Monday, March 23, 2009

Natural and Alternative Nutrition Practitioners Threatened by Legislation: Why I oppose Senate Bill 115

As I have been writing about for the last two months, I have been consultinga Naturopathic Doctor, Katy Wallace. She specializes in nutrition and healing with whole foods. I have had great success with her help, in losing weight, reducing pain, improving my energy and digestion, and overall well-being. I believe in alternative and natural healing, and in our right to pursue whatever kind of health care and health information we so choose.

There is a bill currently moving through the Wisconsin Sate Senate, SB115. This bill aims to regulate the field of dietetics and nutrition, creating a licensing regulation for anyone who provides nutritional services. I strongly oppose this bill, as it would limit what information practitioners are allowed to provide about diet and nutrition to solely western-science based information.

The bill extends the control of dietitians to all nutrition care services in the state (developing a monopoly over nutrition services available) and makes it illegal for any professional with a position different from the American Dietetics Board (ADA) to provide individual nutrition care to consumers. This is problematic, as the ADA has a specific perspective. For example, one of their positions is that there is no evidence that organic foods are healthier than conventional foods.

Under this bill, my Naturopath's practice, as a natural health consultant, would be considered illegal and she would be put out of business. I wouldn't be able to obtain the kind of health care or information I choose and want. The excellent information she provides and education she has in her field would be considered illegitimate and illegal to share.

In order to be a registered dietitian, practitioners will be required to:

1) receive a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in certain nutrition fields from a college or university that the board determines is accredited or receive a degree from a program in nutrition approved by the board;
2) complete at least 900 supervised hours of dietetics practice; and
3) pass the registration examination, or its equivalent, established by the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Because many of the alternative health practitioners do not prescribe solely to Western Medicine's views on diet and nutrition, they would not be able to become registered dietitians, or if they did, they would have to provide information they do not necessarily endorse nor agree with. It would limit the source of nutritional information available to the public to one perspective: that of the ADA. To keep consumers and communities healthy, Wisconsin deserves access to a variety of valid approaches to nutrition.

This bill is primarily being pushed by Registered Dietitians, who on the whole take the stance that they are the only practitioners with "real" nutritional knowledge. Many of them consider naturopaths to be "quacks" (as one RD described to me). I am willing to recognize that from their perspective, this bill would "protect the public" from receiving "bad" or "unfounded" health information and services. I respect that they are trying to push an agenda that they feel is best for people. I realize that in general, having regulations and licenses for health practitioners sounds like a good idea (I myself am a licensed massage therapist; I have a level of ambivalence about this I would be happy to discuss) but not when it means that the state is taking away our right and ability to choose alternative care or to use medical practices not currently recognized or endorsed by Western medicine.

Western medicine provides a lot of valid information about health and nutrition. But it is not the only "right" source, and I want to be able to choose what I believe about my health, how to manage it, and what kind of practitioner I want to see about it.

I believe it should be up to individuals to research their own practitioners and find what kinds of treatments and practices best serve their personal needs and align with their own beliefs.

Please contact your legislator (find out who your legislators are and get their contact information at: and encourage them to oppose SB 115.

The text of the bill can be found here:

and for more information, the Wisconsin Health freedom Coalition website is useful:

Please pass this information along to other alternative and natural health minded friends.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Postponing the Pizza

I had really been looking forward to the end of the cleanse. Not that I wasn't reaping benefits from it - I've lost nearly 10 lbs, had more energy, and my skin looks better than it has in years - but I kept thinking about going out for drinks with friends, or finally eating at the restaurant I live above (one of my favorites) or baking cookies.

But even though it's over, it doesn't really have an end.

As with any good health or personal development program, the cleanse I just finished was actually the beginning of a new way of being. I'm never going to go back to the days of frivolous eating. A small part of me is disappointed about that.

Somehow it hadn't occurred to me that the whole experience would really change my perception and how I make choices about food. At least, not as dramatically as it has. This is a good change, and a healthy one. Obviously I'm still going to have times I don't eat as healthfully, and other times where I'm really good about my diet. But I don't think I'll ever look at food the same way.

I often think of a pendulum swinging back and forth - it swings really far one way, and then really far the other, and goes back and forth until it eventually settles in the middle. I'm in that settling period right now.

The final consultation with Dr.Katy yesterday showed that I've made some progress, but there are several things I can and want to keep working on. None of them are major health problems - some I wouldn't even be aware of if not for the tests she does. But I'm glad I know about them, and know how to work on them. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have resolved some long-standing issues by just changing my diet.

I guess I had hoped I'd go in and see that all sorts of big things had improved with this cleanse, so I was a little disheartened to find out that some issues are still far from gone, or hadn't changed much. But these things take time; Katy said on average it's three months to heal a problem, plus another month for every year you've had the problem. Really, it could take years to completely resolve some of the damage done by poor eating habits in the past.

Glad I got started now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

About Consistency and The End of the Cleanse

On Consistency
I made a decision last week to post regularly on Mondays and Thursdays. I posted said decision, telling my readers they could count on me for those regular posts. Then I promptly didn't follow through.

There is an element of this that has to do with my "ENFP-ness:" as soon is it's a commitment, something I'm supposed to do, then it's no longer fun, the creative energy no longer flows, and I struggle to follow through. But I don't think that's really the case this time. At least, it's not a big enough issue to have overpowered my desire to write regularly.

Honestly, I have so many things I want to write about here, I often have trouble deciding which topic to go with on a given day.

This time it wasn't about a lack of follow through. It was about the last days of the cleanse being really intense.

I'll get to that in a minute, but first I want to finish my thoughts on consistency. Penelope Trunk posted about the value of consistency in personal decisions today. I've been thinking about that issue a lot lately - for people like me who have a lot of interests and, therefore, a lot of commitments, you have to really make an effort to be a dependable person. When you overbook yourself, it's easy to become unreliable, or just reliably late and unprepared.

Just last night I was thinking that I'd like to make each one of my commitments feel like it/they are my priority when I am working with them. That means being on time with everything and always following through. Moreover, you have to be fully present with whoever and wherever you are. If you make it to a meeting on time but show up flustered, under prepared, or act like you're just dropping in before running off to the next thing, that person/group won't feel like they're the priority, nor that they can count on you. Even if in the grand scheme of things they're not at the top of your list, they should be #1 during the time that you spend with them.

I find Ascension helpful in these circumstances, as using the techniques is calming, grounding, and focusing. If I'm running in the door, thinking of all the other things I need to be doing, I can use them to help me become fully present where I am.

The End of the Cleanse
I do plan to be more consistent with the blog posts. I want to be a good, reliable writer. So I intend to work on my consistency there.

But my missing posts this past week were more due to the end of the cleanse, as I said before.

Last week Tuesday and Wednesday were the apple fasting days. They were easier than I expected; I was craving something salty by the end, but otherwise eating apples for two days was alright. I didn't have an abundance of energy, but I didn't get too tired, either.

Wednesday night was the grand finale with the drinking of the "liver cocktail;" 1/2 cup of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. I'd gone to Vom Fass and bought an expensive olive oil I liked the taste of (this one was rosemary infused) to make it a little easier. The taste was fine, though the consistency (no pun intended) was a little gross. Mostly the way it felt as it glopped into my mostly empty stomach was unpleasant.

As directed, I went to bed right away. I want to encourage people to do the cleanse, and overall it was much easier than it sounded from the onset. But I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty terrible most of the night. Which is not to say that everyone who tries this would - One of the women in the class said she didn't feel anything. I, however, was obviously detoxing a lot out of my liver.

The olive oil cocktail is meant to flush any junk that has built up in the liver and gallbladder out. In my case, that was about 30 liver stones. (Not as bad as you think - liver stones don't pass - or hurt - the way kidney stones do.)Guess I needed the cleanse.

I felt okay by around noon on Thursday and went to work. I was worn out - my body had done a lot of work - but no more grossness. Friday I was still kind of tired and low-key, but by Saturday I was back to normal.

So now I'm done with the entire 60-day cleanse. I am equal parts glad that I did it and glad that it is over. The next step is to break the cleanse, by slowly adding in some of the foods we haven't been eating, and paying attention to how our bodies respond.

Of course, I won't go back to eating everything. Refined sugars and carbs are to always be avoided (or at least, extremely limited). I'm going to try to mostly stick with food combining rules. Ultimately, the goal is to find a balance between health and the enjoyment of food. It means regularly eating healthy, thoughtfully chosen foods and only allowing the occasional indulgence. When it comes to choosing healthy foods, it's all about consistency.

I have my final consultation with Dr. Katy on Thursday morning. Look for more information and reflections on the cleanse then!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Back to the Beginning

I audited a First Sphere this weekend.

A "First Sphere" is what we refer to the introductory weekend of workshops in which you learn the basic techniques of Ascension. There are several groupings of meditation techniques, referred to as "Spheres." In the introductory weekend (a class that happens over Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons but isn't usually an overnight-stay kind of retreat) you learn the first grouping of techniques - the First Sphere.

Once someone has taken the First Sphere, it can be audited for free as many times as they would like. I think this was my 8th.

I was attending the First Sphere this weekend primarily to support one of my best friends, Kim, who decided she would like to learn to Ascend, and also to connect with the local Ascension community, since I missed the Advanced Retreat last weekend.

Kim is someone I have known for many years, and had always hoped she would find something like Ascension. She is a wonderful, cheerful, and eternally loyal friend. But like many of us, Kim gets stressed out. Sometimes the craziness of a mind that won't shut up and emotions that refuse to disengage get to her. It just makes life harder than it needs to be.

I'm proud of her for deciding to do something about it. She's been having a rough time lately, and I think it shows great strength to be dealing with that kind of thing and then make the decision to do something proactive, rather than just giving up.

Now the key is sticking with it. I hope she will - between me and Ian and my mom, she has a lot of support.

I've seen a lot of people go through the First Sphere and not keep up the practice. The difference between the ones who do and the ones who don't usually has to do with whether they have a support system - friends and family - who encourage them to keep up with it. or, if they're someone who is really, seriously on a path for self-improvement and this practice just resonates.

But more often it's because there's someone in your life to remind you to "drop an attitude" (as we call using the techniques)when you're upset, or to sit and Ascend instead of watching TV before bed.

Thank you, Mom.

What I learned
As I said, this is my 8th First Sphere. Yet every time, I hear something in the teachings that I didn't before. Or I understand it better now that I've had some of the experiences Lyrea talks about. I still take notes every time; they always turn out differently.

In many ways, this weekend provided an excellent reference point for hindsight. Being there with Kim reminded me of where I was in life when I started this process, and just how far I have come. It's reassuring to have those moments, because the practice of Ascension is so subtle. Oftentimes we don't realize we have reached moments of higher consciousness until well after the fact, when we review and see the differences between that experience and what was before.

As Lyrea talked about different aspects of how Ascension can effect your life, I started realizing how they had effected my own. (Look for a future post on "Dating and the Shadow Self" related to this.)Perhaps most unexpected from this weekend was what I got out of it. I thought I was going to support a friend, but I gained a lot for myself, too.

Approaching With Innocence
Lyrea always reminds us to go into every sitting with innocence and without expectation. Every time you Ascend is different.

Yet I found myself preparing for this weekend thinking "oh, it's just a First Sphere." As if the time we spend Ascending is somehow less valuable or powerful during an introductory weekend. It's not.

You have to meet yourself where you are today. I have heard yoga teachers talk about this in terms of doing the yoga that your body needs today - not expecting to stretch as far as yesterday, or assuming that since you did 20 sun salutations before, you should be able to do 21 now. Today you may only be ready for 15. I've always taken it to heart, but sometimes I have to remind myself that it applies to the yoga of the mind, too.

Today's Ascension might be a hen house. Or it might be an Exalted experience. Or you might fall asleep. Whatever it is, you can't decide ahead of time how it's going to be.

Because it's good to be regular

Just a brief note for now; longer post shortly.

I've decided that new posts will appear on this blog on Mondays and Thursdays. Readers can know that there will always be posts on these days, and it will be good for my discipline as a writer. Occasionally there may be intervening posts if something particularly timely comes up, but otherwise you can look forward to Mindful Mondays and Thoughtful Thursdays.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Feeling Fantastic

So the kidney cleanse ended last week, and after four days of intense detox and fatigue, I couldn't have been happier. Except that I was, because after some rest, I woke up feeling fantastic.

Sunday morning I snapped out of sleep an hour earlier than I needed to, full of energy and motivation. It was great. And it's lasted most of this week.

I am on the liver cleanse at the moment, but the first 10 days just consist of continuing with the cleansing diet and drinking a tea that helps to tonify the liver. So it's fairly easy, and shouldn't involve much detox until the last couple of days.

The last two days of the cleanse are fasting days; we can eat apples but nothing else. Avoiding meat, dairy, and fatty foods means that the liver isn't doing much in the way of digestion. Apples are good to eat because the acid in them helps to soften the gunk in the liver up. The second night of the fast, we drink a cocktail of lemon juice and olive oil (yum, right?) and go to bed. The next morning, the liver should clear itself out. And then it's all done.

I'm not looking forward to that last part, but the fasting days I'm not too worried about. I've fasted before, and while eating apples for two days doesn't really appeal, it's just two days.

I'm thrilled that I'm really feeling the benefits of this whole process. For the last week I've been sleeping well, waking up energized, and maintaining that energy steadily throughout the day. It's hard to put into words how great it feels.

I am so glad I did this.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Money and Meditation: a lesson in priorities

Three or four times a year, Lyrea sets up and hosts an Advanced Retreat for Ascenders who have completed the First Sphere weekend. The First Sphere is what the initial weekend of workshops is called, where you learn the basic techniques of Ascension. Advanced Retreats are four days in length, and rather than being in a workshop format, you stay in residence for the entire time. We have more in-depth discussion about Ascension, it's origins, practice, and purpose, as well as a full day of fasting and silence during which you simply Ascend for the day. It's very interesting and most people find very helpful and sometimes a powerful experience of really increasing your connection to that deep place we refer to as Ascendant Consciousness.

The Debate
Anyway, there was an Advanced Retreat this past weekend. I hadn't planned to go, as I just went to the one in November and will go to one in May. With a vacation coming up and having just recently taken a trip to visit my grandmothers in South Carolina, I wasn't planning to afford the retreat.

But with all of the cleansing things I've been doing, four days of Ascending started to sound pretty good. So at the last minute, I found myself trying to shift my schedule and scrape together the money to go on retreat.

It was really stressful.

The Advanced Retreats aren't that expensive; they're actually cheaper than the First Sphere weekends. But it's still a bit of money that I wasn't planning to spend at this point in time.

I found myself thinking that if the debate was between finding $150 and not getting four days of Ascending and learning from Lyrea, the choice was obvious. It seemed silly to me to even be considering not going over the cost. Of course, then you have to factor in that the retreat started at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon, so I'd be missing 1.5 days at my day job and the seven massage clients I usually see on the weekends. Suddenly the retreat would cost me more like $400.

Still, I didn't like the sense of choosing money over meditation. But when it came down to it, I just don't have the money right now, and worrying about how to pay for the retreat (much less rescheduling weekend clients and classes) was becoming more detrimental in terms of stress than it would be worth to go.

Input from Emil: Prioritizing Goals
As I often do when dealing with spiritual issues, I hopped on Gchat to talk with my friend Emil, who has similar kinds of spiritual pursuits. I told him I was feeling guilty about choosing to save money over the higher pursuit of personal development. He re-framed the choice I was making, by saying that I was "picking a long term goal over an immediate one."

That totally changed my perspective. Rather than feeling bad about choosing money, I could feel good about making a choice that supported a longer-term goal of saving money for future things - possibly future retreats.

Choice and Effect
I got to thinking about the effects of each choice, too. If I spent the money, it would take me awhile to recoup the damage done to my budget. A lot of stress would come out of feeling broke and having to work a lot. Whereas skipping the retreat doesn't really have any negative impact. Certainly attending would have some positive benefit, but between the two, it seems that more stress would be created by choosing to attend and therefore spend the money.

After all, the pursuit of spiritual growth and development happens over a lifetime, and has no real urgency. I don't have to become enlightened NOW. This is not a one-time opportunity; it will always be there to pursue.

Not going on the retreat doesn't stop my growth with Ascension. I may not get the boost of encouragement and "sinking in" that one gets with a retreat, but I can still sit and Ascend every day on my own. I can still keep moving forward with my practice even if I can't make it to every retreat or meeting right now.