a lesson in detoxing

as i mentioned in my last post, i just completed a five-day detox. that means that for the last five days, i’ve moved very intentionally when it came to food. i woke up early to prepare my meals, had a list of nourishing options at my disposal, knew what my day would consist of and stayed within those boundaries.

i chose a hybrid of detox options from sources i trust and came up with this:

day 1 & 5: raw food. banana, avocado, juice, etc. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

day 2-4: Ayurvedic detox soup (mung beans with lots of delicious spices–cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger, etc.) + sautéed greens for each meal. detox tea, also with lots of yummy spices to sip through the day. fresh juice. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

i felt amazing.
my head felt clear, my yoga practice focused, my body light and manageable. and not once, not one single time did i feel starved. i ate when i felt hungry, and stopped when feel. i felt nourished and generally content.

an equally important part of a detoxing period is rest and reflection. rest, so the body can use that energy to work on detoxing the cells. and reflection to discover ways in which we perpetuate the build-up of toxins in our systems.

it’s true that some toxification we have no direct control over–air quality, car exhaust, secondhand smoke, etc. but a good deal of it comes from our personal choices, what we put into our bodies. namely, food and drinks and smoking. rest and reflection gives us the space to seek those out.

a few things arose during my rest and reflection over the last few days. of course, the temptation to do too much, as i mentioned in my post a couple days back. here are a couple more:

1. i rarely put my needs first.
this can manifest in a variety of ways, from allowing someone to repeatedly take advantage of my time to not using the bathroom until all my work is done. food and nutrition, of course, take a hit as i put work before lunch or helping a friend before planning a meal.

2. i overdose daily on electronics.
from when i wake up to when i go to bed, i have my finger on some piece of technology, scrolling Facebook, checking email (writing blogs! ha). i can’t disconnect, and have to admit my bigger problem is detaching from other’s opinions.

3. i have a distorted view of what it means to care for my body.

this is the big one, and actually didn’t come up until i was done with the detox. in the past, any time i’ve fasted or detoxed (whether for health or spiritual reasons) I’ve sustained myself on the vision of what i would eat/drink/consume once the fast was up. i made promises to myself of large lattes from Starbucks and 3 egg omelets w/ bacon and some more.

so, when my sis invited my to dinner at a fav restaurant on the night of my 5th day, i decided i’d been a good enough girl and would make that meal my re-entry into the world. no huge indulgences, no alcohol or anything like that, but i would order a dinner and enjoy it so much.

or so i thought.

i ordered fish & chips and, compared to the wildly seasoned meals i’d been having, it was quite bland. i felt neither satisfied nor content and didn’t finish the meal. in fact, i felt let down. the meal i’d been looking forward to wasn’t adding up.

a latte will help, i thought, and began to dream of the coffee and honey i’d forgone during my detox.

i woke up late, ran out the door without breakfast, and raced to coffee shop for a honey, soy latte. it felt delicious at first, soul-warming and grounding. but without any food to absorb the espresso, my system quickly went haywire. and now i sit, just after the lunch hour, feeling fidgety, shaky, hungry and irritated. where is the peace i experienced during my fast? where is the contentment?

i sacrificed them at the altar of desire.

and that is my greatest lesson from this detox session. i sacrifice myself often at the alter of desire, avoidance, laziness, etc. i gladly change in my self to feel temporary satisfaction.

they say admitting you have a problem is the first step. here’s to the beginning of a long journey!


doing too much

the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, i dedicated my summer to working in West Oakland, CA in a neighborhood called “Lower Bottom” (birthplace of the Black Panthers). it was there that i had one of the first profound prophecies over my life.

not from a shaman, yogi, guru, pastor or priest.

no, these words were simple and to the point and came from the mouths of the middle school girls i was charged with mentoring.

i can’t even remember who was the first to say it, but i’m confident i heard it multiple times from multiple girls. they would look at me after I said and/or did something, raise one eyebrow (which was always a sure sign they disapproved), cock their head, smoosh up their little mouths and say:

“Christie…you’re doing too much.”

of course, it would take me the greater part of a decade to understand what they were trying to say. initially, i was defensive and denied their claims. i wasn’t doing too much, i just cared, liked to help, wanted to be active, yada yada yada.

but as the years have worn on and my body has worn out, i’ve come to understand the wisdom in such simple words.

hello, I’m Christie, and i do too much.

this past week, i decided to embark on a detox. this is nothing new to my life. multiple experts in the natural health and healing circuit recommend a regular detox. detoxes relieve the digestive system of the burden of digesting food and can better focus on removing the build-up of harmful toxins from the system. there are many detoxes out there, but i chose a hybrid of raw & Ayurvedic practices. my detox started with only consuming light, raw fruits and vegetables on Tuesday to ease my body in, moved into a soup/sauteed greens option from Ayurveda on Wed-Fri, and will finish tomorrow with more raw foods to ease my body out.

along with the nutritional detox, most experts stress a mental/emotional detox as well. mine must have been ready for it because i woke from a bad dream Tuesday night, crying into the dark, tears of release. i wanted to let the days of the detox be more intentional, focused on reading the signs of my body, honoring the need to rest and nap.

Wednesday had other plans.

i knew i would need to work at the studio for about 5 hours, then head to a friend’s to clean for 2. then i planned to go see a movie by myself. except a project was overdue and sent me running around town to the printer, then miscommunication between staff meant covering the evening shift at the studio, then the POS software was giving me fits and warranted 2 calls to the help line. i got home at 9:15p and collapsed into bed.

i do too much.

this reality has been a hard one to accept. i moved from denial to anger (why CAN’T I do whatever i want?!) to bargaining (ok, if i just nap here and here, i can still do ALL THIS STUFF!) to depression and acceptance, which i find myself toeing the line as i wrestle with feeling sad at the thought of missing out and then relieved when i just allow myself to rest.

no matter the stage, though, the truth was undeniable. i began to notice a pattern of really exerting myself–accepting every offer to hang out/do coffee/grab a drink, attending every event i thought would be interesting or was invited to, etc–then crashing. it was as if i went back to the well and found it completely dry but my body/mind/spirit completely parched. and i panicked. i retreated. sometimes involuntarily.

one such event happened several years ago. a friend who lived in Chicago agreed to let me borrow her apartment when she was out of town. i packed my backpack, hopped on the MegaBus and, several city buses later, arrived in her place. a wave of exhaustion rushed over me and i laid down for a nap, that turned into bedtime, that rolled into the next day and afternoon and night. i ventured out only once for dinner. i felt sick but something told me i just needed the rest. all my grandiose plans to explore the city and journal and have adventures went out the window. my reserves were depleted and, finally being away from the voices and temptations in my own city, i could hear my body/mind/spirit crying out for a break.

this detox period has heightened those senses. today, after working/running errands all morning, i considered squeezing in a movie with Indy Film Fest (they’ll be gone tomorrow and i haven’t watched NEARLY enough, i argued with myself), before heading back to the studio to work all evening. i kept going back and forth, should I? shouldn’t I? when i sat down to eat my lunch of soup and a banana, i realized how sleepy i was. then i recalled how i woke in the middle of night and evaluated the fact that i am not consuming as many calories, and realized i would probably need a rest more than i need to battle traffic to hurry to the movie, then battle traffic to hurry back to the studio.

so i took a rest.

i would love to say it made all the difference, but i’m not sure. it did, however, leave me refreshed for my evening shift, not depending on caffeine to keep me going. for that i am grateful.

but still, what does it mean to say no? to live in balance?

this, i am still learning. living for so long suppressing the cues of my body has left me a bit out of touch. yoga helps. detoxing helps. but mostly think i will just need time and practice. practice listening. practice weighing options and disciplining myself to choose just one. practice appreciating the details of my daily life-the sun shine in thru the doorway, the way my cat contorts his body during a nap on the couch, the smile of my honey when i come home. all those things that get lost in my “fear of missing out.”

hello, my name is Christie and i am in process.


going raw.

tomorrow, i’m going raw.

but let me back up a few steps.

i recently had a dream that i was diagnosed with cancer.  i’ve heard many stories of people diagnosed with cancer who decided to buck “conventional” treatment and, instead, bolster their immune system by eating a diet chock full of raw vegetables and fruits.  and so, distraught and emotional, i made a claim to drastically change my life: i was going raw.

i woke up craving raw brownies.

as i shared this dream, and my cravings, with my online community (aka. i posted on facebook), a good friend introduced me to the Rawtarian and her 30-day Raw Food Diet Plan.  i was intrigued, and had a slight twinge to try more raw recipes, but couldn’t convince myself that anything for 30 days, especially only raw food, would be anything close to what i wanted.

but then i kept thinking about it.  journaling about it.  reading about it.  and it actually is what i wanted.  for many reasons.

1. i’m tired of feeling sluggish.
i have a fairly healthy diet, but i’m still, as the Rawtarian puts it, “addicted” to so many foods that are not doing any good for my body.

2. my pants are too tight.
i’m also quite tired of being borderline overweight.

3. i want to see how my body will respond to such an overdose of healthy intake.  i want to see how my body works when it’s working at its best.

so i made the commitment, and set my sights on Monday morning for a start.  still, not all of me was convinced.  my inner child began to pout.  one of the first items on the shopping list, fruits, said simply, buy as many fruits as you like!  

i.  HATE.  fruit.  said my inner child, as she crossed her arms over her chest, stomped her foot, and scrunched up her face, throwing a temper tantrum in the produce aisle.  i gave her a minute (and a caramello candy bar) and heading for the check-out.  tantrums are fine, and it’s always best to be honest about how one’s feelings, but they shouldn’t always dictate our behaviors.

now, with my pantry stocked with nuts, and chia seeds, and all manner of fruits and veggies, i can’t help but feel i’m on the eve of some great journey.

dia seis

rode my bike for almost an hour today, in the beautiful newness of morning.  and thinking about riding it to church in tomorrow.  i’m very serious about this exercise thing.

day 6 has started with little to no fanfare otherwise.  last night, i came home starving to my roommate and her friend melting down chocolate to dip strawberries.  i wanted some, but didn’t crave it.  this is very good.  i ate my leftover taco salad and was quite content.  one thing i’ve come to appreciate, both for it’s cheapness and health content is black beans.  they really go a long way!  below is my recipe for a great (and sugar free!) taco salad.

fresh salsa (basically…tomatoes, onions, cilantro)
organic blue corn tortilla chips
organic lettuce (i prefer the darker kinds to iceberg)
organic, grass-fed ground beef or, my fav, bison
1 can of organic black beans
other fav veggies you eat raw (peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, etc)
chili powder

brown the meat, adding cumin and/or chili powder as desired.
chop lettuce and any other veggies you’d like to add.
crush chips and use as base, then build toppings from there.  top with salsa and guacamole.
stir and enjoy!

this is great for summertime, is relatively chip and contains many fresh, raw ingredients.  it’s very filling so a little bit goes a long way!

day 5 on detox

the other day, as i was getting adjusted at the chiropractor’s, he noted that there was inflammation in some muscles along my spine.  which i have also noted were tender to the touch, but didn’t know why.  he asked if i’d been working out (i haven’t) and then explained that it seemed my muscles were holding on to some toxins; sweating from working out would help to release them.

so exercising = detox.  good to know.  running gets moved up the priority list.

other than that, i’m doing well moving through a world without sugar.  i even turned down nutter-butters (a childhood fav) and juneberry pie after dinner last night.  this round of detox is definitely much easier than the last time; cravings are already dissipating.

on another note, my grandma just agreed to let me write the story of her life!  i pitched the idea to hear a couple weeks ago, after coming back from my uncle’s funeral.   while at the funeral, i got to meet a classmate of my grandma and great aunt’s.  my grandma introduced her as “the one who remembers what my mom looked like” and always says that my grandma looks just like her mom. 

anyone who knows me and my mom knows i look just like her; i can’t go to Wal-Mart in my hometown without someone recognizing me based on these merits.  so the fact that there is only one person who remembers this made me sad.  i realized that there is so much about my grandmother i don’t know.  may never know if i don’t collect the stories.

so that’s what i will be doing.  she only has a couple weeks before going back to El Salvador, so i will need to get going with some interviews.  after that it will be mostly by correspondence.  i am looking at a long and big project, but i couldn’t be more excited to have this in front of me!

day 2

day 2 of no-sugar/flour.  not doing too bad.  i don’t get paid until tomorrow so i’m trying to be creative with the few “healthy” ingredients i have in stock.  last night i had refried beans with diced tomatoes on top, which is actually really good, despite how plain it sounds. 

life seems hopeful today.  it’s nice to feel that way unprovoked.  what i mean is simply that life doesn’t look any different today than it did yesterday, but i’m more excited about it.  a girlfriend and i spent time in prayer last night, just thanking God for His good gifts, and i think that really helped to focus me on seeing things going on in my life as a blessing, not a burden.

on a different note, i will be writing support letters for training school in the next week.  we will likely be going to Toronto mid-August….eeee!  excited for this next adventure!

no sugar here

day 1 back on a sugar/white flour free diet.  as money gets tighter and tighter, this is becomes a tricky situation, as processed “food” tends to be much cheaper than the food/fuel that is actually good for the human body. 

i am a firm believer, however, that money should not be the only concern when buying food.  as with many others, i was taught growing up that my priority when grocery shopping was to price compare, and always go for the cheapest items.  if i still bought into that lie, i would be where most Americans are now–overweight, unhappy, on their way to or currently dealing with diabetes.

besides all the things any article on the subject will tell you, i simply notice an incredible difference when my diet is free of these things.  first of all, my weight normalizes and i don’t feel uncomfortable about the pockets of fat that build up around my mid-section.  i am better able to focus, feel less sluggish or tired.  and my mood is more stable.  overall, i feel my body returning to a “normal” state of being.

to any beginner interested in going this route, i would say begin by adding “clean” foods to your diet; don’t focus so much on taking out yet.  “clean” simply means it’s natural (as opposed to processed)–raw fruits, vegetables, lean meats–and has been grown in the absence of pesticides, hormones, or other injections.  locally grown organic is the best route to go.  as you continue adding, you will naturally begin to cut out other things. 

in this process, begin watching labels.  you will begin to see that “high fructose corn syrup” is in many, many processed foods, even ketchup!  this is a cheap sugar substitute that metabolizes as sugar in the body.  white flour also does the same thing.  you should begin to avoid these things in your everyday diet.

so, what does a “sugar-free” day look like for me?
breakfast:  2 eggs, cooked however, coupled with fruit
snack: mix of sunflower seeds, almonds and raisins, possibly a larabar
lunch: lean lunch meat/lettuce/hummus wrap, carrots and humus, fruit
dinner: a lean meat or salad option, veggies and hummus dip, more fruit with almond butter

see a pattern?  🙂  hummus and almond butter have been life-savers at times, especially when i didn’t “feel” like eating veggies.  i could just dip them in hummus!  and almond butter goes great with fruit, or even by itself.

the first time i went through this, i went through a sort of detox.  i had a major migraine and a couple other headaches, but after about 2 weeks, i didn’t crave sugar any longer and could look at cookies without desperately pining for one.  so just hang on, if this is where you are.  it will get better!