sex, salaries and salads: just do the hard work

Week nine of our first Financial Peace University class just concluded, so Sean and I hosted a little party to celebrate with about 30 of our delightful class members. I didn't expect to feel so emotional about it, but I did. In just two months, our class members saved up $26,000 in cash, paid down $25,000 in debt, and had some serious plastic surgery--cutting up more than 33 credit cards.

Hard work, all of that.

The longer that Dave Ramsey's lessons about money bounce around in my head, the more I am convinced that whether the topic is money, or healthy eating, or sex and family planning, success lies in realizing just one simple lesson:

There is no substitute for hard work.

Smart man.

Last week I ran across the instagram account of plus-size model Tess Holliday. She had posted a photo of the side of her face, post-shower, without make up. Her skin had some blemishes. The caption:

“Here to tell you that even ‘Supermodels’ have breakouts. Hormones are a killer. Also can I just say that ever since my IUD my skin has been whack. Can we please have better birth control options.”

Oh girl. I've got a great form of birth control for you, and it's never once made my skin break out. I did a little research about this post of Holliday's, and found this commentary from Refinery 29 (and pardon the French):
She's not alone, either. Whether in the form of oral birth control pills or an intrauterine device (a.k.a. IUD), so many of us struggle with seriously f---ed up skin due to synthetic hormones. We want to practice safe sex and protect ourselves, but sometimes it feels like acne is the price we have to pay. 
To Holliday's IUD-specific claim, Dr. Debra Wickman, MD told Refinery29 that it happens. She says that around 15% of women who use an IUD as their form of birth control will experience skin issues due to the levonorgestrel hormones released into the body, stimulating skin's oil glands to start pumping oil on overdrive. Thus, triggering acne. 
Luckily, there are solutions. "You can make some impact by cleaning the skin with benzoyl peroxide," Dr.Wickman says, adding that sometimes the body just needs some time to just get used to the foreign object sitting in their uterus. She recommends giving it six months before getting rid of your IUD due to acne. "The body does an amazing job of adjusting and compensating," she explains.
Are you kidding me??

Decades and decades of the lobby for sexual revolution, fighting for "reproductive freedom" or whatever, and the best they can do is: "acne is the price we have to pay" and "sometimes the body just needs some time just to get used to the foreign object sitting in their uterus."


No. There is no pill nor device that takes sex, separates it from procreation, and makes that transaction without a fee. Natural family planning is no picnic, I know. It's lessons and charting and sacrifice and abstaining, maybe a little, maybe a lot.

But there is no substitute for hard work.

Dr. Joel Furhman's book, Eat to Live, darkened our doorstep recently, and ever since reading it, our family's diet has undergone a pretty radical transformation. We are... well, there's no easy way to say it.

We've become reluctant vegans.

Very shoddy and resentfully crunchy vegans, really.

I cannot do justice to the onslaught of evidence Furhman delivers in his case against eating meat and animal products. But he connects the rapid rise in cancer rates, obesity, diabetes and the other medical ills of Western society with the rapid increase in animal product consumption. He explains how nutrient-deficient our society is, forever plying ourselves with diet products, barraging our systems with low-nutrient foods, flooding our meals with protein, rarely eating unrefined plants, and then swallowing a multivitamin to feel better about it all.

I had to laugh at my post about meal planning. Just weeks after writing it, I had to utterly revamp every shelf in my pantry.

I tossed the salad dressing and bought pure tahini.

I stopped buying my beloved gluten free Ritz-lookalike crackers and started making smoothies for breakfast.

I threw out the frozen pizzas and put 10 lbs of walnuts in my freezer.

I serve 3-5 vegetables a night for dinner, along with some beans. My counter is awash in the cuttings and clippings from making a full-scale salad bar, daily.

I cook with something called, no joke: DINOSAUR KALE.

I digress. Tears come about every 7th meal or so--and that's from me, not the children.

It's an ongoing struggle to find my way back to normalcy and ease in the kitchen, getting comfortable cooking without salt or oil. But Sean is feeling better than he has in years. All of my issues with digestion have greatly lessened or stopped altogether (which is great, because, as I told my GI doc when he recommended an endoscopy for my tummy troubles: "I literally have no idea when I'd ever have time to do that").

One of Dr. Furhman's tenants is that our society expects to be able to eat whatever we want, damn the consequences, and then just take a pill (sound familiar?) to fix the inevitable problems:

"The modern food and drug industry has converted a significant portion of the world's people to a new religion--a massive cult of pleasure seekers who consume coffee, cigarettes, soft drinks, candy, chocolate, alcohol, processed foods, fast foods, and concentrated dairy fat (cheese) in a self-indulgent orgy of destructive behavior.
 When the inevitable results of such bad habits appear--pain, suffering, sickness, and disease--the addicted cult members drag themselves to physicians and demand drugs to alleviate their pain, mask their symptoms, and cure their diseases. 
These revelers become so drunk on their addictive behavior and the accompanying addictive thinking that they can no longer tell the difference between health and health care."
Chewing kale makes me feel like a hangry brachiosaurus. However:

There is no substitute for hard work.

How can it be that it is the same with food as it is with money; the same with family planning and sex as it is with monthly budgets; the same with saying no to cheeseburgers (if I want to keep my waistline trim) as it is with periodically saying no to sex (if I want to keep my waistline, ahem, trim)?

I don't know how it all coalesces, but it does. Here's hoping for the grace, endurance and fortitude to continue choosing the hard work over the substitutes.


  1. Thomas Edison should have said, "There is no substitute for stealing other peoples ideas and hard work". That would more accurately reflect Edisons life.

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  3. The modern food and drug industry has converted a significant portion of the world's people to a new religion--a massive cult of pleasure seekers who consume coffee, cigarettes, soft drinks, candy, chocolate, alcohol, processed foods, fast foods, and concentrated dairy fat (cheese) in a self-indulgent orgy of destructive behavior.
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