Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Cleanse, Day 5

Today is day five of my spring cleanse. Overall, things are going along quite well. One of the interesting things I have noticed this time around, because each cleansing experience is a little bit different, is that I am not very hungry at all. My meals have been pretty small. For example, yesterday my food consisted of:

½ cup cooked Teff grain with raisins and cinnamon for breakfast.
3 ounces (approx) of cooked salmon (leftovers-served chilled)
1 slice cantaloupe
And for dinner:

3 ounces of grilled cod
Chinese pea’s sautéed with garlic
Mixed green salad with chopped yellow pepper, mushrooms, celery and alfalfa sprouts, dressed with fresh lemon juice.

I couldn’t eat all of my dinner. In fact, I ate the cod, about half the peas (gave the other half to Chris) a few bites of my salad, but by then I was content. I didn’t need any more food. I wasn’t hungry. So, I put my salad in a container and will use that and the rest of the leftover chilled salmon for my lunch today.

I know this isn’t a lot of food, but I’m just not hungry! Such an unusual state for me.

One of the benefits of cleansing is the increased energy, which until this morning, I have been feeling! Yesterday morning, for the first time in forever, I got up early and did some yoga and Pilates first thing in the morning. I followed that up by a trip to the gym where I hit the elliptical, treadmill and upper body weight machines for an hour combined. By the end of that I was weak and hungry! The cantaloupe and dinner took care of that, but I think I over did it.

One of the recommendations when cleansing is not to overdo your activity while cleansing. The body needs to be able to process the cleanse and over exertion is counter intuitive to doing so. I have not had this problem in prior cleanses, so now I am learning that lesson.

One of the side effects of cleansing can also be a general feeling of lethargy and feeling, for lack of a better term, blah. This general malaise feeling is part of the process of the body removing the toxins. This can include headaches, congestion, fatigue and even a little mental fogginess.

It is important to drink lots of fluids while cleansing in order to assist the body in flushing these toxins out.

Well, I know all of this stuff, but yesterday was feeling so great and energetic and good that I wasn’t really paying attention to any of it. I worked out hard! I sweated and pushed and felt great! What I didn’t do was drink enough fluids. What I failed to pay attention to was that I shouldn’t be exerting myself quite so much while cleansing.

This morning I have awoken with a headache in one little spot on the left side of my head. I feel it is a combination of dehydration, and the over exertion yesterday in conjunction with the cleansing. My body is telling me to be gentle to it. So I am listening.

Today I am going to drink more fluids, even though this will mean bathroom trips while at school, which I hate. ( I am not a fan of public bathrooms!) But, caring for my body is more important, so I have started the day with warm lemon water and green tea. Breakfast is going to be a nice green juice. I will drink plenty of water today throughout the day. Lunch is salad with salmon and dinner tonight will likely just be some steamed veggies and salad. I might throw some fruit in there somewhere if I am feeling like I need a snack.

I’m not sure if I will exercise today. If I do, it will likely be some gentle yoga to stretch out my body, which incidentally is feeling all that exercise from yesterday. That is a good thing!

The lesson for today is to be gentle to your body, to listen when your body speaks to you and to remember that life is not a sprint, it is a marathon.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” - Goethe

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Cleansing

A year or so ago I went to see a naturopathic physician who introduced me to cleansing. Now, I had heard of cleansing before, but it was always a very scary idea. I had heard about all different sorts of cleanses and some of them sounded very nasty. I didn’t want any part of a nasty, scary, cayenne pepper and lemon juice cleanse, thank you very much.

In Western society, cleansing is kind of treated as a hush-hush topic, or thought of as a kind of wacky, hippie, new-age thing to do. However, many other cultures and religions have periods of fasting or cleansing built into their traditions or rituals. The belief is that these periods of fasting or cleansing allow the digestive system a chance to rest and for the body to purge chemicals and toxins that have built up in the cells. This results in less bloating, clearer skin, weight loss in many individuals, improved clarity and purpsefulness of mind, and a feeling of more energy and vitality. It is suggested to cleanse the body four times a year, once every quarter at the change of the seasons.

So, with the help of this naturopath physician, I found the Supreme Cleanse by Gaia. It is a very simple cleanse, gentle and effective. It consists of one powder, called Rejuve, which is a mixture of herbs including Psyllium Seed Husks, Licorice Root Powder Extract and Ginger Root Powder, among others. There are also three liquids, Sweetish Bitters Elixir, Scudder’s Alterative and Red Clover Supreme. Each of these has a variety of ingredients, too numerous for me to list. Basically you mix some of the Rejuve powder with warm water in the morning and drink that before breakfast, you take 30 drops each of the Scudders Alterative and Red Clover Supreme in water mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and take 60 drops of the Sweetish Bitters Elixir before lunch and dinner. Pretty simple!

The other part of the cleansing process is, of course, really clean eating. The folks at Gaia recommend avoiding (all the stuff we should normally avoid) alcohol, sugar, fatty foods, wheat, cheese, soda, etc. Recommended foods include steamed green veggies, salad greens, fresh vegetables, fresh vegetable juices, fresh fruits, fish, herbal tea, miso, tofu, and lentils, whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, lemon/lime, garlic, onions, and fresh sea vegetables.

Now, this may seem like there is not a lot of “options” on the recommended food list, but here in my blog for the next two weeks (not every day) I will be posting some of the variety of foods that I am able to consume. It should be an interesting process. You will see that I will eat a lot of fish, for two reasons. One, I really like fish, and two because I have a husband that I need to make dinner for and he really prefers to have what he considers an “actual” dinner. Ya know, meat, veg, and carb.

To start off the cleansing process I went to the grocery store and spent about $70 bucks on all manner of fresh fruits and veggies, including two big bunches of kale, a bag of apples, a bag of oranges, a bag of carrots, some broccoli, brussel sprouts, several different bags of salad mixin’s, snap peas, baby carrots, mushrooms, several lemons, cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, bananas, a pineapple, celery, asparagus, and strawberries.

Yesterday my breakfast consisted of this gorgeous juice.

5 leaves of kale, 1 lemon, 1 apple, 1 cucumber and 2 carrots. And for the non-green juice drinkers, it was actually very tasty!

And I will be having lots of salads like this one:

For breakfast this morning I had TEFF grain:

Never heard of it before, but thought I’d try it. It is almost like little seeds and not much flavor on its own. It will probably be good with some fruit or raisins or something. The recommended directions called for 1/2 cup dry to 2 cups of water which ended up making enough for two portions. I saved some and will see how it reheats tomorrow.

Over the next two weeks I will be using this space to catalog my journey, share my food and the overall experience of the cleanse. Feel free to follow along with me and share any thoughts, comments or questions you might have.

To good health!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Earth Day 2010 is upon us. This leads me to think about the things that I already do, and the things I could be doing, to be “green” or to lessen my impact on the planet and our resources.

It’s important to know that I’m just a regular person with a regular kind of life. I’m not perfect and not everything in my life is “green”. I drive an old Suburban with 200k miles on it! That is not very green. However, for many years I have done things that help *me* feel better about my impact on the environment, and I consciously try to find more things that are easy to do to continue that process.

I was chatting with some of my best girlfriends a couple of weeks ago. I love them dearly, but was shocked at their attitude toward household recycling! I am pretty militant about recycling household products, I will admit. But with curb-side, co-mingled recycling now readily available, the only reason to not recycle is laziness! Stuff I recycle at home includes the basics, like soda cans, beer and wine bottles, tin/aluminum cans, cardboard packaging, and similar, easy, everyday items. But other things also include plastic bottles (without the lids kids!) the toilet paper cardboard, the paper towel cardboard, the cardboard boxes my soap comes in, junk mail, newspapers, pickle jars, and anything else I can think of that is eligible for my community curb side recycling program.

Yes, recycling stuff means you have to rinse the jars, bottles and cans, and yes you have to throw away the little plastic lids and yes it means you have to pay attention, but is it really that difficult? I don’t think so. It takes me very little time to do, and on Sunday afternoons (garbage day is Monday) I spend a little time taking out all the garbage and recycling and I feel very liberated! I love getting rid of stuff!

Of course, you must remember if you are recycling your junk mail or other papers with important information on them, shred them! Identity theft is no joke!

Other recycling that happens at my house: yard debris! We are lucky to have curbside yard debris removal. Things like lawn clippings, hedge trimmings, etc all get loaded into the curbside yard bin for haul away. We also recycle used motor oil. Once a month the recycling truck will pick up used motor oil and all of our glass recycles (see beer and wine bottles-although with Chris making mead now he is saving the beer bottles-more recycling!). We also recycle metal. Now, a lot of people might not have metal in their lives, but for those of you that know my darling hubby, you know that we have metal in our lives. Scrap metal can often be recycled curbside, or check out craigslist! Scrap metal recyclers will come and pick up your scrap and haul it away for you! We just recycled a bunch of metal engine parts, some other tubing or something (I have no idea-by “we” I meant Chris) and we just realized that our gas barbeque, which has finally given up the ghost, is a metal recycling candidate as well. (Another example: instead of buying a new gas bbq we are using our old charcoal bbq!)

Other things that I do that make me feel good about my environmental impact include very simple things. These things are very easy, but our current society has a very wasteful mindset. These things just take a little change in the mindset is all; a paradigm shift, if you will.

I only run the dishwasher when it’s full, and I only run it on a “light” or “normal” cycle. Same goes for the laundry. I run large loads and use mostly cold water cycles. I have enough clothes and dishes that I do not need to run the laundry with only two items. This is a huge waste of both water and electricity! Cold water, full loads, smallest wash and dry times, they all make a difference.
I turn off the lights. Seriously, this is so simple, but people don’t think about it. If I am not in a room, then the light doesn’t need to be on. It’s that simple. Turn off the lights. If you need some light for safety, get an LED nightlight. They are quite bright, very low energy use and they last forever.

Program your household heat and cooling, and while you’re at it turn it down or up a few degrees. In the winter time 68 degrees is plenty to heat the house. If you are still cold, get a blanket and a sweater and some fuzzy slippers! Trust me, I am freezing cold in the winter time, but we keep our house at 68 degrees. Program the thermostat to only come on during times you will actually be home! There is no need to heat your house to 68 degrees while you are at work in the cozy 74 degrees. During the summer time set the Air Conditioning to come on at 74 or 76 degrees. I know it’s warmer than you are used to, but it’s 85 outside, so 10 degrees cooler should feel very nice. Again, don’t spend money and energy cooling the house all day if you are not going to be home!

Other simple things: turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Yup..simple. We’ve all heard the other stuff like installing low flow shower heads, low volume toilets, etc. I found a low flow shower head I really like. I got it at Target. It’s called a water-pik and you would never know it’s low flow.

Another way of recycling is to come up with new uses for old things. Do you really need to go and purchase something “new” with all the associated packaging, fossil fuel expenditure, cash outlay and so on, if you have something already that will work? A good example of this for me recently was an old garbage can. It used to be my kitchen garbage can. It is pretty tall and so no longer fit in my new house. I was going to sell it in my garage sale (it’s a perfectly nice garbage can) but realized that I can use it to capture rain water for my garden! I was thinking of purchasing a new big container, but am happy to use something I already had.

Another recent example: I wanted a little round outdoor table for my patio furniture set. I had one, but it was green and it was at the storage unit and I wanted one that would match my current outdoor furniture. Chris and I were at the storage unit the other day and I asked him if he thought the little round table was paintable. It is! So now, instead of buying a brand new table that would cost a hundred bucks and that is brown (so it matches) I can repaint my existing table and save myself the money AND reuse something I already own. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I never said I was perfect. I like new stuff and material things just as much as the next gal, but I’m trying to change my view of things.

These are all things that I personally do. I’m not asking you to do anything that I’m not willing to do. In fact there are several things I don’t do, that I am working on incorporating, or thinking about if I can make them happen.

Re-useable grocery bags. I haven’t done this yet. I should. I frequently say “I don’t need a bag” when out shopping and just getting something small I can carry, so that helps, but re-useable bags should be easy to do, too.

Composting. Hmmm, this is more complicated and technical, but I am leaning more and more toward trying this. I have a garden now (another great Earth Day thing!) and could use my grass clippings, food waste and other items for compost. I’m still pondering this one.

Rain water. What? Yes, here in Oregon where we get soo much lovely liquid sunshine, rain water recycling is very doable. According to Washington State University, http://clark.wsu.edu/horticulture/smallAcreageProgram/roof-runoff.pdf, a 900 square foot roof will accumulate 558 gallons of runoff water per one inch of rainfall. That is a lot of water my friends! One inch of rain off of my roof would equal more than 700 gallons of water. I could use that water to water my lawn, plants and garden. Of course, it’s unrealistic for me to capture all of the thousands of gallons we would get per year, but one 55 gallon drum would last a long time. This would save me money and energy, and use a valuable resource that otherwise would go to waste.

Walking/Cycling instead of vehicle trips. Yikes! This is a change for me for sure. One I think I can do, but will take some thought and planning.

You see, there are tons of things we can each do, every day, that range from very simple (turn off the lights) to much more complicated (composting) that will help us lessen our impact on mother earth.

This week, April 19-23, 2010 is Earth Week. What things can you start to implement this week in order to preserve resources? I look forward to your feedback and ideas.