Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Crack Shake

When I want to prove exactly how delicious, satisfying, energizing and crave-worthy my healthy shakes can be, this is what I whip up to turn even the harshest critic (B) into a believer. I feel like Superwoman when I start my morning with the perfectly balanced combination of protein, healthy fats, fiber and greens. Nourishing your body and mind sets the tone for the day in a way simply nothing else can.

B had one sip of this and said "Jesus. There's spinach in that? And that goofy hippy protein powder too?" I chose not to mention the other "goofy hippy stuff" at that moment, but even now that he knows what's in there, he still asks for it at least once a week. Now that is a good shake.

Liz's Triple C Shake

1 Cup unsweetened almond milk (I like 365 Brand or Engine 2 is the best)
1 Cup frozen dark sweet cherries
1-2 Tablespoons plain unsweetened almond butter (Also like 365 Brand) 
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract (I prefer alcohol free)
1-2 Tablespoons raw cacao (Navitas Naturals is a great brand if you can't find cacao in your health food store bulk bins. Note: If you add Vega Chocolate protein powder per below, start with 1 tablespoon raw cacao)
1 Scoop Vega chocolate protein powder (or Plant Fusion unflavored protein powder is my 2nd go-to)
1-2 Cups fresh spinach
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
Optional: 1 Teaspoon Spirulina. Skip this the first time you make it though, SP can "dirty" up the gorgeous flavor of this shake
Throw everything in a blender in the order listed above (or in any order if you have a Vitamix, lucky dog) and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crack Whore Patty

Crack Whore Patty was my alter ego in college. For the sake of not repeating the word “whore” over and over again, let’s call her “CWP.” CWP was born a little seedling in high school, when I discovered alcohol and my love of partying. The unencumbered joy, the laughter and dancing, the excitement was all addictive – as it is for most teenagers. But I didn’t love drinking for the same reason most teenagers love it. I’m pretty darn sure I loved it for the same reason most 70-year-old salty sailors with innumerable illegitimate children love it – because it was a ticket to freedom from self-imposed pressures that otherwise felt inescapable. After a few drinks, I felt as close to weightless and worry-free as it was going to get for me. I didn’t worry about school or making my dad proud or letting people down. I didn’t worry about boys liking me or question if I was funny enough or pretty enough. I just let myself be. It was like a long awaited exhale every time.

The escape offered by cheap rum drinks and warm beer proved too alluring by freshman year of college, when the CWP seedling had blossomed into one of those carnivorous Venus-fly trap plants. I started to push the limits for what was “normal” drinking and partying and was hungry for that freedom all the time. I’m sure there are old classmates that would tell you they questioned if I was an alcoholic in training. I’ll be the first to admit I had already left one of the training wheels back in the summer between high school and college. My best friend spent most of college gluing the second training wheel back on, gently asking in the morning if I remembered her dragging me home from the curb I insisted upon “resting” on for a few minutes outside the bar. I never remembered. I only drank when everyone else was drinking and partying though– never mind that was 3-4 nights a week and sometimes on Sunday Fun-days – so I never had any motivation to question if there was something different about my drinking. And of course who wants to question that when you’re in college. No one.
I couldn’t get bombed fast enough in those days – it was like running 100 mph at a brick wall. Drunk hit me hard and fast, but the wall was a break from that side of myself that grew increasingly exhausting –the side that worried about the future and supporting myself and making everyone around me happy.  I tore into cocktails (of any kind) or beer (of the cheapest kind) and within no time I shattered the microscope I always put myself under. That’s when CWP would emerge. She had the time of her life and made sure everyone else was having the time of their lives too. She was wild and you never knew what she’d do next, but you could bet it would be funny and often a spectacle. She had a blast and she never worried about tomorrow. Never.
Sometimes CWP would black out her teeth and rat her hair and sing songs in her underwear on a stool in the living room, cigarette dangling from her hand, one eye crossed (I can still do that), southern whiskey drawl spot-on. Other times she would get mouthy defending the honor of a friend against a Boston bridge-and-tunnel chick who could have nailed her to the wall. Thank god that scrappy alter-ego was a fast “flight” responder to fear. She would have hysterical conversations with serial killer cab drivers in French, walk home barefoot through the Back Bay alone, spend money she didn’t have bouncing from bars to parties to bars again with people she barely knew. No matter what the night entailed, she was certainly the “life of the party,” at least until she had to be carried home.  
CWP insulated herself with the fiercest of friends and endless wild nights but there was an obvious price. She didn’t date anyone seriously all through college because she was “having too much fun,” (when she wasn’t too steeped in PAD and slept  through class) but she was really just afraid of getting hurt or rejected. She knew she couldn’t expect the level of respect and kind of love she deserved as long as she partied the way she did – she was at least smart enough to know that. But she felt powerful and free and on top of the world when she drank. She hated feeling vulnerable so she chose partying over companionship. Ironically, that felt safer to her.  
CWP dissolved by morning and I woke up depressed and lonely. I was sad a lot of the time but even in daylight I knew I was supposed to be the tough one, the fun one. I never wanted to be a downer so I hid how affected I was by the drinking as much as I could. (My roommates might find that laughable when they recall all the times they found me sleeping by the door with a blanket, pillow and bottle of orange soda. Not much hiding there.)  
CWP made it difficult to decipher if I drank until I lost control because I didn’t feel good about myself or if I didn’t feel good about myself because I drank until I lost control. It was a “chicken or the egg” thing. Either way you look at it – I simply didn’t feel good about myself most days back then. I was lost. I was stuck.  Drinking had introduced me to the cycle of sin now and atone later. I thought if I balanced out the “party” with enough “punish” then I wouldn’t do too much damage- to my grades or my body or my reputation. What I didn’t understand was that the damage was already done – if only through the inception of that loop of self-destruction. 
It took me a long time to understand that I wasn’t ever going to move forward towards success, happiness, or a fulfilling relationship if I didn’t leave CWP and her unhealthy cycle of sinning and atonement behind. I might have gone a bit too far in the control-freak direction, but it’s better than the self-loathing that was de rigeuer in those days. I’m not ashamed of what I went through, it’s an important part of who I am, but the untapped potential and damage I did in those years is nothing to be proud of either. I never loved that lifestyle and it sure didn’t love me back. Self-control, discipline, and a strong will to be kind to myself and my body have given me a life that I love and lots of things (and people) that love me back the way I deserve to be loved. There just isn’t room for CWP in my life anymore. She might be entertaining and the life of the party, but she’s the high-priced hooker of alter-egos – she charges a price you’re not willing to pay.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Option C

I put a lot of pressure on myself. Some would say my level of discipline and self-control borders on intense.  I tend to push push push myself until hitting a release valve is necessary. Decompression usually comes in one of 3 forms. If I'm being self-aware enough to recognize the need, I'll give myself a “me” day which ideally includes Pilates, a green juice, a walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, an enormous fresh salad , a chick flick and bed by 11 pm. One day like that and the world is new again. If I fail to be so preemptive, my brain does me the service of automatically downshifting into “safe mode” whether I like it or not. I walk around like a zombie on auto-pilot for a week or two operating at ½ the speed I normally do, incapable of even the most rudimentary forms of multi-tasking. I forget my keys; I can’t remember if I unplugged the curling iron or closed the apartment door behind me; I don’t even consider carefully planning meals, workouts and social engagements around a highly productive work week. If my workload and social schedule don’t allow the luxuries of option A or B, and I’ve gone too long in “high functioning mode” option C just happens. And by “happens” I mean “creeps up behind me, shoves me in a burlap sack and takes me for a ride.” 

Option C sneaks up at least once a year and starts with a cocktail and the idea that maybe I can be like most 30-something adults who find repose in a happy hour drink or two. Somewhere in the middle of a bottle of champagne with the girls or my sisters, option C becomes the best idea ever. Uproarious laughter and gossip ensue, dancing in the kitchen while butchering the words to our favorite songs is often involved and next thing I know I’m sucking down a nasty cigarette (sober, I balk at anyone smoking in public poisoning me with their black tar). Unfortunately, those nights are usually punctuated with mindless eating (always things I’m allergic to) and regressive, slightly trashy behavior. I always end them standing in the kitchen in my underwear hacking at a pint of ice cream with a spoon thinking “I dessssserb dissss. So. Gud. 95% of time. Must shit relessse valb 5% time. Nom nom nom.”

Option C is favored by most of my friends, the stuff of lore for my colleagues and likely a breath of fresh air for B – although he would never admit to that. People get a kick out of seeing the perennially controlled girl lose control a little. Most everyone I’ve gotten close to after college wonders (often aloud) why I don’t do it more often. “Who cares if you go wild 5% of the time, especially when you’re so disciplined 95% of the time?” they ask. “It’s good to decompress! Why don’t you do it more often?”

It’s not just the painful stomach cramps from eating like a fat kid or 3 days spent clawing my way out of the PAD (post-alcohol-depression) abyss. It isn’t the wasted day of crying over that damn Sarah McLaughlin SPCA commercial with a bag of peanut M&M’s in my hand. It isn’t even the frustrating 3 pounds that appear in an instant and take 2 weeks to counteract. (It used to be only 4-5 days damn it.)  It’s how they come together to form a reminder of a weaker, sadder, lonelier side of myself that I’ve spent the last 10 years fighting to leave behind. My inner strength, my confidence, my self-awareness, my happiness are all interdependent with the level of discipline I now employ. I’ve fought and overcome a lot of family, emotional and physical battles in my life already, and self-control is the glue that keeps me together, it’s what keeps me moving forward. These things are the keys that have unlocked doors to a healthier, more balanced version of me - one that is happier than I ever thought I could be. Without them I would still be Crack Whore Patty, spinning around in the same drunk circles of dysfunction.

I suppose to truly understand why, one must get to know Crack Whore Patty. I will introduce her shortly.