Kelp Noodles, Beer, Sin, and Goals

Yep, it's time for this months' goal support post!

For those who are not regulars here, the post is mainly a chance for people to check in and leave comments about what challenges they might be tackling, or how things are going generally, as well as to offer support to others who are doing the same.  Comments and comment replies are thus highly encouraged.

And, as is traditional, I will also cram a bunch of seemingly unrelated things together and force them into a theme involving goals.   In fact I probably should have used a catchier title, one like:

"Surprising Motivational Secret You Won't Believe!"  Or:
"For Every Thing, Turn Turn Turn, There is a Season," Or:
"Gluttony and Sloth, Your New BFFs!" Or:
"Guess What, Kelp Noodles Don't Suck, But You're Not Getting Any For Free!"

OK, maybe that last one could use a bit of work.

(But since I am gonna slip in a mini Kelp Noodle Review I wanted to warn you there is no giveaway because I was too lazy to track down the appropriate PR person and beg. Sorry).

Labor Day Has Come and Gone... Time to Kick Ass?

Perhaps the arbitrary timing of holidays doesn't affect you much. But many of us find ourselves responding psychologically to holidays like New Years or Memorial Day or Labor Day or Christmas and what they imply about the passage of time. And this can then affect the mindset we adopt for that time of year.

(Oh, and by the way, happy Welsh Rarebit Day! For those of you who are of the mindset that what the world needs is more cheese and ales sauce on toast.)

For some folks, the day after labor day signifies the end of summer, and with it, the end of fun times, sunshine, adventure, relaxation, and carefree spontaneity.


(Wait, did I just do a frowny in a blog post?  Gosh we're sophisticated and scholarly around here. Methinks I have been doing way too much texting).

Anyway, for these folks, fall can be a challenge and it can be hard to stay positive and upbeat.

For others of us, the end of summer is a time to look forward in pleasant anticipation to the trees turning vivid colors, weather cooling into refreshing crispness, crowded beaches and trails emptying into quiet solitude, and the welcome departure of screaming kids and late-night-partying tourists.

And for me, the best thing is that this time of year is that it generally brings a sense of purpose and renewal. I look forward to buckling down and getting shit done, and being a bit more resourceful and self-disciplined.  The smug feeling that comes with productivity and self restraint is actually kinda wonderful.

But This Is Not a Post About Being All Awesome and Kick-Ass and Self-Disciplined.

Instead, it's more about the opposite: embracing gluttony and sloth.

Because I don't think it's a coincidence that for me, this period of Post-Summer kick-assedness generally follows a late summer phase of greedy over-indulgence and lazing and loafing and procrastinating.

And here's what I figured out:  this is not a bad thing!

For me, it's part of a cycle, whether we're talking annually or weekly or even daily.  Some people are consistently virtuous: I admire them but I am not one of them. Neither am I a total fuck-up.

I am "good" then I am "bad" and then I am "good" again.  Overall, I maintain a healthy lifestyle and accomplish what I need to accomplish, but if you were to make a crude keyboard-graph of my actualy process, it would not look like this:                   . It's way more like: v^v^v^v^.

So given that I'm an Up and Down person, what I would really like is to have periods of virtue followed by planned periods of reward, so they don't feel like misbehavior.  Indulgence and laziness with no guilt, because it is earned!

And I'm working on that.  But I wonder if sometimes I tend to set the bar too high in terms of virtuous eating and exercise and other accomplishments, because I rarely ever feel entitled to gluttony and sloth. But they happen anyway, it's part of my cycle! After 53 years, I don't think that's gonna change and I'm not sure I even want it to.

I've wasted too many of my life's special treats by feeling a bit guilty about them because they did not feel sufficiently justified.  So how to fix this?  I'm experimenting with the idea that I need to to honor and optimize the Sinful Part of my cycle just as much as the Redemption phase.

Embracing Pre-Emptive Sin!

This experiment began during our Toronto adventure.  After a period of really virtuous eating and exercising, I found myself wanting to skip the gym in favor of walking. And some of that walking was straight to establishments where various treats were served.

I had already put on a couple of pounds that I wanted to say good bye to, so this wasn't planned at all.   Also I had been thinking day-times would be hot and humid, and so I was going to get a whole bunch of studying and projects tackled in air conditioned comfort and restrict my roaming to early mornings and evenings. Instead, most days the weather was lovely!  So I walked all over town and shopped and had numerous cups of tea and coffee and didn't get much of anything productive done. (Unless you define "productive" as putting up blurry travel photos on Facebook).

But for once I consciously decided: stop feeling guilty and just go for it!  Wander the vavious 'hoods and buy new jeans and t-shirts and have all the treats you want for the next week or so.  You'll buckle down when you get back home and get settled.

And guess what?

It worked!

I had a great time in Toronto, and since I got back I've been sticking to a much healthier eating and exercising routine and am finally tackling some long put-off projects.

And today I'm planning some total goof off time and a big-ass hot fudge sundae after dinner, to celebrate and (I hope), kick off another period of sensible and productive behavior.

Your Mileage May Vary

So wait, isn't this crazy talk?

Yes, it sure is!

For many people, alternating vice and virtue instead of sustaining moderation would be a disastrous, dangerous, dumbass approach.  Not just people with eating disorders, but anyone who does not have a cycle in which self-discipline reliably follows excess.

So this isn't me offering advice at all.  It's just personal experimentation and reflection about the current weirdness that is my approach to making healthy choices easier.

Now About Those Freakin' Kelp Noodles

During the less sinful parts of my eating cycle, I am still a big fan of indulgence and hedonism.  I still eat lots of stuff that resembles high calorie high glycemic junky meals, but I make a lot of sneaky substitutions. I consume many bazillion times the recommended daily allowance of stevia, for example, and if it turns out that's a big mistake and I end up with a third eyeball or something, I'm willing to risk it because I am a total child when it comes to sweet things.

So pasta is one of those things that I make substitutions for, and I heard about these kelp noodle things from Mizfit. However, it wasn't until we found ourselves here...

Toronto's Whole Foods is Way Festive

...that I was able to find any.

Remember the ugly mystery meal?

You can't even see the kelp noodles stirred in, unfortunately, but they are there and they tasted totally fine!

(In an earlier blog post I promised I'd reveal the mystery meal ingredients, because a couple of people actually expressed curiosity although I suspect they were all just being polite and now regret it but here goes anyway: a jar of 365 bell-pepper spaghetti sauce, onions, garlic, olive oil, eggplant, mushrooms, pecorino cheese, pine nuts and... eggwhites.  Which gives it that ugly brown color and sounds totally disgusting, right? Eggwhites were all I had on hand for protein and I was too lazy to go to the store. But actually they made the sauce seem kinda rich and cheesy!)

So anyway, kelp noodles have a neutral taste, and require no cooking (though I like 'em heated up) and the texture isn't bad once they've absorbed enough sauce to soften up a bit. They're extremely low calorie and low carb.  However, they are a processed food and kelp noodles don't have all the nutritional benefits of eating whole kelp.  It's mainly just a cheaty way to pig out on pasta dishes without major caloric consequences.

My previous low-cal, low-glycemic pasta replacement was shirataki noodles. They stink to high heaven and require a lot of rinsing to be remotely edible.  I like the kelp noodles way better.

The major downside to the kelp noodles: they are hard to find and kinda pricey. A package of 3 servings was more than seven bucks, but some of that could be the whole Being in Another Country thing.

And shockingly enough, I received no free pasta for this review or anything! What a concept, talking about a product I liked just for the hell of it.

So what are you guys up to  this month? How's it going?  Do you have vice/virtue cycles or are you naturally well-balanced and moderate? Or anyone got thoughts on Fall or Kelp Noodles?

Gluttony beer photo: Richard Giles

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