Diet Comes After Decadence in the Dictionary

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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After three magical weeks in Spain, it feels surreal to be back stateside.

Just last week I was celebrating Spain’s first World Cup win in San Sebastian, cheering, dancing, and kissing strangers in the streets.

My days and nights were filled with mini-adventures and moments of pure beauty: watching the sunset over the breaking waves while drinking vino tinto with friends; savoring my first bite of torrijas, a traditional Spanish dessert made of sweet bread dipped in milk and carmelized sugar and lightly fried; wandering the streets of San Sebastian and stumbling onto another beautiful church at the end of another colorful street of historic buildings with ornate facades, wrought-iron balconies overflowing with flower pots.

I went sunbathing topless on the La Playa de la Concha, the city’s largest beach, ate pulpo (octopus) and sampled Pastel Vasco, a small cake  made with almond flavor and custard that is a traditional favorite of the Basque region. I danced to live bands, watched capoeiraists perform in the street, took a side day trip to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a charming little French village with red-tiled-roofed buildings and stunning beaches.

Every day was a new adventure, full of new tastes, new experiences.

Home Again…
After such a full three weeks, it feels grounding and comforting yet also strange to suddenly be back in Troy, NY, settling back into my “normal” life and routines.

I have a book to finish, a house to clean. I am only partially unpacked.

My poor body, after three weeks of too much bread, cheese, dessert, fried foods, and wine, just altogether too much rich food, is craving salads, fresh veggies, fruit, water.

Taking It Easy Spanish-Style…
During my three weeks in Spain, I climbed to the top of the hill featuring the statue of El Cristo, went to the gym twice, went for long walks with my niece – and that was about as rugged as my activity level got.

Here in NY, I am going to the gym regularly again.

In Spain we started drinking at lunchtime, because you can. Restaurants offer a menu of the day that includes an appetizer, main dish, dessert, and sometimes a whole bottle of wine.

A whole bottle of wine for lunch! Needless to say I would sometimes just cork the bottle and bring half home with me.

Sweet Treats on the Streets
I ate ice cream cones on the street, often — dulce de leche, avellana, chocolate con naranja, Ferrero Rocher. I allow myself to indulge more often when I am on vacation and traveling the world.

And yet I must return to healthy routines if I want to look and feel my best, which I do. So I am back to healthy eating and exercising.

I need the energy to jump back in and write my book, to set up public speaking gigs, to reach out and tell my story in places that will make a difference. To make it all happen, I have to first take care of myself.

Decadence and Pleasure…
That said, I am a firm believer that it’s important to experience pleasure regularly, and I won’t deprive myself unnecessarily now that I’m home. I’ll eat healthier, yes, and head to dance classes at the gym, yet I’ll still have that occasional glass of Spanish wine, still eat a little dark chocolate daily.

Strict diets have never worked for me. Yes, I am perhaps a wee bit curvier than when I left for Spain.

Yet I know myself well enough to know that “feeling deprived” and making a long list of what I can’t eat often only makes me want to eat more.

Instead I focus on eating what I DO want, which in this case actually is healthy food. My body is craving it. I want green leafy things, fresh fruit, lots of water.

So I went shopping when I got home from Spain, and filled my fridge with fresh fruits and veggies, with hummus and multi-grain bread, with Greek honey yogurt and soy milk.

Being Healthy Feels Good…
Feeling healthy is to me one of the great pleasures of living. I love having a strong healthy young body, and treating it well.

Of course eating light and exercising will also help me trim off the Spain indulgences - that little extra belly that I didn’t have before I left.

And, with all that I have to do now that I’m home, I feel like my body is begging me to treat it well, so I’m energized and ready to move forward with all of my dreams.

I edited my book while abroad, while on the long plane rides across the Atlantic. Yet now it’s time to dive back in and write the last section of the book, and then to further craft and polish it before handing the whole manuscript to my writing coach in October.

There Is Time For Pure Pleasure…
I basically spent the last three weeks giving in to pure pleasure – food, wine, friends, adventures, beauty – and now I want to focus again on creating something for my future.

I don’t regret a second of the decadence of course – it was divine to fill myself with delicious food, wine and desserts in San Sebastian, known to be one of the gastronomic capitals of the world.

Life is all about the ebb and flow. It’s now time to settle into my normal healthy routines and to get back into my writing practice, after a few lovely, luscious weeks of simply being and living in the moment.

Of course I can carry that spirit forward, enjoying every bite of an arugula and avocado salad, every sweet ripe cherry, and still challenging myself to try something new every day. I can keep the spirit of adventure in my everyday life.

Yet I also am ready to feel really healthy again, because it gives me the fuel I need to live my dreams. I am at my best when I’m truly aligned - body, spirit, mind - taking care of all parts of me.

Living The Dreams…
Traveling the world is one of my longtime dreams, and I’m living it. I travel internationally at least twice a year and I’m so thankful for the opportunities, and the places I’ve visited.

It’s extraordinary to live for a time in another country, to experience the culture and cuisine and speak the language, to get a taste of another kind of life.

Now it’s time to focus again on other dreams, including finishing my book. I’m up for it. I’m ready to take it on.

Spinach and broccoli shake for breakfast, here I come! (Trust me, it’s good! Add mint, grapes and a banana and it’s actually delicious!).

What does your body need to feel healthy right now? What can you do today to take better care of yourself so that you have more energy for living your dreams?

What are your strategies for healthy living and dreaming? Leave a comment and let me know!


Lisa of 8 Women DreamLisa is a freelance writer and consultant who has published articles, essays and poems in journals and newspapers across the United States. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton University, and earned her MPA at Harvard in 2005. Lisa launched her dream to write her first book by signing up for Ellen Sussman’s “Memoir-in-a-Year” class, speaking her story out loud at a Take Back the Night rally, and committing to a regular writing schedule. She recently achieved another milestone — 200 pages written in her manuscript! Lisa is currently bi-coastal with her home in historic Troy, New York and her heart in San Francisco. Lisa is also a lindy hopper, blues dancer and belly dancer. She has traveled extensively on four continents. Lisa’s post day is Tuesday.

  • Remy you’re so cute :) Love this: “I would love wine for lunch. Kinda like pizza for breakfast but different!”

    Amen! And I love looking at the time away and decadence as nourishing my creative side… Love the way you look at the world! Thanks girl! :) xoxo

  • Remy, the photographer

    i think its important to nourish the creative side by getting away and spoiling yourself – whatever that means! and for you, sounds like wine, great food, great company and an incredible part of the world!
    I would love wine for lunch. Kinda like pizza for breakfast but different! Glad you are home safe Lis!
    xo Rem

  • Hey Julita, loved every minute of my Spain trip (I feel so blessed!) especially spending time with little Luna… Will have pics up soon!

    Take care of your beautiful body :) and good luck with all that’s going on for you… Hope to connect live sometime soon (will let you know when I am next in the city…).


  • Julita

    I need to start eating better too, we all do!!

    thanks for sharing your wonderful stories from your trip to Spain, always fun to see what you are up to.

    best wishes,

  • Credit goes to Zen DeBrucke for the spinach breakfast shake :)

    Here’s how you make it:
    1) Put 8 oz of water in a blender.
    2) Add several handfuls of fresh spinach.
    3) Add a whole banana, broken into pieces.
    4) Add a few handfuls of red grapes.
    5) Add mint leaves, to taste (I like LOTS of mint in mine!).

    Then blend it all up until it’s smooth, pour and drink! :) This makes at least two full glasses (mine made about 2.5 glasses).

    I also added broccoli florets this time for extra green/protein boost… Still yummy :)

    Swear to good it’s more delicious than it sounds and just a good way to start a day, feeling like you’re already being good to your body…


  • Lisa, the famous author

    Cath, proud of you for discovering that and taking action on it… I really feel that we can do and be so much more when we take good care of our bodies… Cheering you on for taking care of YOU! :)

    Let me know how else I can support you in that…

    Glad to be back too although of course I always miss the paradise I have left behind – loved being in San Sebastian! So much to do now that I’m home and happy to be back closer to my other dreamers :) and to be able to give more to all of this again!

    Here’s to living our dreams, and honoring our bodies! Body and spirit in alignment I think makes for the best results… Here to cheer everyone on in that!


  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I have discovered that I have a vitamin B deficiency. This is not uncommon for Hashimotos patients who have a gluten intolerance. We tend to have absorption problems.

    I was thinking the signs were hormonal, until I realized I had most everything on the list for vitamin B deficiency and remembered it is one of the things my doctor warned me about and prescribed supplementation for.

    So my dry skin, sleep disturbances, fatigue, memory impairment, shortness of breath, tingling in hands and feet, and weird feelings in my tongue were that I needed more vitamin B.

    I took my liquid vitamin B along with my pre-natal vitamins (prescription based for absorption) and slept like a baby last night and already feel better today.

    I need to quit disconnecting from my body so that I can push through all that I do. It’s an old habit that I need to break.

    Glad to have you back. Your trip sounded wonderful.


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