Thursday, May 16, 2013

Inspiration for Cleansing

I'm having a great time on the cleanse this year.  I love how light and energetic I feel and how little hunger I have.   I find it quite amazing that I can feel this good with such a reduced caloric intake!  Of course, I couldn't do it forever, but it's a great reminder to me that eating less and eating cleaner just feels better!

One of the things I'm especially getting a kick out of with this cleanse group, that I'm leading for the first time, is sending out the inspirational emails with recipes and cleansing tips.  It's been fun for me to remember old recipes and cool practices from all the years of cleansing I've done.  Another great boon is watching the participants discover more energy, vitality and lightness in their bodies.  And it's super cool to share the group emails where people share their own tips, recipes and especially their physical experiences.  In fact, I got so inspired by the process, that I decided to offer a second round of cleanse support to anyone who wants to start in late May.  Here's the info for anyone interested.

Since I just watched the movie, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, my inspiration to support people in making healthy lifestyle changes has skyrocketed- and that's partly why I wanted to offer the cleanse again.  I've been talking for weeks in my classes about discipline and commitment in regards to self-care.  And this movie was so powerful in that arena.  It follows two very obese men as they completely transform their lives by doing 60-days of juice fasting.  I definitely think that's very extreme, especially coming from a hamburgers and coke kind of diet and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.  (Luckily the guys in the movie were being watched closely by their doctors).  That's why I like this cleanse so much.  It's super gradual and very user-friendly, plus, it's actually a deep colon cleanse with all the awesome herbs included.  That said, the guys in the movie had tremendous will power to pull that off!  And their "nearly dead" health conditions completely turned around!  They inspired many others to follow their lead and change their lives.  "If they can do it, I can do it," was the common thread, as I'm sure it is for many who see the movie.

And what I found very fascinating was that there were still people close to them, some also quite obese, who said "I couldn't do it. I just don't have the will power."  I'm fascinated by this.  What does it take to make a major life change?  For many of us, it takes something cataclysmic, like having a serious disease or accident, loss of a loved one, or something that shakes you to the core.  And for others, they really do not have the will power (or don't believe that they do), and they just decide to eat or smoke themselves to death because they'd rather have an easeful life and die early than a longer one that requires strong discipline and in their minds, less joy.   That's pretty much what somebody in the movie said.  And perhaps they didn't feel their life was worth extending or they just didn't believe they could be happier by being healthier, or that it was worth it.  So I'm just curious about when we decide to exercise our will, and when we don't, or when we lapse in our discipline, and when we get back on track, and why.  I wonder if those in the movie who said they didn't have the will power could do it with a group to support them, who were also doing it? 

This is a big discussion, so I'll leave it here, but I'll come back and explore this more with you soon!

To your full health!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Taking a Stand for My Health

I've been thinking a lot about my relationship to self-care, especially since starting to lead our group cleanse.  Although I'm not doing the full cleanse at this time for various reasons, I am choosing to eat mostly vegetables, alkaline foods, and lots of huge salads.  I love the feeling of taking greater care of myself through diet, supplements, exercise, and other practices like oiling my skin after bathing. 

All week in classes, I taught about creating the balance between taking a stand for ourselves and self-appreciation (inspired by one of the Hendricks' grads, Matt Chappman).  It's been a great inquiry for me in regards to my health.  What do I stand for with my health?  Where do I put my foot down and say "no" to certain foods or activities, yes to others, and where am I more lenient or easygoing?  

For me, there's something empowering and freeing about making a commitment.  Then I know where I stand and I don't have to be in limbo.  Like when I'm cleansing, I just commit to only alkaline foods, no meat, no dairy, no sugars, no salt, no processed food.  I'm not tempted by other foods- at least for that time period, because of my commitment.  And instead of feeling restricted by that, I actually feel a sense of ease.

Appreciation becomes a great balance to the discipline of commitment.  I appreciate my commitment, I appreciate myself for taking care of myself, and this appreciation softens the intensity of my discipline.  Otherwise, discipline can feel too rigid and tight.  It's also super helpful if my commitment waivers.  If I fall out of discipline in some way, then instead of beating myself up, I just get back on the horse and recommit.  In Hendricks' speak.  We call it a drift when we fall off track with our commitments, and a shift when we get back on.  So if you drift, then you shift again. Simple.

I've been thinking about all of this in light of how challenging it can be to create new healthy habits for ourselves.  When I researched it, I found that it can take anywhere from 18 to over 100 days to create a new habit, depending on the person, with an average of 66 days.  So that means discipline with a new activity is really important.  We have to practice something over a period of time in order for it to "take."  (In yoga, abhyasa is crucial for results, and it means consistent practice over a long period of time.  But it must be balanced with letting go of attachments - vairagya).

I think this is really true for many new yoga students.  So many people get excited after the Beginners' course and sign up for a series.  Then they come once or twice and we often don't see them again.  I feel sad about that.  I really want people to integrate yoga into their lives, but it's up to them.  They have to make that commitment to themselves to keep showing up, even when they feel resistant.  It's this continuous practice, over several weeks, that will create that new habit for them.  Then it's not a question of going or not, it's just built into their lives, like eating 3 meals a day or taking a shower.  It becomes a commitment and they start structuring it into their schedules.

What are you committed to?  How do you take a stand for your health?