I’m on a plan.
I’m on the wagon.
But I’m not on a diet. I’m just eating clean for a while.
I need to. The excess of the last few months has created a larger bowl full of jelly belly than usual.
I have a health assessment coming up related to insurance at work.
And I’m regaining some of the weight that Fat Marshall had lost and kept off.
I love food. I enjoy it a lot — meaning both amounts and regularity.
Eating is part of how I make a living. (I know, I can’t believe it either.)
So for the last number of years I’ve tried to sweat up a shirt more days than don’t.
It’s rarely pretty. Whether it’s running, playing basketball or chasing a Frisbee in a game of Ultimate, it’s not usually graceful. My yoga looks like a parade of contorted circus animals vaguely resembling a pose named after them.
I have to do it. And I enjoy those forms of exercise. But I’d rather run (amble or trudge, really) six miles than do a push-up.
So sometimes I put myself in a situation where someone tells me to do one.
Usually that’s Lori Harris, owner of Bootcamp Team Training, 123 E. Lexington Ave., Elkhart.
She hollers at me and encourages me, as she does with her other clients. I grunt and throw things at her. You know, your usual business relationship. Same goes for Misty Love, whose yoga classes I’m sometimes in.
Harris doesn’t have a weight room at her gym. She uses a lot of isometric exercises. That means we use my own body against me. Those burritos that ended up around my waist get held in a plank position or get in the way of bicycle crunches.
Harris and I argue about food a lot.
And usually I tell her that the reason I’m there is so that I can eat, so that I can write restaurant reviews, not so that I can avoid eating certain things.
But more than 20 of us, including some others at The Elkhart Truth, signed on for a 40-day challenge that includes some strict dietary requirements.
Harris wants us to eat a bunch of greens. I’m cool with that. I’ve eaten a lot of salads in the last week. With even more regularity than when I was on Salad Quest. But as I chewed, I kept hearing young Harrison Harte say, “It’s just leaves.” He told me that during Salad Quest.
She also wants us to eat only lean animal protein, nuts and certain vegetables three days a week. Every fourth day you can add fruit.
The notion that eating carrots, brown rice or fruit is cheating is strange to me.
Harris isn’t a fan of legumes or pork. She urges folks not to eat dairy or wheat and to avoid alcohol. She can be fierce about it.
I don’t agree with her on all her food stuff. Neither of us are dietitians. But we disagree about whether food is for fuel or for pleasure.
The trick is that I know how to eat clean, I just don’t want to.
But for the last week, I’ve been working hard at it.
When it comes to eating well, I agree with Michael Pollan, whose mantra is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
I made a piece of salmon Thursday night, Jan. 16, that was better than some I’ve had in restaurants. The night before, I had a stellar piece of salmon with tomatoes and grilled vegetables at Antonio’s, but didn’t have the wine my table mates were enjoying.
I don’t know how long I can hold out. I’m an omnivore, a lover of food and drink. I want food to be nutritious and interesting. I want to enjoy it fully.
But I’m practicing saying no. And so far my cheating has been having a lean Subway sandwich or carrots with hummus at Iechyd Da. (No beer. They serve water there too.)
It’s hard. But it’s important work.
Most of us aren’t designed to deprive ourselves indefinitely. But sometimes we have to give up eating or drinking for our health.
Maybe a few weeks away from it will help me realize how powerful sugar is for me. Maybe.
I’m joining a weight loss contest at a local restaurant. I’m working out. I’m trying to eat clean. It’s good for my health.
But more than ever, I’ll tell you:
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.