A few of you have asked for more details on what I’ve been doing to improve my health. Well, get ready for a novel…
The most important thing for me has been a mental refocus toward my body. I don’t know about you, but I often feel like a talking head that’s just lugging my body around. I tend to pay attention to myself from the neck up because that’s the easiest part for me to deal with. It takes a lot of mental effort for me to even want to pay attention to my body, and even more to actually want to show it some much-needed love. So I’m working hard on cleaning up my “mental house” and shifting my energy toward self-love. Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Diet, has been a huge motivator for me in this arena.
Another critical component has been acting from intuition. I know when I’m tired, hungry, bored, or dehydrated, when I’m craving movement, connection, alone time, soulful nourishment, or sunshine, and when I’m not thinking or acting in alignment with my core values. Unfortunately, like many others, I tend to ignore that little voice inside that tells me what I should, or even want to do. Listening to and trusting in those signals from my mind, body, and soul to tell me what I need, and how to provide it for myself boosts my confidence, and allows me to feel more grounded, centered, and happier all around.
Once I started focusing more on my body and intuition, I was able to pick up on my body’s messages. After eating out for 6 months straight (probably more like 7 or 8 months even!), deciding what to eat was becoming more and more frustrating. The food I was eating wasn’t as tasty as it was in the past, and I no longer had cravings for anything. My body grew tired of all the highly-seasoned, highly-processed food. I was eating because I felt like I should be hungry, or because it was “time to eat”. On top of that, my body was was bloated, my stomach was not happy, and I was left tired and sluggish because of the food. I knew it was time for some changes.
Enter in the Anti-Estrogen Diet by Ori Hefmelker. It’s a liver cleansing detox that focuses on whole foods to help balance out the effects of a high estrogen in your body. My husband and I have done this same detox several times before, usually after the holidays when we tend to gorge ourselves on all the yummy foods back home. It seemed like the right time to start this up again. So we followed the plan, and started going back to the farmers markets to recenter our diet around local, organic, sustainable foods.
After eating so poorly for months, and then quickly switching to a drastically different diet, my body was NOT happy!! I went through very real sugar withdrawal symptoms. I had experienced some signs of this when we did this diet in the past, but this time was different. The first week, I had a headache every day that drove me nuts. I went through severe mood swings, and became angry and aggressive. At one point, my husband told me, “I just want my wife back!” I was extremely fatigued and napped for hours at a time, and I was constantly thirsty, drinking upwards of 15-20 glasses a day. That’s when I realized how poorly I had been treating my body. This food was making me sick – what a wake up call!
After I got over the sugar withdrawal symptoms, the rest of the detox was pretty easy. Meals were more satisfying as my taste for real food started kicking in. I was learning how to listen when my body had cravings, when it was sated, and when it was reacting poorly to a particular food. In general though, my body was responding very well to the detox. I was feeling less bloated, had more energy, and I had lost quite a few pounds.
However, knowing how adversely my body reacted to the decrease in sugary foods made me want to investigate more about limiting my carb/sugar/starch intake. My husband and I have eaten Paleo in the past, but I like dairy! So after a bit of research, I decided to go Primal, and follow it about 80% of the time. For the most part, I have eliminated grains, beans, baked goods, pasta, starchy vegetables, and sweeteners (except for a bit of honey on occasion). I thrive on things like kale caesar salad with organic free range chicken, local wild caught salmon with dill yogurt sauce, and organic steak and eggs with steamed broccoli. When I have a sweet tooth, 85-90% dark chocolate or yogurt with a bit of honey satisfy my craving. This way of eating makes my body happy.
I do allow myself to eat grains and such about 20% of time. So if a food seems particularly enticing, I’m OK with indulging in it. And I’m learning how to do this in a way that makes sense for me. If I’m not craving it, I won’t eat it. If I eat it, and I don’t like it or it doesn’t satisfy my craving, I put it down. If I want it, and I eat it, and I like it, then I savor it until I’m sated. (Last night I made a curry lamb burger with herb aioli on a pretzel bun with a fennel, orange, and kale salad. It was DELICIOUS, and I ate until I was no longer hungry. Simple as that.)
The funny thing is that for me, changing my diet is not that hard (aside from the sugar withdrawal!). I like all foods, especially fresh, organic produce, so changing my diet this drastically was not as difficult for me as it may be for others. I encourage you to explore what makes sense for you, and to take as much time as you need to incorporate healthy changes into your life. You deserve it!