Thursday, January 06, 2011

I Don't Feel Very Clean.

Way back during the week of Thanksgiving, I signed up for my Internet-friend and fellow Minneapolis-area blogger Mary's "Don't Gain, Maintain" challenge on her health/fitness blog Fit This, Girl. The goal was to maintain your current weight through the holidays rather than gaining the typical 5 to 7 lbs. most of us gain from November to January. Today was the last day to weigh back in after the holidays. Sadly, I had to log in a weight 2 lbs. higher than the one with which I registered. However, I blame my failure to maintain rather than gain on the fact that I have been sick (and unable to exercise) fully half of the time since early November. I wasn't expecting to be spending most of my time sitting on the sofa over the holidays rather than running and lifting weights.

I'm sure it had nothing to do with all those Christmas cookies I ate.

The fact is, in looking at my fitness log last night, I discovered that I was sick the first two weeks of November, then the first two weeks of December, and now I'm sick again at the beginning of January. I got sick practically to the day each time. (Nov. 3, Dec. 3, Jan. 4.) Is that weird or what?

Totally coincidentally, I happen to be currently reading the book "Clean" by cardiologist Dr. Alejandro Junger. (I am in no way getting compensated nor have I been asked to review this book, by the way.) Normally I'm not at all particularly interested in things like cleansing, detoxifying, extreme nutrition (see Christmas cookies, above) (also my abiding addiction to cheese curls and ice cream), holistic medicine, and the like. It's not that I don't believe in those things necessarily, nor that I think they don't have merit; more that I've never felt I had any reason to explore such things.

So why am I reading this book, you ask? Well, I'm not sure; I read an interview with actress Mariska Hargitay awhile back in which she mentioned that this book had changed her life, and something about her statement intrigued me. I picked up the book and started reading it in very tiny increments (because who has time to read for pleasure when you're writing a book proposal and working and raising children and doing Christmas?). But lately I've had a little more time to read, because this round of illness has actually put me straight to bed for two full days, so I'm actually making headway into the book.

And I'm starting to wonder if it was just coincidence that drove me toward this book a few months ago. Because "Clean" talks a lot about the modern and mysterious and frustrating ailments that seem to strike so many Westerners living a modern life and eating a modern diet and breathing modern air and existing within a sphere of modern chemicals, all of which are absorbed into our bodies in some way. Ailments like seasonal allergies that crop up in adulthood; chronic sinus infections, viruses and colds; bloating and weight gain; general malaise and lack of energy; pale, lifeless skin. Plus a lot of other more serious conditions like IBS and various autoimmune disorders. And Dr. Junger includes (of course) plenty of case studies of patients who came to him with longstanding syndromes or illnesses that could not be cured via typical medical interventions, and how he directed them through a program of reducing their ingestion of toxins and unhealthy chemical preservatives and the like, and how they were transformed into healthy, vibrant, youthful-appearing, trim, energetic people who looked ten years younger and in some cases almost unrecognizable (in a better way, I mean).

Dr. Junger's argument is very, very compelling. He does not sound like some sort of ill-informed weirdo. He explains the science of modern chemicals and the crappy American diet most of us eat (including cheese curls and ice cream, by the way) in extremely sensible-sounding terms. With my chronic viruses this winter and my arthritis and my on-and-off hair loss and the seasonal outdoor allergies I never used to have but which now dog me every spring, summer, and fall, well--I'm getting totally sucked in.

But I have a feeling we are moving inexorably to some sort of three-week-long juice fast or some such. Which is scaring me just a little.

Still. The results he describes are extremely persuasive. And apparently this is the program Gwyneth Paltrow completed awhile back, and we all know what Gwyneth Paltrow looks like, right, people? Yes, yes we do. And we happened to watch her totally rock her guest spot on "Glee" last fall, and we may have fallen in love with her just a little bit despite her real-life reputation as a smug little paragon of perfection. Or, wait...was that just me?

So, have any of you out there read the book "Clean"? Any of you followed its recommendations? I want to know what life is like without cheese curls.

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