Grin and Bear it.

“I tried every diet in the book.  I tried some that weren’t in the book.  I tried eating the book.  It tasted better than most diets.” – Dolly Parton

Eleven days into the CLEAN elimination diet is about the time that I start having flash backs to the elementary school cafeteria and the serious business of lunch bartering.  My mother did her best to keep us healthy, filling our lunch bags with really “exciting” items like applesauce or pretzel sticks.  What I really wanted was the chewy gooey-ness of a fruit roll up, or the spongey sweetness of a Twinkie or, heck, I’d even take a Snack Pack lite if it meant I could have something she didn’t want me eating! Oh for that brief, shining moment of kid lunchtime sugar luxury!  And I was pretty much willing to trade my entire lunch for it.

Obviously, as an adult, I can’t approach my co-workers offering to trade my blueberry smoothie for their Snack Pack.  And I’m now responsible for making my own lunches, so the guilt of breaking the cleanse diet would fall solely on me.  If I cheat, it’s a conscious action with no one else to blame.  And yes, I’ve cheated.  I ate oysters.  There. I said it.  And there were witnesses to my anti-clean behavior.  And damn, were they good 🙂  The great part about Dr. Junger’s CLEAN, however, is the only condemnation is what you put on yourself.  Dr. Junger’s attitude towards this elimination diet is about ownership – you own your program.  If you cheat, then you accept it and get back on the wagon.  He suggests you add an extra CLEAN meal on the end of the 21 days to make up for your indiscretion.  In other words, shit happens.  We’re human and it’s hard as heck to be around the Snack Pack eating public on the weekends when your meal is comprised of something from a blender and some tea or water.  Forgive

Delicious CLEAN treats from Rocks on the River

yourself and move on.

This week’s inspiration is about resiliency.  Though a detox/elimination diet is not what you would normally think of as an act of overcoming in the face of opposition, I’m still pretty amazed at our collective wills to continue despite the stress placed on the mind and body.  In the face of all this uncomfortable, socially awkward, and routine-breaking behavior it would be an easy thing to just pitch in the towel.  Most people don’t care enough about your eating habits to judge you and the there aren’t really immediate and in-your-face consequences.  Yet, we continue…  This takes discipline and will power.  In a highly industrialized country, surrounded by comfort and instantly plentiful amounts of food, discipline and will power are not skills we are really ever asked to hone when it comes to our diet.  There isn’t a need for control.  And so we don’t.  Compound this with the expense of organic foods and the fast-paced lifestyles we tend to lead and you’ve got a deck stacked against our ability to persevere in long-term healthy eating.

Dr. Junger drops in via Skype to check on SPY's CLEAN progress

The consequences of our bad eating must become so strong in our consciousness, that we become unable to shirk the hesitation we feel about buying potato chips instead of some roasted almonds.  This is the power of Dr. Junger’s 21 day cleanse combined with Savannah Power Yoga’s CLEAN group.  Thanks to weekly meetings, lunch dates at Rocks on the River and Brighter Day, and Facebook discussion on smoothie recipes and tasty juices…well you can’t really keep healthy thinking out.  And I need that.  I need all that discussion marinating in my mind, pervading my conversations, and invading my Facebook notifications so when I get to that moment where I think – I swear to god, if I have to eat another dang blueberry smoothie! so help me!  – I will still continue the next day (begrudgingly as it may feel at the time). 

And I get curious.  Each time I do this cleanse, I learn a little bit more about food and ways to keep myself healthier for my future.  I’ve already shown signs of insulin-resistance in the past and there’s a definite family history of Type II diabetes.  The empowerment of food knowledge has alleviated the stress of what seemed like a death sentence.  I used to look at Diabetes as not an if but a when.  I had resigned myself to the fate of my grandmother and mother.  “It’s genetics.  Can’t fight genetics.”  I told myself.  That was until my acupuncturist said, quite matter-of-factually, that Type II diabetes is entirely preventable.  The fate of my Type II was in my hands??  You mean…I had to take ownership of my health?  This was not something that was just going to happen TO me??  Well, shoot…

Nothing like a little garlic and supplements to put you back in balance...or make you feel old

My latest curiosity has been over one of my CLEAN supplements – “Balance”.  Balance is a “Selective Kinase Response Modulator.”  What the heck is that?? You might be wondering.  My thoughts exactly!  So I turned to my trusty friend, Google, to find the answer.  I still don’t totally understand, but what I have been able to figure out is that these babies are amino acids that come from plants and they do some cool stuff to help prevent dis-regulation and inflammation.  They stop faulty cell signaling.  This is AWESOME news to a person like me who was told some years back by an endocrinologist that my body was attacking its own insulin.  Obviously, my antibodies were a little bit confused.  Wrong signals.  Insert need for selective kinase response modulators here.

In my searching, I came across an interesting article for those interested in micronutrient therapy (to you, that means supplements) for diabetes and insulin-resistance:

“…in simple terms, micronutrition can help prevent or reverse the damaging effects of insulin resistance because it works system-wide at a cellular level, generally upstream of the pathways targeted by harsher pharmaceutical solutions.”

For the rest of the article, click HERE.

There’s that word system again…

Diabetes is certainly a strong motivator for resiliency.  When I think about quitting or how much I’d rather eat burning charcoal then kale…I remind myself of how much worse it would be to lose my eyesight, lose kidney function, or get a toe amputated…and then it doesn’t seem nearly as bad.  What further contributes to my motivation is the knowledge that I have a significant amount of control over whether this will happen to me or not.  With the help of this detox, I’ve Google searched my way into a lot more food knowledge.  My decisions are far more educated and, subsequently, it’s way harder to shirk off the voice in my head that warns me about consuming copious amounts of food with high glycemic indexes.

So cheers to resiliency!   We’ve made it through 11 days of our 21 day detox.  Next round of juice is on me 😉

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Breakdown Breakthroughs: week 1 complete

Whew! The end of week 1! Can you believe it??? And I’ve narrowly avoided a complete mental breakdown 🙂  no, seriously.  Not to be outdone in

CLEAN friendly goat balls!

any regard, Round 2 CLEAN has added emotional roller coasters to its unwanted headaches as part of my week 1 experience.  Thursday, I cried.  Friday? I cried.  Saturday? Well I became irrationally irritable, argumentative and…surprise…I cried.  What was I crying about?  You name it, I was crying about it.  I’m not loved, I’m too loved, I’m fat, you’re mean, stop trying to control me! I miss cheese… the list goes on.  In speaking with other Cleanies, this is apparently not uncommon.  Some of my fellow Cleanies were dealing with feelings of loss of control (of diet and life in general), reassessing personal relationships, and crying over their lack of morning cereal.  Just to name a few…

If “breakdowns lead to breakthroughs” as Dr. Junger states in the CLEAN manual that came with my supplements…well, we’ll all be solving world peace by the end of this.  Or at least maybe we’ll be a little more aware of and connected to our physical bodies and the emotional energy manifested in that body.  The CLEAN manual tells us that during this detox, we will release emotional toxins in addition to physical ones.  Fear, stress, and anxiety will come tumbling out.  The idea of detoxing emotional/spiritual debris fits neatly in the traditionally Eastern approach to medicine.  I’ve found the idea fascinating ever since I was first introduced to the concepts through yoga, my first run of CLEAN, and the acupuncturist/herbalist I started going to at the suggestion of Dr. Junger’s book.  The spiritual, emotional, and physical you is all connected.  One can influence another and vice versa.  With this in mind, the approach to medicine becomes much more systematic – you are never just treating a localized ailment, you are treating the entirety of the person.

I mentioned in my first post that I’m trying to incorporate some of the option items from the CLEAN book for my Round 2.  Besides apples and

Proper rest is imperative to good mental health 🙂

garlic, I’ve sweated it out in a sauna and been reading a book related to wellness.  Wellness is quite a broad topic and the definition of the word will be greatly influenced by your world view.  But as I mentioned, I am intrigued by the idea of connection and influence between our spirit, emotions, and physical bodies.  So my wellness reading is…a little off the beaten path.  Caroline Myss, Ph.D., author of Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing and medical intuitive, discusses patterns of emotional and psychological stresses, beliefs, and attitudes that influence the human body:




“All our thoughts, regardless of their content, first enter our systems as energy.  Those that carry emotional, mental, psychological, or spiritual energy produce biological responses that are then stored in our cellular memory.  In this way our biographies are woven into our biological systems, gradually, slowly, every day.”

Along these lines, is it not so hard to believe that the converse can be true?  The food that enters our body is also converted into energy and, depending on what we consume, may be good or bad energy that we are putting into our cells.  Bad energy = bad for the cells = inadvertently bad for the soul/the emotions/the physical body.  Regardless of how much your Western upbringing might leave you chortling at the idea of chakras or have you cackling at kundilini, Western medicine has widely accepted the idea that stress, a negative energy in the body, can have extremely detrimental affects on our health and that those who eat healthy and exercise tend to feel much better emotionally.

Brings a whole new meaning to the words ‘soul food’ doesn’t it… 😉

As week one winds down, I’m feeling a little more balanced than I was at the mid-period. Cleaning out my toxins, both emotional and physical, was WAY intense…but I am comforted by the benefits of mental clarity and sound sleep! (not to mention, two people asked me if I’ve lost weight!)  I’m hoping the random bouts of crying are over, cleaned out by the fiber powder and extra bowel movements 😉  Here we go week 2!! 7 days down, 14 more to go.

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Tears of Garlic Gratitude – CLEAN Day 2

Clean Round 2, which I foolishly assumed would be easier than the first time, is starting off painful.  In quite the literal sense.  I have had the headache from hell today!  And it’s only Day 2!!!  I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve started feeling the effects of detoxification.  This whole headache thing is new to me – it was NOT one of the things I was suffering through last time.  Of course last time I also thought I had a baby alien trying to claw it’s way out of my stomach every time I ate…which is why I had decided to do the program in the first place.  Maybe I was too distracted the first week by that to notice any piddly headaches.  Who knows…

This time around I’ve decided to take on a little bit of the extra suggested items to add to the totality of the CLEAN experience.  As part of that, I’m going to journal, catalog, and notate more carefully then I did the last time.  Like all good CLEANies, I started out with the best of intentions on filling out my shiny new Wellness Journal which I toted to every meeting during Round 1 to diligently take notes.  Yep.  That lasted about a week and a half.  In fact, to save myself the purchase this time, I’ve ripped out the few pages I had used before and I’m reusing it again for Round 2.  :-p

Inside said Wellness Journal is a nice little section entitled “Inspirations.”  I decided I’m going to write one down daily.  Today’s inspiration comes from one of Savannah Power Yoga’s newest teachers, Stephanie Mobley.  Obviously, while grunting breathing it out in reverse triangle at six in the morning, I wasn’t exactly able to write down what she said word for word.  But the basic gist is this:  As adults we sometimes forget the importance of a challenge.  We get so comfortable with what we already know, that we miss out on the growth that comes from vulnerability.

Challenges generally aren’t comfortable.  But more often then not, overcoming the challenge more than makes up for the initial strains and pains.  I mean, really, what’s a little headache in the grand scheme of health? or a little garlic breath??  Speaking of garlic, I tried one of the other suggested additions from Dr. Junger – one garlic clove per day between two apple slices.  Here to convey how that experience went is Savannah Yoga Center’s Sue Finkle:

Sue really enjoys the taste of that garlic!

So much it made her cry...

A few people have asked me why I am doing this program for a second time – wasn’t one time enough? they say.  Why would you suffer through this a second time??  Today, Stephanie reminded me exactly why.  Because stepping out of my comfort zone is what has given me chance after chance in my life to evolve into a greater version of my self.  Even if that means tears of garlicy gratitude.  So if you’re out there and you’re trying to get CLEAN, give yourself a pat on the back.  You were brave enough to do this even though it’s hard.  And for anyone thinking about doing this, I promise the end is worth the means.

In addition to journals and garlic cloves, the fabulous CLEAN staff have provided me a supplement package to enhance my experience.  This means a lot of mysterious powdery and pill shaped substances showed up on my doorstep today. Whoa mama.   There’s some chocolate-y stuff and some vanilla-y stuff…and something that seems to simply be a WHOLE lot of fiber.  And you know what increased fiber will mean… oh yes.  But as I’ve yet to analyze the affects of this product, I’ll hold this discussion until a later post.  The pills are aimed at a variety of things from digestion (Ease)  and intestinal support (Clear 2) to insulin function (Balance) and detoxification (Relief).  Yes, everything has it’s own kinder, gentler name.  The fiber powder is called “Move”…go figure. :-p

Round 2, Day 2 is complete.  Challenge accepted.  Bring on the powders and the pooping, we got this!  We’re armed with armfuls of veggies and nuts from local farms, yoga classes at SPY, and support group meetings with advisory staff to escort us to completion.  How can this not turn out well??? 😉  19 more days to go.

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Get Ready for ROUND 2!!

I have not blogged in over four months.  Sorry.  (insert lame excuse here).  Really?  Well…let’s just say I got distracted 🙂  I temporarily lost interest in the musings of my own mind and went exploring. 

Don’t worry, I’m going to naval-gaze again.  Why?  Because it’s time for ROUND TWO OF THE CLEAN PROGRAM! Who’s excited?!?!? this girl.  Say goodbye to dairy, beer, caffeine, and sweeteners.  Say hello to liquid meals, maddening cravings, and lots of everybody’s favorite super food!!….kale. 

What is also exciting about this time around is that the lovely staff of Dr. Junger’s CLEAN program have agreed to send me a shipment of their supplements!  One can only imagine the digestive and colonic cleansing outcomes that may occur with this added element to the program 😉

I will be sharing this intense 21 day elimination cleaning diet with a much larger group of motivated Savannah Power Yogis than the last time (the info session was packed).  Word has obviously spread since our initial CLEAN adventure about the amazing (and somtimes trying) experiences and outcomes.  With the help of Kate Taylor’s keen business sense, the program has expanded to include the assistance of an advising cardio-thorasic surgeon AND an acupuncturist.  To top this awesomeness off, she’s also teamed up with local farmers to supply us with CLEAN-friendly veggies, local meats, and even some nuts!  the snack, that is.   

So get ready to get clean! It’s time.  The holidays have left us dirty with too much dairy and agitated with alcohol! It’s time to get out the vaccuum and do the post holiday cleaning.  Day 1 starts this Wednesday, so stay tuned!

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My first Kirtan with Girish!

I went to my first Kirtan with Girish!! (Seeing Girish is to a yogi what seeing Springsteen is to a Jersey girl.  He rocks!)

For those of you who are wondering what the heck a Kirtan might be, let me explain.  A Kirtan is call-and-response chanting or sacred sung responsory often practiced in the Hindu, Sikhi, as well as certain Buddhist traditions.  If you’ve ever gone to a place of worship, chances are you’ve done something very similar.  If you’ve given a scripted response to your Pastor or Rabbi, raised your hands and swayed while singing ‘How Great Thou Art’, or mumbled the Nicene Creed beside your Catholic pew-mate…well then you’ve pretty much been to a Kirtan too.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I have had a very tumultuous relationship with religion and the spiritual.  Before I discovered yoga, I had pretty much given up on any sense of community spirituality.  I had been hurt by churches and practitioners, shamed and rejected.  I had NO desire to ever expose myself to those types of situations again if possible.  So when Girish’s song ‘Diamonds in the Sun’ played during the sevasana of my first vinyasa practice, I wasn’t really prepared for the emotional opening that happened in my heart.  I felt God.  Or something that felt like I would expect God to feel, regardless of the specifics.  It was like awakening to my soul again.

I was completely in love with the sound of Girish’s music from that point forward.  I loved how open and gentle it made me feel, as if all the hardened edges of this mortal body just melted away and the good, innocent part of me flowed outward into the room.  It made me feel connected – both to myself and to my fellow sweaty, exhausted yogis laying on the practice room floor.  It was so easy to love them – all of them – in that moment.  When my yoga teacher changed her playlist, as one is inclined to periodically do, I went ‘googling’ to find out who it was that possessed that sweet, soothing voice.  Thanks to iTunes, I now have Girish’s whole album anytime, anywhere 😀

If it weren’t for ‘Diamonds in the Sun’ and the familiar face of one of my yoga instructors, Brent Martin, I don’t know that I could have worked up the courage to make the hour trip to Dancing Dogs Yoga in Beaufort, SC.  I’m not comfortable with chanting about the Divine.  I’ve tried a Jivamukti class or two, but something about chanting “Let Thine will be done, not mine” makes my skin crawl.  Too familiar.  You should not be that way, it’s not God’s will.  God’s Will.  The omnipotent being that gave me free will… so that I would choose His? (And “His Will” usually meant whatever the organized religion agreed was the ‘one true way’)  It just never really felt right or made that much sense to me.

I’m not even really comfortable talking with people in an affirmative way about the idea of G/god.  It’s much easier to discuss spiritual matters in a clinical, emotionally removed sense.  It’s not personal.  You can be sarcastic and skeptical, ambivalent or aloof.  It’s not nearly as hard as embracing faith or daring to believe in your own spiritual grace.  But what I had felt, there was no denying.  And I wanted to keep feeling that spiritual growth; I wanted to be a courageous believer.  But how do you make that happen when the word ‘God’ makes you want to run screaming for the hills?

The answer? Sanskrit.  It’s a lifesaver for me.  I have no idea what I’m saying, so there’s not much to get freaked out about 🙂  Seriously!  When I listen to the music of Girish, I don’t know the literal message most of the time.  I’ve taught my tongue and mouth to emit the sounds, but the words are only that – sounds.  My critical mind can’t take over and my ‘story’ can’t interfere.  I am forced to feel the words in the music instead.  The only line of Sanskrit that I’ve managed to learn the translation to is lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu – may all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom of all.  Who wouldn’t be ok with singing that??

It’s not that I don’t one day intend on learning all the meanings of the beautiful, melodic language found in Girish’s music.  I just need to work up to that kind of comfort level and it’s going to take time.  I’m still getting used to the idea that I went to a spiritual gathering of ANY sort, let alone a Kirtan.  I attended and I sang.  That’s enough for me right now. 🙂  (Maybe next time, I’ll even find the courage to obey the impulse I had to reach out and hold my instructor friend’s hand during a particularly moving song –  petrifying!)

The anxiety of my first Kirtan was most definitely eased by the location and people with whom I experienced it.  I’ve only been to Dancing Dogs Yoga ONE time, but when I walked in the door I was greeted by name by studio owner, Shelley Lowther.  She still remembered my face from a single workshop I had taken a few months back that wasn’t even taught by her!  I was impressed and touched that Shelley placed so much emphasis on knowing her studio’s students.  It was apparent as I walked timidly into the studio that the positive attention she gives to each individual has also been embraced by the yoga community her studio has created.  I was supported and welcomed by the eyes of other attendees.  Warm smiles and direct eye contact from every person my gaze fell upon.  There were no critically appraising looks, no glares, no holier-than-thou attitudes.  None of the things that drove me away from the Divine in the first place.  Perhaps this is the start of a new circle of trust between me, spirituality, and the divine in others.

Thank you, Dancing Dogs Yoga & Girish, for a fun sing along and your assistance in nurturing my soul at my very first Kirtan!    Namaste.

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Food Addiction and the End of Detox

Ninety percent of the products in the supermarket come in some kind of container.  In order to extend shelf-life outside of a fridge, these foodlike products are loaded with preservatives – chemicals that kill bacteria.  Most products also contain additives to give them the most attractive color, smell, taste, and texture possible, so we will be tempted to buy and eat them.  The remaining 10 percent of edible items in supermarkets – produce, fish, meat, and dairy products – are put through plenty of unnatural steps as well.    – from the book Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger

Tomorrow marks the end of the Savannah Power Yoga 21 day Clean detox program designed by Dr. Alejandro Junger.  And what a journey it has been!  For the past three weeks, 30 brave individuals have fought pangs of hunger, longings for coffee, and cravings for chocolate all in the name of getting clean.  And ‘getting clean’ for me has oftentimes felt like breaking a serious addiction. 

And I do mean addiction.  Food additives are commonplace these days in a variety of food products we consume, most commonly (but not strictly limited to)  fast and processed foods.  And when I say ‘processed’ food – I’m not just talking about Spam.  Canned foods, white flour pastas, and even fish sticks are considered processed foods and are potentially harmful in your diet.  Steroids and hormones are injected into our meat and dairy sources and have now been linked to obesity and menstruation in females who haven’t even hit their pre-teen years.  Our bodies are being chemically manipulated and most of the time we aren’t even aware of it!  Is it no wonder then that we often can’t resist our chemically induced cravings?!  My drugs of choice? cheese and french fries.  GOD how I loved (love?) those foods.  And last night showed me just how addicted to them I am!

Despite having been detoxing for 20 straight days, drinking two liquid meals each day and avoiding coffee & alcohol, I still started salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs when trapped inside a car with a meal from Jack-in-the-Box as I rode back from a concert with a few friends.  I thought I was going to eat my seat cushion out of desire for some damn curly fries.  Yes, please, dear friend – tell me again how you could never do the detox I’m doing as you swallow another deliciously golden and saltily seasoned piece of potato euphoria.  No, really.  It’s fine.  Nah, I don’t want any.  I’m good with my water back here.  OH. MY. GOD.  When the food was gone and I could finally stop climbing up the side of the car door like a rabid animal, I began processing what had just happened.   I was shocked at how much I physically responded to the smell of fast food.  This…worries me.

Tomorrow this whole thing is over.  No more Foodie AA.  No more facebook support group.  No more Tuesdays at Rocks on the River where Chef Jon prepares us all a deliciously Clean masterpiece.  We’re on our own.  On our own to reintroduce solid food, adult beverages, or sweets as we see fit.  Will I have the self-control to keep myself healthy?  My question echoes back at me as I stare into the unknown abyss of my (un)healthy future.  And it’s more than just the 6lbs I’ve lost or the stomach troubles I’ve overcome.  It’s about the family history of diabetes and heart disease and the fact that I’ve been battling high sugar levels for a number of years now.  I need to keep eating right.

I can’t just go back to the way I was before – not now that the veil of ignorance has begun to lift.  This program, in addition to teaching me about the inflammatory properties of corn-fed beef and the acidifying effects of too much dairy, also led me to experiment with acupuncture. Not only was it one of the most relaxing procedures I’ve ever had with a health professional I’ve also learned some pretty eye-opening diet tips in just three sessions.   At Heal Savannah,  I worked with a licensed acupuncturist to further promote healthy digestion and toxic releases. Nutritional counseling is also offered and I spent the end of my last visit discussing the Glycemic index with the Doc  (I don’t know if it’s correct to call an acupuncturist ‘Doc,’ but I feel its appropriate given the depth of knowledge I’ve noted).  I had never even heard of a Glycemic indext  prior to that session. Nor did I realize that my high consumption of pineapple smoothies, while delicious and ‘natural,’ is also terrible for someone who has trouble regulating sugar in their body.  I need to eat fruits and veggies that don’t instantly break down into sugar upon entering the body.  Who knew that all fruit is not created equal?? 

With all this progress and new information, where do I go from here? This is my resolution: to keep practicing healthy eating.  And I say “practice” for a reason; I’m not about to set some unrealistic, New-Year’s-resolution-type goal.  If the crazy fast food cravings were any indication, I still have a long road to full food addiction recovery.   I get the sense that I’ve just breached the plane of what there is to know about food and how to build a diet to suit my specific health needs.  I know I have more research to  do and I plan on asking for nutritional guidance from those with the know-how.  And maybe the sense of community fostered amongst we yogis who participated in this program will keep acting as a platform of encouragment for the future.  All this healthy eating is expensive as hell,  but as my Mom (a type II diabetic in remission) said to me, “You have to think of it as a financial commitment to yourself.”    And we know Moms are always right 😉 

On behalf of all the participants, I’d like to extend a special thanks to all the instructors of Savannah Power Yoga.  You have started so many of us on a journey we never envisioned.  We have learned so much during this process about eating and about ourselves.  How many of us can say without a doubt that we truly improve the quality of life for those around us?  The Savannah Power Yoga 21 -day Clean detox did just that.  Namaste.

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The End is Near!

That’s right, folks, take heed! The end is near! Sound the alarm! It’s the end of days!  The end of  the Clean detox days that is…one more week and my detox is over.  Free we will be to have adult beverages without guilt once again 🙂

Last night we had our weekly Foodie AA meeting to discuss problems, questions, and general experiences while completing our detox.  Lynn, never one to beat around the bush, got right to the heart of the matter.  “So…has anyone cheated?”  Guilty eyes roved the floor as one by one we disclosed our dirty secrets.  (Hi, my name is Jen and…I drank ADULT BEVERAGES last night…with sugar! oooh, agony!)  Most of our indiscretions were minor – a glass of wine here, a piece of cake there.  Nothing too dramatic.  Overall, our accountability to each other had kept us on track.  Encouragement from Lynn and our consulting Doctor helped relieve most of the self-deprecation that may have been occurring in our minds over our wayward deeds.

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. ~ Mary Pickens

I’ve heard over and over from my yoga instructors that each of us must learn to be compassionate with ourselves and not pass harsh judgment on ourselves  if we falter at times in our lives.  I thought I understood that pretty well.  And maybe I do in the logical sense, but it’s become apparent that I still need more practice in the emotional sense.  One observation I made last night about my own thoughts and feelings was that I was definitely affected by how much weight people were stating they had lost.  Some stated that their husbands had lost 15lbs by week two! ludicrous!  Me? Yep. Holding strong at 4lbs.  I have to admit, it was hard to hear that others had lost so much so easily.  I’ve struggled with my weight my entire adult life and managed to overcome an extremely unhealthy period of being overweight, eating horribly, and smoking.   But even after overcoming this period in life, I’ve still never worn a bikini on the beach.  Ever.  I’ve just never been quite skinny enough.

I know that this program wasn’t aimed at weight loss.  It was never advertised as a diet and there were no promises that you’d be Victoria Secret magazine worthy by the end.  I didn’t agree to do the program for the prospect of weight loss AT ALL.  I did it because I wanted to eat without feeling like World War III was being waged inside my stomach.  But as I made the sacrifices and gave up all the food that I loved to indulge in…well there was a part of me that thought “I’m DEFINITELY going to lose some weight if I’m working out and giving up ALL this food!”  I had expectations that I didn’t realize I had.  And now because I’ve only lost 4lbs, I started blaming my faltering. 

It must have been the alcoholic drinks you had and that solid meal you ate one night.  You blew it.  You knew better.  It’s your own fault that you haven’t lost any more weight.  It doesn’t matter, you’re never going to be that skinny.

Ugh.  Even as I’m typing this, I’m a bit mortified at myself.  I am a confident, independent and successful young woman.  I know this most of the time.  I’m disappointed that I can’t overcome these thoughts and judging myself for even having them.  It is neither reasonable nor logical to feel like you’ve let yourself and others down because you didn’t lose more than 4lbs.  Buh.  We are our worst critics, eh?  Obviously, I’ll need to keep going to yoga so all my wonderful instructors can fill my ears again with how I need to love myself.  I can hear Kendall now, asking us to entertain the idea that we are actually enough.  Perfect, as we have always been.  Practice, practice, practice.  We must practice believing.

On a peppier note, the dust seems to have settled on the battlefield known as my digestive system.  I haven’t had ANY intestinal cramping and the acidic, burning stomach aches are almost non-existent thanks to this detox!  Last week I visited an acupuncturist to assist in the detoxification process and I believe that has helped as well.  And holy cow was it just a cool experience that I probably never would have had without this program!!  I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the strange, floating relaxation that accompanied an acupuncture session before.  My acupuncturist believes that my stomach problems were not solely due to food – stress was most likely an accompanying factor.  BIG surprise there :-p  Thus, I had needles placed in places for both stress reduction and digestive relief.  The needle I was most affected by was placed in my forehead between my eyes.  Instantly, there was a fluid-like rush passing through my sinus cavities, down my jaw, and tingling across my cheeks.  I experienced what can only be described as… expansion?  I had more room in there.  Liquid face? Sounds weird, I know.  Other sensations included a giggly energy fluttering through my chest like butterflies and a strange warmth on the undersides of my forearms and in my palms.  I recommend it just for the tactile experience alone 🙂

So here we are.  Over half way there!  These past two weeks have gone by so quickly in retrospect.  Dr. Junger and the instructors of Savannah Power Yoga were right, you CAN do anything for just three weeks.  It’s just smooth sailing now…or smoothie sailing?  Either way, we’re going to rock this ride until the end.  The positive digestive outcome I longed for is manifesting more with each passing day!  And who knows…maybe I will lose 1 more pound before the end 😉

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Keeping Your Window Clean Takes Practice: Day 10

Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to day 10 of Clean living!  I’m feeling much better than last I wrote – the crazy Medusa mood swings have ceased and my head is no longer spinning around Exorcist-style.  The belly aches are slowly subsiding as well.  Thus, I fished my Clean book out of the trash and put it back on the shelf 😉

Like anything we do in Yoga, the importance is the practice.  Instant health results, like instant enlightenment, is not a reality.  If I’ve been completely unaware and uneducated on food and how it affects my body, why should I be so bold as to think that a week’s worth Clean eating would provide a magic, annoyance free solution?  Ah, a product of my own beloved American culture.  I can’t say I wasn’t warned, either.

Dr. Junger wrote in his book and reiterated when we Skype-ed with him (we totally skyped with the L. A.-living-New-York-Times-Bestseller guy who invented this!) that there will initially be some unpleasant things happening because all the toxins that have built up inside your system will finally have the time and space to be flushed out.  And how do we get things flushed out?  We poop and sweat.  Neither of which seem all that appealing on the surface, eh?  Cleaning your body on this program is like that Spring cleaning, once a year, top to bottom cleaning you might do in your house.  The one where you actually move the furniture to vacuum underneath as opposed to just vacuuming what people can see.  Maybe you never do that.  But you’ve seen what gets trapped under your couch over the years… your body and waste is very much the same.  Lift up the carpet inside you and you might be shocked at what starts coming out!

Just as Dr. Junger advocates against focusing solely on localized problems in the body (vice looking at the body as interconnected systems), he also emphasizes the connection between physical and mental health.  Despite mental health studies consistently toting the benefits of meditation (self-reflection, relaxation techniques, whatever) on both the mental and physical, it’s still widely viewed as a hippie pastime that most modern day Americans aren’t really interested in trying.  I’ll be honest, it kinda freaked me out.  I pictured linen pants, dreadlocks, incense, and spacey individuals gathering in a room together to engage in joint rejections of reality.  But I’ve met some people (even ones who wear linen pants) who are pretty down to Earth in the Savannah yoga community that convinced me to give it a whirl.  I’ve battled anxiety since early adulthood and thought perhaps it would provide me some solace.

Solace? not quite.  Meditating is hard.  One would think that sitting in silence in the same position while focusing on your inhalations and exhalations would be easy – it’s not.  You wouldn’t believe how wily your mind can be!  Making you think all those thoughts! Thoughts you don’t want! And thoughts about those thoughts that you just thought!  I’ve tried meditation a few times now, but nothing consistently.  And, here we find a theme, you really need to practice meditation regularly to reap the benefits and improve.  It’s an exercise of the mind and, like any exercise, the more you do it the better you will become.  Monday night I attended the meditation class that Kate added to the schedule to support our Clean efforts.  It was the longest meditation I’ve ever done – 20 whole minutes of eyes closed and perfect seated posture.  My legs totally fell asleep.  It was so painful.  Obviously, with all that tingly burning I wasn’t really keeping a clear mind!  Tuesday night I spoke with Kendall and Lynn who suggested that I elevate my hips higher (“Like a throne!”) to alleviate some of the intensity in my legs.  I also realized I was sitting ‘Indian style’…which is not in fact how you are supposed to be seated.  As you are working your way up to Lotus pose, you cross your legs, but you don’t put your front foot under your knee and have your ankles crushed.  The feet are just resting against thigh and shin.  Hypothetically, your knees should touch the ground.  Mine aren’t even close, so there’s some obvious stretching that must occur before I get there.

As I sit here with my nightly juice, I’m thinking about the emphasis that yoga gurus put on practice.  It isn’t just the practice we’d normally think about, the practice of the physical asanas.  We need to practice in everything we do, every change we want to see in ourselves.  Healthy eating – takes practice.  Balancing in Tree Pose – takes practice.  Sitting properly in Lotus and meditating for more than three minutes before hyperventilating? takes practice.  To keep practicing takes an open mind, especially if we are going to take on the totality of our being.  I don’t just want to improve my physical self, I want to improve my whole package.  I think about how people have reacted when I tell them I’m doing a detox, that I’ve tried meditating, or most recently that I’ve set up an appointment for acupuncture.  I get told I don’t need to detox because I’m not fat.  Like being fat is the only reason to eat healthy??  I get giggles when I mention meditation, but always from people who have never tried it.  If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize in my life (and that has been further emphasized since my experience with yoga started) is that I don’t want to be the person who speaks about things she’s never actually done.  If I have an opinion, it should probably be one founded on experience.  So I’m trying it.  All of it.  Because it’s healthy!  Because there’s history, culture, AND scientific studies to back it up.  And…I feel really good today!

Did I also mention I’ve lost 3lbs in a week? (4lbs if you weigh me in the morning ;))  I have my energy back, my moods are up, and I’m doing as the Dr. ordered – pooping and sweating 🙂  Life looks pretty good today.

10 days down, 11 more to go.

An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching. ~Mahatmas Gandhi

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I wish I had a guru on speed dial.  Maybe a 1-800-Guru-RUs.  I’d settle for a guru chat room…

Actually, I don’t even need a guru.  I just wish I had a friend who was well-read and wiser on these yogic and eastern philosophy concepts I come across in my daily travels through life.  Somebody I could bother at 8:30pm with a phone call for some deep discussions on why I can’t breathe during meditation.  Maybe they’ve been there too and can give me a tip.  Let’s talk about awareness.  Maybe a little chat about delusions, ostrich-head syndrome, truth?  Can I gush about how I feel an inner peace sometimes? even if it’s just for a moment?  Do you know I love myself a lot more than I did a year ago?  Can you believe that I can feel the good, innocent, god loving portion of myself again?  I thought it was dead.

I’ll be glad I can tell tell them about these things.  I’m dying to know more.  Put your thoughts, your knowledge, your tasks in front of me and I’ll go into immediate execution mode.  Please, tell me something new.  I would say -what about you?  Have you ever thought about visiting an ashram?  Have you been there already?  how did you pay for it and…well…did your family think you were weird?  Were you ever apprehensive to read more and practice more because your skin was too pale and everything in your life up to this point says that is not a place you come from or a place you should be going?  I know that’s completely ridiculous but…  I’m afraid the people who mean a lot to me will make me feel ashamed.

Some days I look around and I think that this – all of this yoga stuff – doesn’t mean as much as I want it to.  All of this energy I push into the motions of my life, my practice, my way of being…  but if it’s only the meaning I want it to have, doesn’t it suddenly seem silly?  a game of make believe that we’ve all taken a silent agreement to pretend is real?  …maybe this is where you discover faith.  I get so confused by the yearning that makes my stomach tie in knots.  Are we giving things meaning as a pathway to the best versions of our true selves? I have been better.  I feel calmer.  My temper has improved and I forgive in my relationship much more.  I practice looking at a person’s intentions.  Most times, a person isn’t intending the hurt they cause.  They’re just dense, eh? My friend would understand.  They’d help me sort through this messy stream of consciousness.  Audio learner 🙂  I digest better through discussion.

I am shedding the layers I built around myself trying to protect my fragile, beautiful love.  But this shedding is a means to what end?  Very Western of me, I know.  So help me, unknown friend.  I can only un-think 29 years of thoughts so much; I could use a hand here.  At times I stand on the precipice of love so large and I have nowhere to go.  I want to share it.  With who? where? how? I need some 1-800-YogaTalk.  Preferably with no extra charges for each additional minute.

hm…this must be why Christians have Bible study.

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A Clean Ride is a Bumpy Ride

Week one is complete – finally!  And I only contemplated homicide for chocolate once!  I’d say that’s an accomplishment.  🙂

Week One on the Clean detox has proven to be a confusing, emotional roller coaster for me.  I started off enthusiastic, prompted by the energy of our Clean group at Savannah Power Yoga.  But as we went our separate ways into individual weeks full of work, obligations, schedules, and stress…well, it was a little harder to feel so enthusiastic about juicing my dinner.  And even harder to be enthusiastic about the cleaning of said juicer.

The biggest problem I’m facing is low energy.  This whole week my workouts have been kicking my ass “asana.”  Tuesday morning, I had to take Child’s Pose for the first time since I started yoga because I thought I was going to yak right there on the mat.  Ugh.  I felt totally lame.  Thankfully, Kate reminded me that this is pretty common for the first week because your body is adjusting.  We agreed it was probably a good idea for me to look into the Vega smoothie infusion powder suggested at our last Clean meeting to give me some extra needed protein.  All this fruit, while delicious and healthy, is probably jacking up my sugar levels and a protein will slow the insulin releases to keep me level.  I ordered my powder online only to find it’s available on the shelves at Brighter Day. doh.  My powder should arrive tomorrow, but in the meantime I feel like Lead Legs Louise every time I’m doing anything physical.  I apologize in advance for my wobbly warriors and pathetic pigeons.

Another participant had asked both Kate and I if we had experienced any emotional swings unrelated to normal monthly fluctuation.  At the time I said that I hadn’t.  I take it back.  Holy cow.  The end of my week was bizarre emotionally.  It was actually a bit scary just how much I was roller coastering.  I was irritated  and angsty, then sad, then numb.  The worst was Friday because there was a total lack of motivation.  To work, to play, to feel anything.  It was like a disconnect between the logic center of the brain and the emotion center.  I was aware of my numb, sad, weirdly angst-filled self…and I asked myself about it, got curious…you know, all the yogi stuff…  but I couldn’t really get a good understanding of what was going on inside.  To make matters worse, I kept getting stomach aches.  They were nothing like the painful, burning, bloated and crampy ones I had been having prior to the start of the program.  They were mostly just bloated and gassy and were relieved when I’d FINALLY go the bathroom.  But the waiting for that moment and the obvious discomfort made me moody.  Wasn’t this stupid detox thing supposed to stop this?? Why do I still have pains in my stomach!? I thought, giving my Clean book the best scowl I could muster.  After the book failed to respond to any of my directed hostility, it finally dawned on me that perhaps the increase in fiber might be causing the gas and bloating.  hmm…ok, I’ll give it another week.

So on to week two!  7 days down, 14 left to go.

Breakfast:  Blueberry, Cocoa, and Almond Milk Smoothie

1 cup blueberries

1 1/2 cubs almond milk

1 tsp agave syrup

2 tspn cocoa

1/2 cup ice

Lunch:   Grilled Chicken Breast and Quinoa salad

1 chicken cutlet (brush with olive oil, sea salt, pepper)

1 cup Quinoa (follow prep directions on package)

combine cooked quinoa with:

1 avocado

1 cucumber

1 can of chickpeas (I only used half the can)

1 can of black beans (again, 1/2’d it)

rice vinegar, sea salt, lemon juice to taste

Dinner:    I made a really horrible dinner juice that I hope to never repeat.  I got a little too crazy with my creative use of leftover stuff in the fridge.  Whatever juicing you do, I’d advise tempering any tart flavors, like parsley and lemon, with something sweet.  I  literally had to choke down my juice because I refused to let it go to waste.  bleck.

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