So, yesterday I alluded to the fact that my Honey and I participate every year in something called “Norwegian Month.” What is this strange event? Does this involve winter swimming in the Potomac? Are you even Norwegian? The first question will be resolved here shortly. The answer to the last two questions is emphatically no. I like to avoid hypothermia as much as the next girl (well, most of the time), and not a drop of Norwegian blood runs through either of our veins.
The seed of this month was planted several years ago while we were watching the Winter Olympics. We couldn’t help noticing that (for lack of a more refined phrase) the Norwegians were killing it. I’m not saying that they won every event, but they seemed like they were born for rigorous, alpine sport. In every interview they stood there – tall, strapping, impossibly healthy – the vapor of their breath in the arctic air only faintly and momentarily obscuring the ruddy flush on their cheeks that was brought on by intense physical exertion.
We started making comments about the likely lifestyle of these exemplary athletes. There was no way they drank alcohol or ate sugar. They probably had fish every single day. A fun date for them was probably a two hour run in the snow followed by a session in a hot sauna. Of course we had no way to verify these facts, but I doubt we were far off the mark. When I found out online that the unofficial motto of Norway translates to “There is no bad weather, only inadequate clothing” a legend (in our minds) was born.
That next January, after a month of enjoyable decadence, we decided to not only have a “Dryanuary” (where you give up alcohol), but to go all in and become honorary Norwegians for the month, in the legendary sense we had built them up in our minds. After some rather hysterical research into the peoples of Scandinavia and the stereotypes they hold for each other, we compiled the following rules for our month. Note: we do not stand by the veracity of any of these statements, nor do we mean any offense to the citizens of Sweden, Denmark or Finland.
1. No alcohol. (In adherence with Olympic training mode)
2. No eating out or delivery. (Norwegians are thrifty homemakers)
3. No eating mammals. (Move to the flatlands of Sweden or Denmark if you want beef or pork. This should probably include a loophole to be able to consume small animals you track down and capture in the woods, but let’s just leave it as is for now.)
4. Eat plenty of seafood. (Omega-3′s are great for gorgeous hair and skin.)
5. Enjoy the bracing cold of the winter outdoors as much as possible. (See unofficial national motto above.)
6. Sauna 1-2 times a week. (Refuse to take part in the distasteful Finnish habit of drinking afterward.)
7. No spending money on anything that isn’t completely necessary. (If you don’t need it to survive, you don’t need it. This includes shunning Ikea and all other forms of Swedish conspicuous consumption.)
8. Drink copious amounts of fresh, cold water. (Melted snow is acceptable.)
9. Do light box therapy every morning. (To thwart the creeping and insidious Seasonal Affective Disorder.)
10. No eating after dinner. (Vikings saw late-night snacking as a sign of weakness.)
11. No desserts or sugar. (“Sugar is for losers at lower latitudes.”)
12. Include fruits and vegetables at every meal. (Seasonable is best)
13. Avoid coffee. (Not saying quit it completely, but it’s best to avoid the whole bourgeois café scene. Tea is better. Extra credit for collecting the herbs yourself.)
14. Fix things around the house. (You’ll be looking for something fun to do come cocktail hour, believe me.)
15. No complaining. (Complaints, like baked goods, are best left in Denmark where they belong.)
16. Once pantry/fridge supplies are used up, limit wheat and dairy. (Before the Romans invaded Scandinavia there was no wheat. And unlike flat Denmark, the Norwegian countryside is not conducive to dairy farming.)
17. Wake up early every weekday. (Starting your day in freezing cold, silent darkness is beneficial to the soul.)
So that’s it! Obviously the list is quite tongue-in-cheek, but these really are the rules we live by every January. This is quite different from your usual cleanse, not only because it allows seafood and eggs, but also because there is a definite thrifty element to the whole thing. Using what you have is a key theme. For instance, when I run out of my beloved Earl Grey tea I will force myself to rummage through the cabinets and use what I find. Inevitably, there are boxes of impulse tea purchases lurking around that I will then have to use. This kind of discipline may seem kind of crazy, but I think in this world of having anything that we want exactly when we want it, this is a good exercise to remember what is important.
Also, and I think this is crucial, the point of this exercise is not to lose weight, although that will inevitably happen. It is very important to start this month with the idea of wanting to be kind to you body, instead of being dissatisfied with your body. Think of yourself as being the picture at the beginning of this list. By giving your body fresh water, exercise and nourishing food, you will be treating your temple like a pristine, Scandinavian wilderness. So, who’s in? Even if you just want to pick one or two or ten of the items on the list, leave a comment below and join in on the Norwegian fun!