Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How I Feel

"There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow."


I'm not sure why, but I was certain that that quote was from the Bible.  As I was mentally formulating this post, I was preparing to defend this choice of opening, claiming that I did not intend to be all "jesus-y" and explaining how that (not being "jesus-y") would the topic of another blog entirely, one I'd probably call "And Also With You: Confessions of a Lapsed Fundamentalist." 

But, alas, I worried without cause.  It was Shakespeare after all.  And after all, who in their right mind would argue with Shakespeare?  (Although it was said that he and Ben Johnson had it out on a few occassions, but that too is a subject for another day.)

Whence all this rambling, you ask?  Well, "providence." 

That line from Hamlet came to me just a few hours ago.  A friend of mine e-mailed me today in response to this blog.  I couldn't remember if I'd sent her the link to it when I began writing it a few weeks ago, so I sent it to her this morning.  In responding she said it was funny that I'd done so today because she was on her first day of an Ayurvedic spring cleanse.  (Ayurveda is an ancient Indian practice that essentially combines food and medicine.  I have a book about it I've tried to get through.  Certainly interesting, but I know just enough about it to be dangerous to myself were I to put its dictums into practice.)

By "funny," of course, she meant coincidental and it got me thinking about a number of other providential and coincidental things that have been happening.

Blessed.  I really don't use the word so much (maybe it sounds too "jesus-y") but if I'm going to be honest with myself, I have been feeling pretty blessed lately, and not just about this lifestyle change I'm going through.  The writing of this blog and the communication and sharing it has allowed has brought me that feeling as well.  It's been incredible to feel like I've had a hand in inspiring others to, at the very least, consider their food choices ("I made your carrot salad - it was great!").  Or to inspire them to take an even bigger plunge, like my friend in Colorado who I unknowingly helped "push over the hump" and who is now a few days into a 30-day juice fast.  By the same token, it's been great to read stories of other people who are already living this lifestyle and to learn from them, whether it's other bloggers (like Healthy Girl's Kitchen, Amy the Nutritarian or Sue in Ohio) or a journalist, like the one from our local paper, The Hook, who wrote about her juice fast at around the same time I was doing mine.  Providence and coincidence indeed.  Whatever higher power you believe in, it's hard to ignore serendipity.

HOW I FEEL (and have been feeling)

This same friend who e-mailed me today also suggested that I write about my thoughts and emotions as I experienced this change - "how I feel" was my translation.  Which led me back to providence and coincidence.  I thought it was "funny" that she suggested this because the past few days have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me.  Here she was pointing out the importance of emotion in this process - and there I was, not seeing the connection between those emotions and the journey I'm taking with my body.  In hindsight, of course, it's obvious.  She always was right.

It began sometime a week or so ago when I started feeling a little "blah."  Not nearly as great or as energetic as I had been feeling since ending my juice fast in March and beginning this new way of eating.  I was a little cranky, irritable - I even had a headache one night.  I was more than a little disappointed in this, having been spared the need to take ibuprofen for the previous six or seven weeks.  I took my meds grudgingly and went to bed.

I wasn't dissatisfied with my food, mind you.  I was still getting high as a kite making my incredible salads, still totally in love with my Red Quinoa, White Beans and Kale, still salivating over my mangos and avocados.  My mother even made a slew of vegan-friendly dishes for a visit we made to her house over the weekend - I was ecstatic.  I wasn't bored with that part of it - I still knew I was doing the right thing.

But I'd also felt like I'd reached a plateau.  And not just in terms of weight, although there I was sticking right at 181.  A far cry from 209, to be sure, but I also knew I had a good 6-10 pounds still to go.  I'd really started thinking of doing my next juice fast sooner than June.  Something to give me another jump-start.  A little bit of the shine had worn off I guess.  Things slowly continued in that seemingly "downward" direction.

And then this weekend it all kind of hit the fan.  I'm sure it didn't help that it rained and was cold for two straight days.  For the first time I felt what Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls "toxic hunger," almost a craving for some of the food I knew full well was not going to satisfy any real physical need, just a psychological one to escape, defy, lash out or give up.  Sitting in a colleague's office yesterday feeling grumpy, I could almost envision myself at the Wendy's drive-thru ordering the value bacon cheeseburger and french fries.  In the past, that's how I used food, to essentially ignore my feelings.  To borrow my friend's phrase, I would "stuff" my feelings with food.  This time around, though, I was committed enough that I wasn't giving myself that easy out.  I did not succumb.  Small pat on the back here.

And then today almost out of nowhere it struck me - the connection between my body and my feelings.  I'm not going to get too graphic here, but my body just hadn't been feeling so great.  What became clear was that, based on what my body's been doing for the past 48 hours, I am still in the midst of some serious physical detoxification.  Do I need to be more explicit?  Don't make me go there.

It stands to reason, of course.  I'd clearly been thinking subconsciously that once I made that switch 7 or 8 weeks ago, voila!  I would be cured.  But 42 years of toxicity does not disappear in two months.  I've really been able to feel a lot of this leave my body - I now understand my foul mood a bit more - to some degree it's a manifestation of all the stuff that's still trying to get out of my body.  It reminds me of what David Wolfe says in the film Food Matters - "We think that we should be able to go out and exercise and flush all those toxins out with our sweat, but that's not how you want them to come out!"

I think the lesson here is two-fold - a) a lifetime of self-destructive eating and drinking behavior does not let go of one's psyche easily and b) I just need to get out of my own way and let my body heal itself. 

And I'll tell you what - that realization has made me feel better already.  And that is how I feel.

One Final Note - about food this time

Tonight I made another batch of that awesome beet salad, this time using of one of the options listed in the book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian .  I added grated green cabbage and 2 roughly chopped navel oranges to it.  I didn't know it could be any better, but gadzooks!!!  It won an immediate seal of approval not only from my wife, but from my 7 year old daughter.  Definitely worth trying.  Super-bonus?  Cabbage is another one of the 10 "superfoods" from the book The 10 Things You Need to Eat .  Awesome!

be well, all.

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