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Friday, February 26, 2010

GM Cleanse anyone?

The week, following doctor’s orders not to move, stretch, exercise, or sweat, lest the stitches will rip or infection could set in, Monica and I decided to try out the GM cleanse one of the MAC PCVs raved about. Supposedly, (pause, nod) supposedly GM commissioned the FDA in the 1970’s to research a diet to recommend to their employees in order to improve their quality of life and performance. Supposedly it’s based on some long-used Indian ideology. [That’s what I’m told, but it must be a lie because days 5 and 6 of the cleanse you are instructed to eat nothing but hamburgers and tomatoes, something I bet they would never dream up in India.]

I’ve never done a cleanse, or fasted before, though have heard from numerous people how good it is to clear out your body and start fresh, so I’m intrigued. I don’t think real fasting (or any of these wack lemon-juice-with-cayenne-pepper binges) would work with me—I get super grumpy when I’m hungry. But a cleanse that allows as many fruits and vegetables as I want doesn’t seem hard. And it wasn’t! The first few days are fruits or vegetables, or both, which I really enjoyed and wasn’t hungry. The only downside is that for the moment, our winter supply is limited, so the only fruits available are mandarins, oranges, kiwis, and hit-or-miss mealy apples. Which don’t really satiate. It got a little tough by days 5 and 6 (a vegetarian version of the fast calls for 1 cup rice with tomatoes, hardly the equivalent of 5 quarter-pounders), though I was really getting clever at baking fruits and broiling vegetables. [Try it! Pop some salted spinach or leeks into the oven on high and they are almost like chips!]

Meghan and Alexi just after the candles

The last days were especially rough because I went to Delvine for the weekend to celebrate Alexi and Meghan’s birthdays. Monica threw a proper party, cooking up delicious cheese enchiladas, Alexi made a chocolate rocky road cake, Lauren baked cookies, and afterward Mon made a cheesecake. Torture! We couldn’t have anything but some of the rice and beans, and everything looked and smelled so enticing. We still had a great time, though the rainy weather crashed our plans to play games outdoors and smash a piñata. We mostly sat around talking, then walked around town [not far-- “town” in Albania means perhaps 3 streets] and watched some movies. Alexi performed minor surgery on Monica’s back by removing her stitches, but couldn’t take mine out because as it turned out the skin had grown over them. :) Alexi is really our jack-of-all trades. She studied graphic arts but surprises me all the time with her random medical knowledge and wide range of skills.

Group walk in the park--- working off all that chocolate cake!

Allan and I headed back over the mountain pass to Gjirokastёr on Sunday afternoon, caught off guard by the overnight snowfall. Up in the mountains it’s understandable, but I was startled when the snowing didn’t let up, even as we pulled into the lower city. I hiked up the slippery streets as medium-sized chunks of ice drifted down overhead, and hurried indoors to find Chris working next to the heater. We spent the afternoon there together, Valentine’s Day!, reading and writing, just staying cozy. In the evening we decided to bear the cold for a night out to dinner, our favorite pizza place just down the hill. Actually, we shared this ‘romantic’ evening with our sitemate, Greg, followed by a failed attempt to find dessert (the entire town and all the shops it seemed were closed, undoubtedly people were taking cover at home) after which we instead found ourselves at a quiet café.

Group shot 'downtown Delvine'
Left to right: Courtney, Meghan, Monica, Allan, Alexi, Lauren, and Ben

So all in all, a funny and unconventional week. Oh yes I forgot to mention that we had two separate couchsurfers come stay with us—one biker from France and Greek university student from Corfu. They had to put up with our silly, cold house and my insistence on this strange cleanse. I did learn two productive things from the GM experience though; one, that after a week of super fibrous foods and little to no fat, refined carbs, dairy, or protein, my body didn’t feel any “cleaner”, more like “weaker”. And two, I feel really crappy when I don’t eat protein, without energy and depressed. As a vegetarian I am skilled at creating protein-rich meals, with vegetables as an essential ingredient, so I’ll stick with that, thank you.

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