What do I mean when I say inflammation? It's when my forearms start to hurt for no reason, when my myofascial tension flares. My tongue feels too big for my mouth. My throat swells up. My fingers swell. Sometimes, my whole body feels taut with puffiness. Before I had a kid (when I had regularly recurring canker clusters in my mouth), I'd get a batch of these. Lord, I'd have 4 sores in my mouth at any given time for weeks - one batch would go and another would arrive. (Pregnancy seems to have cured me of these, mercifully, cuz that was a long 30 years! Of course, back then, I didn't have all of the other symptoms to manage.)
I should start by saying that I don't love the term "cleanse" in the context of what I'm currently undertaking. See, this time around, I have modified the experience to be sustainable (IMO) and I think it might be more accurate to call this process - obnxiously, admittedly - a meditation on eating. Last time, as you may remember, I participated (on a whim, really) in the My Yoga Online challenge - which was devised by these yoga teachers - and I appreciated many of the features:
- Daily green smoothie or juice - check!
- Daily yoga, tailored to the rhythm of the cleanse - check!
- No booze - check (No exclamation point for this one)
- No gluten - check! (Really, I'd already been doing this one and have continued to do so.)
- An emphasis on nuts and seeds - modified check
- No processed food - check!
- Drastically reduce sugar - check (this one almost gets a frowny face, but I'm developing new aptitudes)
There were many things, however, that I found, frankly, unsuitable (draconian, one might say) - partly because the original cleanse was actually a "cleanse" (as in, moving towards 2 days of very light and clean food consumption) and, furthermore, it was geared towards the plant-loving yoga set.
Here's what ain't gonna fly for Krissie - not even for 14 days:
- No caffeine. That's just wrong. A morning double shot of espresso is delightful and I love it. Coffee isn't a gateway drug for me and I don't intend to treat it as such.
- No meat. What does one do for lunch and dinner??
- No eggs. What does one do for breakfast??
- No dairy. Um, just no.
- The increasingly restrictive format of the Conscious Cleanse - which is, as stated above, is designed to be a cleanse, not an all-the-time, "clean living" experience that moves towards fruits and vegetables only (just for 2 days - but still?!)
This time, I came up with my own plan: Meditative Eating (which isn't entirely easy but which also isn't in any way miserable) and decided to
force invite two of my friends from work to participate - so that I wouldn't be lonely. They're like my chat group!:
- Green smoothie or juice daily
- Daily Yoga - This is key and I actually devised separate practices for all three of us. Note: My friends do yoga and I convinced them to sign up for My Yoga Online for a month so that I could direct them to the chosen practices.
- No booze. Does this ever become pleasant? Say what you will (and I know that wine is straight up sugar / bad for your liver / fattening), it is the elixir of pleasure and I'm not prepared to live a life without it. Two weeks every 3 months (and then only on weekdays, the rest of the time), that I can do. Grudgingly.
- No gluten.
- No processed food.
- Practically no sugar with the exception of small quantities of seriously high quality dark chocolate, fruit and the occasional tsp of maple syrup in yogurt. I'm not going to lie - while this is MUCH easier to do this time than last - sugar is totally a gateway drug for me.
- As much protein of all the types as I'm hungry for. Nothing is off the list but I'm being really careful with nuts and seeds because, in the last year, I have experienced terrible abdominal pain and a vomit-reflex to cashews and pumpkin seeds (two things I used to eat constantly) and, honestly, it's hideously unpleasant / scary. I don't believe that I have an allergy, but I do think my system is sensitive to these foods right now, probably because - in the nut milk phase of the winter - I was mainlining all kinds of nuts and seeds. Apparently, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I want to allow my body to rebalance.
- Moderate amounts of dairy (full fat only, thank you)
- Focus on vegetables of many colours and seasonal things
- A commitment to considering my motivations when eating: Why do I want that ice cream / wine / cheesies? How can I be with the truly uncomfortable feeling of self-restraint?
What I can happily say is that, this time around, gluten's a mere blip on the radar (honestly, I don't care about it). The yoga portion of this 2 week reset is the most enjoyable part of it - especially since, this time, I designed it to suit myself. A propos of this, I have been doing mainly my own thing (rather than following online classes). My current emphasis is on long inversions (that's a post) and I've actually moved into a period of substantial activeness as the chronic pain continues to abate. Talk about burying the lede!
The fact is that I'm committed to forestalling illness - dare I say, promoting health all winter long - by boosting my immunity, and there's no better way to kick start this process than via the tried and true methods of eating well, sleeping well, moving well and being thoughtful.
The autumn is, in many ways, a terrible time. In the north, we watch our tether to the natural world erode. We live on the spoils of innovation (heat, accessible food, shelter). We feel the encroachment of cold in the bones, the visceral instability. My goal, this time around (and it's only taken 45 years!) is to be truly mindful of every glimpse of the sun (and warmth it might bring) and to recognize that this is a recessive period. I cannot continue to march through winter as I do through the other seasons. Even as the world gears up in October, I must respect the introversion of this time of year and model my behaviour on it. Let's see how that goes, shall we?
So that's what I'm up to. Thoughts or feelings?