As I rang in 2014, I felt something brewing in me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, though. I began the year, as I usually do, with hopes of maintaining my exercise and healthy-eating habits. I explored more in yoga, trying more challenging (and sometimes fear-inducing) poses like handstand. I continued my workouts at Zenspin. I felt good about those feats and commitments. I tried to make healthy choices when dining out or eating in. I also had more than my share in wine and things that made me feel icky the next day or sometimes right after eating.
By March, I was tired of feeling gross after eating or drinking too much (and I don’t mean water). That may sound like a stretch, but gross is how I often felt after eating too much dairy or refined carbohydrates and sugar. My bathroom schedule was off (TMI, sorry!), I felt bloated, and the best way I can describe it is I felt gut heavy. I felt like I had stuff in me that I couldn’t eliminate. This frequent feeling made me tired, moody and probably not much fun to be around at times. I didn’t talk about it much to present company, because, well, we’re taught not to discuss “bathroom” issues.
I started seeing posts by friend and yoga instructor, Breezy, about this clean eating/detox thing she was doing. She went on and on about how phenomenal she felt. After going back and forth in my mind with worries and concerns of what I’d have to give up, I took the plunge. That something brewing in me the beginning of the year had surfaced. What finally did it for me was the thought of what all I would gain by jumping on this clean eating train.
After just completing my first week of this challenge and beginning my second week, I am SO happy I took this huge leap, even if I have a few cuts on my fingers from chopping veggies. The “have list” of fresh, organic foods has been much more fulfilling and FILLING than the “avoid list” of gluten, dairy and refined sugar. The adjustments haven’t all been bliss, but I’m finally feeling what it’s like to have gut bliss. The gut is like your body’s second brain, it’s responsible for much of your immune system, and it’s so very important to your overall health. I know that now more than ever.
But like I said it hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies. The coffee withdrawal was most difficult. The headaches are gone and I don’t crave java like I did just two weeks ago. The smell still tempts me a little but not enough to take a sip. The reason we eliminate coffee during this 28-day challenge is its high acidic level. We are working to reduce acidic-inducing foods, which can weaken body systems, to restore our alkaline levels. When your pH is balanced, your body works better. Diseases love an acidic body.
I’ve been overwhelmed with preparing and cooking meals. Not so much the cooking itself but juggling that with my work and personal life demands. I have a new appreciation for working mothers and fathers, especially single parents. These cooking adventures (along with good friend Alex at my side) have been fun and rewarding. And each time I take a bite of a home-cooked meal, an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and happiness comes over me. My bank account is thanking me for not spending money on dining out and my body is thanking me, too.
I still love going out to eat to experience good company and the bustling, welcoming ambiance of all the good restaurants Little Rock has to offer. Saturday night, I went out with friends to Cache, a new-age restaurant with a Chicago feel. I mentally prepared myself: No wine. The eating part I could handle. I easily modified a salad with an olive oil/lemon juice dressing instead of their house ranch and chicken instead of bacon.
The no-drinking part was difficult. Alcohol has been a part of my world, good times and bad, since I can remember. My family and friends drink when we’re happy, sad, at holidays and on regular days. We especially drink when we dine out. I was the only one without an alcoholic drink the other night and really wanted a glass of wine. But I knew one glass would turn into four. I started feeling discomfort. “Am I still fun?” “Can I really do this?” “How will I be around people drinking?” I asked myself all these questions and left a little less upbeat than I had been feeling all week.
But then I had a lovely night at home to complete my Saturday outing and woke up without a hangover, refreshed for a hot yoga class. I’m feeling things differently. And that’s OK. I’m feeling and going through my emotions rather than covering them up with wine or food indulgences. I’ll take it.
They say ignorance is bliss, but I’m starting to think cleaning eating might be.