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!

you’ve come a long way, baby

last week, my little sis had surgery (it was brief and she is recovering nicely) and i agreed to meet her at the hospital.  running late, i had to call before hand to send her my well-wishes and get directions to the surgery center.  as i spoke to my dad, i came to realize that it was just him and my mom there with my sister and, now that my sis was actually back in surgery, my parents were alone together in the waiting room.  and it was ok.  neither was pressuring me to get there, neither indicated a need for intercession or a buffer.  i was told all was well and to be safe getting there.

i cried as the realization of this moment washed over me.

but let me back-track just a minute, to give a greater perspective on the significance of this. my parents separated during my senior year of high school and divorced during the freshman year of college.  it was  a bitter time, full of anger and anguish and disappointment for all parties.  my parents found it hard to be around one another without incident, and we existed that way for years, my sis and i serving as buffers, nervous about moments where the two may have to be in the same space as one another.  it was a hard road, full of anxiety and pressure on my sister and i’s part to keep the peace.

but now, (NOW!), they were sitting there, in that waiting room, not best friends but not enemies.  gathered for a common purpose and not needing anyone to intercede.  they have come a long way in healing, and therefore our family has begun to heal.

a friend once told me she believes we pick the families we come into.  that before we’re born, and we’re just little speck babies out there in the universe or heaven or what have you, we pick the life we choose to enter.  i don’t know how i feel about that or if i agree with the philosophy, but it is incredibly empowering to think that we’ve chosen this life.  then i’m not the victim of the things that happened in my childhood or the events of my family.  i chose this life.

i choose this life.

at the start of 2013, i wrote this about the words i wanted my year to focus on, and so many of them have played a vital role in my year.  in preparing for 2014, tho, that phrase above–i choose this life–keeps coming to mind.

i choose the changes i’m making, the direction i want to go.  i choose my health.  i choose to love.  i choose to cherish the humans i’ve been entrusted to care for.  i choose to go into the kitchen and make a delicious, nourishing meal instead of going out for cheeseburgers (ok, i’ll choose that most of the time).

so, cheers to 2014!
“make good choices!”

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.

the eve of the eve.

IMG_3897

“to a better year.”

this was me a year ago, at a New Year’s Eve party my friend and i hosted.  in front of the lens of the photobooth, we danced, and wrote posters and celebrated the end.  and the beginning.

my biggest desire: a better year.

so here i sit on the eve of the eve of the end of this year i hoped would be “better,” and have to admit that it was in so many ways.  hard but good.  stinking of death but robust with life.  i entered this year a broken (and broke!) wreck, and am walking out of it at peace with my ever-healing mess.

this year saw a few different guys who laid claim to my heart, a devastating separation from a good friend, a bike accident, the long-anticipated Superbowl come and gone, goodbye to an old dream and hello to a new job, a sickness that made me afraid i might ultimately lose my father, yoga and 12-step groups, dating and falling in love, reconciliation and renewed friendship.

whew.  that’s a mouthful.

still, with all this (and so much more), i sit in a state of slight disbelief that this year is nearly over. as remarkable as this year has been, it’s end is approaching with very little fanfare.  i will rise tomorrow, and go to work, and check emails and eat lunch.  and apart from spending the evening party hopping from one hopping party to another, it will look just like any other day.

i think this is why it’s been hard for me to reflect on the year.  i’ve been trying, though without much effort, to think of what my new year should focus on, what is the burning desire i want to see fulfilled?  what is my “to a better year” for 2013?

i still do not have a clear answer, but the word “contentment” floats lazily and peacefully to the surface.  i cannot yet tell if this is my desire or where i find myself or if its something i should try to center on.  but still, it sits on the edge of my mind and lingers, like the smell of lotion after a bath.

here are some other words that i’d like to focus on during this coming year:

cook.
whole and wholesome meals.  for fun and for serious.  even when i don’t want to.  especially when i don’t want to.

practice.
patience.  hospitality.  yoga.  learning to let go.  grace for myself.  sitting still. observance of the gifts of the seasons (rest and reflection in the winter, preparation and planting in the spring, growth and giant living in the summer, harvest and ending in the fall).

find.
that place where my strengths and passions intersect.  endurance.  healing.

tend.
myself.  my home.  a garden.  the yard.  a peaceful space. those pesky finances.

celebrate.
victories, big and small.  my 30th birthday!

love.
myself.  my sweet B.  those around me.  wildly.  fully.  in risky ways.  all those quiet and subtle places only i am privy to.  even when it’s hard.

so, here’s to 2013, and all the unknown wonders and experiences it has to offer!

weekday vegetarian.

there is something extremely gratifying about making dinner from scratch.

even after a long day.  even though there were a ton of veggies to cut.  even though it needed to boil and simmer and saute until it was almost 8p before we actually ate it.

even then.

a friend of ours recently explained how he was trying to be a “weekday vegetarian.”  his reasoning was simple: he loved meat, but he recognized a drastic difference in his body when he didn’t eat it.  he felt lighter, healthier.  so he made a compromise.  eat a vegetarian-based diet throughout the week, and indulge in some meat dishes on the weekends.

after giving this considerable thought, i decided to try it for myself.  i actually eat a lot of veggies as it is, but i tend to fall back on meat dishes when i’m tired/home late from work/lazy, etc.  a strictly vegetarian diet takes so much more intention on my behalf.  i have to actually think through each day, each meal, and what i will be making, and what i will be picking up at the market.

fortunately, there are some resources out there that make it easier.  Sonja and Alex Overhiser, of a couple cooks, are one such resource.  i was recently introduced to their blog, a collection of recipes from their kitchen, and i honestly can’t believe i ever did without.

my first experimentation, lentil and butternut squash soup with chard, was amazing enough to please even my skeptical boyfriend.  the majority of the ingredients were actually available at the winter farmer’s market and, on the recommendation of a friend, i substituted kale for the chard.  the result was pure deliciousness.  the primary veggies, squash and corn, created a sweetness while the oregano and thyme resulted in a savory delight.

this was not the only recipe that caught my eye.  in fact, the whole blog about made me drool off my chair, but my next attempt at awesomeness will be the sweet potato and red onion galette.  here’s to a more delicious level of food creation!

and to vegetarianism being tastier than expected.

simple things.

there are beautiful things in this life.  simple, but profound.

usually, we get just a glimmer of them, a taste before they are washed away.  we see a sun setting, the sky oranges and blues and purples, and try to make it stay.  to hold onto it as its slips down beyond the horizon.  we feel the brushing kiss of a lover as they say good-bye, and try to recall the touch for hours after until it is a memory, only in our mind.  we hear the birds chirping in the morning and smile before going about our day.

simple, little pieces of life we have to work to distill out of the grit and gray around us.

sometimes, though, we get an extra blessing.  events line up in just the right way and we are able to experience these pleasures back -to-back, even overlapping.  today was one such morning for me.

i made a simple lemon tea and headed to yoga.  our teacher moved us through a series of poses and motions that were meant to energize.  i left feeling clear-headed, strong, and sweaty.

a colder shower continued the feeling of clarity and energy (i read in an Ayurvedic practice book that cold showers are good for my constipation because they open the blood vessels and facilitate detoxing; i’ve been attempting them ever since).

then i headed to the market, confidence exuding from my every pore, even as i shared with someone about my accident; this was a nice first.  picked up a strawberry and mint plant, as well as eggs and greens and brussel sprouts.  excitement brewed for the plants i could grow this spring and my spirit felt revived by the people interactions–both firsts for this crazy season i’ve been in.

i strolled back to the car, my hands and arms full of good food and coffee, the sun warming my skin to perfection.

then came another doozy of a pleasure–a veggie crepe and Intelligentsia coffee.  as my tastebuds danced and my stomach rejoiced, i couldn’t help but reflect on this series of events and note how blessed of a human bean i am.

put bacon on/over/around/in it.

similar to the “put a bird on it” philosophy, bacon has taken over the landscape of our taste buds.

on the way to Broad Ripple last night to see a friend’s art exhibit, the girls in my car and i discussed all the ways we’ve heard for using bacon: bacon jam.  bacon frosting.  bacon cookies.  chocolate covered bacon.

i’m starting to sound like Bubba (shrimp cocktail.  shrimp gumbo.  shrimp…).

so, when we reached the Scratch Truck food truck in SoBro, i just had to get their special dessert: bacon maple creme brulee.

verdict: incredible.  beyond incredible.  beyond words.

we got to Indy Hostel, where our friend’s work was showing, and pretty immediately met an Aussie named Kathy.  i offered her my desert, as we were sharing amongst us, and her nose crinkled up when she heard the combo of ingredients.

“bacon?” she said in her incredible accent from down-under.

“yeah, it’s kind of an American thing,” my friend responded.  “we like to put bacon on everything.”

welcome to America, i thought.  where our thing is to find a way to put bacon on/over/around/in everything we eat.

still, i’d eat that creme brulee again in a heartbeat.

on a more serious food note, i have been incredibly cold lately, have had an incredibly hard time warming up, from the inside out.  while this is probably partly to due to the drastic changes in our weather lately, i have to also acknowledge that i have not been good to myself nutritionally.  so i decided to finally try a recipe my wonderful Ayurvedic cookbook recommends: Ginger and Soy milk Chai.  it is working wonders.  here it is, for your enjoyment.  please note, if you are a warm body, please avoid.  it could heat you up too much, make you irritable.

Ginger and Soy Milk Chai
from Anjum’s Eat Right For Your Body Type
by Anjum Anand

1 1/2 c water
1/4 c unsweetened soy or rice milk
3 black peppercorns
8 green cardamom pods, lightly bashed to open the husks
small pinch of green fennel seeds
1/2-inch cinnamon shard
3 thin slices of ginger
1 black tea bag
honey

heat the water, milk, spices and ginger in a medium saucepan.  once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low-moderate, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chai reduces down to about one large cupful.  be careful as the milk can easily rise and boil over, but a low temp should prevent this.

add the teabag (i used loose-leaf tea in a strainer) and let it brew for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it is the strength you like.  Strain into your cup and sweeten to taste.