Friday, December 19, 2014

Is it All a Crap Chute?!

I just learned that my alternative living, yoga practicing, vegetarian, gluten free, green juice drinking, nutritional supplements galore consuming, past life, life lesson reading, aura identifier, spiritual guru to hundreds world-wide, spiritual touchstone in our family, and many others' lives, great-aunt has been diagnosed with cancer.

She has lived an incredibly healthy lifestyle for at least as long as I have been alive, probably longer. She is in her mid-80s and is vibrant, healthy and looks 20+ years younger than she really is. She's been doing it "right."

She made it her life purpose to offer spiritual guidance, support and healing for many, many people. I cannot recall the number of times I will get to speaking with someone about spirituality, or auras, or life lessons, and inevitably I will mention my great aunts' name, as she as been a the spiritual guidance for all of us in our very large family, and the person I am talking to will know my great aunt. It has amazed me many a time the lives she has touched, guided and gave purpose to.

And now she has cancer!

She is in good spirits and is feeling alright, but the cancer is at a progressed stage that only chemotherapy will work. Obviously this goes against everything that she has been practicing for years in healing, nurturing and protecting her body. So she will be supplementing the chemo with holistic approaches and many, many supplements.

But I have to ask - what the fuck?? I mean seriously? Embarking on my own journey of spirituality, health, wellness, clean eating and working towards becoming a health coach, I have to wonder is it worth it? My great aunt is the epitome of health and clean living, not to mention spiritual clarity, and for her, of all people, to get cancer, it really make me wonder.

Is clean living, clean eating, meditating, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, taking your vitamins and nutritional supplements, etc., etc. really worth it?

My heart is aching at the thought of my great aunt being diagnosed with cancer because I love her dearly and she stepped into the matriarchal position when my great grandmother died, but how can someone like her, with her "good" lifestyle choices get cancer?

I know I am ranting and being negative, and yes there is a possibility the chemo will work, 85% chance actually, which is really positive to know. And I know she has lived a wonderful, healthy life well into her 80s and that's worth being grateful for. And I should look at it from that perspective. But still, it begs the question is it all a crap chute?

Eat well, do yoga, find your spiritual guided path, meditate, live happiness, help others or eat junk food, drink often and with abandon, exercise only when it is fun, not for the sake of exercise, smoke....does any of it really matter?

I don't know.

I read a statistic the other day that people who are teetotalers actually have a shorter life span than those who imbibe occasionally, even a drink a day.

What do we really know? Is it all bullshit?

My great grandmother, my great aunt's mom, died at 98 of old age, which almost never happens anymore. People always die of something - cancer, heart disease - of which they say more often than not can be controlled and monitored by diet and lifestyle choices. My great grandma just got old and eventually her body and mind stopped. But she was an hard alcohol loving, cigar smoking, potato chip loving, and eating all foods,bad and good, kind of a woman. She played tennis regularly with her friends and daughters, but did not do much otherwise for exercise. She certainly did not do yoga or drink green juice.

When I compare these two women in my life, these two matriarchal women who have held our family together, yet have led very different lifestyles, I have to compare and wonder. I am consciously choosing similar lifestyle choices to that of my great aunt because they make sense for my body, my mind and I enjoy how my overall well-being feels with these choices. Sure I will occasionally imbibe and eat something I am not supposed to, often remembering every time after that is wasn't worth it, so those indulgent times become less and less frequent. Then I look at my great grandma and wonder, what did she do right? She had her 5 o'clock cocktail and ciggy everyday, a habit that started probably before 18. Yet, she never had any major health scares and didn't get cancer.

Isn't part of why we choose alternative, healthy lifestyles is to feel good and to live as long as possible continuing to feel good, but it seems along the way you should just let go, indulge, imbibe, smoke (well maybe not, that's a generational thing), but at least enjoy the "bad" parts of life from time to time, because if this the only life we get then we may as well be happy.

And maybe that is the key to it all, not green juice and yoga, or alcohol and cigarettes, maybe all that really matters is that when you get to that age - whatever it may be, with or without cancer or any other illness - is that you lived a happy life.

So go be happy. Either by following your yoga and green juice with a glass of wine or skipping it all together to be with those you love.

I love you Aunt Barbra.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Green Juice is Festive Right?

The holiday season is challenging on every one's diet and health management, especially for those of us with food restrictions. Restricted either by choice or necessity, the holidays challenge your every food decision. There are so many social events, holiday parties, foods you only eat once a year (so you excuse eating them because it is that one time you will), excess alcohol (hey, it is celebratory), sweets, dairy, meat galore, you name it is there and it is tempting and calling your name; and try as you might to be strong, girl, you gonna cave. Don't feel bad, we all do.

Holiday menus are aimed to please a crowd, tempting most every one's inner glutinous-self, but completely alienating vegetarian, non-lactose, non-processed, non-gluten, non-sugar, non-whatever eating people. When have you ever been to a party with tempeh, collard wraps, chia pudding and green juice, yeah, not so festive, eh?

I struggle with the need to be festive and involved, but also know that my intestines, stomach and bowel movements will suffer. So I balance that teeter totter at most get togethers. If you are anything like me, inevitably, you will falter and stray from your regular eating routine, maybe even you exercise routine as well, in the spirit of the season.

I can only stray so far and so often before it catches up to me. At first I have no reaction and I deceivingly think "oh yeah, I can keep indulging," and do; but then inevitably the flatulence starts. If you are lactose intolerant you know that belly retching and nostril burning flatulence that comes when you slip and eat something from the cheese platter, or mistake a cheese sauce for a non-dairy white sauce, first comes the stinky, room clearing farts (hopefully you have people who love you anyway, despite your stinkyness, and hopefully the gas doesn't start until you leave the party). Then comes the cravings. Ever notice the worse you eat the more you want bad food? Did you know it is designed that way? It is called food science and food snackability (damn scientists playing with our yummy factor weaknesses). I am all for giving into a craving normally, within reason. But the reality of it is, the cleaner you eat the less your cravings will be for "bad" things. You will actually crave the foods that nourish, sustain and make you feel better. Because feeling good is actually contagious and once you know the difference all you want to do is stay on the feeling good side. When I slip, even just once or twice, I notice my stomach and whatever other chemical make up inside me, says "ooh, just one more," or "you've been good, go ahead." For me this voice doesn't exist most of the time, only when I find myself in a food rut with too many deviations, which unfortunately happens around the holidays.

My eating routine was initially thrown off with my trip to Spain, which again is inevitable. Try as you might, traveling throws off your eating, sleeping and exercise patterns, getting them back can be challenging. Having holidays back-up into your return from a trip is even more challenging. Who knew? Only in hindsight I guess...

I have been deviating enough that I have gone through all my warning signs my body provides to alert me it is not happy. I can ignore them, which we all do at some time (or maybe some of us never knew that they were signs at all...start listening), but ignoring will eventually cause me great discomfort. First comes the stinky gas, then the weird cravings, then the mood swings (everybody annoys me, I want to be alone all the time, only a glass of wine makes a crappy day better, work is extra stressful...), then the desire to not want to exercise kicks in. Then the "bottomless pit syndrome" happens, which is the feeling I get when I am eating substance lacking foods, so I am hungry all the time and even after I just finished eating, I want to eat more. Which is also coupled with overeating on a regular basis. I never overeat when I am eating balanced and clean. I detest the feeling of being full, especially overly full, where you can feel the food in your throat. Normally I eat just to that satiated feeling and stop, actually erring on the side of still slightly hungry. But when I am bulldozing through my body warnings, I eat, eat and then eat some more, often feeling icky after. Then comes the irregular bowel movements due to all the overeating and odd foods, first diarrhea, coupled with some face pimples, the kind that are red and hurt; then comes the irritability and restless sleeping. Lastly is the constipation. The funny thing is, as well as I know the sequence of symptoms, I still ignore them from time to time.

A little rant - sometimes, especially during the holidays, it would be nice to eat whatever the hell I want. To indulge in all the glutenous treats, cheese, creamy-whatevers, meats, dips, boozeyness that the holidays perpetuate. It would be nice to get 1 month or even 1 week to go hog wild. I mean sure I can do this, and sometimes, like now, I push it too far, and I feel the miserable repercussions, making it SO not worth it. But sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice.....

But you know what, the reality is that I want to always feel good, vibrant, healthy, capable, strong and in tune with my body. It not have those things is not worth the sacrifice of any food indulgence, for 1 day even. I always regret it the next day, because I know the value and the difference of feeling better by eating better.

So what do I do when I have gone through all the warning signs, ignoring them along the way, leading to miserableness. I go cold turkey. I know better and I know my body prefers better, so I eat the things to bring me back to center. I always start with a juice cleanse for 3 days. Halting all the discomfort and press all my own super green, super sludgy, super nasty juices and drink lots of ginger tea and water. The 3 day juice cleanse gets my mind and my body out of the over indulgent holiday food gutter. It clears my head, my skin, my bowel movements. My sleep is regulated again and is restful. For me, a juice cleanse is like hitting the reset button. It rejuvenates my tortured body. The first day is normally excruciating. Coming off my indulgent food hormonal roller coaster, not continuing to give into that gremlin-feed-me-voice is tough. And for whatever reason green juice tastes particularly nasty the first day of a cleanse (well that, and the last day, ha). But I know I will wake in the morning feeling 50% better than I did today. And the next 100%.

With my immediate juice cleanse also comes a clarity of mind and restoring self, and the days, weeks prior, where I juggled wine yoga, wine yoga, and most likely defaulted to wine, is immediately erased. Yoga and juice cleanses go hand in hand and with one you want the other, even when you force one. They both are so centering and nourishing that it reminds you why you choose this path as part of your usual health and wellness balance.

So here's a cheers with my green juice to the holidays. May yours be festive and bright, but remember your green juice and yoga. Try to maintain a sense of balance and don't over indulge. Or do, then here me say, "I told you so" (learn from my constipation), then do a juice cleanse.