The Challenge: A Recess from Excess

These times wreak of the times of old. Neronian reforms while the infrastructure crumbles. Maybe. But it has been a time of excessive greed. And while it is easy to look at the greed and self-indulgence of Wall Street, it's quite harder to look inward.

I don't consider myself materially self indulgent. I have bought one electronic item of significance in the past 5 years. I like clothes, but I wouldn't say I am a shop-a-holic like many I know. I save 30% of my salary every month without fail (although that amount seems a lot smaller in my ETrade account as of late). No, my area of self indulgence is food.

After myriad cooking classes, dinners out, and just growing up on Il Mulino, my desire, appreciation and discerning palette is probably my greatest example of self indulgence. Every year I challenge myself to give up something self-indulgent for a month. Last year it was alcohol. This year it is all the beautiful cuts and preparations of red meat.

No lamb. No veal. No steak. No hamburgers at Royale. No all beef hot dogs at Grey's Papaya. Pastrami sandwiches at Katz's. No carnitas plate at Yuca bar. No tender filets or the swappable tender and marbled king of steak, the porterhouse. It has been to date, well, surprisingly easy.

And I would like to tell you how these abstinences make me feel healthy and alive, but they don't really. That's probably the most dissapointing, and perhaps the most encouraging. The body is incredibly adept at processing whatever you throw at it. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the recent evidence that a low fat diet has no effect on health (a low calorie diet does).

No this is a matter of testing will. Testing what you think you can do. And declaring independence from all the self-imposed constraints. To me it's not about pious sacrifice, it's about challenging the rules. Challenging what you think is out of your control.

What do you think is out of your control? Want to test that theory?