I feel quiet and slow. Which is what this month is about. It’s going to be (a little) less about me and a little bit more about being quiet and slow. And about winter. And nourishment and rest and solitude and peace and gratitude and yielding. And grounding.
I call it… “On Nourishment.”
I feel very nourished right now. Much of my running around, especially in the winter time, was an attempt to run away from what is now termed “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” This strikes me as a funny term for a natural process that has become a “disorder” because modern life has been structured without regard for seasons. There are always tropical fruits and fluorescent lights and things to do and exciting Facebook status updates now. All year round.
But meanwhile, the seasons chug right along. And this one is called Winter. And after at least 10 years of running away from it after almost wanting to kill myself in Minnesota during the winter of 2001, I surrender to the process and try to suck the life out of whatever it has to offer.
I read a couple of weeks ago about a region in Russia where it was discovered that for hundreds of years the people would hibernate. In the Fall, they would cook as many loaves of bread as they could and chop as many trees as were available and then when the first snow fell, they would huddle together and sleep. 18 hours a day minimum. Every couple of hours someone would rustle out of bed and break off some bread for people to eat or tend to the fire and then back to sleep.
They would periodically look out the window to see if the grass had appeared yet. When it did, they would come out of sleep and life would begin again. This was apparently like hundreds of thousands of people who did this every year for centuries.
It left an impression on me–that maybe it’s ok for me to be where I’m at. Kinda slow. Kinda plodding. Really interested in just learning things… practicing. Reading. Eating.
I have also started to go to the gym. I set that as my primary focus this year. To have a good and sexy body. The main reason is that I feel I have hit a ceiling in my dancing at my current level of conditioning. That’s the hypothesis.
So I’ve been taking in all this gym stuff, finding good books and all that, and I’ve started weightlifting for the first time in my life. Like barbells and squats and deadlifts and presses and all that jazz. I like it. Much of what I read was about how this is how people have gotten strong for thousands of years. All these machines and devices have basically just justified the introduction of endless products and gyms as a way to make more money with shiny and fancy and user-friendly things. It was an idea that resonated with me.
This is a lead-in to what came next. Because obviously, when one starts getting in shape, you start thinking a lot about diet and nutrition. I have been heavily into diet and nutrition for at least 10 years now so this is a well-worn hobby. Some of you may be aware that there is a “paleo” craze that has swept the nation. As I looked into this craze, a book called “Nourishing Traditions” was recommended again and again as having the goods.
I got the book. It has the goods. The basic idea is that we have completely gotten away from the traditional wisdom of our foremothers, who had in many ways figured out eating like 2000 years ago. They kinda had it all worked out. And many of the ways that they prepared food have been lost in our age of processing and instant.
Now, this is obviously a long and touchy subject so I just want to share some of the information that has come to me in case it is of use to you or if you have not heard about these things before. So with that said…
My Basic (Old and New) Thoughts on Diet & Nutrition
In the research I’ve done lately, one piece of information stuck out as so obvious that I can’t believe I have only found it in one obscure YouTube video.
Plant foods are for cleansing and detoxification.
Animal foods are for nourishing.
The end. Self-evident. My body hears that and goes duh. Maybe yours does too. But I’d never heard it put so clearly.
So anyway, two of the main tenets of this “Nourishing Traditions” book are:
Our ancestors, all of them, regardless of culture, fermented foods significantly more than we do. They fermented grains, beans, meats, vegetables, and fruits, on the regular. There is significant evidence that soaking and fermentation breaks down many of the chemicals that foods use to prevent themselves from being eaten.
Remember, many of the things we eat are seeds. They grow a plant. That’s beans, roots, nuts, etc. A lot of our food. So they have chemicals to make us not what to eat them so that they can grow. Through soaking and fermenting, those chemicals get washed away. In my experimentation of soaking beans and nuts thus far, they are definitely easier to digest. There is a got-damn WEALTH of information on this subject on Google and YouTube so please if you are interested, continue this research.
Second, almost every single ancient culture subsisted in large part on animal products. Many of the animal products that are beneficial to us are either difficult to access or have fallen out of favor in our culture. So this includes things like liver, brain, and bones, among many more. With bones, nearly every traditional culture on Earth would cook bones for 1-2 days to make soup to eat the marrow and the gelatin that would come from the bones. There are many many many vitamins, minerals, and more in these bones, but more than any of that, if you try it, and then you eat it, I almost guarantee you will feel nourished. That’s been my experience. And that’s what this is about for now. Nourishment.
So that’s my new research. I have done vegetarianism many times for long stretches and all I can say is that this is where I’m at right now. And it feels good. Warm and nourishing. Healthy.
Otis’ Basic Diet Advice
I have been reconnecting with old friends a lot lately. I think it has something to do with just slowing down and letting go of trying to get somewhere better. And wow, I like my old friends. It’s a nice feeling.
In doing so, I have been dispensing a lot of dietary advice, at their request. I haven’t liked to preach in the past. It’s like, hey dude, do you. But as I have been sharing, people have been making positive dietary changes in their lives and it’s made me feel very good. It’s like, woah, people actually listen to me. So I want to share some of that with you.
The number one recommendation that I would make for everyone after all of my years of experimentation is to go gluten-free. There are so many advantages to removing gluten from the diet. It cuts out 60% of processed food in one fell swoop, it’s not as hard as other changes because there are so many alternatives at this point, and you almost immediately feel better. Gluten, which means wheat, rye, and barley, makes almost everyone feel sluggish and bloated. Most people think that this is just something that goes along with eating and don’t realize that their body is actually reacting to something it doesn’t like.
Furthermore, going gluten-free is like a gateway drug to other positive dietary changes. Once you see how good THAT ONE feels, and how it wasn’t as bad as you feared, you may begin wondering what else might make you feel even better, and now you are on the path to optimal health, which is rad.
The second recommendation would be to eat as much organic food as humanly possible. Just change your belief system that “organic food is expensive” to “my body and my health is the most important thing that I have and I honor that by feeding myself the best foods that are available.” Everyone I know who says organic food is too expensive has no problem spending money on all kinds of other nonsense. It’s just a choice. Remember that. Put your own body first. It’s all you’ve got at the end of the day. It’s a form of self-love. If you can’t love your own body, you need to work on that. Honestly.
And third, add more greens to your diet. My favorite way to add a lot of greens to my diet is through kale smoothies. My kale smoothie recipe is a nut milk (almond/hemp/rice/etc) with a banana, protein powder, green powder, and 3-4 leaves of kale all blended up. It tastes super rad and if you need more sweetness add some honey or dates or whatevs and eat up. Dark leafy greens are so good for you and make your brain feel so alive and are so easy to add to your diet with smoothies that it’s a super-duper no-brainer.
Back to Nourishment
I have talked to quite a few people who feel that they are out of sorts right now. My hypothesis is that they are not at all out of sorts right now. They are just not aware that it’s winter and that in some ways they are in a part of the cycle that is slower, just like the trees, just like the animals, and that it’s ok. And that if they can label how they are feeling and acting IN SORTS rather than OUT OF SORTS, there is a big gift waiting for them. There are other parts of themselves to be explored. Quieter parts, deeper parts. And that’s good. That’s a good and beautiful thing.
I have fought this for so long. Always trying to be on the go and get somewhere. Not wanting to sink into depression. Fearing that I’m a loser because all I want to do is stay home. But on the other side of that is solitude, clarity, and peace. And nourishment.
I love you.