The Gwen Stefani Diet

Blake and Gwen After and AfterSo, the sugar thing. It’s been months since the first update. First three weeks went really well, especially as the occasional piece of fruit, or four, remained permissible. However, probably the worst thing to do when trying to quit sugar is to plan a five-day trip to New York, sans enfants. A five day trip to meet a brother flying in from England, a brother who really enjoys an eleven pm chocolate brownie, the preferred serving involving a demitasse of chocolate mousse on the side. He also likes a beer, as I do myself, so, really, to be honest, the quitting sugar thing went on hiatus cause, you know, how much fun is it to eat a late night chocolate brownie by yourself, especially after half-a-dozen I.P.A.s?

So, a five day hiatus, a hiatus in which a quite unsightly rash developed on the lid of my right eye. It’s also in my ear, especially the right one. The doctor says it’s Seborrheic Dermatitis. He thinks its stress, or lack of sleep, or, hello, a form of candida, brought on by a yeast called Malassezia, which sounds uncannily like a venereal disease a friend of mine found himself attached to in college. And it’s a close relative of our friend saccharon. The doctor suggests more sleep and an anti-Candida diet. What does a vegan eat on an anti-Candida diet? Vegetables, beans in moderation, and lots of water. So I basically need to put on a mule deer costume until the fall. Two months without alcohol, without dairy, without sugar, without fruit. Oh and no fried foods, no chips, no gluten, no alcohol—I think I said that last one. So, a mule deer on a diet. Can’t wait.

But I certainly wasn’t about to deal with that during the end of the school year, so I went back to mochas and burritos and smeared hydrocortisone on the affected spots, which, hilariously kept shifting. As soon as the eyelid responded, the base of the nostrils would flare up, and then the left ear. It’s whack a mole. And I keep pondering the more exercise, more sleep, the absolutely no sugar thing. Summer the perfect time for that. I mean, actually, as a teacher, no excuses. And yesterday, the missus went off for a week and a half to see her mother. Took our eleven year old with her, and the four year old’s in camp all week. So…I had a last supper, involving just about everything a last supper should involve minus the prayer, and today I’m on a nine-day juice and smoothie fast thing. Gotta get radical. Admittedly the last time I went radical, I drank nothing but water for five days, and that sucked worse than scabies. I don’t recommend driving. After about four days, i could barely put my own shoes on. So not doing that again.Blake before and after that looks like before and before

But, today, a new Vitamix arrived. A friend also sent a tempting link to an article about Blake Shelton dropping poundage ridiculous on the Gwen Stefani diet. Which involves everything you’d presume it involves plus, apparently, ingesting copious amounts of CLA Safflower oil which, surprise, surprise, happens to be available at a discounted price via a link at the bottom of the webpage. Let me find the details a la Blake: 30 lbs in less than a month. And he still eats like a runaway horse—Gwen’s words, though not an exact quote. I’m not convinced though I might be if it came with a Gwen Stefani dating app. And the above photos certainly look more like a before and before or an after and after, not by any stretch a before and after, hair shade notwithstanding. Alright, all hilarity aside. I’m back in. On the Vitamix diet until the fam returns from the mother-in-law’s. This time, no fruit, and no five day all-in trip to Manhattan to see the brother in the devil suit.

Back in ten days with an update. 7/17/2017, how do you not love the numerical fluidity there?

Sugar Squared

Peet's CoffeeSo, I just quit sugar, or, at least I’m trying. I’m completely addicted. I come up with reasons to leave the house on some pointless errand just so I can stop at Starbucks for a medium, decaf soy mocha thingy and a pack of those dark chocolate graham crackers they display next to the cash register. Where have you been my wife says, when I came back 45 minutes after going to drop something off at the post office. Oh, the line was horrendous, and then Steve called on his way home and needed to talk about Julia. All nonsense, and that, apparently, the first sign—concealment. I, similarly, constantly, sneak stuff meant for the kids, things like their Halloween candy and the Jaffa Cakes their Nana sends from England, the kinds of things we keep in a cupboard above the fridge, next to the alcohol and the matches.

A part of me wonders if it’s an OCD thing, but then again it’s not my OCD telling me I’m utterly craving a quarter cup of chocolate chips, or I have to eat three fun-size Twix. If it was the OCD, I’d eat all the Halloween candy, leave a few half-gnawed wrappers and tell my wife we need to call animal control. Blaming it on the children seems a little harsh. Maybe that’s the next step. But, anyway, D-day cometh. I had a check-up last week: blood work, prostate etc., and I have high cholesterol, which is unusual for a hard-core vegetarian trying his hardest most days to qualify as a vegan. What do you call that people ask? Failure’s the obvious response, but I hum and haw and say that technically I’m an ovo-vegan who occasionally eats cheese and dairy. “Failure” such a more appropriate response.

But, anyway back to sugar, and the doctor. I’m not diabetic, but I have the high cholesterol thing, like twice what it should be. If I don’t eat red meat, the next thing on the how to lower your cholesterol list is losing weight. And yes I could shed the odd pound in ten, so not massively overweight, but when I imagine putting a ten-pound weight in my back pocket and carrying it around all day, well, that’s a little awkward. I know people who have gotten help for sugar addiction, as in serious help, not just the go talk to a therapist once a week kind of help. I’m not sure where to put myself on a scale (sorry) from 1 to 10. So, there’s the Starbucks thing, and the Halloween, Easter, Christmas candy thing, but I’m not getting up in the middle of the night, locking myself in the garden shed and scoffing down half a chocolate cake. Then again, the minute I feel any kind of stress, sugar is the go-to, either actual sugar or a plate load of carbs. Ideally, both. Carbs then treat. Carbs then treat. And I shovel them in, especially when stress is easy to find with two kids bouncing around the house and pretending that “listening” is a spectator sport.

So, anyway, I’m trying. This is day two. I’m already cheating—convincing myself that fruit isn’t really sugar cause it’s natural, and dried fruit is definitely not sugar because it’s natural and it’s dried. Case closed. So, how do I feel? Pretty much the same as the day before the day before yesterday. Not entirely surprising, really. Especially when I started the day with a decaf mocha thingy (but from Peet’s and with almond milk not soy) as a way of easing into it. More to follow though my four year old just asked when the Easter Bunny’s coming and a little shiver went up the old spine.

Twelfth Night

Christmas TreeTook the Christmas decorations down the other night. It’s always such a sad couple of hours picking up tinsel and Christmas lights and stockings and stuffed reindeer toys etc. Packing them into plastic crates that go back in the garage for 12 months, being careful not to break the tree decorations, nor the spine on the edition of A Night Before Christmas that belonged to my wife’s father. It’s dated 1948, the year Atlee’s Labour government nationalized British Rail, the year of the London Olympics, and CBS’s first broadcast of its evening news show, still the longest running new network show in the U.S.. It’s also the year of the First Arab-Israeli War, and the Genocide convention, but I was trying to start with something light.

So we pack up everything and take down the tree, put a plastic bag over and stick it outside. They’ve been gathering all week, Xmas trees on their sides next to the garbage cans. We always wait until twelfth night, January 5th, a la tradition, though we forego the bonfire. So, another one in the books, and a pretty good one at that. Massive over-indulgence on all fronts. Didn’t exercise once in two weeks, mince pies and cake and beers and scotch and more mince pies and bread pudding and chocolate logs and stuffed dates and on and on. Just stuffing ourselves with food and lots of TV. Of course there’s more to it. The kids had a blast Chrimbo day. The 4 year old got a batman lair thing with moving parts that he played with without interruption for 6 hours on Christmas day, then on Boxing day announced he was done with it and we could give it away. I still have the receipt my wife says, and I can see the wheels turning—trade one in each week for a return of 6 hours of uninterrupted bliss. Certainly worth pondering.

And it was special to watch the little tykes rip through their prezzies on Xmas day and then look up eagerly with this “wait where’s the rest?” look on their faces though they can barely see over the massive pile of stuff in front of them. Oh, the joy of the season, Slade in the background, followed by Wham, and the sad irony of that a few hours later. But you plough on, cause it’s Christmas, and on Christmas you’re allowed a beer at ten in the morning cause it goes admirably well with stollen and eggnog.

But all done now for another year. The eggnog 50% off down the local Safeway, all the new board games we played once abandoned at the back of closets, and I’ve written out a detailed January exercise program which involves no alcohol whatsoever for the first week, and, then, after that, limited amounts at limited intervals. Friday night without one might as well be a Monday, but definitely dry as an emaciated llama on school nights though we still have 4 or 5 episodes of The Crown to get through, which you really need a drink with as you watch Churchill sipping his whisky with his porridge, and I definitely need something to help me get through the sad sight of that dishevelled tree sitting on the front step wrapped in plastic. So maybe I should shift the start date to the middle of the month?