The “Die” Part of My Diet

I was looking for a manly diet. One that didn’t require a ton of hands on prep. One that would help a man drop pounds in a matter of weeks instead of months. I knew I wanted something extreme, but it couldn’t be unhealthy—meaning, it had to be natural food rather than fake ingredients. The last criterion was that I could participate in this manly diet, too, without losing too much weight.

I found the perfect diet. A juice fast. With a juice fast you get to pump your body full of amazing vitamins and feel energized. You get to use this groovy machine that sounds like an airplane taking off. (See? Very manly.) Then, after the juice fast, when one is already seeing the pounds melt away, you get to transition into a moderate diet that will continue the weight loss process with a more gradual pace. The ribbon that tied up the package for me was the assurance that if I didn’t need to lose weight, I wouldn’t.

Here’s how it went:

The first five days of the diet prepared us to go from whole fruits and veggies to juice only. We drank two to three juices and ate veggies, salads, and soups for lunch and dinner. These were not enjoyable days. The kale salads were good, but the bland veggies and puree soup recipes were not. I could not seem to puree the soups finely enough to make the texture palatable. So, we opted for an organic box soup puree, just to make it through those dinner recipes. (Realm actually went without soup at all. It was getting to him.)

By day five I was cringing over the kale juices we’d been drinking. They had been tasty before, but not anymore. I had a kale nightmare. Kale wasn’t attacking me; I just dreamed I had to drink lots of kale juice. I woke up nauseated that fifth morning; and the thought of smelling kale—much less drinking it—made me gag. I didn’t want to drink any more kale juice, but I was determined. I gulped down a third of the morning juice, shuddered, shuddered again, sipped on a bottle of water, and waited for the worst. I was pretty sure the worst was coming. My stomach was not happy.

My stomach finally settled down, so I was great, right? I ignored the gentle “no” of nausea and gulped another third of my juice.

“Mom, are you okay?”

I couldn’t answer. I was in the throes of holding onto the juice. I could feel it in my throat.

“You look sort of green…”

“Of course, I look green,” I retorted after I was sure I wouldn’t hurl. “I’m drinking kale!”

May it be noted, for me and for anyone who goes on an extreme diet, I was a hangry jerk to my children. I have apologized to them a number of times, but I still feel badly about it. Another thing I’ve learned from this experience is the problem with embarking on a diet with your husband if you can’t handle it. I feared if I gave up, he would. So, I didn’t give up. I substituted kale for romaine, then to spinach once I could handle the taste. Every day I went to bed with nausea and woke to the dread of drinking another juice.

“Be positive,” my juice diet book told me. Have you ever noticed that people who are genuinely positive act differently than people who pretend to be positive? This worked not at all, and people knew something was wrong and I was faking it. I just wanted to slap the author of the book because I was disgruntled. Definitely disgruntled. And as we journeyed into the juice-only phase, my stomach was disgruntled. It burned and hissed at me. It voiced its distaste for my vitamin-packed offerings by accepting the juice and having me race to the bathroom all day long. I have a passive aggressive stomach.

I researched my symptoms. Other than the many websites that suggested I was dying, I found a few discussion boards where I discovered I might have a low-sodium, low iodine issue. So, I salted my juice and added some iodine drops. Delicious. 😦 Obviously, I was ignoring the fact that in a matter of days I’d dropped to the same weight I was before I’d had kids—which wasn’t ideal. (Yeah, I hear ya: “Oh, poor you.”)

My body was giving all the signs of defeat. I felt like one of Ursula’s withered-looking “souls” on Little Mermaid. I had no energy. My limbs felt heavy, and I was super, super depressed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I didn’t want to write. I wanted to hole up in my bedroom and think sad, lonely thoughts.

I had a protein shake on the night of the seventh to counter my horrible new personality. It made me feel even sicker. On day eight I woke with one wish: a whole avocado with salt. With much guilt I gave in by the afternoon. My stomach settled down, and I felt lovely. When I drank juice for supper, my upset stomach returned. I tried a red cabbage juice for breakfast on the ninth day. Nausea returned. I juiced a dessert juice. Still nausea.

During this time, Realm was feeling great. He was energized. He felt healthier than he’d felt in a long time! I told him I was glad he was doing well, but I really wanted to hate him. He said he thought I should wean myself off the diet because I hadn’t been acting right. “You don’t need to lose the weight anyway.”

“But I’m supposed to feel energized, and all of my health problems are supposed to go away!” Yeah, I realized how ridiculous it was right after I’d said it.

My weaning process was rather hurried because, first, I could not stomach another juice and, second, I was achingly lethargic and the inside arches of my feet were itching terribly (both signs for me of low iron).

As you can tell by the tone of this post, I’m not wholly out of the juice jungle yet. It’s been three days. My stomach has calmed down. I’m writing again now that my brain isn’t in a fog. Today my body sent me an appetizing picture of a kale salad, so I’ll try that tonight in hopes this diet hasn’t ruined my taste for the crunchy greens.

A few of my friends are going to say, “I told you so,” and they did tell me so. They said they were concerned, that a juice fast could be dangerous. Yep, it just about kale-d me.


10 of my Favorite Fictitious Characters

Here are some of the book, movie, and television characters I grew up loving.

By New York : Broadway Music, publisher. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
1. Anne Shirley, “I wouldn’t want to marry anybody who was wicked, but I think I’d like it if he could be wicked and wouldn’t.” – Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery

2. Lady Catherine DeBourgh, “I’m very attentive to all of those things.” – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

3. The Childlike Empress, “They were with him when he hid from the boys in the bookstore…” – The NeverEnding Story

4. Mary Musgrove, “You, who have not a mother’s feelings, are a great deal the properest person.” – Persuasion by Jane Austen

5. Nikky, “I can’t think of a lovelier way of spending my life than spinning that silver light.” – The Moon-Spinners

6. Jamie Graham, (“Would you like a Hershey bar?”) “Yes, please.” (“So would I, kid. Have you got one?”) – Empire of the Sun

By FOX 52 (Sitcoms Online “The Cosby Show”) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
7. Claire Huxtable, “We are very fortunate to have the children, Cliff. Otherwise, we would never know the joy of leaving them at home.” – The Cosby Show

8. Mary Poppins, “Enough is as good as a feast” – Mary Poppins

9. Ralphie, “Don’t bother me. I’m—I’m thinking.” – A Christmas Story

10. The Sick Grandson, “Is this a kissing book?” – The Princess Bride

Your Local Automated Library

Being Library Lovers’ Month, I thought it only proper that the kids and I should head to our local library. Seriously, to go a whole month without a library visit is unheard of for us, but moving and sickness set us back. When we walked in, our new library felt all wrong to me. For one thing, it had one of those really high ceilings with lots of columns and windows in the roof with an office section in the center like a super column. Maybe the architect was going for openness. It was certainly impressive, but I felt like an ant. There were two librarians on opposite ends of the circulation desk. There I was, at the front of that massive desk, wondering which one to walk over to.

We toured the building to get acquainted with the layout. One of my kids commented on how loud it was. I’m not sure why it was loud—no one was talking. It didn’t have that cozy, considerate “Shhh! People are reading in here!” quality.

The kids wanted to know if they could check out books on Pokemon, graphic novel biographies, Lenape Native Americans, President Taft, horses, and princesses. So, we went to what I assumed was the online catalog, which was actually one of many kiosks where you scan your library card to check out books. Did I feel embarrassed when I figured this out? No because, at that point, I’d been to three different computer stations and none of them gave me the option of the library catalog. I was annoyed. I finally gave up and walked over to a corner of the deserted-looking circulation desk again to ask where the catalog was. Fortunately, they did have one. (I was beginning to wonder if I needed to use my phone to look it up.)

The whole library was impersonal. That’s what it was: impersonal. A library is a symbol of community. It’s the access point for local information on programs and services. It should exude a feeling of connectedness, friendliness, humanness. It’s so easy to log in to the online library and, with a few clicks, check out that electronic book for a couple of weeks. Easy, but impersonal.

I’m used to going to community-focused libraries with friendly librarians who greet me and my kids by name when we walk through the door. I’ve grown accustomed to checking the little exhibit shelves, advertising local talent of all sorts. If the alarm goes off in one of these community libraries, no one thinks anything of it. The patron just goes back and has the books scanned again—because, obviously, one didn’t scan properly. When the alarm went off in this building, everyone’s eyes went to the man walking out. I wanted to tell him, “Run! Flee with your books before they decide to do a pat down!”

Goodbye, community library! Goodbye, librarian who likes to wear the bright sweaters and waxes his mustache into curly cues! I’ll miss you. I’ll miss how you used to grin using one side of your mouth so that your mustache looked uneven. I’ll miss how you always slipped a bookmark into my latest selection and how you knew everything there was to know about hummingbird-watching—which I had no interest in at all until you showed me pictures of your returning hummingbirds. I’ll miss you because the library is now automated.

Photo from:

Mom’s Legacy

Every mom wants to leave a legacy, something her child will hold onto when she’s long gone. Today’s my mom’s birthday, and I’ve been thinking about what her legacy will be.

I remember how my mom taught my Bible Class when I was a kid. Mom is a natural when it comes to teaching. She knows how to create a hunger for learning.  Once, she brought me in to watch my five-year-old sister playing with Cuisenaire Rods. My sister stacked the different lengths of rods into cubes on the table, and my mom whispered to me, “See that!” Her hazel green eyes sparkled with excitement. “She’s doing square roots and doesn’t even know it!”

When she’s in teacher-mode, her enthusiasm is contagious. She is super at inventing activities to bring home key concepts, always introducing a new game. Even as I grew older, I realized her talent at bringing a lesson to life.

I remember the year we fell in love with Anne of Green Gables. Mom purchased the whole set for me for Christmas, then promptly read it before she gift-wrapped it. She would ask, “Have you made it to the part where…?” as I read the series. We shared Anne, and that may be why L. M. Montgomery is my favorite author today.

My mother sang all the time while I was growing up. I can remember being rocked while the soothing sounds of her Irish alto, reverberating against my ear, lulled me to sleep. I never wanted her to stop singing.

When I’m in my final years, I know her words will come back to me. I think I will hear them in song, just as she sings to me now when I’m in the midst of a hard decision:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him
and He shall direct thy paths;
and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Mom, how blessed I have been to have you as my mother! Please, don’t ever stop singing to me.