After 26 years of life, I've discovered something rather unsettling: We people, in our beautiful perfection, have no idea how to eat. This is a fairly new epiphany and one that's been steadily gaining momentum since...well, pretty much my entire adult life. Seriously, take a look around. There are some insanely unhealthy people floating around this place! Walk down the street and you're bound to be visually confronted with double chins, yellow teeth, sallow skin, rotten breath, cellulite, and perhaps even some ridiculously bad FUPAS (that's Fat Upper Pussy Area Skin...indeed one of the nastiest things to ever assault your eyes---->). And if you really want to get grossed out, go to the grocery store. It's a veritable hive of disgusting gluttony and gets progressively worse as you move further and further down in grocery store quality, or as you get closer and closer to Costco. Next time you're buying food, take a look-see into the garbage that people put in their squeaky carts...it's shocking. Like the bumper sticker says: If you're not mad, you should be. But more on that later.
Before I start ranting, I think it makes sense to tell you all how the hell I got into this frustrating position...the story of my "enlightenment" if we must call it that. The story of the awakening of my own awareness. The moment where I looked down into my bowl of food and thought, "Wait. I'm going to eat that?"
As a foreword note, you should know that I wasn't raised by tofu-eating, seaweed-buying, canvas bag-carrying hippies. Growing up in tiny Livingston, MT, my breakfast everyday consisted of a Pillsbury Toaster Strudel with TWO packets of that frosting crap schmeared over the top (I'd run out of frosting before the box was empty, so I just threw the rest away), or a big bowl of Cream of Wheat covered in white sugar and milk. My twin sister and I got to go to McDonald's every Monday, after which we'd go home and serve eachother bowls of vanilla ice cream with Pepsi poured over the top. In high school, I'd go to Dairy Queen (where I worked) and get free Mint Oreo Blizzards at least 3 times a week! So, I can assure you, my perspective is realistic. No, there were no whole-wheat graham crackers or grain-sweetened chocolate chips in my life, ok? Don't go judgin' that scary VEGAN word at the top of the screen before you know about the whole vegan enchilada.
I grew up and moved to Missoula. After I graduated college with a degree in music, I married the coolest guy in the world and we packed ourselves off to Eugene, OR, where I'd gotten a job teaching. That year in public education was no fun at all, and while I'm on the subject I'd just like to give a shout-out to my fellow teachers in the field who have bigger stones than I. All joking aside, my job sucked and our life in Eugene steadily decayed until we began to count the days till the school year was over ("We'll get out of this hellhole in 7 short months...Let's just suck it up.") As you probably guessed, or as you may have unfortunately experienced yourself, my body started showing outward signs of all the stress and I'd packed on 15 pounds before I even realized what was happening! Shit. I was pissed at myself and angry at my situation, but I knew something had to be done.
It was at this point that I dabbled in dieting. I even looked into, horror of horrors, that awful Nutrisystem Diet where you get a boatload of chemicalized microwave meals to last you an entire month. Um, gross. Finally, exasperated and annoyed, I called a friend for advice. She proceeded to tell me that she'd given up meat 2 weeks ago and that she'd never felt better. "Right," I thought, "My chicken sandwich is healthy, and I'm sure you'll have a protein deficiency...you rotten hippie." But, since I was so devoid of happiness and so soft around the mid-section (I'd actually started to develop those scary saddle bags in the back...you know, the ones that'll grow into full-on beer shelves if you let them?), I decided a foray into vegetarianism would certainly be cheaper and less pathetic than the Nutrisystem garbage diet. And so, it began.
No meat. That was the only change I made! I still ate cheese and drank milk and put all kinds of other shit down my throat, but left all meat alone. And after 3 days, I was a new woman. Oh don't get me wrong, I was still a chubby woman...but I felt better. My body proceeded to expel all kinds of crap it didn't need (literally) and I felt a little bit less like a sausage crammed into my once-fitting jeans. It was a change that I only would've noticed if I were paying attention but fortunately, I was.
Like so many current vegans, vegetarianism was the first step for me, and I stuck with it. I think it was because I felt so much better that it was so insanely easy. But, I did fall off the wagon a few times. Just out of sick masochistic curiosity, I even decided to order a bacon cheeseburger one night at a bar after about 3 months of zero-meat lifestyle. And well, that was probably the worst idea ever. I actually had to run away from the table (which was fortunately outside), and toss my cookies into the forgiving river. There went 11 hard-earned dollars, straight out of my sad tummy and into the world from whence it came. Good one, Shelley. Way to do your body good. That was the last time I ordered meat at a restaurant.
Flash forward. We left Eugene, gave it the finger in our rearview mirror and trotted back to Montana fatter, sadder, and much worse for the wear as compared to when we left. My life as an herbivore still continued, only this time in a much nicer environment. We'd left our little hell and come fleeing home to Missoula, which allowed my battered psyche to start paying even more attention to my eating habits and their effects. I started to realize that milk caused a tennis-ball-sized ball of phlegm to manifest in the back of my throat, and that ice cream was the perfect recipe for bloated stinky fartiness (a sure-fire way to kabosh your sex life). The cheese experience was akin to shoving a mountain of dishtowels down the kitchen sink and jamming them in with your elbow good and tight...nothing was moving anywhere. I grew cute little food baby right where my intestine sat, plugged and suffering all because of that cheese pizza I'd had 4 nights ago. Awesome. What the hell was I doing to myself? Had this bodily response always happened? I realized that yes, it had. I was simply not paying attention.
And so, gradually, I gave up all this shitty food. I started running and read a lot about veganism (something that was SO imperative to my growth as a conscious eater...there'll be LOTS more on that later), and eventually lost almost 40 pounds. No more saddlebags, no more food baby, no more excuses...and that was that. Easy? Sometimes, but many times not. Worth it? Abso-fuckin'-lutely.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I traveled my path.
Now, I've touched on lots of important issues which will get hashed out in due time here, in Uprising Land. All kinds of positive solutions to your everyday "I don't feel good" problems are going to come sneaking out of the blog woodwork, and easily too! But since I know you're a smarty pants and not simply duped into believing anything (good or bad), I'll leave the ball in your court. You are responsible for your own body and you know what works best for you...but you also know when you're messing up (yes, you do). So, STOP THAT! And read on.