Following a joyful and transformative experience at SUUSI this year, I felt the need to integrate a meditative practice into my lifestyle.
Well, that, and I ate and drank way too much.
Mindful eating is something I’ve never practiced in any seriousness. I’ve always eaten voraciously, practically (and occasionally) inhaling my food. While I’m a snob when it comes to coffee, sushi, and craft soda, most of the time I haven’t cared much about the quality of my food. I’m also an unrepentant grazer.
Sunday morning following SUUSI, holed up in a motel room, I sat down with the worst plate of breakfast buffet food ever. My practice is as follows: I leave my phone locked, turn off the TV (music is fine), and sit. I take one-inch-cubed bites, smelling the food before it enters my mouth. I set my fork down. Then, I count each chew: 1 (chew), 2 (chew), 3 (chew)…
Have you ever tasted something as awful as clammy instant eggs? Mindful eating made the experience so much worse. Some foods turned really, really awful, like some fried mushrooms from Zaxbys.
But the good food tasted better. Chipotle, despite their recent issues with foodborne illness, is still a favorite of mine, and their food benefits from mindful eating. Bland food can taste better, too, given enough time. Best of all, I feel full having eaten less than I would have were I not paying attention.
I do this with soda and other beverages, too. Like some poor man’s sommelier, I smell, sip, swish four times, and swallow. (Coffee tastes amazing like this; other drinks, not quite as much.) The only thing I gulp now is water, but dehydration is more a threat than starvation for me.
I’m not in this for weight loss, although I wouldn’t mind eating less. And the past few days have been hardest, with a congested nose muting my taste sensations. But it’s been interesting to see how food actually tastes.
If mindful eating is the deliberate practice of patience, then my most recent injury has taught me patience or else.
Sometime in the last two weeks (either from a weekend spent in Orlando or that week in Cullowhee, NC hiking, dancing, and walking up one steep hill three times a day), I developed a hairline fracture in one of the bones in my right big toe. I thought I had sprained it until it swelled up like a plum last Friday. I limped into the nearest clinic. The doctor initially diagnosed me with gout, after hearing about the bender I had, but upon seeing the x-ray images he quickly changed his mind. He put me on an anti-inflammatory medication, told me to keep my toe straight, and forbid me from walking or running until it healed.
I currently spend my evenings on the couch, my right foot elevated with a bunch of couch cushions, either reading or watching TV. When I go out, I wrap my toe in an ace bandage (buddy wrapping, I discovered, doesn’t work as well for big toe fractures), wearing my running shoes since they’re the only shoes I own that are sized correctly.
I had planned on running a half-marathon in November, but now I’m laid out for all of August. There’s a two-month window in September and October where I could train, barely enough time, but my training’s slipped this summer (Florida’s not so great a state for running these days). And now I’m wondering what, exactly, caused the stress fracture. If it was just a badly-sized shoe or inadequate support, I could make sure my footwear is more adequate. If it’s my running stride, or something in my physiology that makes me more prone to stress fractures in my feet, that’s not something I can correct for.
For now, I’m reduced to just enough walking for work and social activities until I heal, which should be by September. I intend on using the stationary bike in my exercise room, as long as it doesn’t aggravate my toe, to build my endurance. I’ll try some strength training, too. But a pleasure stroll? Ambling through Ikea? Not the best idea right now.