05 April, 2009

Spring cleaning: my declaration of intent

Over the past few months I've been writing my thesis and have been staying up very late writing, and getting up as early as I could drag myself into consciousness to write again. In order to keep myself going, I've been indulging OVER AND OVER again in incredibly junky foods. Processed foods; food high in saturated fat; salty snacks; and sweets made from a combination of very unnatural sugar-type stuffs. A Diet Coke every day just to buzz my system into an alert state. My energy decreased every day, my clothes started squeezing my body, and my general brain power felt, you know, sluggish. I was cranky with my usually delightful students and I felt really, really guilty that I wasn't treating myself the way I know I should.

Because you see, I'm not new to healthy food. I'm not usually a carb junkie and I truly enjoy vegetables. I know the value of eating until I'm almost full, of checking in with myself mentally and emotionally before I reach for the next treat to see why I really am craving it. I've been a successful Weight Watcher and therefore have learned the balance of calories in and out; I have an active gym membership and ride my bike to work on most sunny days (well, except during thesis-time). I went without eating red meat for years, I was a vegan one whole summer (and it was a really great summer, full of clarity and ease), I practice yoga, I have hobbies... I'm not the average American "junk food junkie" (my Mom's phrase from the '80s).

But life is stressful sometimes, and rather than let my big assignment slide, I let my health slide. Sugar became a major addiction and I needed more food with every meal to feel full. Well, I turned in my paper last week, and it is now beautiful Spring Break. Our apartment is tidied, I have savings in the bank, and the most important thing: I have free time again. It's time to own up and give my body the respect it deserves. I need something to help me steer myself back to good health, a way to silence the noise, to process what I've done and reset my goals and objectives for the new season.

One day last week I noticed that not one, or two, but THREE of my friends on Facebook had posted something in their status updates about the Master Cleanse. I'd heard the phrase before, and vaguely remembered hearing about Kenny's younger sister doing it after the holidays. Basically it's a fast from solid foods. All of the world's major religions advocate fasting as a way back to mental clarity, to set priorities, and to heal the body. I've fasted before, usually no more than 3 or 4 days, and I know firsthand that my particular metabolic level (read: reeeeally slow) and digestion speed (I could survive in the desert for days on my last meal and a couple gallons of water) make me a really good faster. I'm slow to feel hunger and I like to take a break from all that eating. When I've fasted in the past, I all of a sudden could remember things better, felt sugar was less of a need. When my body has a chance to work on output, when I give it a careful break from input, I can re-enter the world of food choices with a much clearer mind.

So I've started prepping for this 3-10 day cleanse. Since it's a really bad idea to go right from mountains of buffet-restaurant crap to nothing but lemon water, I gave myself an unlimited amount of time to transition with just raw fruits and veggies, but as much as I wanted of them. The first day, I had a huge salad, several bananas, more fruit in the evening, etc... and I felt great. The second day I also had a salad, but a smaller one, and carrots, and an apple... but my stomach felt crampy and I felt grumpy. I have no doubt that this was my body starting to come down from the dizzying level of trashy foods I had stuffed in it for months, regardless of my hunger level.

Yesterday was my third day on raw fruit/veg and I awoke feeling awesome. I had a great walk with Kenny, we went to the gym and I felt so strong on the rowing machine. All of a sudden I could feel my muscles working in tandem-- and they didn't have to avoid a huge belly full of food (just the residual flab). At home as I was putting clean dishes away I became aware that what had previously seemed like a monumental task--the organizing of our tupperware/pots & pans hutch-- was now clearly do-able, and I sat down cheerfully to the chore and had it finished in minutes. Why had I been avoiding that for so long? At night I went contra dancing and felt if not lithe then definitely more centered, more upright on my axis. Sleep was, again, deep and peaceful.

And today, day 4, I made it til almost noon before I even felt the slightest stir of hunger. As I was babysitting and the kids were having creamy tomato soup, I sliced up a ripe tomato for myself and had it with a handful of snow peas. When I got home I had a bunch of red grapes, and lots of water. I feel like I'm ready. Tomorrow I'm going to start the Cleanse.

My ONLY worry-- not the hunger (it's temporary), not the moodiness (it's a symptom of toxins leaving)-- is that my parents will disapprove. I'm 28, responsible, self-supporting, and all around a good adult, so please let me do this without a fight. I've fasted with you before, remember? Only good things came of it.

This means that Mom, Dad, friends in Brevard and Asheville, I need you to understand that this is what I want for myself this week. I'm coming down to see you, and I know we might be a little thrown off at not having food be the main treat in our time together, but please know that there will be so many other times that we can resume our delicious habits of grilling, going out to Vietnamese food, treating ourselves to Hobnob, etc. This Cleanse is not a diet or a lifestyle, it's just a tune up. The doctors and thousand of other people who have chimed in about their experiences online have all had the best effects when following it for 10 days. So we'll be eating together again, and how! Besides, it's my birthday coming up, and this is the best present I can give myself and it's the re-start I want most. I'm looking forward to doing all the other exciting things together that we have planned.

Here are some links with information to read that might help you feel better about me doing this:

Or just ask around. Chances are good that someone you know has done it, or something like it. If you find yourself worrying about the adverse affects of my taking in very few calories/nutrients, think about what I was doing before, and ask yourself if it worries you just as much. I think as a culture we're better at helping each other indulge than abstain. I'm only abstaining for the time needed to get back on the conscious track of being aware of what and how I'm feeding myself.

Want to join me? ;) I'll be journaling here, I expect, about what it feels like and what I'm thinking. Maybe I'll even have some epiphanies!

1 comment:

Gagi said...

Congratulations for making such a great choice! I'm on Day 5, and I've done this fast about half a dozen times. The first time was the best - 24 days, and it was truly amazing.

My health problems fell away, I had more energy, and my hair and skin looked phenomenal. My vision improved so much (I'm a diabetic) that I needed a new prescription.

Only good can come from this! Vest of luck!

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr