Crisis Mode

Life has a funny way of tossing the unexpected at us. There is always the potential for something to derail us from our goals. Getting derailed can be very disheartening, and, sometimes, it can even be devastating. The tricky part is getting back on track, pave a new path, or even to set new goals. The biggest challenge is letting go of those goals after you’ve invested a lot of your energy, emotion, and time into them. It can be pretty damn depressing. However, I have learned that it’s naive to put all your energy into only one goal and expect happiness. Why? Because life happens, and as a friend of mine says, ‘life doesn’t ask permission’, it just keeps charging forward. Charging forward is my mantra these days. Being in my own crisis mode, the very least I can do for now is to keep moving forward and set new goals for happiness and health.

This past summer I was hit hard with a tragic family crisis. Unfortunately the end of this crisis is completely unknown, unless I walk away, which I’m not ready to do yet. It’s been an ongoing nightmare. It’s affected nearly every aspect of my life, and, due to the intense stress, it has been inching in on my health. Being a Master Nut, I know how to heal myself in theory. I also know first-hand how easy it is to slip down that slippery slope and make unhealthy choices.  My greens intake decreased significantly, I haven’t been cooking for myself very much at all. I’ve noticed the physical effects: headaches have returned, sleep isn’t as sound, joints ache more, and depression threatens. But wouldn’t all this be because of stress? Yes, definitely. However, stress works a very specific chemical process in our body that robs us of nutrients, affects hormonal feedback loops, and further causes crisis on the body’s systems, which results in a plethora of symptoms, far greater what I’ve listed already.

Break the cycle.

My approach is to chip away at the unhealthy habits, bit by bit, and add in a healthy habit. Just the idea of diving back into cooking all my meals again, on top of everything else I’m managing: not helpful and even more stressful. I’m requiring very little, manageable rules:  one thing at a time. This week, for example, I have been ignoring all else and adding in more water. I tell myself I can do/eat whatever, but I have to finish the pitcher of water on the counter. Next weekend, I will work on the cooking and plan to make a big pot of stew I can have for the week. Bit by bit, I take manageable bites.

Forgiveness.

Knowing what I know about nutrition and how stress affects the body, I am my biggest critique, which also, is stressful. The other step of this process is to let go and forgive myself. The damage from the cookies I ate will be plenty reminder to myself (migraines), no need to berate myself on top of it all, right? It’s easy to tell someone to ‘take care’ of themselves, but much harder to actually follow up on that.

First steps.

These are the most important nutritional steps for me to take, to get out of this crisis mode and get back to better health. Hopefully they offer some help for your own crisis, or even nutritional ruts we often slip into.

  1. Take supplements. Supplements are critical right now, since I’ve been eating poorly. These will give me some bare minimum nutrients (especially for brain chemistry) to keep on top of everything. If my mind is in the game, the rest will follow.
  2. Drink more water. Being essential, this will give my body the building blocks to utilize any good nutrients I take in and help flush out toxins from stress and poor food choices. Being well hydrated will also help keep my sugar cravings down to a dull meow.
  3. Eat more greens. Greens have exponential amounts of needed phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) that the body uses to function and thrive. As much as some (self included) would like to live off cookies, potatoes, and meat, it’s not enough to keep the body working at optimal levels. Getting enough phytonutrients, feeding the body the nutrients it needs, will also help kill cravings.
  4. Cook food. This is not only a way to get better nutrition, but it’s also a form of self-appreciation, a mental health exercise (use that brain and feed it good stuff).  It is also much easier on the wallet than eating out every day.

What have you done in the face of your own crisis? How have you helped pull yourself back up again, and thrive? What other tools do you have to deal with life’s challenges?

Forward we march

Post detox. My cravings were anxiously waiting for the end of the 21-day detox; the end arrived, and well, meh. I wasn’t so interested in binging, splurging, indulging, or otherwise reverting back to where I was. Yes, this is a good feeling. The feedback from the other detoxers is also exciting. The level of compliance varied, but so did the individual goals. Any change we can make toward eating more health-supportive foods is a great accomplishment. Here are the most common results from the fellowship:

  • Cut out some processed foods and drank less soda/alcohol
  • 100% compliant with the protocols
  • Increased energy levels
  • Weight lost (5-15lbs!)
  • More real food intake
  • Less processed food intake
  • Cholesterol levels were cut
  • Tummy aches, sinus issues, were eliminated
  • Sleep was deeper and more restful

Those were just a few of the most common results of this detox. But the one I love most of all: awareness. Awareness was increased around foods that heal and foods that make us sick, stuffed up, and inflamed. Of course, a detox isn’t the answer to all that causes ill, but it can be a start. It can help give the liver a break so that it can function better. Bigger issues can take longer to heal and require specific nutrients, and lots of patience.

My next personal challenge: 20 yoga classes at my local studio in April. I’ve been out of practice for a couple months, too laden down by work, school, other work, pups, life. But I’m going to take advantage of this sense of commitment and get back to it! It’s all part of the equation to live long, strong, and energetically.

What is your personal challenge this month?

Day 21. The beginning.

21/21

Congratulations! We did it. We made it to the top. Just be careful on the way down, it’s easy to get off course (trust me, I’ve been there, I know: nutritionally and on the mountain). But it was all good and lessons were learned, good times were had. I hope my experience has helped you on your journey. I’m hoping to do some shorter group cleanses this summer, and another 21-day detox this fall. Keep your eyes open!

On top of the world!

On top of the world!

Now we start, having giving ourselves a liver reboot, cleansed the body of processed foods and sugar. It feels good! What nutritional goals do you have for this summer?

Day 19.

19/21

Tick tock. Tick tock. GO CLOCK GO! Spring is attempting to overwhelm me with fresh air, sunshine, and warmth. The mighty seducer is also trying to pull me from my work and get my fingers in the dirt, my feet on the trail, and my soul outside. How do you fight that? Don’t. Just go.

I’ve been reflecting on the past three weeks and I realized I’ve gotten more work, projects, and assignments done than the previous 3 months combined. Of course, part of that is due to the dramatic increase of my work load this past month (if it’s got to get done, a way will be found to get it done, right?). However, I’m sure not having to drag my over sugared self around helped considerably. My energy levels have gone up and sleep has been so beautifully delicious (sorry, Spring, there is another lover, Sleep) on this detox.

My big garden is also looking at me with puppy eyes, ‘Come play in the dirt! Let’s get our grow on!’ It was such a thrill last summer (first season with my big front-yard garden) to go out and collect food, right before I made dinner. Gardens make it easier for us to eat more veggies and, consequently, help teach kids about real food; kids tend to eat their veggies more when they participate in the growing, weeding, and harvesting process. The upside is limitless. Gardening is the most sustainable thing we can do for the planet. Period. And wonderful phytonutrients we get from vegetables, is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. Period.

Blank canvas

Blank canvas

My mom taught me (she’s still trying, some things I’m slow at picking up) that we can grow food in just about any container there is. So far I have only tested this minimally, but I have seen food grown in a crazy variety of containers: trellis tomato plants on a small balcony, old re-purposed dressers, buckets, cinder blocks. It’s endless. As long as the plants get the right amount of light, soil nutrients, and water: we get FOOD!

Do you have a garden? How do you garden? In the city, on a farm, in the kitchen (grow sprouts on the kitchen counter!)

Counter top grown sprouts

Counter-top grown sprouts

Day 14.

14/21

This time next will be our last day on the detox. I’m already missing it. Sniff. Sniff. Someone asked me about breakfast ideas on this detox. In this culture, we’re very focused on refined carbohydrates (bread, cereal, pastries) and eggs. The unfortunate issue with this traditional American breakfast is that it doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrient-dense foods and much needed phytonutrients. Refined carbohydrates will drain the body of energy by flooding it with sugar. Sugar doesn’t do much good, especially when it’s not attached to fiber, protein, good fats, and phytonutrients.

Breakfast sets up our metabolism for the day, shouldn’t we give it the best tools to work with? There is absolutely no reason not to have stew for breakfast. Or soup. Or a big salad with fresh greens, nuts, avocados, maybe some left over roasted chicken. Or a burrito in a brown rice tortilla with black beans, shredded cabbage, avocado, and salsa. Or, one of my favorites, the lovely green smoothie: pear, kale, red lettuce, lime juice, coconut water, blueberries, chia seeds, and half a cucumber. These nutrient dense options provide us with a big burst of nutrition at the most important meal of the day.

Num num num.

breakfast

What’s your favorite non-typical breakfast?

Day 9.

9/21

The days are flying by. Spring is tomorrow. My garden is in need of some prep work. School work is piled high (understatement). Work is thankfully a bit slow this week. I’ve got nothing planned to cook today. I juiced this morning (beets, cucumber, lemon, pear, parsley, celery, carrots). I’m going to see what creative things I can do with my left over roasted chicken.

There’s something so fundamental for me about roasting a chicken, picking off the meat for another meal, making stock with the carcass, using that stock to make yet another meal. The original recycling. I like food that is nutrient dense and has many uses. Like the gardening cycle of planting, harvesting, eating, composting, planting. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. (simplicity = the theory, not necessarily the work, I’m still figuring that part out!)

Can't wait for summer's garden!

Can’t wait for summer’s garden!

Stress was my original motivator behind this detox. I’m happy to report, I feel like I have a much greater handle on my stressors than I did before the detox. Sugar (and this includes alcohol) is not a friend to stress. We may reach for it  when we’re stressed, but the biochemical pathways lead right to illness. Illness can range from a cold to chronic fatigue, tummy ache, painful joints, weight gain. Pretty much anything the immune system has under it’s control can be harmed by physical (including nutrition) and/or psychological (work, finances, relationships) stress. They both activate our sympathetic nervous system, which triggers our adrenals to get to work releasing hormones. Those hormones are designed to help us fight an attacking lion. Too much of these adrenal hormones and all hell breaks loose in the body (see above, about the immune system).

This week, I’m going to focus on psychological stress management, now that the nutritional stress has been removed from my body. More long walks with the pups, get my bum to yoga class, and even try some of the guided mediation I was taught once upon a long time ago. The goal, other than to get good and calm amid my life storm, is to get out of the sympathetic nervous system’s hormonal cascade and allow my parasympathetic nervous system to heal, digest, and be calm.

Om.

Day 7.

7/21

One full week! The group has been reporting better detox symptoms (less headaches, brain fog). It sounds like most have been compliant, too. This is great and warms my heart so very much. It was a rough week for some, especially with the caffeine withdrawals. But, alas, perseverance and good food have won out. Forward we march to better health and habits.

I had a delicious, slightly more bitter juice this morning: 1 small beet, 1 pear, 2 celery stalks, 2 small carrots, 1 lemon, and about 1″ of ginger. I had that with a side of garlicy guacamole and some flax seed crackers. Breakfast! My juicer hasn’t seen this much action ever. I’m happy to be getting some work out of it.

Now I’m off to take the crazy pups and myself for a nice long walk. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Eat good greens!

Jones & Indy

Jones & Indy