Cheez-it® • 26 June 2008

Last friday I walked into the living room and I smelled Nabisco. What?

He wouldn’t do this. Not Nabisco, flagship of American obesity and mindless addiction? Not this level of anti-wellbeing and all-out trash in our home?

I opened a few cupboards and file drawers, looked behind the sofa. The smell of deep-fried salty cardboard, refined flour, congealed corn syrup burnt into dessicated brown bubbles and marketed as “food” was unmistakeable. I tipped over the guitar amp behind the chair and there it was: a large box of Cheez-it® crackers.

A "food" with a registered trademark. A "food" comprising 26 ingredients, among them partially hydrogenated soybean oil and something identified as TBHQ. A substance brought into my house for the purposes of ingestion.

Ok then. It’s either me or him.

Sometimes this contrarian imp comes out—the imp that’s curious just how much shit the practice can neutralize. The imp who’s angry at parents (not mine, bless them thank god) and a culture that teach children to find comfort in “food” with trademarks, and who wants with spite-tainted curiosity to take it on myself. The imp who thinks she can neutralize all shit.

I reached in and took a monkey-fist full, sat down on the floor like a primate and crunched. Cheez-it, for all that oil and salt, tasted exactly like cardboard. Did nothing for me, not even an insulin rush (thanks to the spinach and cauliflower on which it landed). Tasting and feeling nothing, I took several more monkey-fistfuls before returning the Cheez-it® to its hiding place, knowing I’d soon be in more trouble with the Editor than he was with me. Can’t I leave anything a secret? Can’t even the space inside his guitar amp be free from my ideas about clean living?

The next morning the solstice hit and I made 108 sun salutations in the most peaceful quiet home studio in Venice. As I raised my arms for number 20, a severe wave of nausea drew me down.

Gawd. I have to do 88 more of these? Maybe I can get through one more before my first trip to the bathroom. Nice of them to install this beautiful bathroom right off their studio, though. I really hope I don’t throw up.

On salutation 21, a bead of sweat formed on my brow. And all I noticed for the next two salutations was the droplet gaining volume and momentum as it ran up and down my nose. On the 24th, I waited in ardha uttanasana while it rolled to the tip of my nose and flicked it like a frog, rose up quickly, and checked in with the nausea. Gone.

Did I neutralize Cheez-it®? Conquer and assimilate?

Would the anti-human evil of Cheez-it® in my body have even been observable were it not for the practice?

I will write more about food in the next post, about what I actually eat even though I sense that this is not even useful or interesting to anyone because eating is as much play as it is science. Or, at least, should be.

For now here is one idea that might useful across the board.

If you want to begin to hear your body correctly, put the screws to your workout.

If you are having trouble tapping in to good intuitions about how to eat, honestly: ramp it the hell up.

From what I have seen, straight cardio won’t do it. From what I have seen, in order to clarify the messages, and increase their urgency, you want to start making your body build finetuned strength, balance and nervous-system endurance. If you tell it that it has to build smart muscles, excellent proprioception, all kinds of new balance and movement skills: under those conditions, the body will demand what it needs to do that efficiently. It will respond to the trauma of a dramatic increase in exercise by getting smarter.

I say this because, time and again, I see new practitioners realize that they have been doing something wrong with their diet. Of course they are: they live in a Nabisco world. Astanga is the most they have ever asked of their bodies, so it’s no wonder new practitioners try every kind of new eating regime in response to all the new feelings.

You always have the option of making an intellectual decision to nourish yourself “right,” based on nutritionists’ research. But this shortcuts old habits while putting the new ones up to a higher authority.