My friend Dennis called me one cold night in February. “Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to go to Italy with me. I have to go for work and I thought it would be fun if you came so I’d have someone to eat dinner with while I’m there.”
“Sure, why not?” I replied, getting that excited feeling I get when I sense impending adventure. “When are you leaving?”
For two weeks, I ate breakfast twice every morning, gelato for lunch, and a huge amazing meal every night at a number of incredible restaurants throughout Bologna. It spawned my mindset of, “If I want it, I’ma eat it.” I came home ten pounds heavier (after TWELVE days of feasting!) and continued on with that frame of mind.
Of course, eventually I could tell it was catching up with me. After spending most of my time on Maui in December eating largely raw foods and drinking lots of fresh juices, I knew what it was like to feel like a million bucks. I was full of energy, I was glowing; why, even my green eyes were turning blue! There was such an incredible level of cleansing going on, and I enjoyed the sensation of it.
But now, I was eating without thinking, enjoying the novelty of eating meat again for the first time in three years, falling back into the habit of eating a cheese sandwich… which isn’t bad in moderation, but all of these habits that were making me feel exhausted, depressed, grouchy, and achy, all over.
After spending a weekend at the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in June and having chats with my Gluten Free for Good friend Melissa, I knew I needed to get a grip on my eating habits. But later, I kept thinking. I’ll do it later, and I’ll blog about it and my new #FHBC11 friends will read it and it will be great. But later. I’m not in the mood now.
Last weekend I spent up at the Mountain Pose Yoga Festival in Copper Mountain with my infamous friends, Peggy Dyer, Laurie Maves and Melissa Ivey. I was dealing with a lot emotionally, and I found myself both feeling shitty because of internal struggles on top of feeling shitty because I was eating shitty… I slept for ten or eleven hours each night, exhausted from numerous tearful breakdowns and too much pizza.
On the second night at MPYF, author of Crazy Sexy Cancer and Crazy Sexy Diet, Kris Carr, was the keynote speaker. Peggy and Laurie are huge fans of Kris’, and I was looking forward to hearing her speak about her love of green juice and kale. After all, I had loved the green stuff too, back on Maui.
I ended up at one of the front tables, sitting on the side that left me completely exposed to the podium. I felt vulnerable even in the midst of my intrigue, as though Kris and I were having a one-on-one chat. The more I imagined it was just her and I in the room, the more defensive I got when I felt like she was looking at me with her challenges to live life on purpose.
Laurie Maves, Kris Carr and Peggy Dyer
“Will you all make a commitment to juicing, starting on Monday?” she asked, questioning with her eyes dancing around the room. Then she looked directly at me. Or maybe it was my friend behind me. Either way, she looked directly-almost-kind-of-near-me and said, “Would you?”
I stared back, biting the inside of my cheek, hoping it was a rhetorical question.
It wasn’t. “Yes? No? Can you give me one of these?” She wiggled her hand side-to-side.
My friend behind me spoke up. “If I have access to a juice, sure! I’d love to try!” I relaxed. Maybe Kris wasn’t looking at me afterall. But my friend made the point that I was fuming over.
I’d love to live a super healthy lifestyle, eat nothing but the best all the time, fresh juice twice a day, fart rainbows and burp glitter and all that. But the cost! The cost is so much!! Buy me a fuggen juicer, I thought, and I’ll drink your g’damned juice.
I sat with those feelings for the next twenty-four hours, feeling embarrassed that I had experienced this unexplainable upwelling of rage. Until I realized that was the rage was masking was my fear and shame about my lack of nourishing my body wholly. I am fearful that I’m doomed to live a life of exhaustion and unhappiness and I’m embarrassed because I don’t have the will-power to uphold any semblance of consistency in my life, not to mention in my diet.
I pondered on that. And was I seriously coming at the thought of my health and well-being and self-care with an attitude of lack? Lack of funds, lack of faith, lack of love for myself and patience that I could get it right if I just gave myself the space to try… so much lack. What was I therefore fueling my body with by having those thoughts? Nothing but more lack. More fear. More shame. More turning away from taking control of my own health.
Well, that didn’t make much sense to me.
On Monday, I made myself a big batch of some sort of ridiculous green smoothie concoction. All I had for a blender was one of those little single-serve smoothie makers, so I made a complete mess, adding whatever veggies and fruits I thought sounded good. It was fantastic. When the whole thing was done, I sat down to take a triumphant sip – and it tasted like ass.
I kept at it, trying to find the right way to be able to suck down this disaster, but I wasn’t mad. At least I was making an effort, and I had been avoiding making the initial effort for way too long.
Then I went to Bed, Bath and my Butthole (I hate that store) and found a reasonably priced juicer. Sure, I broke it within 24 hours of having it, but I exchanged it for another… and we’re totally in love, me and my juicer. And then it broke again and I broke up with it. Going in to buy a legit hi-speed blender this time. I went to some vitamin-hut-cottage-place and bought greens powder to add to my breakfast smoothies. I’m learning, I’m making an effort and I already feel better.
I realized that while eating better is more expensive, it is a price worth paying. What’s the point of spending a ton of money on clothes or shoes (which I don’t generally do anyway) when I still feel sick, depressed, tired, achy, etc., when I put them on? I’d rather wear my worn out tank tops and endless supply of skorts until they fall off me as long as I’m eating amazingly and feeling even more amazing.
This is the decision we are all given, every day of our lives. And it doesn’t have to be my story, maybe it’s just making a commitment to get off your ass once a day and go for a 20-minute walk. Maybe it’s adding something green to your dinner every night. Maybe it’s drinking more water. There are so many little things that make such a big difference – because just as one bad decision can lead to a string of even worse decisions, one good decision begets more and more of consistently better and more fantastic decisions.
Now, don’t misunderstand – I don’t regret one chocolate croissant, one triple serving of pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate coconut gelato or one single plate of Gnocchi Quattro Formaggio that I had in Italy. I wanted to live my life fully while in Italy – and I did. And I was happy for it! But I can’t eat like that all the time. And I apparently especially can’t eat like that when I’m at home if I want to feel healthy and/or happy in the slightest.
What can you commit to trying next week? Just for you, for your health, for your well-being and for your happiness? I dare you to try.
Ingredients for Success in Green Juice!
Make yourself a super delicious juice!
If you’re using a juicer, just throw all these items in. If you’re using a high-speed blender, remove seeds, stems and other non-edible bits.
2 green apples
1-inch knob of ginger
couple handfuls of spinach
1-bunch of kale
a few stalks of celery
a few carrots
Enjoy! Store in a glass container and drink throughout the day – or better yet, share with your friends!
The best thing about juicing is you really can’t screw it up – experiment with different things and see what happens.
“Between the sun and the food and the people, I just feel… I feel so…” I struggled to find the right words to describe my experience thus far in Maui to my new friend. “I just… I FEEL.”
Tomorrow begins day one of the Liquid Love Juice Feast. Over the past week, I have been working with Tarah to make her vision of sharing this guided juice feast with about forty yogis and yoginis across the country possible and … welp, here it goes!
This feast (or fast, if you must) is about letting go, healing, and having a new set point from which to move forward from. It is a very conscious decision to nourish my body in a new way and thus make space for so much more. After a week of eating raw foods and soaking up sunshine, I am ecstatic. My eyes are bright, my skin is clear, my body feels GOOD in a way that I can barely put into words. I am happy, I am healthy, I am whole – that mantra keeps playing in my head and heart and it feels GOOD.
Anyone who has known me prior to 2007 would be shocked to hear the things I am eating and that there is no more steak or potatoes. Not that there is a damn thing wrong with meat or cheese or sweet, sweet beer… this is a chance to experience a change in my diet and thus feel more deeply than I have ever felt before. I took a bite of an apple today at the beach after a dozen dropbacks and some frolicking in the waves and the sharp, crisp taste was so incredibly potent in a way I have never experienced from an apple.
I have for too long fought a difficult battle with food, feeling it was cumbersome and troublesome to have to pause and eat. That to eat meant to shove food in my face, get that tell-tale heavy feeling in my belly and move forward from there. But nourishment is so much more than that… and that is what I am learning. You can throw yourself into a backbend or crank your leg into a complicated yoga pose, but it will only serve you and your body for so long until it starts to damage you, injure you, or make it impossible to live in that way. The exact same is true of eating – if you take the time to really feel your way from step to step in the best possible alignment, then you end up at the feast and have savored every flavor along the way.
Trust that I will be keeping you in the loop of how I feel over the course of the next few days. The feast goes for up to seven days, but I am committed to four since it is my first feast. And please do not confuse this for a fast – hence my use of the word “feast.” I am going to be divulging in tons of fresh juices empowered by Superfoods as well as other raw soups. This is coming from a place of abundance and prosperity, not scarcity or lack. I will not be starving myself – my body will actually be getting more nutrients than it has been getting on my day-to-day diet when I am left to feed myself. This is going to be good. This is going to be hard. This is going to be… well, it’s gonna be something.
I should probably eat another piece of raw love pie (cherry/blueberry/cacao filling on a raw mac nut/date crust) before bed. Gonna be the last thing I chew for the next four days.
I finished the last mouthfuls of my green smoothie, relishing in the sharp taste of cacao. It’s my third morning in Hai’ku, Maui and my diet has consisted thus far on raw foods. Yesterday I swam the churning ocean and practiced yoga twice with Tarah and this morning, I felt sore (in a good way) and in need of a little extra sleep. I started doing a little yoga after breakfast and very clearly heard my body ask me to stop. I sat on my mat and ate avocado and sunflower nut pate sprinkled with cayenne while the girls practiced. After I felt nourished, I wandered out onto the porch and curled up on the lounge chair, bundled up in jackets and knee-high socks and scarves. It is winter, after all.
kitten tries to interrupt my hard work
On Tuesday, I begin a juice feast liquid love live-it (vs DIE-t) with my radical friend, Tarah. This week of raw foods is the perfect preparation for me, and I know it – but it is going to be quite the challenge. I feel blessed to share the company of others who are participating with much knowledge and support for my experience. This is already one of the most nourishing and empowering “vacations” I have ever taken – leisurely mornings on the porch, dabbling in a few projects; an hour or so at the beach, taking in sun on my hungry skin; taking sample shots of kombucha (best. Kombucha. EVER.) and munching on new foods prepared in many different ways; sharing stories girl-to-girl heart-to-heart; bending on the mat and opening my heart to the warm scent of flowers.
Yep. I feel the island welcoming me brightly into its embrace.
At the end of my morning practice at Studio Maui yesterday, I began to rouse my breath in Savasana to transition up. I had a clear vision of a big red disc, almost a giant button that rolled into view. It read, “RAW” in big block letters. A ladder flew in from my peripheral and reached from the darkness around the button right up into the center of it. I am taking big steps into a new experience, climbing up towards something different and radical. Something that I expect will leave me raw and exposed – and I am ever so ready to let go of all this needless negativity that still clings to me. I understand the expense of taking on a raw diet, of spending a few days on just juice. I understand this is a commitment. A sacrifice that I offer up into the fire with a big “swaha!” – an exclamation of devotion to everything I have lived, every mistake I have made, every heartache and heartbreak and fear and pain; the pieces of my life that have made me exactly as I am.
I challenged myself to a month of eating gluten-free, vegan, processed sugar-free, caffeine-free and alcohol-free.
At first, I didn’t think I would be able to do it – I imagined myself gnawing on leaves and crying over spilt milk that I wouldn’t be able to drink.
Luckily, I have a phenomenal nutritionist, Ryah. If it hadn’t been for the afternoon she spent in my kitchen with me, showing me how to cook things I’d never even heard of before, I would be famished. Instead, I’m on day seven and feeling like a million bucks of energetic, non-gassy sassy lady.
My sister (the infamous eM) decided to join me in my eating-adventure. It makes it so much easier to cook when you have a friend to do it with… and when it’s someone that you can simultaneously have a ball with while barefoot in the kitchen and daydreaming about living on a tropical island someday, it makes it that much more fun.
I’m the first to admit that making a change in your diet is difficult (this coming from the girl who used to eat graham cracker sandwiches filled with chocolate frosting for breakfast and a handful of M&Ms with a glass of eggnog for dinner), but the amazing changes I’m already experiencing are eye-opening.
Eat healthy and see what happens. I dare you.
You could even come over to my house for dinner sometime.
Couple cooking notes: for the enchiladas, we added a spicy Spanish rice pilaf IN the enchiladas… for the mango salsa, we used champagne mangoes (holy crap, it was amazing) and also smooshed an avocado in with everything.
It hit me one winter night as I sat down to eat my dinner of M&Ms and eggnog:
…this was probably not a well-rounded meal.
A lot of other moments in my life had made mention to myself that perhaps I did not have the healthiest of eating habits. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve noticed halfway through teaching a class that maybe I was feeling light-headed because it was 6:30 at night and I hadn’t had anything more than a cup of tea ten hours earlier. Or how many times my best friend has made me pack a lunch before I left the house for an all-day yoga workshop. Or how often I eat only one meal a day and eat it so quickly that I can’t remember how many bites it took, if I ate my own tongue or if I was even breathing at all during the process.
Because I’ve never been too concerned with my overall body image, I never considered the fact that there may be something disorderly about my eating. I skip meals because I’m in a hurry, because I forget or because I’m just not hungry, not because I’m worried I won’t be able to fit into a pair of skinny jeans if I eat pie. So I didn’t think it was that big of a deal…
…until the day I stared down at the handful of frozen M&Ms. I literally wasn’t planning on eating any more than just that handful. It was late, I had just gotten home from work, and making food seemed like such a big to-do – I knew that just a smidgen of food to please my palate would quiet my stomach enough to fall asleep. And besides, eggnog is very filling.
Alarms went off in my head. Since when was eating a hinderance and not a pleasure? Or if not necessarily a pleasure, at least a life-necessity?? This isn’t good, I thought. I’m a yoga teacher, for cripessake, teaching about taking time to nourish and heal the body and not even paying a penny for my own thoughts.
Like magic, the next day I had an email blast from a fellow yogini e-introducing a group of us to a nutritionist friend of hers. The serendipity of timing was too much for me to pass up and I immediately made plans to meet with Ryah the Nutritionist.
My homework after our first meeting was to eat breakfast. We discussed different ideas for food, how to keep it well-rounded and I agreed to keep a diet diary for at least three days out of the fourteen until our next meeting. By the time we met next, I had kept a log of my eating habits every single day of those fourteen.
It wasn’t until after leaving Ryah’s office that I realized I had been preparing myself to be defensive. To defend my actions (or lack thereof) by saying I-don’t-know-what, but I was prepared to make excuses. I had left there with the diet diary in hand, thinking I would have to eat because I’d hate for Ryah to be disappointed in what she saw… until I realized as time went on that I was eating because I was the one who wanted to see I was taking care of myself. I had put it into the back of my mind for so long that I was ignoring the fact that I was hurting myself. I knew how to get by on a cheese sandwich and a cup of tea. It became the normalcy in my life. It was normal to be hungry and exhausted. And because skipping meals was normal and I was still successful at accomplishing day-to-day tasks, I suppose it was harder for me to see what the problem was.
It’s simply not acceptable to diminish the sense of ones’ Self. To put the important things – like eating, sleeping, self-expression, passion, dreams – on the back burner for fear of it “getting in the way” of your current situation is absolutely not okay. To do that reflects a sense of self-unimportance. Thinking it’s more important to maintain a relationship with someone who disempowers you than to step up and declare what you deserve; working overtime at a job that gives you ulcers; endlessly dedicating your energy to everyone EXCEPT yourSELF – that’s to diminish your own heart. To tell it that it’s not important.
And I never thought of it that way until I began eating regularly and discovered that my body was almost literally writing me thank-you notes after each meal. Before, I would shut off communication with my body. Tell it to quit whining, to suck it up through the next few hours. Now, when I get hungry, I have a dialogue about finding food. I assure my body that I will get it what it needs. I won’t put baby in the corner, so to speak.
Today – what can YOU do to nourish yourself? What is it that your body, your mind – your HEART – is calling out for? How long have you been ignoring that plea? And HOW can you feed it?