Sunday, December 6, 2015

SFS Fall 2015: Eating Your Cake and Having it Too

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet started on Monday, October 26, 2015. 

*****

Tomorrow is the 6th and final week of the diet. If you look at the numbers, my experience so far has been successful. 
1. I've lost 15 pounds
2. I've lost an inch in all the places I've measured
3. I'm comfortably down by one full size
4. I've reduced my caffeine intake by 50%
5. I've reduced my refined sugar intake by nearly 90%. 
6. I've reduced my weekly alcohol intake by nearly 75%
7. I've reduced my typical daily calorie intake by 15%, from 1,750 day to 1,450 
7. I've reduced my use of OTC sleep aids by 95%, from up to four times a week to once a month
8. I've increased my daily steps by 20%

As far as I'm concerned, this has been a valuable group and one I would recommend to any person who seeks to feel healthier, stronger, and more at peace in their bodies.


But, with just a week left in the program, I've consciously stopped participating in the Facebook portion of the group.


Why?


On Thursday, I was indirectly rebuked on the group's Facebook page for giving "bad advice" when I asked a question. Bad advice, it was explained, because the question I asked was akin to encouraging people to do something that was causing people to "fail" at the intermittent fasting portion of the diet.




My question was in response to a post from a member of the group who appears to me to be struggling with being at peace in her body. At the start of the day, she posted a plaintive query about how to handle her desire to fast with her desire to indulge in a holiday celebration. So I asked, "Why can't you do both - eat sensibly/low calorie for a majority of the day, and also indulge?" I acknowledged with my question that one couldn't call this a true "fasting" day, but what was the harm in eating your cake and having it too?



I asked my question out of genuine curiosity, and from a position of ambivalence about the fasting days, particularly in light of my own experience of balancing the diet "rules" with the "rules" of living, for me, what is a good life.



If you look at my numbers, it seems that my strategy of eating my cake and having too, carefully and with intention, has been pretty successful. I don't feel like a failure at the diet.




What I think has made me a success at this diet is in not my ability to faithfully follow the rules. Instead, it has been my ability to listen to my body and decide what rules I'm going to break.

For example, two cups of coffee makes me go off the emotional rails AND inspires sleeplessness. So, when I'm having intense cravings for a second cup of the half-caf I'm drinking, I can remind myself that I don't want it badly enough to risk the jittery panicked feelings that I'll feel as a result. If the craving remains, I fill it with a cup of hot lemon water or rooibos tea. Ditto for milk-based products and enriched bread.



I'll still have a small piece of candy or a chocolate chip cookie from time to time. And when I do, I savor it and remind myself to stop at one or two unless the desire for the sweet is more powerful than the need to maintain a certain caloric intake to keep my body healthy. So far it hasn't been worth it.

All of these signs point to victory for me and my body.



So, when I felt chided for "giving bad advice," I decided it was time for me to say good-bye to the Facebook portion of the diet. I don't want to share how I've successfully adapted the rules to serve my body if doing so could potentially risk the success of others. I don't see how that is helpful. I also don't think it is helpful to be part of a virtual dialogue about being a "failure" with one's diet and exercise choices.



So, at least as far as Facebook goes, I'm done.


I'll post my numbers here at the formal end of the last week, to put up the final bookend to this experience. After the diet is formally over, I'll continue to eat a balanced, whole food diet while also considering the choices I make in the interest of feeling strong and healthy. I will always have to pay close attention to how I care for my body. I can't eat an entire package of Oreos and not feel the ill effects. But I also don't want it to become my raison d'etre, where I am daily scrutinizing every food choice to determine if THAT'S the reason I am up half a pound.


Thank you Liz Vequist, for guiding me to a place where I can eat my cookie and be ok with myself. I feel like my struggles are over.





Thursday, November 26, 2015

What Does Thanksgiving Mean to You?

I have an acquaintance who actively refuses to celebrate Thanksgiving because she won't waste one iota of her time contributing to the misinformed adulation of the American mythology of peace, love, and happiness between the Pilgrims and the Wompanoag people.

I know this acquaintance is not alone in making this political statement. And I think it is a foolish one.

Yesterday, National Public Radio aired a story on how to teach children about Thanksgiving in light of the holiday's muddy history. They offered two concrete ideas for using the holiday to:

1, Introduce children to different cultural (national and ethnic) expressions of gratitude. Thanksgiving, celebrated by in countries beyond the U.S., is but one way. (Did you know that President Abraham Lincoln made the U.S. Thanksgiving a national holiday in an effort to unite the country during the Civil War?)

2. Invite learners to explore the (lowercase) pilgrim experience, by exploring what it means to be a refugee or part of another oppressed people. This discussion could certainly veer in to the realm of Native American politics, by using the Trail of Tears as an example, or present day politics through an age-appropriate focused on the global reaction to the crisis in Syria.

*****

Thanksgiving, for me, is not a joyful holiday, but rather a reflective one.

While I enjoy spending time with family over a beautiful meal, that's not what defines Thanksgiving for me. Nor do the secular expressions of the national holiday make my heart go pitter pat - football, parades, the Christmas frenzy that follows.

Instead, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to express of gratitude for the privileges I enjoy, while raising my awareness of the privileges denied to many due to poverty, inequality, and injustice. It is a holiday I can observe while sipping a cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning as easily as I can celebrate it while enjoying a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

BMG was released from the hospital on Tuesday, after a 4.5 day stay for treatment of complications related to his Crohn's Disease. Today I'm thankful for my access to the highest quality health care, my ability to work in a job that provides good health insurance, my husband family, who has the means to pay for the best possible care and accommodations, and for the network of friends and family who I can call for moral and practical support.

Conversely, for the duration of BMG's visit to Brigham and Women's, I thought of the families that would be financially devastated by a 5-day hospital stay and all it entails; the people who don't have adequate health insurance to help bear the costs; and the people who don't have family who can work remotely or spend the night, so they are with a loved one night and day.

*****

I'm curious. Do you celebrate American Thanksgiving? If so, what are the rituals that you love the most? And why?


Friday, November 20, 2015

Why Waltz, When You Can Riverdance?

My husband, BMG, was admitted to the hospital last night. The cause? An uncontrolled, high fever of unknown origins. Unwilling to leave him until they have some idea of the disease his body is fighting, I spent the night in his room, sleeping fitfully in a recliner thoughtfully scared up by the nursing staff.

In one of my dreams, my mother waltzes into BMG's hospital room in the morning, having driven all night from her home in Central NY, to be with us. Wearing an elaborately layered red, boiled wool coat, she insert herself in the midst of the hospital chaos and declares, "I'm here!"

So I tell my mom about this dream, during an early morning round of texting. 

I follow-up the story with an all caps admonition, "DO NOT DRIVE HERE."

She replies, "I promise that won't happen. My boiled wool coat is a bluish purple. And I wouldn't Walt into his room. I would Riverdance my way in."

(Now that I would like to see.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Epitome of Lazy (aka the napkin caper)

I was recently at a cafeteria-style quick serve restaurant. While there, I observed a woman open the napkin dispenser to pull out a paper napkin.

"Oh aren't you clever," I started to exclaim.

But my voice dropped off when I realized she was pulling a 4" stack out of the machine. My eyes got wide and I finished my sentence with "And apparently very messy!"

She smiled at me and said, "I do this because it takes too long to pull out each napkin one by one."

Monday, November 2, 2015

SFS Fall 2015: Intermittent Fasting (IF)

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet started on Monday, October 26, 2015. 

*****

Today is my first intermittent fasting, or IF day. As I understand it, and IF day is one in which calorie intake is limited to 500-600 (I normally eat 1,750-2,000 calories per day), and one waits to have one's first meal until one is ready to chew one's hand off. The goals are multiple

  • To make up for "binge days"
  • To make it possible to eat whatever one wants on the other five days of the week
  • To prevent cancer and other health issues like diabetes and Alzheimer's
  • To remind one's body one doesn't actually need to eat as many calories a day as we do in the Western world
  • To force the body to consume one's own fat when exercising

There is also a paleo aspect, reminding the body that our hunter-gather ancestors ate intermittently and they did OK. 

On the diet, I'm supposed to have as many as two IF days each week. To get started, we are doing a 6:1 schedule - eat "normal" for six days, and IF for one. 

After four weeks of participation in Liz Vequist's SFS program, which started with a vegan food cleanse in early October, I'm down 11 pounds. I don't feel deprived, I'm not counting calories, and I'm not perseverating on food. 

I'm also not sure I need to IF. 

But, I'll play along. I also didn't think I needed to eat breakfast at work, but when I tried that, it actually had positive benefits. 

So, what does one eat when one is on an IF day? This is what I'm eating

Breakfast: 1/2 cup of aromatic brown rice and two hard-boiled eggs - 249 calories






















Lunch: 1/2 cup of aromatic brown rice and 1 cup of sweet and sour red lentil dal - 233 calories





















Dinner - 3 oz. steamed cod fillet, 1 cup roasted squash and broccoli, 1 cup steamed kale - 146 calories
















Snack - 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers - 8 calories






















Total planned calorie count for the day is 636.

My predictions? I'll eat breakfast by 10:00 AM, instead of 8:15 and then I'll perseverate on food for the rest of the day.

What would you do to make an IF day work for your body?




Saturday, October 31, 2015

SFS Fall 2015: Positive Affirmations

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet started on Monday, October 26, 2015. 

*****

Week two of the diet starts on Monday, so I'm in prep mode this weekend. On the spiritual side of the diet, we're supposed to identify positive affirmations about our body that we can scatter around our homes, cars and workplaces to help inspire us to make the Slim, Fit and Sexy thing work. 

I actually feel pretty motivated already. This is, in part, a function of the pounds falling off (an indicator my body was ready to lose some weight), and the new Fitbit groups I'm participating in, which, in the first week, motivated me to amp my steps from 7500 each weekday to more than 10k. 

In the spirit of being "in it to win it," I'm creating affirmations anyway. I.m going to trust that even is my conscious self doesn't need them right now, the universe will hold them in readiness for me. 

So here goes:

I am grateful for (something positive about your body): my continuing good health.

I love my (something positive about yourself): enthusiastic and empathic spirit.

I can (positive habit): make better choices to maintain my health and soothe myself when I feel sad.  

What would your affirmations be? 

Friday, October 30, 2015

SFS Fall 2015: A Reason to Get Out of Bed in the Morning

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet started on Monday, October 26, 2015. 

*****

Four full days into this holistic diet and I've learned that I'm eating breakfast too early in the morning. By shifting my weekday breakfast time 75 minutes later in the morning, makes in difference in my feelings of hunger, particularly later in the day. 

I've long held the belief that I shouldn't get out of bed in the morning for the sole purpose of going to work. I want to get out of bed because I have a full and learned life. So, my weekday routine has typically involved the following:
5:45-6:00 AM: Wake up, make coffee, give the cats cookies
6:00-6:30 AM: Drink coffee, check Facebook, read news, play games
6:30-7:00 AM: Get ready for work
7:00-7:30 AM: Make and eat breakfast, get out the door
7:30-8:00 AM: Travel to the office
9:30-10:00 AM: Eat snack at work
11:00 AM: Start perseverating on lunch, walk around and snatch pieces of candy from the generous candy bowls scattered around the office
11:30-11:45 AM: Get lunch (eat at desk)
4:00 PM: Leave work
4:30 PM: Get home, ready to chew my hands off I'm so hungry. Grab a high protein snack. 
4:45-5:30 PM: Make dinner
5:30-5:35 PM: Eat dinner
5:35-9:00 PM: Think about eating sugary treats - either give in or try using wine or tea to satiate my sweet tooth
9:00-10:00 PM: Starting settling down for sleep

But, my routine means I'm often eating breakfast because of the time of day, not because of any hunger I might feel. And then I'm a hungry hungry hippo for the rest of the day. 

So, I'm experimenting with a new routine that looks like this: 
6:00-6:15 AM: Wake up, make coffee, give the cats cookies
6:15-6:45 AM: Drink coffee, check Facebook, read news, play games
6:45-7:05 AM: Get ready for work (I'm very low maintenance)
7:05-7:30 AM: Prep breakfast and lunch to bring to work, make lemon water for the journey, maybe blog or take care of house business (e.g., pay bills)
7:30-8:00 AM: Travel to the office
8:00-8:30 AM: Eat breakfast (at my desk)
11:30 AM: Eat snack
12:30-1:00 PM: Eat most (but not all) of my lunch (at my desk)
1:30-3:00 PM: Leisurely nibble on whatever lunch I couldn't eat at lunch time (at my desk)
4:00 PM: Leave work
4:30 PM: Get home, still feeling full from my afternoon of lunching
5:30 PM: Start thinking about dinner prep
5:30-6:00 PM: Make dinner
6:00-6:15 PM: Eat dinner
7:00 PM: Make evening tea and start settling down for a 9:00 PM bed time

It is amazing to me that shifting breakfast back just 75 minutes can make such a difference in how much I'm snacking and thinking about food. I am more focused in the afternoons, and am pleasant when I get home, instead of a bear because of how hungry I feel. 

Sounds like the shift is working in the interest of my good physical and emotional health. So what's the problem? 

In my brain, eating breakfast at work instead of home implies that my raison d'etre is working, instead of living. There is an inherent lack of balance in consuming two meals at the office instead of just the one. And, because of my commitment to work/life balance, this upsets me. Luckily, I have five more weeks of this diet to figure out if the rewards are worth the trade off. I'll let you know. W

Monday, October 26, 2015

SFS Fall 2015 - Goal Setting

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet starts on Monday, October 26, 2015. 

*****

Week one, day one! We're focusing this week on setting a healthy breakfast routine. I feel like I nailed this during the five-day cleanse, so this doesn't feel like work to me. Which is good, because I still need to finish my goal setting.

From the "diet" workbook:

List 3 goals that you would like to achieve over the next 6 weeks: 

My answer:
1. Beat the sugar addiction
2. Healthier relationship to snacking when I feel anxious
3. Sustainably lose another five pounds.

How will you feel as a result of achieving these goals? 

My answer:
1. More attentive in my marriage
2. More confident in my family relationships
3. Less fearful of health risks

Is there anything that could stop you from achieving these goals? 

My answer:
Those tapes that keeps playing, in spite of my knowing they are old. In spite of my knowing they aren't my story, but instead the story of the people who spoke the recorded words. The tape that tells a five year-old me, "You'd be so pretty if you could just lose some weight." And the tape recorded in Princeton that whispers conspiratorially, "I was told you are built like a linebacker...(but you are actually lovely)."

On a more practical level, my mother-in-law doesn't understand these sorts of shifts in eating (neither does my mother, but she lives 325 miles away).

Is there anything you can start doing now to make sure you achieve your goals?

My answer: 

  • I'm not cooking with my husband any longer. This change in my routine helps because our food needs are so different. (This also makes me feel sad, even though it is better for both of us. I can feel the tears welling up inside.)
  • I will give myself a daily 45-minute block of time - ostensibly after work - for exercise/movement. 
  • I need to let my mother-in-law know what I'm up to, so she doesn't keep asking me to come visit for food/wine/cake.

I want to find a way to symbolically release the tapes. And, I need to think about that a little more.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

SFS Fall 2015 - Before

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet starts on Monday, October 26, 2015. 

*****

I spent the last four days helping my mother downsize from the house I knew as an adolescent and teen to a new house. A newer, more manageable house in a quieter neighborhood closer to four of her six grandchildren. Thursday through Sunday afternoon I ate pizza, doughnuts, Chinese food, fast food, chocolate bars, beer and wine. 

I feel terrible. 

Tomorrow is a great day to start a whole foods, mostly vegan, definitely macrobiotic (except for that weird chewing thing they do), diet.

As part of our prep we need to take measurements and "before" photos, preferably in something form fitting. We'll do "after" pictures on December 10, when the diet ends. And hopefully, by then, I'll have new, life affirming habits. 

So, here goes. 




And now the measurements. 
Upper arm (ugh) - 13"
Bust - 40"
"Bra line" - 34"
Waist - 34"
Hips - 45"
Thigh - 25"

Come back in six weeks to see how I do. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Good Vegan

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The cleanse ran from on Monday, October 5, 2015 through Friday, October 9, 2015. The six-week diet kicks off on Thursday, October 22, 2015. 

*****

I hopped onto Facebook while eating lunch at my desk (mixed greens topped with a mixture of quinoa, black beans, corn, slaw veggies, guacamole, and salmon). I was surprised by the more than 10 alerts my page had, and dove in a little deeper. That's when I learned I won the week-long, #wholefoodschallenge, a seven-day contest the week after the cleanse, designed to inspire participants to continue their vegan, whole foods ways. And the 10+ alerts were fellow cleansers people congratulating me on my win.

If one wanted to participate, one needed to post one picture on the secret Facebook group for the cleansers on at least five out of seven days of a vegan, whole foods meal they were enjoying. And you had to complete the post-cleanse satisfaction survey. The prize was a $50 gift certificate to Whole Foods (or Amazon if there was no Whole Foods nearby).

I posted one picture a day for the entire challenge, along with the pictures of the food factory I created on my kitchen counter each time I made a batch of something. Sort of like this:

Dinner: Butternut squash, red lentil and carrot stew served on steamed kale.
 
Five more dinners made with butternut squash/red lentil stew and steamed kale.

I won! I won! I won! I feel like such a good vegan.

The kick-off call for the six-week diet portion of this program is on Thursday, October 22nd at noon. I can't wait to go shopping at Whole Foods for whatever supplies I'll need on the next phase in this personal health journey.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner - cleanse day 7

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

*****

The five-day cleanse is technically over, and I'm in the waiting period between the cleanse and the start of the six-week "Slim, Fit and Sexy" diet. 

So, it seemed harmless enough to ask my husband for a bite of the leftover Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner last night. This stuff, along with its cousin Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, are like crack for me. After seven days without food additives and dairy, I was curious to learn how it would taste to me, and if it would cause me to fall off the whole foods wagon. (Because crack will do that.)

I put one small fork full in my mouth. 

Blecch!

"It tastes like chemicals," I said, astonished.

My husband laughed. 

Later, I researched the ingredients in the product, The Wegman's website gave me the clearest information: 


The ingredients don't read THAT terribly to me, and I have no idea what tasted so awful. Was it the ferrous sulfate in the macaroni product? Whey protein concentrate in the cheese sauce? Or maybe the sodium alginate? 

It doesn't actually matter, because what I learned is that, so long as I maintain some commitment to whole foods eating, I won't have a taste for the product any longer. Which is good for my health, and good for my husband, who doesn't have to guard his beloved mac and cheese any longer. 


Saturday, October 10, 2015

After - cleanse day 6

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

*****

This is me after five days on the cleanse. 

Do I look the same to you? I look the same to me. 

Here's my before picture, as a reminder:

And yet I know I'm well-rested, have softer skin, and I'm eight pounds lighter.

In anticipation of the start of the six-week "Slim, Fit and Sexy" program, which I'm calling, "Fit, Active and Inspired," I need to continue to eat whole grain foods at least once a day. (Although the six-week program isn't JUST about food. It is also about being in right relationship with one's body - and includes a free hula hoop for every participant.) 

Nevertheless, being better about *what* I eat is the starting point. So, to keep riding the whole foods train, I'm going to strive to "be a vegetarian before 6:00 (pm) on weekdays. 

How am I going to do this? Careful and creative meal planning for breakfast and lunch. 

The newest Wegmans' Food Market is opening in Massachusetts tomorrow. In anticipation of a grocery shopping extravaganza, I've been scouring Epicurious for interesting whole foods recipes that I can easily make at home. 

What I have planned is the following:

Potential choices for breakfast:
  • Plain hot oatmeal with apples
  • Whole grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa) with wilted greens, fried egg and siracha
  • Egg white omelet with avocado and wilted greens
  • Hot oat and quinoa cereal
And for lunch? 
During the week, I'll plan to add animal protein so BMG and I can share meals again. And on the weekends, if BMG and I have an adventure planned, I'll be careful about sugar, processed foods, and fried foods, but won't beat myself up about eating anything that isn't "on the list." 

I'll keep posting pictures of my food, here and in the Cleanse Group Facebook, to keep you inspired and to keep me honest. 


Friday, October 9, 2015

What's next? - cleanse day 5

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

*****

On our cleanse group phone call last night, we were invited to reflect on our experience of the last few days, and then write down three goals we have for clean eating moving forward. Next we had to circle the easiest of the goals, and then commit to making it happen. Once we've accomplished the goal, we try the next thing on the list.

My three things, in the order in which I'll work on them?
1. Drink a glass of water with breakfast.
2. Half caf instead of full caf coffee
2. Eliminate most refined sugar from my diet.

Other things I've learned from the cleanse that I want to integrate into my daily life?
4. Daily skin exfoliation in the shower - along with my new Cetaphil bar soap, my skin feels amazing!
5. Sitting at the table for breakfast, instead of standing at the counter.
6. When I have time, steeping turmeric tea while taking a 30-minute walk in the neighborhood.
7. At least one whole grain, vegan meal for either breakfast or lunch.

This last one is a requirement to help me ease into the six-week diet, which starts on October 22. AND, if I take a post a picture of my meal and post it to our Facebook group for at least five of the next seven days, I could win a $50 gift card to Whole Foods, #FTW

You've been with me on this journey for the last five days. Is there any part of the whole foods cleanse you would want to try?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Colonic or no colonic - cleanse day 4

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

*****

A handful of people, when they hear I've been doing a food cleanse, assume that I am (a) fasting, and (b) doing nothing but colonics all week long. Apparently there are cleanses that focus on pooping, but that's not this cleanse.

BUT, there is an optional colonic as part of the five-day cleanse. There are three ways to add this to your cleanse journey:
1. Ingest castor oil
2. Drink prune juice/eat prunes
3. Drink Smooth Move tea
We have a cleanse check-in call tonight, and will be discussing this optional portion of the program.

That's when I'm going to peel off. 

Because I am NOT doing the laxative portion of the cleanse. 

That is all I have to say about my pooping behaviors.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

It's the sugar, dammit - cleanse day 3

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

*****

Last night I didn't sleep as easily or as soundly as I did the first two nights of the cleanse. The only thing I did differently was add rice milk to my evening cup of turmeric tea.

While wandering around the house at 3:00 A.M., I opened the refrigerator to read the label on the milk. Without my glasses, the only thing I knew for sure was that the milk wasn't flavored with vanilla or chocolate. Therefore, I assumed, it was unsweetened. 

WRONG!

My box of original rice milk in fact has 10 grams of sugar per 8 oz. serving. 

WHOA.

Tonight, same routine but instead of the offensive rice milk, I added 4 oz. of unsweetened almond milk to the tea. 

And I'll be ready to head to bed with my book in about 5 minutes. 

It's a good experiment, and one that points towards sugar as the culprit in my poor sleep habits. (I wonder if there is such as thing as unsweetened red wine.) 

Turmeric tea - cleanse day 3

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

*****

Turmeric, the yellow, vaguely musty spice that comes from root of the Curcuma Longa plant (a member of the ginger family), is oft cited as having powerful medicinal effects. These include:


  • Reducing inflammation (e.g., such as that associated with IBD or arthritis)
  • Protection against Alzheimer's and various cancers (including colon, prostate, and childhood leukemia)
  • Improving liver function
  • Reducing bad cholesterol


I've long thought of it as a key ingredient in curries and other Indian foods.

And never have I thought of it as a potential tea.

But, it is a key component of the five-day cleanse, so, like a good doobie, I've been steeping the tea nightly and drinking it.

The recipe we were given was adapted from one by Megan Telpner. The only difference I can see between ours and hers is that we aren't supposed to put the honey in it. As I skimmed the recipe, I imagined it might taste like a variation of chai. I was intrigued.

The first night, I steeped the tea as directed for 20 minutes. And it tasted NOTHING like delicious chai, Instead, it tasted like moldy hot water. #fail

The second night, I skipped the fresh ginger, and steeped a double strength recipe of the spices for 40 minutes. When it was a rich goldenrod color, I poured it into my mug, over four ounces of unsweetened rice milk.

MUCH better. (And if I could add honey to it, it would be even better.)

I typically drink a cup of "Sleepytime Extra" tea in the evening, as part of my effort to get myself to fall asleep. If the sleep benefits of the cleanse continue for the next three days, I can imagine replacing the "Sleepytime Extra"  ritual with a cup of turmeric tea, provided I can find a way to make it more spontaneous. (I don't want to wait 40 minutes every night for my evening cup of tea.) I may experiment with buying OTC turmeric tea (e.g., from brands like Numi, Rishi and The Republic of Tea), and may also experiment with making it "in bulk" and simply reheating daily.

And, if I *do* continue the turmeric tea ritual, I'll be really curious to see if it helps alleviate any of my daily complaints, particularly about allergies and foot pain. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Well-rested - cleanse day 2

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

*****

Day two of the cleanse and everyone seems to be talking about their withdrawal symptoms: headaches, unregulated body temperature, stomach cramps, crabbiness, etc. 

I have none of these, at least none beyond my standard range of normal. I get headaches so often that I keep a log and was recently at a neurologist to figure out the cause. My body temp is so off that I went to my g.p. earlier this year to ask if I had started menopause. (I haven't.) And crabby? Shoot, I'm crabby almost constantly because I have a job and responsibilities and bills to pay. 

In the absence of noticeable signs of detoxing, I started wondering if I was doing something wrong. "Am I eating too much? Is my cheating on the "no caffeine" thing really affecting me? Should I have listened to the kick-off call audio recording - did I miss something important?" 

While scouring my brain for immediate signs of the efficacy of the cleanse, I realized I am experiencing a positive, rather than negative, form of detox. (At least I think I am.) 

I've been able to fall asleep for each of the last two nights without any sleep-aids. And, for the last two mornings, I've woken up well-rested. 

Did you hear me? I feel well-rested!

This is NOT typical. My husband snores and I have what the Buddha called a "monkey mind." In an effort to get some rest, I often  take OTC sleep meds at least an hour before my intended bedtime. If the sleep aids don't fully work, I supplement them with white noise recordings, or sleeping in a room separate from my husband and away from what he calls his "purring." 

What's the reason? Is it the miracle of just one day of the cleanse, or maybe a coincidence? I asked the Fall 15 Cleanse Facebook group. 

"Maybe it is a reduction in caffeine?" someone asked? I have switched to half-caf. Still only drinking one cup a day. Could the effect of the one cup I drink a day be so dramatic as to effect my sleep nearly 16 hours after I ingest it? 

"What about the Epsom salt bath? That''s supposed to relax muscles which should make sleep easier." Definitely a possibility. 

I then wondered if it is the effect of getting sugar out of my system, which allegedly has the same motor revving qualities as caffeine. 

Whatever the reason, I hope it continues. And it is definitely something I'll be watching for the remainder of the cleanse, and beyond as I elect which new behaviors to keep as part of my standard m.o. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The opposite of fasting - cleanse day 1

I'm doing a five-day food cleanse followed by a six-week diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active and inspired. The cleanse started on Monday, October 5, 2015.

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So what does one eat when one is doing a cleanse in the fall? Take a look.


Breakfast: Standard serving of old fashioned oats with 1/2 an apple, "better butter," and a sprinkle of flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Morning snack: 1/2 a European cucumber, with heavily washed peel intact, dipped in lemon/sesame dressing.

Lunch: Homemade kitchari, which is brown Basmati rice with mung beans and aromatic spices, topped with steamed cauliflower and carrots

Afternoon snack: steamed cauliflower

Dinner: Steamed greens with zesty flax seed dressing and a bowl of pumpkin miso soup topped with cilantro

Evening snack (if I decide I want it): 1 cup of frozen grapes, again, heavily washed
I'm definitely not hungry. In spite of eating far less animal protein than I usually do (as in, no animal protein), and putting in 9,100 steps today, 1,600 above my daily goal.

It is 6:30 PM and I haven't yet had my evening snack. Not sure I'll want it. I may keep the grapes to bring to work for an afternoon snack, when I tend to want a sugar pick me up. For now, I'm off to take an Epsom salt bath, which I'll follow-up with a cup of homemade turmeric tea.

By this time tomorrow, I hope the headache that is settling in on the right side of my forehead is gone, and I feel less sweaty.