Friday, January 11, 2013

How The Detox Thing All Started

So I'm far from a regular blogger--more like a quarterly blogger, I guess. It's not that things don't happen that make me think, "I should write about that sometime." It's just that "sometime" never seems to happen. However, as many do at the year's beginning, I've been giving lots of thought to life, goals, habits, etc., and in light of the second annual "detox" that I'm doing, I wanted to write down some thoughts and feelings about it. One, I thought it would be helpful in the way of some type of explanation for those who have asked me, "WHY are you doing that? It sounds awful!" And two, I want to be able to remember the thoughts I'm having when I am NOT in detox mode so that it might help me maintain better eating habits. 

This all started last year with my intern Drew. He and his wife Ellen did the Whole Living Cleanse (aka Martha Stewart) in January, and every time Drew & I were in the car together, he would give me the update. And in the midst of it, I did notice that he looked healthier. He seemed "lighter," and said he definitely felt more energetic. And he was really enjoying the food he did get to eat in new ways. It seemed to me similar to a fast in many ways, but not nearly as difficult. This time last year, I was really in need of some centering--some internal focus and spiritual discipline. Unbeknownst to my friends at the time, Joel & I were just before making a big change. He would be resigning his call at Rehoboth and accepting a call to serve as pastor of Oconee Presbyterian Church in Watkinsville, and I would be resigning from my ministry positions at Oglethorpe Presbyterian and Emory University. I saw the cleanse partly as a distraction from the stress of secret-keeping, and partly as a healthy way to rise above the eating and drinking that sometimes accompanies stress and change for me. So I made the commitment to do it myself, carefully choosing a 3-week period before the birthday months set in, as Joel's is February 20th and mine is March 4th. 

Last year, after perusing the recipes from the website, I realized that I would not be able to manage two part-time jobs AND the rigid shopping and cooking requirements of the cleanse, so I told Joel and the boys that they were on their own for two weeks. I trekked to the Dekalb Farmers Market and stocked up, learning for the first time what parsnips were, what leeks looked like, and where to find white miso. I dove in with full commitment, and was completely ready for a rough few days at first. But they didn't really come. The first day, I noticed I was slightly lethargic, but there was no caffeine headache, which truly surprised me. I missed the taste / flavor of coffee so badly, though! After a brief encounter with something called Teecino (coffee flavored tea--and yes, it's as bad as it sounds at first...), I gave in and went back to decaf coffee in the mornings, with a smidge of sugar and a drop of milk. No worse for the wear. After about three days, I noticed I did actually feel much better. My energy had returned, and didn't wax and wane as it did when I was eating sugar and drinking real coffee and sodas. I made it through the 3-week regimen, even managing to eat out (at Wahoo) and stay on track for Valentine's Day. I did get comments on a few pounds lost, but the best part was the energy that I had and the sense of accomplishment that I felt.  I maintained a certain level of "food awareness" for a few months after that, but clearly by the fall, I had fallen out of health eating's grace. 

I decided the week after Christmas that I was going to follow the regimen again because I knew I had developed some really bad habits post-move, and had also put on a few unwanted holiday pounds. My caffeine intake had definitely increased, as had my fast-food eating. And to be honest, this time around has been totally different, and a bit harder. I no longer have the distractions of two jobs to keep me up and moving, or to keep me from thinking about food or from eating when I'm not really hungry. And also, I don't have the "two-job" excuse not to cook for Joel & the boys. So I'm prepping my own foods as well as doing light cooking for the guys. I'm not tempted by the foods so much as I am tired of all the time in the kitchen. They don't expect me to cook, and would be fine on their own, but I know they eat healthier when I cook for them. It's just how we've rolled for all these years. Anyway, it's finally feeling more like a temporary way of life than sheer torture, so that's good. I thought the four-day headache and lethargy was totally caffeine withdrawal. I took four naps on Monday. Yes, four. I had plenty to do, but no hard deadlines or appointments, so I was easy on myself that first day. But on day four, I thought that perhaps the headache wasn't due to caffeine withdrawal, but dehydration. True enough, downing eight ounces of water before I eat anything has left me headache free.  Yay!  

I'm only on day 5 of supposedly 18 days, and I may not complete my original commitment of 18 days. But I do know that I have already benefitted from the hardest stage of the process, the "detox" week, and that was really what I was seeking. I will continue with week 2 eating (which adds fish and beans to the recipe options) for at least five days, then move into week 3 eating, which adds in some healthy carbs like brown rice and "hearty grains," for at least five days. These weeks are easier because I can include the guys in some of the recipes, definitely making meal prep easier for me. I know that as I move into the better-tasting foods, I'll have to focus on portion control, which has always been my nemesis. Some of the foods just taste so good after having so little variety for a few days! Also, I keep trail mix (a week 1 food) handy for when I get hungry in between meals. It's amazing what just 1/4 cup of almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries and raisins can do to hunger. 

Because I've not been as busy with life this time around as I was last year, I've had a lot more time to think about the emotional part of the process this week. In the next post, I'll write about some of the things I've learned about my eating habits and the role food and beverages play in my overall life. 

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