Mustard Greens Suck!

I am learning two things so far on my 21-day cleanse…. 1) I can recover fast when I slip, and 2) Mustard greens suck.

Really, have you had them? I promised myself that I would really learn to cook “greens” and even bought the cookbook “Greens Glorious Greens (Albi and Walthers, 1996). I find that I love kale… and think that swiss chard is scrumptious. I even found a recipe for collard greens that was OK. And then the other day I tried mustard greens. In fact, I spent the better part of an afternoon chopping, slicing, dicing, and spicing my special mustard greens dish. Ugggh. I don’t care how you dress them up, mustard greens suck. I defy you to post a recipe here for mustard greens that is edible!

The second lesson may have more far reaching implications for me. Last night (evening of Day 4) John and I went out to dinner at a really nice restaurant with another couple, and much to my dismay, there was NOTHING other than the side dinner salad that would have fit my cleanse diet. And so, I gave myself a break and took the evening off. Mmmmmm…. I had two pieces of bread with olive oil…. I had salmon…. I had some strawberry sorbet…. I had a glass of wine…later I had popcorn… wooo-hooooo!!!! And, when I got home and then this morning, I totally wanted to stop the cleanse and eat a whole loaf of Wonderbread with mayonnaise and who knows what else (well, I’m exaggerating, but not that much…).

Historically, after a period of initial success, I have tended to lose my will and discipline, and cave in to the pull toward COMFORT. The real challenge for me has not (in the past) been to get started…. but rather is to KEEP GOING and to get back on track.

I said to myself this morning: ”OK, this is a chance to see if I can REBOUND fast.“ Rather than cave in the the cravings and urges for sugar and flour, what if I could just rebound IMMEDIATELY to the cleanse? Usually I find it much more exciting to struggle and fail for awhile before bouncing back. But today, I actually did it — I returned right to the cleanse. Yes! A victory! Lesson: If I slip up (or, take an intentional break), I can rebound right away.

I’m wondering how other people recover when they lose their will, or when self-destructive urges, cravings, or DESIRE FOR COMFORT take hold and get the better of them. What do you do? Does this happen to you? I would love it if you’d post any ideas you have here on that here.

Today is Day 5 of the cleanse (see Heart of Nourishment for a description), and I’m doing GREAT! I am thrilled to report that I no longer have to wear my fat pants! In two days I can add nuts seeds and grains into the diet — ain’t life grand. Exercising is going great, too. I made it to 3 yoga classes last week… did my swimming and weight training workouts.

I have been thinking about my prep race coming up on May 10th, and the triathlon on July 19th. I have to keep reminding myself that the outcome doesn’t matter. Although I’ve been working out a lot with yoga, swimming, and weights… I haven’t yet started training on the bike or the running. It is the running that scares me…. my confidence that I can actually run is really low, both because of the heart disease and because of aging knees. When I start fretting about it, I remind myself that when I’m riding my bike if there is a hill that is too steep for me to climb, I can get off the bike and walk it up the hill…. And, if the running is too hard on my, I can simply walk…. I know I can do that.

It reminds me of the song ”If You Can’t Fly“ by David Roth. His songs are incredibly hokey, and often prompt me to roll my eyes. However, I have to say that this particular song gets me every time. By the time he is singing about the fish, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. What can I say — it just hits very close to home for me. It has to do with that bright flame deep down inside that wants to live and enjoy life fully no matter what physical limitations there may be. That part of me knows that no matter what the external circumstances, the human spirit — my spirit — is boundless and is not my disease. When someone — whoever they are — chooses to meet challenges by saying ”yes, I will take a step,“ they come forward in all their brilliance. I don’t always choose in that direction, but it certainly is my intention to.

Here’s the song:

All too often we come up against a challenge, and we jump to ”I can’t. It’s too hard….“ Instead, there is a reframe of that to say: ”What is the way that I CAN do this?“ I make a commitment to you on this journey that when it gets really hard and I want to somehow escape, I will ask that question. And, I will do this triathlon in July if it takes me all day!

What do you think? Please add your comments! And, thanks for your support — it makes a bigger difference than you may know.



~ by Art on February 22, 2009.

18 Responses to “Mustard Greens Suck!”

  1. Art this blog is awesome. Love warthog video as well. Please keep up the great work. I am finding inspiration in your journey. Have a blast in your travels and I wish you much success with the balance of it all.

  2. Hi Art,
    thanks for sharing your journey. You have inspired me as well. I’ll confess that I gave in to my carbohydrate addiction on my way home from work today. I was picking up a few things for my wife at Whole Foods, but couldn’t go there without buying a chocolate chip scone (and in addition a cranberry walnut dinner roll). Why did I buy two items? … That mentality of throwing in the towel – why not get full satisfaction 🙂 of course, it could’ve been worse… I didn’t buy/eat a box of Twinkies (not that I’d be able to find that at Whole Foods 🙂 ).
    I’m so impressed with your positive attitude given health issues. I really enjoyed the song: If You Can’t Fly ( I’m not familiar with the singer, David Roth, thanks for including on your web site.

    Three cheers to you, Art! I’ll be rooting for you every step of the way! All the best, Paul

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your note. Yes, those treats at Whole Foods and Starbucks are seductive! Thank goodness that I also never cave in to twinkees… it would be a much more severe problem if I did!

      Thanks very much for your cheering!


    • Art,

      I just wanted you to know that after reading your blog, I was inspired to jump on the bandwagon and try to eat healthy. Since March 10, I’ve lost 6 pounds. I’m hoping to lose another 10!

    • Wo-hoo! That’s great Paul — any chance you want to join our triathlon team for July 19? ; )


  3. Greetings, Art!

    I am loving reading your posts and the comments. I had to write in reply to this one to state perhaps a minority opinion about mustard greens…they can “suck” if they are prepared alone. Many southerners and black folks know that you mix mustard greens with collards and/or kale. Same with turnip greens. The vegan piece makes it a little trickier in the flavor department (I used smoked turkey) but it is still doable. There are dozens of mustard green recipes–google, baby, google and!

    As for your quest, your commitment and authenticity is so inspiring. I can’t swim, but I can join in spirit with the running part and maybe even the biking (though the hills here in Berkeley are killer!) I too have iffy knees, but losing weight takes tremendous pressure off your knees, and working with weights and certain exercises will actually strengthen them. I plan to keep following your progress and hope to get the inspiration I need to get back into trotting (a little faster than a walk but definitely slower than a run!)

    Nice to read all about this–glad to have found it on Facebook. Take good care.


    • Hi Marquita!

      Your note brings a smile to my face this morning. I know…. I should give those mustard greens another chance…. the good news is that I have come to love cooking and eating greens in general….have been doing lots of kale/chard/collards/spinach things….

      I think that taking more weight off will make a big difference….. In terms of cardio…. I hit a sort of wall early on in my work out — about 10-15 minutes in where I experience a fair amount of angina (chest pain)… I’ve learned to gauge it pretty well over the years (I know it sounds scary… it’s actually routine for me and something I talk with my cardiologist about…). I’m thinking that if I get down to a better weight, it will have an impact on that.

      I appreciate your following this quest of mine and staying in touch — it makes a huge difference….

      Love to you —


  4. Mustard greens DO suck. I went through a green smoothie kick (blending fruit and greens together). Romaine and berries? Delicious. Parsley and bananas? Divine. Mustard greens and I-can’t-remember-what-cause-it-was-so-godawful? UGH. They burn. In a bad way.

    Collards and Kale all the way! 🙂

  5. Art:

    Your posting reminded me of my 17 yr old son in his last Triathlon last fall. He has a disabled foot and ankle from a car accident so he is the slowest runner of his peers (and most adults, senior citizens included).

    He easily completed his swim and was in the middle of the pack as he took off on his bike. I waited and waited for him to return. I got worried (he’s insulin diabetic-did he pass out somewhere?). He was the last biker to come in…(Had gotten sick, then had a flat tire and had to wait for the repair). By this time, some of his peers were on the final stretch running to the finish. He did not have to keep going, but he was determined to not quit. So he took off running (his form of limp walking to be honest). He was exhausted, dehydrated but refused to stop. So I waited along with all his peers and the announcers. He was the last one to come in. By this time he was barely walking-I guess you could call it a standing up crawl. When he crossed the finish line, he got the biggest smile on his face along with lots of hugs and high fives for completing the race. He accomplished his goal and felt totally successful that day.
    I share this with you, because the spirit of the triathlons I’ve attended is totally about the effort. The last swimmers to come in are cheered for their completion even though they are the last bikers to take off. And many, many runners walk thei last leg. The energy of these events is all about being out there to “tri” it.

    You are on the right path. Please don’t get attached to some outcome or preconceived idea of how you should perform. And by the way, you have more courage than I do. I wouldn’t even “tri”
    mustard greens-no matter how Erica prepares them!

  6. Hi Art
    This blog is amazing…thank you for all your sharing. So authentically real and inspiring.
    I will be reading up and following your progress and offering what ever support I can.


  7. Wow! Art this is so inspiring! I’m trying to make changes in my own diet and just this morning, before reading your blog, wrote in my journal “Don’t think I don’t see what you’re up to!” to myself. As soon as I see myself making tangible progress, I slip the crap back into the diet. It’s perverse! I will rely on your words as a reminder about noticing and recovering.

    And you BET we can walk. When I was training for the one marathon I have done, that was my deal with myself: enter the race, and then feel perfectly at ease to walk the whole thing if I need to. I played that game with the daily training runs, too. Some days I just did NOT want to start, so the deal was, get the shoes on, get outside, and if all you do is walk a block and turn around that’s just fine. And sometimes that’s really all I did! but plenty of other times, of course, taking that initial small step over the low bar inspired me and off I’d go.

    And now I am positively determined to find a palatable mustard greens recipe. Is it permitted to fry them with batter and cover them with sugar? That makes almost anything taste pretty good.


    ps It’s 8:35 and I am off to the gym even though I do NOT want to go. You’ve lit a flame under my lazy self.

  8. My dogs LOVE mustard greens! 😉 Does that count?

    Reading your post was beautiful and came at a crucial time. Thank you for sharing. You’ve reminded me what I’m really up to.

    I’ve been mucking in the swamp of frustration and despair of my physical injury. Big pity party. Well, party’s over! So I can’t run right now. So what. I can do lots of other things right now, and I know by doing so I’ll be able to run that much sooner.

    Thanks for a virtual *snap out of it*. Always makes me think of Cher in Moonstruck.

    Hugs, Sue

  9. Hi Art,
    Mustard greens do suck! I’m newly liking kale, though. And I’m finding that I love a good salad, except I don’t like to make them.
    Your post and the David Roth song were very inspiring. Sometimes when it comes to the physical world, I would rather just wallow in ‘I can’t’. What you write here is encouraging me to stick with what I’m up to right now because I know that I can. For me, it’s about taking the time to remember who I am and what I want. And to really listen to my body. Really listen. And then to respond with compassion.
    Thank you, Art, for shining light on this in the way that you have.

  10. Oh thank God! I was afraid you might actually love mustard greens & I’d come home each day to a new mustard greens recipe. I’m glad our tastebuds are on the same page here.

    It is inspiring to read about you and other folks manage the pick up the pieces when we think we’ve “failed.” I don’t know that I’ve ever admitted this to anyone but sometimes I actually buy “bad” food, take it home, leave it around for a few days & then throw it out. Somehow it gives me a sense of victory & a sense of feeling more in control. Of course on occasion I rip that sucker right open & devour ever morsel. I don’t know what conclusions to draw from my neurotic ways but I do know that it becomes important to ask whether or not I’m moving in the right direction. I sometimes get lost along the way & wallow in self-pity, anxiety or anger which might distract me from the goal. This is where self-forgiveness comes in and treating ourselves more kindly, ultimately knowing that we are moving in the right direction.

    Perhaps it’s needless to say, but I think you’re amazing & doing an amazing job!

  11. Hi Art,

    I guess I’m Hokey cause I love almost all of David Roth’s songs. I love what you wrote here about getting back on track. I think the key in what you wrote is also the key for me and many folk to getting back on track, which is basically to slow down enough to have a conversation with myself and remember what it is that I am really up to. I am finding that having that conversation in my journal/blog has a remarkable re-commitment impact. I often start out in my resistant, pissy and determined to step into the crud place and when I am done writing I am refocused and back on the path of my intention.

    Thanks for reminding me of this. I think that is the other thing I have to listen for the reminders that are constantly flying around me.


  12. Hello Art!!! Wow! Thanks so much for the wonderful blog entry. FIrst of all, cheers to Mustard Greens Sucking-I couldn’t agree with you more. Oh goodness-if that is what I had to live on well-I’d rather not…lol.

    But seriously, I love how you spoke about recovering when we slip, isn’t that what this is all about given our human journey in these physical bodies. I can’t remember the saying but it goes something that “success is getting up one more time than we have fallen”. This is what moving forward is all about. It is so loving to ourselves and bodies to not beat ourselves up when we fall-but to get back up and keep moving forward towards our vision.

    What I have also noticed in my own journey of taking responsibility in a loving way of my body is that I completely get rid of ALL cravings if I stay away from all processed carbs and sugars. It amazes me every time. Even with whole grains , I must limit them. For whatever reason, my body seems to have a sensitivity them and if I have more than my body needs, I can start down the craving sink hole.

    Anyway, I love how you are putting words to your journey Art, it inspires me to continue on my own.

  13. First of all, congratulations for getting right back on the wagon! Here are some thoughts about diet and what works for me. I know that my situation and goals are different from yours (I don’t have coronary artery disease and I’m not training for a sprint triathlon) so take from it what you will. This is just what works for me.

    I try to avoid dieting and concentrating on losing weight. Ultimately, these strategies are counterproductive for me. If my goal is to lose weight and my strategy is to do anything to make that happen, then what happens after that? I prefer to concentrate on eating well and avoiding mindless eating. (I particularly avoid foods that I tend to eat mindlessly and around which I have no self-control.) Weight loss comes automatically, albeit slowly. But if I can find a way to eat that I can do for the rest of my life, then I’ve already won the battle. It’s no longer “I just have to get through this diet/lose this weight and then I can start living my life.” I’m already there.

    Along the same lines, I try to avoid being constantly hungry. I find that nothing makes me crave chocolate chip cookies more than being hungry all the time. For me it seems to be a cumulative thing. I don’t really understand it completely but, even if I’ve just eaten a meal, if I haven’t been eating enough over the past couple of days, it seems I’ll still be hungry. So when I’m really hungry, I eat, even if it’s not meal time. One way to help figure out whether I’m really hungry, rather than just wanting to eat for emotional reasons or out of habit, is to use the 15 minute rule. I try to distract myself for 15 minutes. Often I forget about eating, at least for a while. If not, then I eat something.

    This all works very well when I’m at home and doing my own thing. Since I live alone and don’t travel much, I generally have complete control over what foods come into my environment and can avoid “bad” foods. When I go out to dinner, I try to make sure that I’m not overly hungry to begin with so that it’s a little easier not to eat the bread or the chips. Beyond that I try not to be too hard on myself. Travel would be a major stumbling block for me. I commend you for how well you do considering how much you travel.

    Anyway, enough about me. I’m so proud of you my Art and so happy to be one of your cheerleaders. You are an inspiration.

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