents at 10am, unload our cars, buy some cleaning supplies, clean the floors and bathrooms, and eventually, close to midnight, greet my parents in the driveway as they came into town for a visit. I was looking forward to all the things you do when you move into a new place. And I knew that unloading all our furniture and belongings from 2 mobile storage units was part of the plan — woohoo, manual labor.
But I was having back pain. I’m not sure how it started as I hadn’t moved or lifted anything yet, but something was definitely out of whack. It was getting worse at an alarming speed — every hour it hurt more. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning without a ear-damaging shriek of pain. (You see, I had a shifted pelvis just a year earlier… whether from playing in the Dead Sea with its quicksand-like suction or carrying overly-heavy bags in airports, I don’t know… but I shifted my pelvis. And it hurt, bigtime. Tom was the lucky person who got to see me wake up one morning, just crying like a baby because of the pain. Meds didn’t help. What I needed was a chiropractor. Only when I was able to start getting chiropractic adjustments did I finally experience sweet relief from my terrible back pain. Everything went back to normal.)
So suffice it to say, when my back started hurting about a month ago, I knew what I needed. No aspirin, no extra sleep or special stretches or whatever it is people recommend when your back hurts… I needed someone trained in adjusting my entire spine.
My previous chiropractor in N.C. had given me a list of doctors he recommended in the KC area (I guess they had the same philosophy or approach). So I finally looked at the list and called someone. The name of the person I reached wasn’t the name on the list, but I had reached a chiropractor’s office, so I set up an appointment.
Thus began my journey into the unknown. He took some x-rays, had me do some exercises and adjusted me. I was back on my way to feeling great. I was glad that a natural method was so effective.
But as practitioners of natural health, the chiropractors were interested in more than the alignment of my spine. They are interested in total health, which includes just about everything.
In particular, it includes the area of nutrition. A few visits into my treatment plan, they gave me a list. The first page was good, healthy foods to add to my diet. The second page contained foods and ingredients to avoid.
I appreciated their approach. No pressure involved, and no high expectations. He simply said, just choose two things to change and focus on those two. That’s all.
Now for some reason, I had been drinking a lot of diet soda recently (or diet pop, as we say in Kansas). We’d been guzzling down diet root beer, diet Coke, diet Sprite, diet orange soda, you name it. It was our fizzy, fruity drink of choice.
Well I know aspartame (the sweetener in most diet sodas) is not a good ingredient, but it had never bothered me too much. At least I wasn’t consuming lots of calories, right?
For some reason, I decided one thing I was going to do was eliminate diet soda. I was going to can the cans for good (or at least till Christmas, that’s what I told the doc — don’t you hate making a health/diet change that is F-O-R-E-V-E-R ? So scary! lol) The other thing I decided was to eat fish like wild salmon once a week.
So all of a sudden, without really thinking about it, I had given up diet pop. Interestingly enough, I started having to think about it a lot because apparently I had been reaching for it mindlessly for years. It took a few days to remember that water was my new beverage, or apple cider, or anything else but diet pop. (But it’s so convenient and cold, how it’s already in a can in the fridge! Making water requires a glass… and ice… and turning the faucet… oh my!)
(Wow this is a long story isn’t it? lol You’ve come this far, you might as well finish.)
Well giving up diet soda felt good. I didn’t need it. I definitely didn’t need the carbonation and chemicals in my body. I started to think about food and chemicals… about organic products… about health and weight loss in general. I started talking to the chiropractors about it while I was at their office. For some reason, giving up diet pop opened up a new curiosity and a new world to me.
One day, they happened to mention this book called Skinny Bitch. I had actually heard of it. My mom read it, and here was its impact on her – she instantly became a vegetarian after reading it. So I knew it was powerful.
They started telling me a little bit about the book. You see, the book really doesn’t have all that much to do with being a skinny bitch. Ha! (Although it’s written in a really funny, foul way, as if your friend is smacking you across the face saying wake up and realize why what you’re eating is making you unhealthy.)
The book is more about how eating meat, dairy and any chemicals (additives, preservatives, artificial-anything, non-organic-anything) is making us all not only fat, but also contributing to the rise of illnesses like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and a lot of other sad conditions.
The book is pretty horrifying. The idea is kind of to shock you into realizing just how true their theory is, but it’s not hard. When you have factory farms and animal abuse and pesticides and mass production and all the things we have today so inherent in our food chain, it’s quite easy to reveal it for the disgusting (and often cruel, inhumane) process it is.
I’m not totally new to vegetarianism. When I was younger, I gave up red meat entirely for about four years. I’m not sure why I went back except I guess I lost my passion and wanted a hamburger. lol But I have that in my history. I’ve also learned a lot through exploring farmer’s markets, the benefits of eating organic, and watching movies like the recent Food, Inc. as well as Fast Food Nation.
It’s not just me — we all seem to be opening our eyes to the fact that the way we eat is not right and it has to be changed. We are so removed from (and so apathetic about) the most intimate thing in our life — the food we put into our bodies. It’s gotten out of hand, but we all seem to be realizing it. Even the Obamas have planted a garden on the White House lawn that they and many others eat from. So we’re making progress.
Well this whole run-in with giving up aspartame, and reading Skinny Bitch (I bought it and read it in one scary, scary evening lol, it’ll shock ya), and thinking about how inhumane and unsustainable meat eating is… it’s really had an impact on me. I was just reading an Amazon review on the book Omnivore’s Dilemma which I need to read, and this guy summarized my feelings perfectly:
This has all made my head spin and my heart ache over the past month. Faced with the facts, I actually feel as though I am mourning the loss of my old diet.
That’s where I’m at. Following what my mind and my heart say is right for me most likely means becoming at least vegetarian, if not vegan at some point.
However this isn’t something I can do overnight. I need to learn the practical skills to become a healthy vegetarian. So right now I’m looking up recipes, and experimenting with new foods and just mentally getting my head around the whole idea. This is drastic, no doubt. But for me, one thing led to another, and I must make a choice.
I’m sure I’ll write a lot more about healthy living and eating (it’s fundamental to living “the good life”… plus I have a funny story about a healthy Indian restaurant we just found, and my new favorite veggie websites). I’ve even got a lot of thinking to do about whether humanely-raised meat from small, sustainable farms is okay for me or not.
But for now, let me just leave you with this. There are a lot of videos on YouTube about vegetarianism, but this one is fun in a pop culture type way. All your favorite people who you never knew were vegetarians.: