I'm a big collector of quotes, and I'm by nature a big fan of extremes, so these lines from William Blake's poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell have always resonated with me: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" and "You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough." Increasingly, I'm finding that my affection for the extremes may not be serving me very well and I'm pondering the idea of seeking a middle path in some areas of my life.
Last week, the road of excess led me to the We Care spa in Palm Springs. I decided to go the extreme of the juice cleanse approach after hibernating
during our first Colorado winter and putting on the associated layer of
insulation. I think Ryan and I are the only people to move to Boulder
and gain weight (pulling down the heralded fitness levels of this town), but that was the shape I found myself in and I
finally decided to do something about it. I've typically found it easier to get out of a rut and into a good groove by first going to the other end of the pendulum, and in this case that meant finding the opposite of the chocolate/wine/bread/cheese diet. The We Care Spa fit that bill.
I do think "spa" is used fairly generously here as my idea of a spa includes lazing around a big lap pool, taking long hikes, playing tennis and marveling at how they can cook such fabulous tasting food that is still healthy. We Care had many things to recommend it, but this was much more a place for inner reflection and inner cleansing than any outward-directed activities. While my room was actually quite nice, and I loved doing the mellow yoga and sitting in different spots on the grounds catching up on my reading, the main activity of the day consisted of figuring out how to sequence the myriad different drinks and pills that needed to be consumed during the day.
While I actually felt really great doing the cleanse, and didn't think it was too hard to do in an environment where I had nothing to do except plan my next drink, it still left me somewhat perplexed as to how to preserve these benefits and create change in the real world of my day-to-day life. I like drinking wine, I make and eat a lot of chocolate, I enjoy entertaining and socializing over big drawn-out meals, and I'm not interested in giving up these things. At the same time, I can't deny the fact that I felt fabulous after a week of cleansing.
I spent a lot of years of my life being super extreme and obsessing about what I ate and how much I exercised, and I just have no interest or tolerance for being that person again. That said, I'd still like to fit into my skinny jeans and have more energy, so it seems the full-on laissez-faire eating plan isn't the answer either. Instead, I'm trying to explore the idea of the middle path.
My friend Amy and I are both working on making real substantive lifestyle changes, and she has more then once noted that it really just comes down to moderation. Of course she's right, though my general response is "I don't like moderation" or "Where's the fun in that?" That said, I think it might hold the answer. "Moderation" doesn't have quite the marketing caché I look for though, so I've come to refer to this as the "Don't eat so fucking much" diet.