By: Javacia Harris Bowser
Today I begin the third and final week of my 9 foods experiment, inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.
Since I’m two-thirds of the way to the finish line, I should be thinking, “Oh, I got this.” But I’m not.
The first week was tough, but not nearly as tough as I thought it would be, once my sugar withdrawal headaches subsided. Then I foolishly stepped inside a Chick Fil-A.
It was the Saturday of week one of the experiment. I attended a storytelling night at one of my favorite local coffee shops Urban Standard. There I managed to resist ordering hot chocolate and didn’t even glance at the shop’s famous cupcakes.
But after the event my cousin and I were hungry. I suggested Chick Fil-A because I knew I could have a char-grilled chicken sandwich without breaking my fast, as long as I removed the tomato and pickles. But I hadn’t considered how weak my willpower would become as the scent of waffle fries began wafting toward my nose. So I ordered the char-grilled chicken sandwich combo (not just the sandwich) with a lemonade (which was also a violation of my fast).
I can’t blame this on Chick Fil-A for tempting me with their tasty tubers. This was all my fault.
But something strange happened: I nearly ate my entire sandwich without touching the fries. And I realized I didn’t really want them anymore. I ate about five fries anyway only to justify spending the money on them and I didn’t enjoy them at all. Nor was I tempted by the ice cream cones being enjoyed by the kids at the table across from mine.
In just one week, my appetite had changed.
And with just five waffle fries I ruined my progress.
My slip-up on Saturday set a bad tone for week two. I felt frustrated and kept referring to my experiment as “THIS STUPID FAST!” My pal Erin kept telling me, “It’s not stupid,” but I just wasn’t convinced.
The purpose of a fast is to give up something so you can focus more on God. And I haven’t done this as much as I had hoped because I’ve been so busy. This experiment has shown me that the thing I probably need to streamline most of all is not my diet, but my day. I need to streamline my schedule.
This experiment has also taught me the value of forming healthy habits. My appetite began to change in just one week. Think of how our lives could change if we applied that to other areas. If you begin to exercise regularly, suddenly your body just won’t tolerate being sedentary. If you begin to write regularly your mind just won’t put up with writer’s block. And if you begin to do something loving and kind for yourself and for someone else every day, your heart just won’t have room for jealousy and hate.
I don’t know what the third week of this experiment will bring, but if I can hold on to these thoughts after my fast ends then I will know it was worth it. I will know it wasn’t stupid after all.
By: Javacia Harris Bowser
This is all Jen Hatmaker’s fault.
I can’t even remember how I stumbled up her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, but it was around the holidays, a time of year when I always feel disgusted with consumerism and our society’s (and my own) obsession with stuff.
The book details Jen’s attempt to fight greed, materialism, and overindulgence in hopes of living a more Christ-like existence. The idea was to choose seven areas — food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress — and spend 30 days on each topic boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, only wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in only seven places. Her plan also called for her to eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.”
Am I doing Jen’s experiment completely and to the letter? Hell to the no.
But I am inspired to do some altered version of it in hopes that it will help me streamline my life so that I can spend more time, energy, and resources on things that really matter. And my prayer is that I will begin to look more like Jesus along the way.
Just as Jen did, I’m starting with food. Jen’s experiment was inspired by one of her friends who did a “Pick 5” fast. So since Jen added two items to her list, I’m going to add two to mine. (See, this is my problem. I’m such an American. Always trying to have more.)
Also, I’m doing this for 21 days, not 30. Every January my church has what it calls 21 Days of Prayer — a special time of prayer and fasting to kick off the new year. This year my plan was to fast sweets for 21 Days of Prayer, which began today. Then Jen Hatmaker came along and turned my world upside down and I’ve now decided to fast nearly all of the foods I love.
For the next 21 Days I will only eat the following:
- lean white meat and fish
- green vegetables
- sweet potatoes
- Greek yogurt
- peanut butter
- wheat bread
This list is similar to Jen’s but for meat she only allowed herself chicken and for vegetables she only ate spinach. Her list included avocado, which I replaced with almonds. I added Greek yogurt because one of my doctors has been encouraging me to eat this for breakfast for nearly a year. Peanut butter is here because a nutritionist in my favorite magazine recommended PB on wheat bread as a mid-morning snack.
Jen only allowed herself to use salt, pepper, and olive oil to flavor to her food. She’s a better woman than I am. I will allow myself to use some low fat, low calorie condiments, but in moderation and I won’t be frying up any of meats on my list.
As for beverages, Jen only drank water. I’m allowing myself green tea as well simply because I spend a lot of time in coffee shops meeting with fellow writers and working on my blog and I need to buy something in order to not feel guilty for taking up space and Wi-Fi.
Looking at my plan you’re probably thinking this won’t be so bad because I have plenty of variety. If you’re thinking that, you clearly don’t know me well. My friends know that I believe the human body needs cheese more than it needs water and that I think most of life’s problems can be solved with a cupcake. I could beat a 16-year-old boy in a pizza eating contest and I’m convinced the manna from heaven God sent down to the Israelites was some form of Mexican food. (Look out! It’s raining chimichangas!)
And for the next 21 days I can’t have pizza, Mexican food, or sweets. Lord, help me.
But, seriously, my prayer throughout my entire streamline project will be the same as Jen’s:
“Dear Lord, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and your kingdom.”
And when I say less of me I mean that figuratively and literally. If I happen to streamline my waistline over the next 21 days I will be a very happy girl.