Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cleanse: Day 6

Aside from having a little bit of a cold, yesterday went pretty well. I even went to the gym after work and did a light workout, being careful not to push my body too hard since it's had very limited carbs and protein for the last week.

last night's "Odd Tuesday" potluck was fun. It was a little bit of a bummer for me when everyone first showed up with their food and I realized there was little besides the salad I could eat. I had expected that would be the case, but wasn't completely prepared for it. And then I opened up the broccoli I was going to cook and found that it was completely covered in mold, so I began to get distressed about my food prospects for the evening. Ian saved the day by picking up some soup I could eat on his way home.

Dwight prepared diced oranges in red wine for everyone, thinking I could have some since it was vegan... guess I failed to mention I'm not drinking right now, either. I decided to be creative and mixed mine with black cherry extract and discovered a fabulous dessert!

Once I got over the initial "oooh, homemade mac n' cheese... I wish I could have some..." the rest of the night was a breeze. I remember thinking to myself last night "it's okay, I have the rest of my life to eat mac and cheese. I can forego it this one time."

This leads me to believe that an unexpected perk of this whole cleanse thing is that it may do wonders for my self-discipline going forward.

The other thing that has been surprising is the response I'm getting from people. I expected that people would think the whole thing is weird or wouldn't really take it seriously, but everyone I explained it to last night thought it was cool, and respected that I was doing it. Who knew?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cleanse: Day 5

Day 5 was fine for the most part. During the weekdays, when I'm just preparing my own meals, eating a strictly limited diet isn't difficult.

The biggest challenge probably is still time. I keep a very full schedule, and frequently go straight from work to the next thing to the next thing, dinner being a salad grabbed at whichever Barriques is on my way. So last night I found myself racing back across the city between appointments to cook a dinner which was thrown into a tupperware and eaten at my choir's board meeting.

That, and I'm fighting a cold. My immune system is usually pretty strong, but I'm sure it's being challenged enough as it is by the detox. When Ian came home from the toy store with the sniffles, there was little chance I wasn't going to catch whatever it was.

So today I'm stuffed up and have some swollen glands, though I'm feeling better than I was at bedtime.

Tonight I'm hosting my bi-weekly Odd Tuesday Potluck. I've been encouraging folks to bring vegetarian/Vegan food, both for my vegan roommate's sake and in hopes that I'll be able to eat something besides whatever I prepare. And it'll be another challenge of a food-centered social event.

I'll post about the results in my Day 6 update. More than halfway done with cleanse #1! woohoo!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Alternative Healing Therapies Article

Three posts in a day?!? I know. It's a little excessive, especially after being off the grid for 6 months. I'm motivated today.

Anyway, I've been freelancing for Wisconsin Woman Magazine for a few years now, and they've let me start pitching my own articles. Here are the ones I've done on healing and alternative medicine:

Alternative Healing Therapies, see page 24

The Many Types of Massage, see page 22 (My friend Laura Malischke did the photography!)

At you can find all of the previous year's articles online. I've also written ones on Planning a Second Wedding, How to Stop Arguing About Money, Green Decorating, Planning Your Honeymoon, Travel Experts' Favorite Trips, and more.

Why you should get out of bed to meditate

This morning, as many mornings, I had great intentions of getting up early to meditate before work. I was hoping that maybe I'd even get up early enough to go to the gym. No dice.

I did wake up about half an hour before my alarm went off. I thought to myself "this must be my system telling me it wants to meditate now." But instead of getting up, using the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and sitting in my meditation chair, i decided I'd just stay where I was, warm in bed, and would meditate laying down.

I have done this many mornings, always with the same result.

The meditation simply isn't as good. Really, it becomes dozing with the occasional use of a technique.

If I get up and do a few things and then sit in my chair, my morning meditations can be quite lovely. Often they're full of inspiration, or they get me to a very gloriously still place, or at the very least they're a henhouse of clearing thoughts. But when I stay in bed, it's just half-sleep and mushiness.

I guess there needs to be a differentiation between sleep time and meditation time. Hopefully I'll remember that tomorrow.

Cleansing: Days 3 & 4

Days 3 & 4 of the digestive cleanse were both better and worse than the ones that had preceded them. They were easier than the first two days because I had the food I needed in my fridge, I started to get in the groove of preparing my all-veggie meals, and the headaches went away. I'm hoping that means I de-toxed whatever was giving them to me.

But it was harder just because it was the weekend. On Saturday we had dinner with friends, and they graciously took on the challenge of cooking something I could eat. They did a good job making a vegetable curry and salad, though they all had chicken and rice with their meals while I just ate the peppers, carrots, and mushrooms in the sauce.

It was insightful to realize how constantly I like to consume things. Unless I'm actively engaged with something (like working out or doing massage) I am always eating or drinking something. For the most part that's just tea - I sip it at work, and while I'm home at night. But it was really challenging for me to sit through a couple of hours of board games without pretzels or nuts or something sweet to snack on. (The tupperware of cherries I brought for this purpose only lasted for 30 minutes.) Not to mention not having a tasty beverage to sip on. After one kombucha and three cups of tea, I just wanted something... more. It really wasn't about the alcohol, but there's something heartier about those kinds of beverages. And I drink them slower - I can drink about three cups of tea in the time it takes me to polish off a beer.

Sunday morning was tough, too. We usually wake up and either go out for brunch or cook something like eggs benedict. I was craving bacon and eggs hard core. But we satiated ourselves with a trip to the co-op for fruit smoothies, followed by what turned out to be a very satisfying vegetable stir-fry. The rest of the day was fine; even spaghetti night at my folks' house. My mom followed suit and ate her sauce over spaghetti squash, and only prepared enough bread for Dad to eat.

I was proud of my mom for this. It's hard for her to turn down carbs if they are available to her, even though she's not supposed to be eating them. And I understand how challenging that can be. But she was very good about it; eeven preparing the food for Dad but not eating any of it herself. I'm excited to encourage her on her own path to a healthier way of eating.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cleansing: Day 2

Day 1 went okay. I felt a little tired and decidedly cranky in the evening, but once I had dinner, things felt much better.

Dinner itself was fabulous. We made spaghetti, using spaghetti squash in place of pasta and making a sauce dense with vegetables. It worked out really well... I have a feeling that squash may become a centerpiece of many entrees during this cleanse.

Most people struggle with any kind of special diet because of the sense of deprivation. There tends to be a lot of remorse around what you "can't" have, and often giving in to the temptation of eating what you aren't supposed to is the end of a healthy diet. I wasn't feeling this much at all though, which surprised me. Perhaps it's a little early into the process, but I haven't had any real sense of "oh, I'm going to miss _____."

I did some introspection about this, and realized that it's because I am so excited about what I am going to get. When I left work, I was speculating on what I could cook, wondering what I could be creative with to make a tasty, satisfying meal.

When trying to be self-disciplined about anything, the key is to focus on what you do get to have, rather than worrying about what you don't. Which really goes back to having gratitude - being grateful for what we have, rather than remorseful about what we lack.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cleansing: Day 1

So my last post was 6 months ago... I could feel guilty, or embarrassed, or bad about that. But that would be useless. So I'll just pick up and start writing again.

It's interesting to me that my last post was about being tired when I do massage. Shortly after that I had a consultation with a naturopath in town, Katy Wallace, ND. ( She looked at my diet and habits and helped me to make a few basic changes that made a huge difference in my energy levels, endurance, and several other things.

I thought, "gee, if I get all of that out of a free consultation, imagine what she could help me do if I paid her!" And, six months later, I'm taking a class with her.

It's called the "Body Tune-Up series." It consists of two private consultations, weekly group classes, and participation in a series of internal cleanses.

On Tuesday, I went in for my consultation. She checked the ph of my saliva, we looked at my blood under a microscoope, and talked about the things I want to work on and gain out of this process. She recommended a few supplements, vitamins, and special drinks (a smoothie and liver cleansing concoction) to take alongside the cleansing process.

Last night was the first class. We discussed the history of and reasons for cleansing, proper digestion, and how to do the first cleanse. We start with a digestive cleanse, which is important to do first. Since your body primarily eliminates toxins through the colon, you want that to be in good shape before you start encouraging other systems to flush themselves out.

This cleanse involves eating only fruits and vegetables, along with some supplements, for 10 days. Of course, alcohol, caffeine, and other things that aren't generally considered good for you are out.

I'm excited to see what this process brings, even though I'm already feeling challenged by the amount of time I need to spend preparing my own food. No grabbing a slice of pizza or a granola bar for a few days; I have to make sure I've got plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand for snacking. But at least so long as I'm eating the right foods, I can eat as much of them as I want. :) And, I'm sure it'll expand my cooking skills. Tonight, I'm going to learn to prepare beets.

I am also very interested to see what effect this process has on my meditation. One thing I know already is that I will be meditating more frequently; after the morning liver cleanse drink I'm supposed to sit for half an hour to let it do it's thing. And since I won't be going out to the bars and that kind of thing, I'll be home a lot more. Already, it's amazing to see how much what you eat effects your time - how frequently you go to the grocery store, how much time you spend preparing food, and everything else that goes into the process.

I've fasted during meditation retreats before; changing your diet in this way can bring a great deal of mental clarity.

So to my friends and family, please excuse me if I decline invitations, or come over for dinner and bring my own food for the next week or two. I'll be keeping you posted on this process through this blog, and I'll be happy to discuss or answer questions. It will be an interesting process!