Category Archives: overcoming sickness

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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Filed under Action, Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Cleanse, Challenge, change, Cleanse, Empowerment, Fitness, Food, Gluten Free, Goal Setting, Goals, Health, Healthy Eating, Motivation, overcoming sickness, Personal Growth, Refined Sugar Free, Yoga