After attempting a green smoothie cleanse this last week, I felt very disillusioned with myself. I would start the day well, but then find myself going rogue about four in the afternoon. (Okay, so going rogue was only eating a bag of banana chips in one sitting – they were organic at least!)
I have to say I felt like giving up on this whole healthy eating thing. Feeling tired, fat and hormonal doesn’t help – I mean I can’t seem to even drop a few kilos, never-mind heal my health!
Instead I did a lot of reading about healing through food and lifestyle changes. I watched the DVD Forks over Knives (www.forksoverknives.com), which is just great for anyone becoming interested in food as medicine.
What I read about different people’s healing experiences reminded me that food is not like a magic pill. The changes are gradual and require persistence and consistency. Neither of which I tend to display much of. I’m great with a new idea, a short-term project, but I lose motivation and get distracted after a while.
I realised I had unrealistic expectations of myself. I thought that years of letting my body become ill – through stress, incorrect nutrition, and running myself ragged with various commitments – could be reversed in a 21 day detox.
The reality is I have had times of feeling much better and then times where my system has felt sluggish again, but that’s no reason to throw in the towel.
I have realised a few things about people healing themselves from a variety of illnesses (and please take this as the amateur musings of a health seeker, I am no professional or expert on such things).
So these are my lessons learned so far:
1. The body will heal itself, and will maintain health given the right conditions. This is not only the basis of most holistic health systems, but also the experience of a host of people recovering from a plethora of conditions.
2. Healing resides as much in the mind and the spirit as the body. It’s not enough to change nutrition and exercise, although it’s a really good start. A ‘mind detox’ as Jess Ainscough calls it is also essential. If we feed ourselves poisonous food we get sick, but what happens to our minds and bodies when we feast day after day on negative and self-defeating thinking? Yep. It gets sick.
Looking after ourselves spiritually doesn’t have to be anything more mystical than quiet reflection time and spending time with people and in places we love. Feed the soul nutritiously too.
3. All bodies are a little different and it’s important to find out what works for our own. Sometimes the hardest part of getting healthy is to stop listening to all the white noise of conflicting opinions and ask ourselves, our bodies “what do I need right now?”
Trusting in our intuition, our gut feelings about what is right for ourselves can be truly empowering and can generate health in it’s own right.
4. Healing can’t be forced or made to happen, we can only make the conditions right for healing to happen in it’s own time and way.
What? You mean I can’t force myself to look and feel a certain way (in my time schedule) by doing yoga every day and eating green leafies non-stop?
This lesson keeps hitting me again and again. Because I keep thinking I can, force it that is. If I just try harder, do more, maybe switch to this new diet, supplement, exercise regime, superfood… Nup. That stuff just buys into my willfulness, increases my stress levels, and promotes inconsistency.
That means I end up all over the place in a massive ball of panic because I just don’t know what to do anymore, and nothing’s working arrrgggghhhh! (See number 5 for why this is no good for me).
5. The major impediment to the bodies healing’s faculties is the stress response.
During the stress response our brains release a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, causing the adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These allow the body to alter “non-essential” functions like immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001).
This is fine and useful if a tiger is chasing you and you need to focus on fight or flight, but not so good when it’s a daily reaction to life. Long term levels of cortisol and adrenaline racing through your body creates a suppressed immune system (you know the one that keeps us healthy) amongst other detrimental effects.
6. True healing takes time, discipline, and consistency. No, it’s not a 10 day detox, although that’s a fine place to start. It’s an ongoing process of removing the bad stuff, the toxic food and lifestyle choices and increasing the good stuff, good nutrition and self-care.
And then keeping on doing that. Like forever.
7. It has to be fun. It has to feel good. Or I just won’t keep doing it. So make it fun. Stop taking it all so seriously! Remember to love life and love yourself every step of the way.
I know that sounds kind of contradictory to number 6. But it needn’t be. Learning to do anything well, dance, play guitar, paint takes time and disciplined practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it too.
In light of this I pledge to stop weighing myself, to stop obsessing about my weight, to follow – with loving self-discipline – Jess Ainscough’s 10 Day Cleanse http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/store , to find fun exercise that I love doing, to do things that I love with people that I love, to rest, and to be very, VERY kind to myself.
And try to let go of any specific goals or outcomes, and any specific timeframes and just trust that if I create the right conditions my body will do the rest.
This morning’s breakfast smoothie was based on Jess’ Wellness Warrior. It was delicious and it makes me feel amazing. on day 2 of the cleanse I feel that the supergreens – spirulina, chlorella, and barley grass – are really helping my iron and energy levels.
I also discovered I have been using way more green leafies in my smoothies than I needed to, 1 cup is heaps! (You can have too much of a good thing!)
The Wellness Warrior Green Smoothie
1/3 cup kale leaves
1/3 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup parsley leaves
1 frozen chopped banana
1 cup coconut water
2 cups water
2 tsp maca powder
3 tsp supergreens powder (or as directed if you buy them separately)
Blend in blender until smooth. Drink and enjoy the yummy green energy buzz!
Title image from here