Photo: Lauren Greenfield/Institute
This body can't be rebuilt by Bikram alone. Living well also involves eating well, and I'm not talking about bibbing up for lobster every night. I changed my diet on day one of the challenge and have stuck to it. I'm in this to refresh and de-stress, and half of that transformation involves eating like a sane person, not like a lumberjack with one hour left to live.
Yet there's so much information out there about how to eat right, it's hard to know which stuff to pay attention to and which will just fog your life with cabbage odor. I've never been a fad freak, but I have, at various points, tried Atkins, the Zone, Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, and Herbalife. And I'm still not immune. My cousin Jill and I have spent the last few weeks melting "virgin coconut oil" and drizzling it on salads and oatmeal because we've heard it shrinks belly fat.
I'm also well versed in all the clever diet strategies: Make a week's worth of meals in advance, freeze them, and "when you get home just pop one in the microwave!" Or organize ingredients into carefully Sharpied Tupperware and Ziplocs so all you have to do is combine and bake, or combine and stir-fry. Etc. The problem is, when you lack the energy even to care what you put in your mouth, it's easiest just to call Domino's, no matter what's in the pantry.
Now that my energy level is changing and I'm more active, I do care. At this point, I want a credible source to make me a nutrition map, and I want that person to be Lori Givens, who owns Bikram Yoga Memphis with her fiancé, Gregg Williams.
Lori is a nutrition freak without the annoying behavior of a nutrition freak. She is long and lean and gorgeous and strong, but she doesn't walk around boring everyone to death with talk about bee pollen or vanadium or wild yam. I've asked her to show me what to buy and to tell me why. I already know that trans fats are poison and that I should stay away from all things white (white pasta, white bread, potatoes = pudge), but the knowledge that baby greens trump tortellini has done me zero good. I've spent most of my postdivorce adulthood filling my fridge with freshness, only to watch (and smell) it all go to waste. Broccoli morphs into sordid soup. Kale shrinks and pales to the point that I can't even remember what it used to be. Rancid meats, moldy fruits...in my culinary history, perishables just perish.
With Lori as my guide, I might make choices that stick. To that end, Jill and I hit Whole Foods with her one afternoon early on in the Bikram regimen. First, Lori schools us on the benefits of salsa and Wasa crackers, kale and salmon and spelt, but as we head toward Dairy she starts gunning for outlaws. Women pull their children out of the way; a tumbleweed rolls through; somewhere, a horse whinnies. When Lori reaches the case of beautifully wrapped Cheddar wedges and Boursin and Brie, she looks me hard in the eye.
"No more cheese," she says.
Which is not even funny. The words cheese shop thrill me the way bubble bath and touchdown thrill other people. I'm a goat girl all the way. Or was. So long, chèvre.
We Hear You!