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.

 

riding the learning curve.

one of my favorite stories of my younger self (which I don’t remember, of course, but has been told to me over the years) is when i came home from preschool, just fresh from a teaching about nutrition, and told my family it was time to start eating better.

in so many ways, i am still that youthful 4-year-old.  wanting to know more, and more, and more about what keeps us healthy, how our bodies work, what diet works best for me (us) and why.

that’s what drove me to explore starting an all-raw diet last week.  although it was a challenge to learn new recipes and eat things i didn’t absolutely love (or even like), things were immediately going well.  i began to experience more and lasting energy.  i felt fuller on less food.  i began to lose weight (6lbs in just a week).  i began to feel something new and strange: at home in my own body.

i initially went into this great experiment with the thought that it would be 30 days and done.  but as i read more and more about the appeals of the all-raw route, i began to silently say good-bye to meats, pastas, breads and more.  i saw healthy people who’d made similar commitments and i began to want to be like them, no matter the consequence.

then the tide drastically shifted.

i woke up yesterday, day 8, with a dizziness i couldn’t shake.  i got out of the shower and laid back down, hoping it would dissipate.  it didn’t.  i went to work feeling shaky, weak, light-headed.  i had no energy to talk with customers so i kept my voice low on each call, and snuck off to the relaxation room on breaks to nap.  i came home completely exhausted and collapsed on the couch.

i’m anemic, was my immediate thought, and as i did some reading, all the symptoms lined up.  the only problem: how to stay vegan and not anemic.  i went to bed yesterday convinced I could be fine if i put kale in my morning smoothie and picked up iron supplements later.

then i woke up even worse this am and was forced to call in sick, unable to barely stand for feeling light-headed.  i knew i had to do something different.  the energetic, active me was suddenly awash in this land of fatigue and dizziness.

so, i emailed a friend who’d recommended the raw diet and began to read more about anemia.  my initial synopsis: i’m vitamin B12 deficient.  a resounding number of vegans/vegetarians (including the Raw Vegan Mama) struggle with this complex B vitamin because it appears primarily in meats.  from my reading i gathered that the best absorption comes from injection, then sublingual capsules, then pills.  dismissing the first as a non-option (no needles here), i set off for my favorite health foods store, The Good Earth, for some dissolvable B12 capsules.

on the way to the store i received an email back from the friend i emailed earlier.  she asked about my blood type and said that some are better suited for an all-veggie diet, but others require animal protein so subsist.  that perked my interest, but i was still sure i was going to pursue and all-veggie diet.

i got to the health store and began to search through 3 shelves of B12 and B12 plus Folate and liquid versus pills versus dissolvable capsules.  even in reading through all the labels, i found it hard to stand and began to feel like i was going to pass out.  but i grabbed the one i felt would be best (a combo of B12, Folic acid, B6 and Biotin that would dissolve under my tongue, and supposedly right into my blood stream), and headed for the counter.

when i finally got home, i felt contented to take my supplement and take a deep, long nap.  then i remembered that email, and the mention of blood type, and a book another friend had given me months ago about eating right for your blood type.  first thing i read:

“Type O’s thrive on animal protein.”

doh.  picture me hitting my forehead with my hand.  the book went on to outline a diet for my blood-type (“O”) that stresses animal proteins, veggies, and fruits, and cuts out sugars, grains, and dairy.

so, let’s go to McDonald’s!, my inner child screamed.

but meat is not meat is not meat.  even in my giddy of new-found freedom (i CAN eat meat; nay, i NEED to eat meat), i knew it had to be “clean”: organic, raised responsibly, free of hormones.  so i bundled up one last time and headed to the only source of such meat i knew of.  Goose the Market.

i came home immediately and made a hamburger.  made another hamburger for dinner, and have noticed an immediate improvement.  more energy.  less dizziness.

one of the things i appreciate most about this experiment of going raw is that i am (mostly) weaned off the carbs and have a greater appreciation of raw fruits and vegetables.  i still intend to practice a mostly raw diet, just supplemented now with regular doses of meat.

so there it is.  i woke up a raw vegan.  and am going to bed overdosed on red meat.  such is the learning curve of our lives.  very much like that 4-year-old, i’m still learning about myself,the things that are best for me, the foods and practices that will serve me into my old age.

today i learned several of those.