Category Archives: Challenge

So My Cleanse is Over… Now What??

Yesterday marked the last day of my month-long cleanse. Here is a re-cap of my experience…

Week 1 : Eliminated refined sugar and alcohol. Thoughts: Not going to happy hour on a Friday was a change of pace, which was also a good reflection of how our social lives impact our eating habits. Do the places I frequent and the people I frequent them with coincide with the healthy lifestyle I am trying to create?

Week 2: Ended up eliminating caffeine early (wasn’t supposed to happen until week 3). Thoughts: Having the effects of no sugar catching up at the same time as I released caffeine (and, oh ya, started my flow) was not pretty. A two day headache and three days of lethargy indicated that the magic of cleansing was working. Although I was drinking only one cup of coffee a day, I recognize how much I was using that as a vice- a quick fix to ease the 5:30am wake-up-call. But it wasn’t until Friday when I came back from the dead that I realized I didn’t need it.

Week 3: Eliminated all dairy and meats. Thoughts: Overall, this week rocked! My energy levels boosted tremendously and I felt alert teaching my 8am classes. Even my students commented on my energy. I thought that letting go of dairy would be really hard, but it wasn’t actually that terrible. I missed my Lebanese yogurt, only because it goes so well with kitchari! I was curious if eliminating dairy would improve the little bit of sinus congestion I have in the mornings, and it has. Another surprise was how much I didn’t miss meat. I took some time to learn more about meat and it’s effect on our bodies. My conclusion was that unless you have access to ethically raised, high quality organic meats, it’s best avoided. I did eat a small amount of salmon. If you’re curious about what fish to choose to eat, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.

Week 4: Eliminated any hard to digest foods and focused on small, simple meals. Thoughts: When week 4 hit, my “scarcity reflex” jumped like it did in the beginning of the cleanse. I’ve learned that when I perceive that I won’t have enough food to satisfy my appetite my tendency is to overeat, like I’m trying to compensate for the difference. I call it my scarcity reflex. I’m not even sure where it comes from. I grew up with plenty of food on the table- I even did the grocery shopping for my entire family when I was 12 so I mostly go to eat whatever I wanted (and I wonder where I got my bad habits from!). Besides knowing that I can be one cranky beast when I’m really hungry, I’m still not sure why I perceive and react to scarcity the way I do. I’ll be pondering this one for a while…

So now the big question is, “Now what?”

Although I did have a few visions of cheeseburgers today (which is pretty normal for me) I don’t feel like I need to go “binging” on all the things I’ve taken out of my diet. What is different from my cleanse experience last year is that I can feel my body craving a lot of the good foods I have been feeding it. I feel healthy, happy and overall have nice energy levels. My sleep has been good and it’s easier for me to wake in the morning. So I’m thinking to myself, “Do I really want to change?”

The short answer is: yes and no.

The long answer is that I know how good I can feel when I pay very close attention to what I’m eating. I also know that I love going out to eat and enjoy naughty treats like chocolate and cake. My plan is to slowly introduce some of these foods (sugar, alcohol, dairy, etc.) back into my diet in small proportions so I can see how my body reacts to them. I’m determined to stay away from coffee and other sources of caffeine. I’ve also realized that I plan a lot of social events around eating (out) and drinking. I know I’ll have to moderate that and be creative, like cooking for friends and finding other things to do than go to the bar.

Oh, and if you’re wondering… I broke my cleanse with a (half) sandwich: cheddar cheese, basil pesto and tomato on grilled wheat bread.

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Filed under Action, Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Cleanse, body knowledge, Challenge, change, Cleanse, clear skin, Empowerment, Fitness, Food, Gluten Free, Goal Setting, Goals, Health, Healthy Eating, high energy, Nutrition, overcoming sickness, Personal Growth, Refined Sugar Free

Hump Days are Gone, Week 4 is ON!

Today begins the last week of my month-long cleanse. Here’s the synopsis so far…
Week 1: no biggie
Week 2: shoot me
Week 3: I’m bouncing off the walls with energy
Week 4: dunt, dunt duhhhh (we’ll see)

I was so elated to get out of my hump days of week 2 that by the time week 3 came around I didn’t even care that I was letting go of dairy. My energy levels have increased exponentially. I’ve been sleeping well and waking easily. Even my college students have remarked about how wound up I am in my 8am class. I practiced yoga every day this week and a few people have said that I look brighter, which is actually really great validation because I honestly feel brighter. My body feels strong and my skin is more clear than it has ever been.

Week 4 begins the week of healing. This week I’m eating very simple and easily digested foods. Oats, rice, lentils and an assortment of soups will be a few of my staples. There are two ideas about this…

First, if our bodies use less energy for digestion, they can focus their energies where we need them the most. This provides the body with more energy to heal rather than focusing on chomping our food. I can already say that if I wasn’t doing this cleanse right now I would surely be sick. The weather has been up and down- sandals one day, snow boots the next. Everyone around me is sick and hacking. I’ve had this faint cough at night just before I go to bed that I can feel my body overpowering. It’s amazing to feel an impending sickness and know that when I’m taking care of myself I can choose to stay healthy instead.

Second, simplifying the diet after eliminating food “triggers” like refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and dairy (to name a few) sort of “resets” the digestive system. The idea is that once the body is “reset,” you can reintroduce foods into the diet and see how your body reacts. I’ve already begun to notice subtle reactions to foods. This week I realized that the whole grain bread and pita I was eating didn’t really make me feel too good. Although I decided not to experiment too much with gluten on this cleanse, I remember someone once describing how gluten “gums up” the digestive system. That’s exactly how I felt, gummed up. One night my partner and I shared rice noodles in broth and both woke up with sticky mouths and bad breath. Ick! These little nuggets of body knowledge are the real reason why I choose to “cleanse.” It gives me information about myself and about my body that no book or doctor could ever tell me.

I’ve also noticed my mental and emotional states around food are slowly improving. I’m learning to keep my body relaxed even when I’m hungry and fight the desire to just put anything in my mouth to satiate myself like I used to do. I find myself having a little more willingness to wait for food if I know that what I will eventually eat is wholesome and what my body needs. This is by far the slowest piece of the learning curve for me. I’m working on it…

 

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Hump Days…

In two days I will be half-way through my month long cleanse.  The first week was surprisingly easy. I didn’t feel any noticeable physical effects or withdrawals. My body even craved simple foods like kitchari. The second week, however, was a bit rough. I started to supplement tea in the morning to replace my daily cup of coffee. On Tuesday, I had a cappuccino that nearly gave me a heart attack! My hands were shaking and my heart was beating at 86bpm. Ok, I know that isn’t that fast, but it felt really fast for me. Shortly thereafter I started my cycle which simultaneously wiped my body out. I felt nauseous and dizzy. Needless to say, I spent Tuesday in bed. I ate kitchari and drank almond milk. On Wednesday I decided that caffeine was the devil so I avoided it completely. What I received in return was a massive headache and energy levels in the negatives. Having an unusually heavy flow certainly didn’t help either. On Thursday, the headache continued. I took a 3 hour nap so I could muster up the energy to go visit a friend who I hadn’t seen in forever. I was still pooped. I started wondering if I was doing something wrong. I had been eating wholesome foods and avoiding devils like caffeine and sugar and yet my body seemed to hate me. When I did this cleanse a year ago I had one “hump day” in the first week where my energy levels were really low but after that I felt fine. That night I craved everything naughty under the sun: visions of beer and cheeseburgers and fries were floating through my mind like cotton candy clouds. I wanted soda and pizza and everything I had been telling myself to avoid. The week before I imagined dunking my head in a pilsner when I was sweating in down dog, but nothing like this.

When the alarm that I didn’t actually need to set woke me up at 5:30am Friday morning, I realized that I was pretty alert. I turned off the alarm and woke up again at 7:00 feeling awake and refreshed. I was over the hump! I went to my first yoga class in a week- a warm vinyasa. I did a lot of sweating and felt my body cleansing itself through my pores. I felt strong and happy. Sweet relief! Afterward I taught my community yoga class with a clear head and renewed energy. I also enjoyed a banana and peanut butter after class that tasted like heaven.

I have been feeling good since then and I’m continuing to avoid caffeine for the most part, even though I didn’t intend on giving that up until the last week. I’m looking forward to a much more productive week. Tomorrow begins NO DAIRY, which I’m both excited and nervous about…

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Here We Go. Again. Cleanse.

A year to the day, my partner and I decided to give up refined sugar for a month. I had no idea that such a seemingly small goal would completely alter the way I eat and view food forever. Here we are, a year later, returning to that same goal to once again bring some heightened awareness into our diets. This time, however, our cleanse will be a modified Ayurvedic Cleanse, inspired by Deepak Chopra’s Perfect Health.

Over the period of a month, we will be eliminating refined sugar and alcohol (week 1), red meat (week 2), caffeine, dairy, all meat (week 3) and all sugars (week 4) to begin my Candida cleanse. Each time a food is eliminated, a more nutritional food or healthy practice gets put in its place (take out the bad, put in the good). In my experience, the first and the last week are the hardest. The first, because energy levels are low as your body is looking for that sugar rush it’s used to getting. The last, because the diet is so simple (and, ok, a bit boring really) that it becomes incredibly hard not to satiate the appetite with all the amazing foods we have available to us. And that desire to satiate myself with foods of all kind is EXACTLY why I’m doing this cleanse again.

I’ve had an enormous appetite since I was young- a true Pitta by nature. I once had eight jumbo tacos as a teenager and didn’t even bat an eye. After surfing for an afternoon, it wasn’t uncommon for my friend and I to share a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream before having dinner. During snack break in high school, my diet consisted of three chocolate chip cookies followed by a bag of cool ranch doritos to compliment my cup-o-noodles and lemon-lime Gatorade. And I wonder why I had acne? My skin was begging me to stop!

Gaining knowledge about the food/body/mind experience is an amazing process, but it’s not the primary goal of this cleanse. This time I’m focusing on my mental and emotional connection to food. One pattern I recognized during the last cleanse was my tendency to be completely unhappy and unsatisfied when I had wholesome, albeit boring, foods in front of me. At times I was so “over” eating rice and beans (the staples of week 4) that I would even not eat them. With a little perspective on the situation, I realized how privileged I am to have a plethora of delicious, organic foods at my fingertips. Being able to cleanse and negotiate what I can and cannot eat is in itself a privilege. On any given night I can eat Thai, Italian, Indian or whatever my taste buds desire. But when I strip my diet down the bare essentials, I never feel satisfied…

I force myself to think about how many people on this globe would bend over backwards for a small, healthy meal. People who dream of rice and beans but stare at empty plates at night. And yet I shun it, because I can. I guess I’m just not OK with that. So this time around, I want to do things a little differently. I’ve set intentions to begin a meditation practice. My goal is to meditate every day in the fourth week. I’ll be focusing on slowing down around eating practices (instead of my normal inhaling tendencies) and gratitude.

Do me a favor – remind me about gratitude in about two weeks?

P.S. I was thinking about my cleanse while driving on Flatbush Ave. and looked up and saw this sign. I laughed and thought to myself, “I know.”

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Never Live In A Glory Day

Hello Beautiful Mojo Readers,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? So much to say, where do I start?

New York continues to be full of transition and adventure. Things move quickly here and yet at the same time slowly. The pace is fast but the line at Whole Foods in Union Square is long, color-coded and managed by an employee who makes sure you know where the end of the line is when it begins to wrap around the store. Fall seems to be fading already as the lush, colorful trees begin to drop their leaves. Volunteer days at the farm officially ended last weekend until the Spring season so I’ve been putting that extra time into cooking, but I already miss digging in the dirt. I spent some time upstate with old friends- riding horses, hiking and keeping warm by the biggest bonfire I’ve ever seen (they burned a bed frame, among other items). I even toured around SUNY Oneonta, my alma mater. It was a bit of a time warp walking by my old dorm and classrooms but I realized that I didn’t have any feelings of longing or wanting to go back in time.

One of my dear yogi friends said that he never wants to live in a glory day, and I think about that often. I was happy to not feel like I wanted to go back to college or relive those crazy, fun times. I like moving forward- looking back with sweet nostalgia, but not with longing or regret. Life is always sweeter in the present. So here’s a little bit of my sweet:

When I first moved here, I did a lot of yoga studio hopping. There’s only about a million yoga studios in the greater metro area. Ugh. Some of the classes (and teachers) were great. Others were so terrible that I felt like I needed a yoga class to recover from the yoga class. One day I found a little studio in Great Neck called Bonda Yoga. It was the first yoga studio I had been to in a while that really welcomed me and made me feel like part of a community. Since that first class I have been received with open arms both as a student and a teacher. For the past few weeks I have been teaching their new community class on Fridays that is free and open to everyone. Because of the warm feedback of my students, I’ll now be teaching a regular class on Sundays as well. I know that I have plenty of growing to do as a teacher but I leave every class feeling rejuvenated and ready to move forward the next week. It feels so good to know that I have a community who is with me along for the ride.

I promise to keep you posted and hope you’ll be along for the ride too…

Jojo

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Mojo Consultant Gets Over 1000 hits!

Dear Sweet Blog Readers,

Yesterday marked the day of 1000 hits to my blog! I started this blog while doing some deep soul searching. I wanted to figure out what I have to offer to the world, but more importantly, I wanted to figure out what the world needs of me. With the advice of a dear friend I began writing…

Since then I have shared many stories with you- and you with me. Some of those stories are wrapped around my three greatest passions: yoga, communication, and food. Others stories are random- little mystical bites of my life’s travels.

I have promised myself to continue writing and sharing my thoughts and stories with you. It is even more important now as my life begins to focus and what the world needs of me is slowly revealed. I hope you continue reading, enjoying and interacting with me. Tell me what you like, tell me what you hate. Tell me if there is ever something I can do for you.

Love and light,

Jojo

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Adventures at Discovery Kingdom

My sister has wanted to work with marine animals since she was just a little tyke. I remember her crying in the bathtub when she heard that one of the killer whales at Sea World had died in an accident. My sister married young and eventually became a title manager for a real estate company. When the mortgage crisis got the best of that job she was laid off. She took it as a gift and decided to go back to school and pursue her dream.

Before we knew it, she was working as an explorer guide at Discovery Kingdom (formerly Marine World) in Northern California. Not even two years later, she’s a full-time aquarist and is loved by everyone she works with. She recently took me and my family on a tour of the park and got us a back stage pass that included some personal time with Merlin the dolphin.

I have never swam with a dolphin before. I thought maybe I’d get to touch him a little and feed him fish. But when his trainer told me to swim out into the pool I was ecstatic! I got to ride on his belly and do a fancy little trick called a foot push where he pushes one of my feet and sends me flying forward. He was smart and gentle and just an amazing creature- he even knew cobra pose. I couldn’t believe that for some people this is “work.”

The best part of my day, however, was seeing my sister in her element- listening to stories of her swimming with the sharks and feeding the alligators. I couldn’t have been more proud.

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