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!


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!

oh sugar, sugar…

i had ice cream cake yesterday.  the first real sugar in nearly 12 days.

my coworker and i had an agreement, long before i quit sugar, that we would buy me an ice cream cake.  and yesterday he did.  i must admit that i was apathetic about the whole thing, which is odd for anyone who knows how much i LOVED ice cream cake (that was my only birthday request last year).  this apathy was a pleasant surprise. 

i agreed to eat it because it was technically a “celebration cake,” so i cut myself a piece with the most icing and dug in.

i was immediately sick.  miserable.  bloated.  as good as it tasted for that temporary moment, the torture afterward was not worth it.  i struggled through the rest of the afternoon, feeling tired and sluggish, near the edge of throwing up.  a resolve grew slowly deep in me and i knew i wouldn’t struggle with the remainder of the cake being in the ice cream.

the truth is, as hard as it was, that was a good experience for me.  it was like it became my decision.  i owned it.  before it was still my choice, obviously, but it still felt like deprivation.  i still longed for cookies after a long day, or for chocolate when i was tired.  but after the ice cream cake, it became a conscious decision.  i knew why i stopped consuming sugars/breads, and i felt joyful about the future of food, instead of dreading it.

many have asked why i’ve stopped consuming sugar, so i’m including a link to several articles addressing the issue:
More info on sugar


this ends day two with the absence of sugar products. i actually feel energetic and clear-headed, not sluggish and cloudy.

my health is a big part of the concern surrounding my desire to give up sugar and refined flours. another equally big part is the process of obtaining these materials–where/how they are grown and how we get them.
after a great conversation with two friends today regarding GMO seeds, i decided to host a “locals only” dinner to discuss eating locally. the night will feature a meal made only from locally grown foods and a movie or discussion related to the food industry. i want participants to have solutions, not just a barrage of problems to process through, so they will get lists of resources and suggestions for making changes. i also hope to maybe give away little container plants or something fun that can be grown anywhere.
i just got done combing the heirloom seed catalog, and grew very excited about one selection in particular. it is for a tomato called the “old italian.” the narrative reads:
this heirloom was collected by a soldier who was stationed in Italy in World War II.
how amazing, to be growing, eating, and sharing such a crazy part of history.