February 2011


Yesterday was my first day back to eating solid foods after three days of only vegetable broth. I am now into the third and final phase of CorePower Yoga‘s Seasonal Wellness Cleanse.

The first phase was eliminating all processed food, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, dairy, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, meat and dairy for 5 days.

The second phase–designed to continue cleansing your system, restore the ph balance in your gut, and provide rest to your digestive system–was making and eating several nutrient-dense vegetable broths for three days.

The broth phase went really well for me and I didn’t feel at all overwhelmed with hunger. Unfortunately, the skies dumped almost 20 inches of snow on the Twin Cities so I wasn’t able to get the rest that is recommended for the phase–someone had to shovel the driveway (four times, but who’s counting). Still, I felt good.

Yesterday, as I started Phase III, I was back to hyper-clean eating. In Phase III, we begin introducing the foods we’ve eliminated back in our diets one at a time to determine whether any of them cause discomfort or other issues. Incredibly, I ate very little yesterday despite having not eaten solid foods for more than 72 hours.

I just wasn’t hungry. And, I recognized that.

One of the things many of my wellness clients have shared when we begin working together is that they don’t really know when they are hungry. They either don’t feel it or can’t recognize it. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the subject, and I believe the lack of hunger recognition has two main causes: 1) We, especially women, spend so much time thinking about how much and what we should be eating, we can no longer separate our brain’s messages from our body’s. Thus we don’t recognize our body’s hunger or cravings; 2) We consume so much stuff our bodies don’t recognize as food (food processed beyond recognition, preservatives, perticides, etc), that our bodies send mixed messages.

When I cut out most processed food several years ago and went back to eating organic whenever possible, I definitely noticed an improvement in my hunger and thirst recognition. It still wasn’t totally clear though. I have often recognized that I need water because of a headache or feeling tired rather than because I felt thirsty.

Since beginning the cleanse, I actually feel thirsty. And hungry. My body’s hunger and thirst signals are clearer than they have been in years. There is no questioning when I feel hungry or thirsty.

So last evening, even though I’d found what looked to be a fabulous recipe for slow cooker chicken chick pea stew that fit the parameters of the cleanse, I had some blackberries and a peach instead. I just wasn’t hungry enough to eat the stew. (Actually, I did take a bite just to taste and it was an amazing recipe–I’ve posted it below.)

The stew can wait. Be well!

 

Slow Cooker Chicken and Chick Pea Stew (from About.com)

Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 6 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, and cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 15-ounce can reduced-sodium garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Preparation:

Coat a 3-4 quart crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Combine spices and sprinkle over chicken thighs. Add onions, carrots, and crushed garlic to the crockpot. Lay chicken thighs on top, followed by chickpeas and canned tomatoes.Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serves 4-6

Something amazing happened yesterday.

Well, actually it didn’t happen yesterday. It’s happened over many years, but I recognized it yesterday. While chatting with someone about the Wellness Cleanse I’m doing, he asked me whether I had lost any weight. At that moment it occurred to me that my weight wasn’t even a consideration in my decision to take on the Cleanse.

And that, my friends, is pretty darned amazing. While my weight stopped ruling my life several years ago, I find it amazing that it truly wasn’t even a factor in my decision to participate in CorePower Yoga‘s Seasonal Wellness Cleanse.

It’s amazing when you consider that for most of my life (I first believed I was fat in 2nd grade), almost all of my choices and behaviors were somehow related to my weight–either directly in an attempt to control or reduce my weight, or indirectly as I tried to manage my obsession with my body and my weight, and my disordered eating. What I ate, what I wore, which activities I participated when, whether I went to social engagements, who I spent time with, you get the picture. So this moment was truly amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to drop some pounds while on the cleanse. I currently weight just about 20 pounds more than I did just before I became pregnant with Grace almost 11 years ago, and I’d love to get back to that weight. But I’m not willing to compromise my health and wellness–physical, emotional, mental, interpersonal or spiritual–to get there. I have honestly learned to feel comfortable in my body and have developed incredible respect for it. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s beautiful. Wow, I just said that!

On a side note, I have weighed myself most days of the cleanse. Not because I am concerned with losing, but because during days 2-4 I felt really bloated and was curious as to whether I had gained weight. I wasn’t freaked about it, just curious. I had not gained. And today I’m at the bottom of my normal 5-pound range. I suspect I will lose weight on the cleanse, since I’m just heading into our 3-day broth phase, but I’m not concerned about it one way or the other. I know my body is getting healthier and that is truly my goal.

Speaking of the Broth Phase, I just finished chopping tons of veggies and putting them in the crock pot for the Alkaline Broth. I made the Bieler Broth yesterday. I’m looking forward to giving my digestive system a rest without depriving my body of the nutrients it needs.

In other good news, all of my aches and fatigue have subsided and I’m back to feeling energetic…and happy. For a couple of days there, as my body worked to release and then eliminate toxins, I felt pretty sad. And, perhaps most importantly, I found a morning beverage I like (not as much as coffee, but at least I’m not cursing every sip). Hot water with lemon, honey and a splash of 100% pure cranberry juice. It’s actually pretty good.

But I still miss my coffee. Be well!

P.S. Thanks to my friend Rita at Yum Yoga! for the photo of Bieler Broth.

So here I sit on Day 4 of my Seasonal Wellness Cleanse. Instead of enjoying my usual morning coffee, I’ve got a cup of hot water, lemon juice and raw honey Note I didn’t say I’m enjoying the water, lemon juice and honey. I’ve just got it.

It’s actually not bad, but I can’t say I don’t miss my coffee.

In this first phase of CorePower Yoga‘s 15-Day Seasonal Wellness Cleanse, we eliminate all processed food, wheat, gluten, corn, chocolate, dairy, sugar, alcohol, soy and red meat. (I’ve chosen to eliminate all meat for the duration of the cleanse as well.) No special supplements or herbs, just eating a plant-based, very clean diet. The theory behind the cleanse is that eliminating most of the toxins our body deals with regularly allows the body to eliminate the toxins that have accumulated.

Nothing on that list concerned me much except the coffee (okay, and the alcohol, but not as much as the caffeine). I start most days with 1/2 pot of coffee. And, I LOVE my morning coffee. I look forward to my quiet time with my coffee. It seriously might be my favorite time of day. Hot water, lemon and honey is somehow just not the same.

I paid the price for my coffee love on Monday with a headache that almost took my breath away by bedtime. Despite not being a bath person (I think my last one was just after giving birth 10 years ago), I actually took a bath Monday evening (with epsom salts which is said to help remove toxins from the body) to try to help things along. And it did seem to help.

I have to admit I’m pretty amazed at the results of the cleanse so far, although I’m not feeling the positive benefits yet. Instead I’m experiencing aches, acne and fatigue. This is apparently due to my body releasing toxins and is to be expected in the first days of the cleanse. (I guess it’s kind of like when you clean a closet–you sometimes have to make a bigger mess before you can really start the cleaning.)

My legs and lower back have been especially sore, as well as my right ankle–which I broke last May. And I have been exhausted by 6 or 7 pm. This despite a lighter than usual exercise regimen–yoga, walking and short runs.

There is no doubt that something is going on in my body and I’m encouraged by that. According to the program leads, discomfort typically improves after the third or fourth day and then participants feel loads of energy. I am looking forward to that. Which will be just in time for the broth phase that starts on Day 6!

Be well!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, do me a favor. Right now. Close your eyes (okay, you can’t read with your eyes closed, so read down to the line and then close your eyes). Close your eyes and think about someone you love deeply. Maybe it’s your child, your spouse, a sibling, a good friend. Just choose someone whom you love with all your heart. Think about them for a couple of minutes. Everything you love about them. What about them makes you happy, makes you smile?

After you’ve spent some time thinking about your loved one, open your eyes.

______________________________________________________

Now imagine feeling that way about yourself.

This is one of my favorite exercises to do with clients. Undoubtedly, the client smiles, lights up when thinking about their loved one. That smile quickly fades when they are asked to feel that way toward themselves. The thought of feeling that much love toward themselves is usually met with doubt or even shock.

For many of us, loving ourselves deeply is a pretty challenging concept. But it’s absolutely key to getting a handle on our health and wellness. It’s highly unlikely that you can reach and maintain your wellness goals until you learn to love yourself.

We spend a lot of time  fighting our bodies–denying it nourishment, physically punishing it, and doing anything and everything we can to change it. You cannot “beat” your body. Even if you win, you lose.

Instead, we need to find a way to accept and nourish our bodies. We need to focus on what we like, or at least can tolerate, about our bodies until we develop deeper love and appreciation. It’s incredibly difficult for those of us who have spent our lives hating our bodies, but I know that it’s possible. It’s only when you have accepted your body that things will get easier.

Back to your loved one. As the client looks at me in disbelief, I ask them whether their loved one is perfect. Of course the answer is no. Do you love them less because they are imperfect? No. (In fact, it’s often our loved one’s imperfections that we find most endearing.) The people you love are not perfect. In fact, sometimes they are far from perfect. But you love them anyway. Your relationship with them isn’t about fighting and punishment, it’s about love and support.

So cut yourself the same slack you give everyone else in your life. Try the same approach with your body. It will love you back.

 

Oh, my mind is devious.

I begin a 3-week wellness cleanse tomorrow and all I can seem to think about this weekend is eating and drinking what will be forbidden starting tomorrow! Specifically coffee at the moment, but last night my upcoming cleanse had me indulging in pizza.

Typically, I’m not a fan of restrictive eating plans (also known as diets). Sure, people lose weight while they diet, but they almost always gain it back (and then some) once they revert to their regular eating routines and patterns.  And, as soon as most of us are told we can’t have something,we want it more than ever.

Developing a lifelong eating plan, one that is sustainable over time, offers a lot better odds for success. For me, that plan consists of eating healthy, organic, real food daily with room for deviation on special occasions. I don’t deny myself anything, yet I rarely eat processed food and typically don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I credit my lack of unhealthy cravings to my healthy diet.

Despite my aversion to diets, I am participating in CorePower Yoga‘s Seasonal Wellness Cleanse. (Although it’s not considered a diet, it is a restrictive eating plan and my mind certainly seems to be reacting to as though it’s a diet.) I decided to take on the cleanse in part because I’ve heard amazing things about it and in part because this cold, long, snowy winter has me feeling drab and kind of tired. I decided my body could use a little jump start before heading into spring. The program is also very much in line with my focus on sticking with whole, real organic foods.

So last evening at my daughter Grace’s birthday party I took a second piece of pizza*. I needed that second piece because I won’t be able to eat pizza for the next three weeks. Makes sense, right? Except there is almost no chance I would’ve eaten pizza in the next three weeks anyway. I rarely eat pizza. Maybe twice a year and then usually only one piece.

And this morning, having already finished my regular two cups of coffee, I find myself consumed with thoughts of making another pot. Which of course would be stupid. It ups my chances of experiencing withdrawal this week. But today it’s allowed. And I won’t be able to drink it for three weeks. And, unlike pizza, I would most definitely drink coffee in the next three weeks. And I really like coffee…

*In the interest of full disclosure, Grace and I have “Make Your Own Pizza Night” several times a month. We use whole wheat pitas as our pizza crust and top with homemade pesto, chicken, cheese and veggies. Pizza, yes, but far healthier than most delivery pizza. Definitely healthier than the pizza I ate last night.

As most of those who know me know, my sister and her two children have Type 1 (or Juvenile) Diabetes. Amy was diagnosed when she was 9, her son Winston when he was also 9, and her daughter Hope when she was 5.

Many who know me also know that Amy is my hero–in a whole bunch of ways. Amy and I had a somewhat difficult childhood and we credit our relationship with each other for not only getting us through tough times, but helping us became relatively normal and mostly thriving adults. Words could never express how much Amy–and her love, support and honesty–mean to me.

Each year, my family participates in the Walk to Cure Diabetes at the Mall of America. This year’s event will take place Saturday, February 26 at 8am. Our team is Hope Win Walkers and I would be incredibly grateful if you supported our family and every family that has been touched by Juvenile Diabetes by either donating to the cause or walking with us.

For much of Amy’s life, she struggled with health and wellness. To the dismay of those of us who love her, she rebelled against her body and the disease rather than making peace with her diagnosis and taking care of herself. Thankfully that changed about seven years ago. She has made significant changes in her lifestyle and diabetes management, and her health has improved accordingly. We recently talked about what wellness means to her.

F: What does “wellness” mean to you?

A: To me wellness means not only physical health, but emotional and spiritual health as well.  Feeling balanced.

F: How has your definition of wellness changed through the years?

A: Well, I really don’t think I had any idea as a child about wellness. As I grew older I think my awareness changed, but not until my 30s did I finally realize that being well was a choice only I could make for myself. It was not about what others thought, not about prior diagnoses, not about a dysfunctional childhood, not about how fat or skinny I was. I alone had the power to choose to be well in all aspects of my life. That was a turning point. It not only helped me stop making excuses, it helped me see more clearly my own beauty and strength. I love who I am and, because of that, maintaining and growing my own wellness is a priority in my life.

F: How has having diabetes impacted your relationship with your body?

A: From the time I was diagnosed I viewed diabetes as the enemy. I hated it and rebelled against it. As a preteen/teenager with a very low self esteem, having diabetes  gave me one more tool for abusing my body–which I did far too often. Long term consequences didn’t seem real. As a child, it was a useful tool for me to use (unconsciously) to get time and attention from parents who were often absent.  It also taught me how I could manipulate insulin and food to give me the short-term goal I was after (weight loss). I am now able to say that the damage that has occurred to my body was due to choices I made. I no longer have vision in my left eye. As difficult as this loss was I can also recognize that there have been good things that have come from this loss. It is also a daily reminder to make choices that honor this body I have been given. It deserves to be honored after all it has had to put up with so far. I no longer feel such anger over being diabetic. In a way, it gives me an added tool to keep balance in my life because if I don’t my blood sugar will tell me immediately that a change needs to be made.

F: What strategies or tricks help you stay on track?

A: Gratitude is my biggest ally in staying on track. I try to meditate everyday, even if only for three minutes, on all the blessings in my life. It took some training to make this a habit, but it now seems easy and a part of my life. I notice that when life gets busy and I start to lose focus, the negative thoughts try to creep back in. This again reminds me to count my blessings and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

F: How has eating better, etc. impacted other areas of your life?

A: Eating better has given me more energy than I could have imagined.  The energy and focus I now have has not only benefited me, but I have more to give others as well. I also save money. Although I try to eat primarily organic (which tends to be more expensive), I eat less. I have also greatly reduced how often I eat out. Even if you are making healthier choices when eating out, it is still less healthy than cooking at home.

F: What has been your biggest wellness challenge?

A: I often struggle with how to advocate wellness without being judgmental.  As much as I can recognize that this was and is a process in my own life, I sometimes feel frustration with people who are reluctant to even make small changes.

F: Your biggest wellness success?

A: I am not sure I can say one thing. I feel that since all of the successes have led to the next, there really isn’t one that stands out. It is the journey that will be ongoing–with challenges all along the way. I welcome the experiences life gives me and feel that this is only the beginning.

F: Any other thoughts on wellness?

A: My hope is that with my own love and acceptance of myself and all of my imperfections I can help those around me see the strength and beauty in themselves. We all have so much we can share with each other and I think by making the choice to be wel,l we are better able to share those gifts.

See why she’s my hero? I hope to see you on February 26. Be well!