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February 7, 2011

Today I am happy. Truly, purely, deeply happy.

What is happiness?

For me it’s the seemingly paradoxical state of feeling both calm and energized, simultaneously at peace and vivacious. It’s the place where grace and creativity flow most freely, where taking care of myself is an impulse rather than a struggle.

How did I get here?

I was feeling stuck and discouraged, despite my surge of hope at the new year. When I looked at pictures of myself from the holidays, I felt like I looked hopelessly fat and devoid of energy.  I decided it was time to DO THIS again. Time to rededicate my life to my health.   There’s really no other way to get it done. I wanted to remind myself that hunger is just a state like any other, not a cause for alarm.  I wanted to want healthy things… I had somehow lost touch with that desire through the stress of applications and the holidays.  I wanted to sustain that yoga class level of awareness.  I wanted to get past my next weight-loss hump quickly, if only to see that it is possible.

So I did my second Master Cleanse.  My first Master Cleanse experience taught me so many of these lessons, but it did also eventually make me sick.   Because of this, I decided as I entered into this cleanse that I just wanted to do a few days, enough to get over the “bad” cravings, to be grateful for nurturing foods, to make peace with hunger, but not enough to get sick.  3-5 days.  That’s exactly what I did, and those are exactly the lessons I took away from it.  A wonderful sense of satisfaction emerges when you make a plan, stick to a plan, and gain from the experience all that you hoped you would.

Now I feel like I’m glowing. With my body detoxed, I want to keep it this way.  It feels just like when you clean your house and then it feels great to maintain that level of cleanliness – only it’s more intimate than that; it makes me feel closer to myself and grateful to myself for the care.  My skin is now completely clear, soft and full of color.  I feel light on my feet and ready to go!  I lost 8 pounds in one week, some of which will come back due to having food in my system again, but I’m not worried about that.  The psychological impact of seeing that low number on the scale is surprisingly powerful – I feel now like all of my goals are possible…  probable, even, if I just keep caring for my body, feeling grateful for food, and keeping peace with the temporary state of hunger.  This does not mean intentionally under-eating but rather realizing that even when I do get hungry I am safe, that I can trust that there will be food soon.  I think being put on strict diets as a young child taught me all of the wrong lessons about hunger, so I am rewiring my brain through new, positive experiences.  Plus, rather than feeling deprived, my post-cleanse attitude towards healthy, gluten-free food is, “Wow! Look at all of the amazing things I can eat!” …and vegetables have never tasted better 🙂  The first solid food I ate after the cleanse was a slice of a mushroom, an ordinary white mushroom, and it tasted like it had been grown in holy water.

How can I find my way back to this state without doing another cleanse?

Shake things up and slow things down. The cleanse is just one way to do this. I can take a healthy picnic into the woods and spend a Saturday there with myself.  I can go on a restful or outdoorsy vacation.   I can do periodic all-produce days.  I can also maintain this feeling, at least to some extent.  I can do so by continuing to listen to what my body needs at this heightened level of attentiveness.  I believe that the more attention you pay, the louder the messages are and the better it feels to keep paying attention.  Spending time in the sun and drinking lots of water will help to maintain this state as well.  I can also eat more frequently, but smaller amounts at a time.  The most nourishing piece of the “food” intake during the Master Cleanse was that my calories were distributed evenly throughout the day.  I wasn’t getting enough calories, but I was enjoying the steady flow.  Even now that I am back to eating normal food again, I find that I enjoy healthy nibbling and don’t want big, hearty meals.  I also want to continue moving every day.  The cleanse was extremely conducive to Daily Motion Month, as it turns out. Every day I went for a walk in the sun or in the woods and every day it felt like exactly what I needed.

I’m not sure if I will ever do another cleanse of this kind, but I want to incorporate more practices of dedication to my body into my life.  I’m hoping these practices can be a little more balanced and less extreme than the Master Cleanse, although in terms of the big picture, the Master Cleanse does serve to restore balance when my habits are out of whack.

❤ Diana Banana

Image courtesy of,r:25,s:0&biw=1269&bih=793

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