Category Archives: Personal Growth

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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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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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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YogaWorks

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things in ex-girlfriend analogies lately. This is one of them…

Since moving to New York I have been exploring new yoga studios because moving also meant breaking up with my girlfriend called Vital Yoga in Denver. I was spoiled by this girlfriend. She was fun, top-quality, reliable, just the right medicine for whatever my ailment was. Oh well. We’re over.

I decided to check out YogaWorks (for everybody). They have five studios in Manhattan and a sweet $1 for week of yoga deal. The first studio I went to was their Soho location (pictured above). The place is more like a spa than a yoga studio- three big yoga rooms, a huge locker room with slick mirrors, digital lockers, big showers and fresh towels. I have to say that showers are a big plus for me since it’s a long, sticky ride home that I don’t necessarily want to do covered in yoga sweat.

My first class in the Soho studio wasn’t that impressive. I got a few good instructions on pelvic adjustment but the teacher was a bit snooty. She even bossed her “assistant” around and told her who to adjust and how. Seemed strange that she wouldn’t just do it herself. I did, however, get a nice little tour of the place from a cute boy at the front desk who also walked me through the schedule to recommend good classes (which I obviously needed).

The next studio I visited was their Union Square location. This space was a lot more down-to-earth than the Soho location- two restrooms (and long lines waiting to get in) and a few curtain rod dressing rooms. Apparently there is a shower in the back of one of the restrooms but they don’t really want people using it unless there is no line. There were two studios- both with big windows and one with cool Union Square views. How I got the SAME teacher at this location, I have no idea. Maybe the universe was trying to teach me a lesson. I enjoyed this class better than the first, but was still determined to find someone better.

Since it was now the last day of my $1 week trial I decided to do some research on the teachers before just popping into a class. I found a woman named Elisabeth Neuse. Ok, anyone who does a nine-month, 1,100 hour training has my respect. I decided she was worth my last go at it.

Her class was full but she moved graciously around all of us, offering clear adjustments and excellent cues to keep us breathing as we moved. She played some music, which I love. I was in the back in the classroom so I could soak in the whole room and at one point this sweet, electronic-esque song came on a bit louder than the rest. Her soft voice faded a little from behind the music and I found my groove. I felt a little choked up, like maybe I had found a new girlfriend, or at least someone I’d be willing to date.

Later we returned from savasana and sat quietly with our palms touching in front of our hearts. The room was silent, peaceful. Then from outside came the sounds of loud, long New York style honks. I let out a little giggle just reveling in the irony of it all. Here we were all zen, sending good vibrations out to whoever and getting quite the response in return.

When I left class I made sure to say thank you to my teacher. She was talking with another student but I said a quick thank you. She turned her head so she could catch my eyes and gave a soft “you’re welcome.” After I walked out I realized that she had these bright, beautiful eyes that I had not noticed until then. Yogi eyes I call them. They are those sweet, inspiring eyes that come from someone who has a beautiful soul. When I came across her website later I saw them again.

She’s one I’ll go back to…

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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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The Brooklyn Bridge


Every detail of the Brooklyn Bridge was designed by John A. Roebling, but when he died unexpectedly in 1869, the reigns of this magnificent project were handed over to his son Washington who was only 32 years old. Washington carried out his father’s vision with absolute integrity, following every aspect of the design with unadulterated perfection. Except for one very important detail.

Below the towers of the bridge are the caissons (ˈkā-ˌsän, -s) or “feet” of the bridge. They are huge structures that are sunk to the river bed and then dug into bedrock. The men working below the water in the caissons experienced caissons disease, or what we now know as “the bends.” Conditions were harsh and several men died because of this. The caisson on the Brooklyn side was successfully laid in bedrock but to complete the same project on the Manhattan side would have meant years of additional construction and the projected loss of a hundred men.

Washington was then faced with the greatest decision of his intellectual and, I would imagine, spiritual life- continue to dig the caisson on the Manhattan side until it reaches bedrock, or allow it rest in the unconsolidated soil above. In the end, Washington decided to let it rest. And so he build the Brooklyn Bridge upon a foundation half grounded in bedrock and half grounded in sand.

“What does it mean if foundations vary in their solidity? Can something as shifting as sand, or fading memories, or third hand stories, or remembered writings still support something of this magnitude?
. . .apparently, yes.”
~Rachel Livingston Ahalt, Architect


~ Inspiration drawn from Ken Burns’ documentary Brooklyn Bridge

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