Where is my Willpower?

Matt trying to choke down seaweed.

After a day of choking down seaweed, rubbery mushrooms, and squishy tofu, I’m mentally running through all the other things I’d rather eat along with all sorts of seemingly good reasons to end the detox diet Julie and I started upon our arrival into our new Seattle apartment; it’s only day 1.

This has been the constant struggle of the past three days as we’ve embarked on a ten day detox diet according to chef Mayumi Nishimura in her book Mayumi’s Kitchen: Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul.

This all came about from an article I read on Bloomberg.com a couple months back. I check this market website nearly daily for headlines and to stay up on my investing hobby and on this particular day, an odd Bloomberg article touting the secret to pop-singer Madonna’s health and vitality caught my attention. This was of particular interest because in conversation, we’d debated how old Madonna actually is now and sure enough the article gave us the answer of 53 years old in the first paragraph. The article went on to describe her diet tailored to her lifestyle by macrobiotoic chef Mayumi Nishimura. She was Madonna’s personal chef for 7 years and she uses a vegan-based diet that focuses on monitoring bacteria in the body through conscious food choices. If it was good enough for Madonna, it was good enough for us.

So we bought the book and as soon as we had our own kitchen, we jumped right in. We spent a good chunk of change to buy all sorts of ingredients never in our pantry before including some fun stuff like rice syrup and umeboshi plums to some scary stuff like wakame and kombu, dried seaweed and kelp respectively. The plan calls for 10 days of detox to get the stomach into the macrobiotic lifestyle and we figured we could do anything for 10 days.

And from day one, it has been a massive struggle! It’s oftentimes seemingly light on calories and even when we do eat a good sized meal, it is the type that still has me hungry 90 minutes later. Even when I do get enough to eat, it has oftentimes been a struggle to actually get the food down. Take this morning for example: Miso soup with seaweed, shitake mushrooms (rehydrated), and big tofu chunks; amaranth grain with salt (not sure if we cooked this all the way through b/c it seemed pretty hard for such a small grain); and boiled cabbage and carrots. For breakfast! We have been cut off from sugar, processed food, and caffeine. We have also been without any animal protein including eggs and dairy. It’s been way more of a struggle than we ever expected.

This all makes me say to myself: Where has my will power gone? I have prided myself on being able to push through anything, 100 mile races with food poisoning, long hours in a stressful job, and ridiculous bus rides in rough lands, but eating seaweed and tofu for breakfast, come on! It is really, really hard. Maybe it’s simply because I like to eat so much and I like to eat until I’m really full, whenever I want. But after three days of dieting, I really question my own free will. I may be tough in some aspects of my life, but the simple fact that I nearly gagged eating some squishy mushrooms in my morning soup makes me think otherwise.

I’m not sure how this all will end but I’ve made it through three days and have a week to go. I’ve opted out on some of the sea vegetables at this point after reading that she only suggests including them once or twice a week (my first acceptable rationalization). She simply likes using kelp as a base to her daily soups (and it’s simply not worth the struggle for me so I’ve dropped the kelp from the recipes).

Otherwise I am pressing on! Tomorrow is broccoli and corn on the cob along with pickled plum paste instead of butter and some toasted sunflower seeds for breakfast followed up with some lentil soup and cucumber and tofu mayonnaise sandwiches with tea for lunch. In the diet’s defense, I have actually lost three pounds already and I have yet to have that sluggish, full feeling common after eating a few too many pieces of pizza. We’re giving Mayumi one more week and hope our minds and stomachs come around, or if nothing else, that our will proves to still be strong despite its apparent weaknesses.

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