The Writing Detox

Writing Myself a Healthy Life

Archive for the tag “detox”

Dancing Through Life

My partner and I signed up for ballroom/latin dance classes and last night was our second night. There is nothing so emotionally and mentally exhausting than learning how to dance with someone who is the love of your life. Half way through the cha-cha, I was sure we were going to kill each other, but we both left tired and elated when we finally “got it”. It’s been a really fun adventure and we are learning so much about communicating and working together to separately learn the same skill. It’s been really fun. We’re building a date night into our week. It’s also a surprising workout, mostly because you’re on your toes so much of the night. The first week I made the mistake of not stretching afterwards and I felt it.

We also went on a bit of a cleanse together for a week. It was just for a week, but we’d been on a road trip together and gorged ourselves on rich food. We took a week off from all irritating or heavy food. It was so hard to think ahead – we’re both busy people, and while we love to cook, we often eat late because we don’t plan ahead. When your options for food are so restricted, there’s no such thing as a last minute bowl of pasta or ordering in. It was tough, but we both felt quite…cleansed?…by the end of it. I’m not sure I love cleansing, but sometimes it’s a nice way to reset your eating habits. For me, I was already avoiding junk food, so cleansing wasn’t a big shift. For my partner, it was really hard.

However, now we are both in the habit of thinking of healthy things to eat together instead of just grabbing a quick snack. In that way, it helped us to think of alternatives to junk food and we have a huge tub of trail mix in our truck now that is there for emergencies instead of grabbing a coke and chips.

I’m not sure that I’m doing enough activity to see a huge physical change yet, but I have two structured weekly activities built into my life and as they become more solidified habits, I can only build. It’s nice to add habits one at a time, instead of trying to change everything over night. I find that it gives me a feeling of success that I can build from, instead of failure because I haven’t completely shifted my behaviour overnight. This way, it’s gradual, but sustainable.

It feels good.

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I formed a habit!!

My partner and I resolved six weeks ago to take up hiking every Sunday. We were babysitting my sister’s dogs, and they needed to be exhausted every night, and we were tired of going to the same three parks to run them. We decided that for ourselves, we would go hiking every Sunday, and if we were going to be busy on Sunday we’d go Thursday, so long as we went every week.

Six weeks later, we haven’t missed a week! We won’t have the dogs next week to come with us, but we’ve really enjoyed getting out and going for a hike through this incredible Canadian landscape. I’m always shocked how few people we meet along our way – it’s just us, in the bush, enjoying the perfection of lakes and forests and the feel of roots and rocks underfoot. Heaven.

I think, slowly, alongside this new commitment to one physical activity every week, I’m starting to lose weight and feel fit. It keeps me thinking about health and good things, rather than getting bogged down in the unhealthy lifestyle that comes with vegging in front of a computer screen.

We’ve decided that since this one goal has become a habit that we both enjoy and will continue throughout the winter, we are going to compound our good decisions by adding a few new ones. He’s agreed to take a Latin/Ballroom class with me this fall, so I’m signing us up for one in the “big” city nearby. I suspect that we’ll turn that night into a date night – maybe appetizers and drinks before or after our lesson. Nothing wrong with building romance into your week!

And finally, I’m going to work on two separate goals for myself. I want to start taking a yoga class every week somewhere – preferrably on Mondays so that I can work the kinks out after my hike – and I’m also going to start going to a spin class at the Y near our place. I want to do a lot of skiing this winter, and it’s so much easier if your legs are conditioned ahead of time. Spinning is such a great way to get those muscles – and my knees – ready for the BC slopes.

Four planned physical activities every week should be a nice switch from none. I’m expecting to feel really sore, and then really good. I’m signing up for the dance class and the yoga class ahead of time so that it comes as a pre-planned activity, which will help incorporate it into a routine.

Finally, I’ve decided to give myself one other modest goal. All of the goals I’ve ever made to eliminate sugar forever and becoming instantly healthier have failed. However, when I give myself a specific and limited scope to the goal, such as doing a cleanse, I’m more successful. And the long-term effects seem positive because I discover new things to cook and new ways to make sure I eat well when I’m out and about.

Therefore, I’ve decided that three months of the year will be my “clean” months. I’ve chosen the most common months to want to start a new routine – September, January, and May. In these months, I’m generally giving myself the rule “Don’t eat junk food”. If I know it to be “junk food”, I won’t eat it. This includes pretty much all refined sugar and flour, chips, fries, fast food, candy, pop, ice cream, processed meat, and processed cheese. No more Cracker Barrel for me. We’re all stocked up on good quality locally-produced aged cheddar, and healthy meats from the local organic food store. I went out to my garden this morning and pulled up a huge handful of carrots, cherry tomatoes, and beans. I’m sitting here eating them like candy. Carrots straight out of the ground are nothing like carrots in the grocery store. They are so much sweeter.

I feel good about these changes because while they are strong changes, they aren’t drastic or unsustainable. I know that I’m never going to eat clean in December, so I will make sure January is a nice cleanse-based month with lots of restorative winter vegetables on menu. September is so easy to eat clean because it’s harvest month and the vegetables taste better than junk anyway. And May is all about rolling into summer and starting to crave clean, summer foods. I’m pleased with this plan. It’s do-able. 20130819-162931.jpg

I’m also really expecting the positive habits developed in these months to spill over into the other months. And I will work on my plan for that toward the end of September. For now, I’m excited about our new activities. I’m excited about my firm thigh muscles developing under my hiking pants. And I’m excited about the 5 lbs that slid off the scale this week even as it’s that time of the month where I’m usually the heaviest.

I’m excited, and prepared.

And I friggin’ love these carrots! Seriously, next year, you should plant carrots. They’re so good.

 

 

Setting Goals, and Jam

I revisited the My Goals part of this blog last week after “revitalizing” the blog itself. Originally, my goals had included a huge detox and cutting out a lot of things from my diet. I’d still like to find a way to phase sugar down and out, but I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that healthy living has very little to do with sweeping restriction.

I started working from home again a few months ago after working in an office for nine months. I really enjoyed my office job and the people I worked with, but sitting at a desk for eight hours, with no windows or fresh air was making me quite sick. Now that I work at home, I can go for walks around the field, grab snacks regularly that are healthy and homemade, and I move more. I’m losing weight as a result. Not a lot, but enough to know that it was a good decision.

One of my favourite things to do growing up was to bake. My sisters and my Mom and I used to bake regularly. It’s therapeutic and social and homey and creative. The other thing about baking is that you know exactly what is going into it, so you know how much butter and sugar and flour you are ingesting, and you also know that you are not ingesting preservatives or food dyes or “natural flavours” (which usually just means MSG), or other chemicals.

I love sugar. It’s clearly one of my biggest addictions and challenges. But when I’m baking things at home and eating home baking, I feel a lot less worried about my future than when I’m grabbing a cardboard, empty-calorie treat from Tim Hortons or Starbucks. When I’m eating a real, home baked chocolate chip cookies (my ultimate kryptonite), then I at least take time to really appreciate the phenomenal experience that is a real, home-baked chocolate chip cookie.

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The peach jam we made – more sugar than fruit, but at least it set!

This weekend I had friends and family visiting and we made peach jam. There are five cups of sugar to the four cups of peaches in jam. It’s obscene. And it’s way too sweet. Sometimes, even homemade is hard to justify. But knowing exactly what was in it meant that I only ate a small spoonful and I really tasted it, so I’ll call that a victory toward my overall goal of a healthier life, even as I think about what my specific goals are going to be in and around this blog.

What I’m sure about today? Health includes enjoyment, not just restriction.

 

Dirty Little Secrets

I keep thinking about cheating. On my diet that is. But then I remember I’m not on a diet, I’ve simply changed my eating habits.

I’ve gone back to eating cheese, and now cheese is the number one reason I can’t stay under 1800 calories per day. Even with exercise, I eat so much cheese that I’m always over budget. Cheese! Dammit. I love cheese.

Aside from that, I have successfully gone three weeks with no gluten (except for the time my brother-in-law forgot and cooked the fish in flour…) and no refined sugar (except for Tyler’s birthday when I made a gluten-free cake, had a slice and stayed up all night…). The fact that these are the only exceptions are big victories. Oh wait, there was also the time I realized there was no good replacement for ketchup so I ate it anyway with my…wait for it…grilled cheese sandwich.

Big victories. I have given up gluten, theoretically for good, and I’ve given up sugar and committed to at least three months without it and the possibility of a permanent extension, at least until such a time when I think I could control the cravings. Ha.

The bigger victories have been the times I’ve stared at the candy that I stashed in the freezer, or the gluten free cookies I bought when I thought that sugar would be a temporary elimination, and I think “no one would know…it wouldn’t matter! It would be my dirty little secret.” And then I turn away, and eat cheese because I would know. I would know that I’d cheated and failed. This isn’t a victory calories wise, but it’s a huge victory for me, for now. I am gaining some control over my addiction to sugar. This is the first step towards avoiding diabetes.

Sugar Cravings

I feel a little bit better today. My head is still a bit wobbly and my stomach still a bit nauseous. Today after lunch my intestines were unsure about the whole procedure and were a bit cramped. However, I enjoyed my lunch of chicken, arugula salad, hummus, carrots and olives. It was tasty and nutritious. My main goal is to eat lots of greens every day, especially while I’m not eating red meat, to keep my iron levels up. The arugula is spicy and delicious, and I squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto the leaves instead of salad dressing and it’s really delicious.

The hummus has been a life-saver for sure. Whenever my energy is down, I just eat some carrots or celery with hummus, and I feel full for longer than if I’m just eating veggies. I’ve been eating a lot of fruit too. I know that some people think that fruit should also be on the give-up list because it’s mostly just sugar as well and because anything that sparks an insulin reaction can lead to fat-storage, it’s not a good idea to overdo it on the fruit. However, I cling to fruit during these times as my only source of sugar. As someone who considers myself a recovering sugar addict, the fruit keeps me from going completely nuts when the cravings kick in.

Today, I’m full-on craving candy. I know myself well enough to know that the first few days of a detox are painful physically, but it’s once the physical symptoms start to abate that the mental games begin. I have to find strategies for resisting sugar.

Some evidence suggests that sugar is a highly addictive substance, even more addictive than cocaine. I have no trouble believing this, as sugar has always held an incredible pull for me.

I have always had an addictive personality, and several years ago my binge drinking led to my body rejecting alcohol. I gave up all alcohol for three years. More recently, whenever I drank, it was usually in moderation and with a more concentrated mental awareness of what I was doing. But it was always a risk that I would slip into enjoying drinking too much and I would start to binge. The thing that helped was that most people now know I don’t drink a lot, and most people don’t make a big deal of it any more.

My goal is to create the same situation for myself around sugar. I need to let people know that I no longer eat sugar. I need to create a mental, emotional and physical response to sugar that is negative enough that I won’t cave and eat it when it is in front of me, or in response to someone else’s guilt or feelings about food (such as the all-too-common idea that food is love and therefore if I don’t eat your brownies, it means I don’t love you). In order to create these associations, I focus on the way eating sugar really made me feel. Not the pleasure of the taste, but the low energy, the hang-overs, the weight gain, the mood swings, the poor self-esteem, the lack of concentration and motivation – all of those negative side effects that drastically reduced my quality of life. And if that doesn’t work, I create an association closer to the above comparison – I imagine myself snorting sugar up my nose. An image which grosses me out intensely, and draws more specifically the comparison between addictions – those considered acceptable and those considered unacceptable in society, but both of which can have devastating consequences, including death.

 

 

Nausea and Headache

What a lovely reward for being so “nice” to my body. A girl tries to do good by herself, by cutting out all of the poisonous foods, and what happens? Well, her body expels all the poison and it hurts coming out. I’ve felt wretched since yesterday. I’ve had a miserable headache, nausea and aching all over. It feels very much like a migraine, which worries me, because I used to get migraines and I was very happy that I stopped getting them about a year ago when I stopped taking birth control pills.

But I’ve been told to expect this kind of thing, and I guess it means that my body really had adapted to surviving the abuse I was giving it. Now that the abuse is gone, hopefully it will start to feel better soon.

Day The First

Today I woke up with a splitting headache and every muscle in my body was clenched. I’m not sure whether it was the lack of caffeine, the lack of sugar from yesterday kicking in, or whether I just slept funny. It also could have been that I was a little bit hungry by the time I went to bed last night, and that’s actually a funny story. Funny today. Yesterday, not so funny.

I was pretty excited about being on this new healthy lifestyle thing-a-ma-bob yesterday, so I looked up a great recipe for curry and even though it called for chicken, I used tofu since I didn’t have any chicken in the fridge. I’m not a vegetarian. I believe in the ethical treatment of animals, but I grew up on a farm where our mentality was “treat them really well, respect them as living creatures, and enjoy how delicious they taste”. Even now, I buy meat from butchers that know what farms their meat comes from (hopefully local, ethical and, if possible, organic) only because I believe that animals should enjoy a high quality of life not only for the obvious ethical reasons, but also because they taste better when they are happy and don’t have toxic adrenaline and stress hormones running through their bodies. Watch Food Inc.  if you want to know what I’m talking about.

I made curry. I chopped up snow peas, cauliflower, broccoli, ginger, garlic, peppers and sprinkled them with curry powder. The recipe recommended one and a half teaspoons. I’d never cooked with curry powder before but it didn’t look very strong so I added probably another teaspoon and a half, maybe two, just to be safe.

Then I marinated the tofu in curry powder – probably a good tablespoon or two or three – and then fried it up in olive oil until it was nice and hot and seared on the outsides. Then I mixed it all together with some vegetable stock and set it on the stove to simmer. It smelled amazing. It looked amazing. We dished it up on rice and sat down really excited to eat it last night.

There is a reason the recipe only called for one and a half teaspoons of curry powder for the entire recipe, and that is because despite its mild smell, curry powder has a very strong taste and an even stronger after-taste. Especially when there’s about six tablespoons of it on your meal. It was almost inedible and we gave up after a few minutes of trying and some experimentation with adding soy sauce. I made myself a greek salad with avocado and that was all I ended up eating for dinner, so by the time I went to bed, I was hungry!

I woke up today, ready to really start my cleanse, and found myself aching head to toe. To make myself feel better, I made myself this delicious Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas treat, using exactly the recipe’s suggested amount of spice. I highly recommend it. I cut the sugar right out of the recipe and cooked them in a little bit of honey and then added more at the end, since I’m not eating any refined sugar right now. A small amount of honey is the perfect treat when struggling with giving up sweets, and the cinnamon helps keep your blood sugar low.

Day one, feeling not-so-hot, but enjoying my new favourite snack!

Feeling Committed

I am committed to a cleanse. Starting tomorrow, I will be ingesting capsules that are essentially glorified vitamins and laxatives. I’ve done this cleanse before, and there is an awful lot of time spent in the bathroom with this one.

I did this cleanse, on the advice of a naturopath, while I was completing my Masters degree. Every morning at 10:00 am I spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom. Inconveniently, this fell during the very middle of one of my favourite seminars and eventually I had to confess to my professor what was going on so that she wasn’t offended by my frequent and lengthy disappearances.

Originally I completed this cleanse to help with my liver function, address my addiction to sugar, and to support my immune system. The results overall were very positive, but I failed to continue the food restrictions after the cleanse was over and quickly fell into my old habits. This time, things will be different.

How? How will they be different, you ask?

I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

But here’s how I think it will work. The first two weeks are going to be the hardest. I will have to be prepared with food options everywhere I go and committed to eating a shitload (pardon the pun) of vegetables. After two weeks, I get to introduce dairy and red meat back into my life, slowly, which will make me ecstatic because I really dislike unsweetened soy milk. Having (smaller amounts of) cheese and beef in my life should pretty much make me happy enough to get through the last two weeks of the cleanse part, and then I will simply switch to a one-treat-per-week model of eating sugar only once a week. Honey and maple syrup are allowed so that I don’t go completely off the rails in frustration, but in very limited quantities.

Gluten, I am going to attempt to eliminate more permanently and see what happens. I’ll post my stats and my plan as I go along, and I’ll let you know how my strategies change. Leap Day has given me this extra moment of pause and preparation, and the blog is a good outlet to give me mental strength to avoid the dangerous foods I know are in the cupboard. I can’t bear to throw out food, so I’m hoping that people who visit will eat the bad stuff. Or make me throw it out.

My secret weapon this time will be the blog. Whenever I think I can’t handle the cravings, I’m going to write about it. This may mean that this blog is the site of all of my weakest moments, or possibly my strongest moments.

The most important part of all of this is my motivation. For the first time in my life, my health is motivated not by my own desire to look different or fit into different clothes (although those will be nice rewards), but rather by a desire to be healthy enough to have a baby. I want to teach my children good eating habits, and I want to model a healthy lifestyle for my children. In addition, my health will directly determine their health when they are born, and some studies say for the rest of their lives. It’s time for me to take that seriously and to get healthy enough to have a healthy baby.

I have to admit, I’m scared. But I’m also really excited.

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