About Me

I have a thing for new beginnings and fresh starts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 1290

<-- posing for the camera at the Hibachi celebration of Noreen's Birth and the last day of my cleanse.

I've run into a lot of people in the last 30 days who have asked me to blog about my experience with the Master Cleanse and after. I've gotten a lot of generous compliments on the condition of my skin, my obvious weight loss and others have remarked that I seem, "happy", however they define that.

I feel happy, whatever that means for me. I'm very pleased with the results of the cleanse and feel that I gained a lot of valuable information and clarity from the experience. I lost 10 lbs and, despite warnings on websites that coming off the cleanse would mean weight gain, I am continuing to lose weight, 2 more lbs over the last 2+ weeks.

Weight loss was not the goal but it has certainly been one of the results. The major goal was to break some compulsive binge eating and free myself from the pressure and guilt of food related behavior patterns that I have had since I was a child. I also wanted to reset my system and give myself an opportunity to eat clean, from a fresh start.

I have been toying with the idea of a cleanse since March. During the winter I had developed reoccurring cravings for sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuits, eggs, cheese and bacon. All of these greasy spoon delicacies and their various delicious combination are available to me at my job. Cosmic Omelet knows their way around eggs, cheese, bacon and sausage gravy... oh, and let's not forget sugary baked goods like fresh, homemade pumpkin bread, banana bread and zucchini bread that all can be made into French Toast. Oh yeah, and handmade cinnamon buns... I digress.

I had plenty of temptation and my strategy for the winter was to cave to all of it, over and over. I felt awful and I was lethargic most of the time. So, a week before the West Hartford Yoga Teacher Training graduation weekend, I was hit with a strong urge to do a cleanse. I wanted to do it. I wanted to stick to it. I was ready to make a change and a felt really confident about it. I did research online and most sites recommended that before fasting I give my body a three day ease-in period and a three day ease-out period. I decided that I would ease in during teacher training, three days of intense power yoga and hours of lecture and physical activities. It would be a worthy distraction that I was sure that I would need.

Pre-Day 1:
I ate only fruits and vegetables. I practiced 2.5 hours of power yoga and it was one of the strongest practices that I could remember in terms of my personal performance. I expected to be weak and miserable, I was neither. I was slightly more flexible and connected. In our final Metta meditation it was the first time I was not distracted by what I was going to have for dinner. The answer was, not anything I really want. So, I didn't spend a lot of time anticipating it. It was incredible that I let it go and did not sit there struggling with whether to buy a cookie or something to reward myself for making it through a difficult practice on only fruits and veggies. My reward that I truly wanted was to lose old, bad habits.

Pre Day 2: Fruit and veggie juices and soup broths. I did not notice a big change from Day 1. I practiced a 2.5 power yoga class and participated in my teacher training.

Pre-Day 3: Orange Juice only. I began to notice pangs of hunger that kept coming and going. I would drink juice to keep them at bay and they would come back about 40 minutes later. I had a glass of juice before my 2.5 hour power practice. About an hour or so in, I was asked to go into pigeon on my right side. I felt some strong sensation in my hip and felt pangs of hunger creep in. The hunger distracted me long enough to convince me that I was unable to do pigeon at that moment. It hurt, I was uncomfortable, I was going to fail. I crouched in child's pose to let it all pass; my eyes filled filled with tears and I started weeping audibly. I've had this kind of release before but it usually only lasts a second and it comes after I torture myself for quite some time with unreasonable pressure or indulge in negative dialogues about my ability to show love or receive it. This was different, it came without warning and lasted for almost 10 minutes.

I began DAY 1 the Master Cleanse. It was a 10 day liquid fast with laxatives and salt water flushes. The first day was slightly unhappy because I was struggling to like the lemonade mixture of maple syrup, lemon, water and cayenne pepper. I know, it sounds delicious; clearly something is wrong with me. I took ONE herbal laxative in the morning (I followed the instructions to ease into the appropriate dosage). One laxative had NO affect on me. This day I only had five of the recommended 8 glasses of lemonade. I went to bed with only about 800 liquid calories and I painted a room.

What began to alarm me was that I began to be proud that I could suppress my hunger, lose weight and stick to such a radical diet change. It wasn't a healthy pride of confidence it was the temptation to throw moderation to the wind and make a lifestyle of suppressing and denying food cravings. On Day 2 I was able to drink 8 glasses of lemonade, but it was a struggle. I was moving in a new roommate (lot of up and down, carrying boxes and we painted a huge room). I went to Whole Foods and allowed myself a small herbal tea while I picked up dinner for the worker bees at the house. I actually spent a fair amount of time looking at food without the temptation to eat it. I was noticing colors, enjoying the various smells and liking the act of shopping without obsessing over menu choices. I chose dinners for my friends based on a mix of what I would have chosen to eat and what I knew about their own dietary habits. I enjoyed picking out their dinners. It was a cool experience.

For days I had been dreading Days 3 + 4, these were days I would be at work, surrounded by a lot of my favorite foods and my coworkers, who are all truly enthusiastic foodies. I would also be plagued by the habit of eating. Luckily, my boss had recently put a policy limiting food consumption on the clock. This helped me immensely; before it had been a compulsice free for all of snacking. When I was not ordering food, my co-workers were and I was sampling theirs in addition to eating my own meal. I was also still sitting with the dark temptation of keeping myself hungry on purpose. I made the decision that on work days I would drink orange juice. I like orange juice and it felt a little more like normal. OJ is something I like to have on the clock. So be it. OJ. At 3:00 on Day 3 I showed up for my shift at West Hartford Yoga, after running around waiting tables since 7:00 am, and I couldn't keep my eyes open and was suddenly hit with mild nausea. Luckily, my fellow Yogi, Lindsay, was able to come in early and send me home. By 4:00 I was in bed and I didn't wake up until 9:00 pm. I just closed my eyes and slept until the next day.

Days 5-9 were a lot of the same. My energy had stabilized with the OJ compromise. I was alternating OJ with the more alkaline mixture of the lemonade. I also found that I liked limes better than lemons and the web told me this was an acceptable modification. I took the salt water flush five times in 10 days; I did the flush at night when I was in for the night. In the morning I took laxatives and three turned out to be the magic number. It was pretty gross and fascinating, and effective. By Day 9 I was getting strong momentary flashes of "OK, enough already. I'm ready to eat" but I never broke my fast. I had dreams that I was eating sandwiches and donuts and I was experiencing the guilt of breaking my fast. The dialogue would eventually lead to, I knew I could never do this and I would wake up. I'd need a minute to shake off residual feelings of failure and then I'd smile and think, yes, those make-believe donuts were delicious. I should have had more.

I tell ya, I have never been more productive that I was in these 10 days. I helped move in a new room-mate, we collectively primed and painted three rooms (one monster room), I finished nearly all of my book reviews, I finished my class critiques and I journaled my experience. In addition to all of this I laid the ground work to put myself out there to teach Yoga. I drafted my resume and spent a lot of my cleanse days driving around networking with club managers, studio owners and Board of Ed members. I was totally un-like myself. I managed my time down to the minute, and sometimes those minutes were spent in planned nap time. It still hasn't worn off. I am more productive than I have ever been in my life.

I think there are several reasons for that. The major one was that I would spend a lot of time eating out in social meetings. On my four weekdays off I would often call friends and meet them over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mealtimes would be between 2-3 hours for me. Without food, I had between 4-7 hours per day to fill. I needed lots of distractions and I found them. Just as I was coming off the cleanse, I celebrated my friends birthday on the final day at a hibachi restaurant in Avon. Everyone around me had rice, noodles, prime rib and other deliciousness. I was satisfied with the smells, company, my clear broth mushroom soup and stir fried veggies.

As I was coming off my cleanse my body would send me clear messages if I messed up and chose the wrong foods. I'm still losing weight. I am not drinking fruit juices, except the occasional OJ for an energy boost at work. I don't eat a lot of processed breads, No dairy, No sugar. I am making creamy tahini dressing like it's my job. I am eating tons of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and lean meats. I feel better and look better than I ever have.

I don't know if it's a combination of feeling good and showing up with confidence as a result, but I have also been hired to teach more yoga than I can fit into my schedule. Offers from my time spent networking continued to pour in and starting in August I will be teaching three regular classes per week. In the last week of September two adult ed programs hired me to teach an 8 week Introduction to Power Yoga series that I developed and proposed to them. I am negotiating an incredible project that may or may not also happen in September and Capital Community College wants to hire me in the spring for their adult ed program. We're talking about scheduling a preview class for the fall.

The hope that I could choose to teach Yoga full time became a reality. Of course, I don't want to teach yoga full time. I want to stay on and continue to support the great, local restaurant that supported me during my transitional journey until I potentially leave next summer to teach yoga overseas. Nothing can be certain, or so I am led to believe. Yes, I was also accepted into the Peace Corps and am waiting on my assignment. Instead of sitting back and waiting, I'm learning Spanish and am scheduled to test into eligibility to go to Latin America, which is where I desperately want to be placed.

I've been smiling like a muppet for weeks, because of everything I have described above, 6 months of intensive, thorough training from West Hartford Yoga and I'm deliriously happy. I am truly grateful for the support, patience and care that I have been receiving from a new relationship that continues to teach me about letting go and acceptance. I am viewing the next year of my life with great anticipation, ease and joy. I set myself up to be here, and while much of it might be the universe unfolding as it should, I'm also incredibly proud of my own personal progress and practice of Yes.

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