Sunday, November 25, 2012

No Regrets Thanksgiving

While washing dishes after the second major family Thanksgiving dinner, I discovered that my right serratus anterior was on fire. Apparently endurance dishwashing is THE activity for getting a ripped serratus!

Moving on...

Moving backwards, actually...

In 2002 I started earnestly trying to be a vegetarian. I made some rookie mistakes, but for the most part, did well. Thanksgiving that year was the first time I made a public stand to not eat meat during the holiday and I counted this event as my anniversary date. Ten years later, that anniversary is meaningless in terms of marking a consistent meatless dietary routine, but it is still important for some other reasons. Yes, I ate turkey this year and plenty of it. Turkey is dinner again tonight. I was personally responsible for preparing, roasting, and smoking, the two big turkeys we shared with two branches of our family tree this year. However, ten years of paying attention to my health in relation to the foods I eat and the assertive decisions I make is a huge milestone, for me.

I have no regrets, even though I participated in two Thanksgiving dinners. I didn't over eat, because I chose quality over quantity. I have a much better understanding today how my body handles certain food choices than I did ten years ago. I'm constantly learning and applying that knowledge to my daily practice. In fact, this very week I'm reading how my diet affects brain health in Dr. Amen MD's Use Your Brain to Change Your Age.

Recovery is a significant part of my daily life now, which is a recent change for the better. Pro-active recovery by storing up resources of health...seeing my body's systems as a continuum as opposed to a light switch. There is so much  more than "Healthy" or "Sick" and I can adjust my daily habits to grow health. I'm taking Dr. Amen's advice to "Pick Your Top 24 Healthy Foods and Put Them in Your Diet Every Week" seriously to stay healthy every day. This strategy to fill your diet with so much good, constructive food that there's less room for poor choices works so well for me, why would I beat myself up over the couple days of feasting on turkey? I'm too non-conforming and punky to handle a system of harsh restrictions.

Speaking of conforming to social norms, being a vegetarian or vegan causes stress and alienation, especially in large family meals. Even my wife has sworn to never even try going without meat, so when I follow stricter standards, I'm on my own. I believe the stress relief found in not having to explain myself and my dietary habits in those few meals around holidays is invaluable. I don't have any more time or brain cells to spend banging my head against that wall of ignorance. I've discovered that most of my family doesn't want to spend the time thinking about changing their habits, no matter how dramatic their health could increase, so I'm not going to keep trying. It's like politics...just don't bring it up.

Psychologically, I find improved health by focusing on abundance of joy, instead of restricting what I think about. For example, this Thanksgiving, I didn't mention what I was eating and why I was eating it to anybody. I did think about, talk about, and find big time joy in my almost two year old niece. I filled my mental plate with the antics of an exploratory toddler and her interactions with my dog. 

Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude and abundance in a harsh world full of shortcomings. I am indeed thankful for my health and the ability to share what I've learned with anyone who will listen.

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