Category Archives: Healthy Eating

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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Kitchari Recipe

Kitchari, meaning “mixture,” is the combination of rice and lentils used in Ayurveda to calm the digestive system and promote healing in the body. Kitchari tends to be a very simple dish but it can be prepared in a variety of ways and tailored to any dosha. In the fourth week of my month-long cleanse, kitchari will serve as my main source of food and sustenance. Here is a kitchari recipe that I have truly come to love:

Although any combination of rice and beans can be utilized, I like combining basmati rice and french green lentils for my kitchari.

The rice is fairly simple to prepare. Check out Manjula’s Kitchen for a quick tutorial. Plus, Majula’s Kitchen is like the Pandora’s box of Indian cooking 🙂

Ingredients:
* 3 cups prepared basmati rice (or rice of choice)
* 3 cups prepared french green lentils (or lentils of choice)
* 1/2 yellow onion (chopped or minced depending on preference)
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
* 2-3 Tbs garam masala (I suggest Penzeys or Savory Spice Shop)
* cilantro
* sea salt
* ghee
* lebanese yogurt or kefir

I highly recommend buying good quality, fresh, organic lentils. Soak them in water overnight to shorten their cook time. Here’s a rundown of lentils from how2heroes.

In a wide saucepan, pour about 6Tbs of coconut oil into the pan over medium heat.
Add onions. Cook until soft.
Add ginger and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add garam masala. Cook for 20 seconds.
Stir in lentils and mix until lentils are completely seasoned.

Portion basmati rice into a cup or bowl. Add 1tsp (or more) of ghee to the center of the rice. Pour equal portions of lentils over rice. Sprinkle with sea salt to preference. Dress with fresh cilantro and lebanese yogurt (or kefir). Give thanks and enjoy 🙂

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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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We Are Always One Step Away From Transformation

Dear Mojo Readers,

It’s been quite some time since I have written you. So much has happened since we last spoke. I completed my Vital Yoga teacher training and am now headed to New York City to spread my wings. Currently, I’m somewhere in Middle America enjoying some much needed downtime. It is so nice to just sit and reflect on the amazing journey I have been on. It’s warm, humid and I’m surrounded by trees – perfect combination for some outdoor yoga.

I have realized three passions that keep popping up in front of me: yoga, nutrition and communication. Yoga gets the body opened up and moving, nutrition keeps it pumping, working, productive and communication lets us utilize that space of openness to connect with one another and build relationships.

Those of you who know me or who have taken one of my courses know that I am a big proponent of building confidence and self-esteem. Confidence in ourselves and in our gifts and abilities is the essence of a sweet, meaningful life. This is the life that I desire everyone to have…

I am constantly reminded that we are always one step away from transformation. And when you’re ready to take that step, Mojo is here for you…

With love and kindness,

Jojo

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Food Revolution

I’m not a huge fan of TV, but I am a huge fan of anyone who uses television to promote the desparate need in this country for a more conscious lifestyle. I was recently turned on to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. It’s a reality series on abc that, thankfully you can watch on hulu because I threw my television in the alley. Jamie is a renowned (and adorable) English chef that decides he is going to revolutionize Huntington, West Virginia, the most unhealthy city in the US. I first watched the series thinking that Jamie’s revolution would be swift and relatively seamless, but I am boggled by the amount of resistance he encounters in trying to transform the way people eat. I would think that if someone asked, “Hey, do you want this completely processed frozen pizza or a fresh meal prepared from scratch by a world famous chef?” that the answer would be obvious. But as Borat would say, not so much…

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