Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Serenity...

My hope is that my writing comes across as positive and helpful.   Naturally I love the wonderful feedback y'all have been so generous to give. (Thank you!)
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Yet, my intention is definitely not to say, "Look at me! My life is so perfect.  If you do what I do, your life will be perfect too."  
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Of course I have bad days.  Crap to deal with.  Loss.  Change. Uncertainty. Failure. 

I know I don't share too much about those things on these pages.  Not because I don't want you to know.  I'm not shy or embarrassed.  Heck, I've certainly given you enough overshare by now it's clear I suffer from a serious lack of filter on even the most personal of topics. (Then again, I did hold off on posting that one Quantum Wellness Cleanse update which I had affectionately titled, "Pull My Finger.")

It's just that I truly believe that documenting and complaining at length about illness, strife, bad luck etc only further extends the life of those negative situations.  I'm reluctant to make some of the more recent crappy moments immortal in written word.  To give them any more energy than is necessary; more power.  Maybe it's something I need to get over?  Maybe I'd be more help to people if I shared more of the bad stuff?  You tell me...

As just one example, my husband and I could never have predicted the financial nightmares of the past two years or so.  My "in real life" friends have seriously questioned how it's possible that we are not highly medicated (or divorced) at this point, given all we've been through. I don't need to go into detail to know that many of you can relate.

So yes, I believe in the power of positive thought and all that. But I also know that sometimes "stuff happens."  There are just some things we can't control. 

The Serenity Prayer of my Al-Anon days comes to mind:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Forty-one years of life experiences (some you've read about here and some I have not yet shared) have given me the wisdom and confidence to know that I can change my view of the world, even when I can't change my world. 

Most of the time, it's actually very simple:  External circumstances do not define me.  I choose. 

Happiness, gratitude, hope. 

Inside out.  Not outside in.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 21 of QW Cleanse: Final Results


In the video blog version of this update, I'm doing that little "happy dance" which is half hula and half Pee Wee Herman.
I DID IT!
For the past 21-days, I have been living a completely healthy life. I've focused on a diet which is free of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten and animal products. (I've also been meditating and exercising as I was before the cleanse.)

Here are some other things I "gave up"...

* Seven pounds -- good riddance!

* PMS symptoms -- none at all this cycle which my husband will tell you is especially noteworthy.

* Fatigue -- this has been the greatest side effect of all. I have so much more energy!

I also gained a huge amount of awareness. From my own attachments and changing desires to other people's reactions.

At the beginning of this trial, I explored the Big 5 in detail and shared some thoughts. I thought it would be fun to revisit them now that I'm at the end.

Alcohol: On a day-to-day basis, this actually wasn't the most challenging. Shocker, I know. I guess I just knew that my boys, Robert (Mondavi) and Kendall (Jackson), would always be here for me. Similarly, there was never any question I'd be back for them. It's true what they say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." My intention now is to have more appreciation; a focus on quality vs. quantity.

Caffeine: I thought this would be the easiest but it was physically the most difficult. I'm going to do my best to stay away from this one moving forward. Anything that makes me feel that crappy when I first stop it, can't be good for me. Adios!

Sugar: The most difficult part about giving up sugar is finding out that so many foods have sugar in the ingredients. This is food that looks nothing like a cookie or a piece of cake. Still, I know that a big reason for my weight loss is probably my diligence in avoiding the sweet stuff. Again, I'm going to focus on awareness and appreciation. If I'm going to get sugar calories, I want it to be an actual dessert treat vs. the dressing on my salad or my morning cereal.
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Gluten: This is one I'm going to discuss with my doctor at my annual physical next week. My plan is to stay away from it until then and until I get my bloodwork done. In addition to having my ANA, RF & EBV checked again, I'm going to see if I can be tested for Celiac Disease. I'm pretty convinced that gluten is an issue for me, but we'll see. Should be interesting!
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Animal Products: My last post pretty much covered it. The bottom line is I have zero need or desire to go back to eating meat. For now, not necessarily completely "vegan," but I'm going to lean into it. Vegetarian works for now. If I find I can live long-term without dairy and eggs, we'll go from there.

In summary, this has been much more than I bargained for -- and only in the best of ways. I highly recommend Kathy Freston's, "21-Day Quantum Wellness Cleanse."

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 20 of QW Cleanse: Wee Wee Wee, All the Way Home

It's the eve of my last day of the Quantum Wellness Cleanse. Home stretch...

When this journey started three weeks ago I wasn't sure I'd make it. And if I did, I knew that mostly likely I'd go back to consuming the Big 5 (caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten, animal products) after I'd done my time. Perhaps in moderation, but pretty much business as usual.

Lately I've been giving a lot more thought to the concept of "conscious eating" as Kathy Freston describes it.

In the process, I've been reading gruesome accounts of animals -- chickens and pigs in particular -- being tortured in unbelievable ways as a common practice. Actually, the word "torture" really doesn't even come close to describing it.

Like most people I guess I never really thought about it before. It's just food. I happen to have the good fortune of being higher on the food chain. Chickens, pigs and other animals are here to ensure continuance of the higher thinking species to which I belong. It's the natural course of things. Animals suffer so humans can live.

That was then. Here's where I'm at now... or what I'm pondering, anyway.

1. How can I not think about it? I keep reading chapters 19 & 20 of the book over and over. Kathy talks about how much thought and effort we put into our decisions as a consumer. House, car, clothes, etc.. . Still, "... you consume more in the form of food than you do everything else combined. Yet, oddly enough, the vast majority of us are deeply disconnected from our food. We don't know where it came from, what went into it... or how the animals were treated or killed... ."

What I put into my body to sustain and energize my life is probably the most important decision I have to make as well as the most frequent. Can I really go back to the perspective, "Yeah, whatever - it's just food"?

2. Now that I am thinking about it, do I care? As I become aware of the suffering and the scientific proof that these animals feel pain and fear, is it enough to make me not participate in what most people consider "the natural course of things"?

I actually think I do care. I know that this is not a popular belief but there's a part of me which now believes that I'm participating in that suffering by eating those animals.

Yet, I can't pretend to be completely pious. The truth is that if I really needed to eat meat in order to survive, I would. If it were the choice between me and "this little piggy," the pig dies.

The thing is though, I don't need to eat meat. I'm discovering so many other options which not only satisfy my hunger and my nutritional needs, but which I truly enjoy. During the time I've refrained from eating meat, I've felt so much healthier... physically and spiritually.

Once again, I'm surprised by what I've gained during this experience. I've found something else I may not want to give up.

Tomorrow is my last official day of quantum wellness cleansing. I'll let you know what my plan is from there...
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 19 of QW Cleanse: Energy

I got home pretty late last night, emotionally and physically exhausted. Finally ended up falling asleep sometime after midnight. Woke up around my usual time this morning, about 5:30am.

In the "olden days" - ya know, 19 days ago - I would have automatically gotten some Sumatra Blend brewing this morning, convinced that I was incapable of getting through without the extra caffeine boost. Admittedly, I would have also have had a couple glasses of wine last night which would have exacerbated the need.

By way of confession, I have to admit that during the wake yesterday I made a secret agreement with myself to allow a glass of wine after the service. A toast. Cheater. I know. It was only dumb luck that my traveling companions chose a restaurant which didn't serve alcohol (but did have rice noodles.) My friends unknowingly saved me from myself and kept pure my quest for 21-days of quantum wellness.

Anyway, my real point is that I notice I have so much more ENERGY these days. A few stressful days and slight sleep deprivation would have wrecked me before. But I actually feel really great right now.

For someone who has been tired most of her life, having this level of energy truly is a gift.

And, (insert Mae West impression) if I do say so myself, I'm not lookin' too bad either.

Seriously - I'm getting kinda fond of having a completely flat stomach and being able to wear the next smaller size clothes in my "Oprah closet."

At the beginning of this 21-day process, the focus seemed to be about giving up stuff. Yet, as I think about day #22 and beyond, I'm really not prepared to give up the way I feel (and look) right now.

I'm predicting that at some point in the future I'll be writing something with a title like, "Post Cleanse: Having My (Gluten-Free) Cake & Eating it Too."
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 18 of QW Cleanse: Perspective

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Today I attended a memorial wake for a friend and colleague who had too little time on this earth.

On the seven hour drive to/from the service, random and profound thoughts ran through my mind around wellness, gratitude, prioritization, friendship, life, death and perspective.

Though as I sit here now, eloquence escapes me.

Just can't get past tragic and sad.
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In Loving Memory...
My An Lam Williams
February 16, 1971 - July 31, 2009
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 17 of QW Cleanse: Horror Stories

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Epilogue added on Day 21: I'm noticing that I get a TON of Google hits for people looking actual "horror stories" about the Quantum Wellness Cleanse. Since many only seem to read this one post, I wanted to make it clear that this has been a WONDERFUL experience for me with no adverse effects whatsoever. I also wanted to share that I consulted my doctor and she confirmed that Kathy Freston's plan is completely sound (for me) from a medical standpoint. Thanks and I hope you read (and enjoy) all 21 days of my QW Cleanse blog-o-rama!

DAY 17 UPDATE:

On Day 5 of this Quantum Wellness Cleanse I wrote about how many people have a hard time supporting big changes in other people's lives, especially when it comes to any perceived "extreme." Food, fitness and parenting seem to be the biggest hot buttons. The defensive response mainly stems from insecurities which don't allow some individuals to separate their own issues from what would be helpful to you and/or your relationship.

This week I've found a whole new class of non-supportive. These are the "urban legend folk."

In response to this cleanse, I've heard all kinds of horror stories about how people have almost DIED from giving up one or more of the things I'm forgoing for this plan (caffeine, alcohol, gluten, sugar, animal products.) The vegan thing in particular attracts some amazing tales of fatal iron deficiency, fingernails falling out, overwhelming gastric side effects and the like. It's always about a "friend of a friend" so it's hard to decipher fact from fiction.

Mind you, urban legend folk are also the ones who, upon hearing of your wedding plans, may tell you about someone they knew (rather, that their cousin's friend's sister knew) who just got married after dating for twenty years and then died on their honeymoon. Or when you're finally pregnant, they've got a treasure trove of stories about fluke miscarriages or babies with extra or missing limbs. (Maybe *gasp* the mother was a *mouth the word* vegan.)

The urban legend folk are not necessarily insecure or mean. They're just ignorant. I say that with love. Really, some of my best friends are urban legend folk.

These are well meaning citizens who are simply trying to find some connection between this really extreme thing you're doing, like not eating meat or having a child, and their own lives.

Depending on the person, you may choose to educate or ignore. (I've learned from experience that slapping someone upside the head makes you feel better for the moment but isn't ultimately productive.)

The important thing is that you do not internalize, freak out or doubt yourself.

Remember: Confidence = Capacity.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 16 of QW Cleanse: Bad News/Good News


Bad News

Finally made something with tofu: a coconut rice and green bean stir fry. The rice and beans were awesome. The tofu...not so much.

Not knowing anything, I bought the "firm" tofu. I saw "silken" and "extra firm" so I thought something in the middle was probably safe. Yes, I know every experienced vegetarian reading this is laughing at me.
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Anyway, I had sort of "seared" it in a small amount of vegan butter so the outside was almost crispy. This turned out to be the only redeeming quality. The little cubes were still spongy/squishy in the middle which kinda freaked me out actually. I think I ate something like this at a haunted house once. You may have gathered from previous posts that I'm really sensitive to food textures.

I'm certainly open to suggestions but I'd say my first pass was about a "C-".


Good News

My sister reminded me about nutritional yeast or savory yeast as it's called in some countries. The funny (ironic or haha, not sure - maybe both) thing about this is that I've actually bought this at Whole Foods and shipped it to my sister in Ireland since she wasn't having any luck finding it when she first moved there. Yet, it never even occured to me to try it myself before. Until now.

It comes in either a big canister which looks like powdered baby formula or a smaller one which looks like grated parmesan cheese (or as my kids call it, "shakey cheese.")
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The fine flakes taste sort of nutty and cheesy at the same time. I've used it on veggies and on pasta, much the same I would use "shakey cheese."
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Despite the name which actually sounds rather disgusting, nutritional yeast tastes remarkably good. Today I even had a spoonful of it alone. It's loaded with vitamins and minerals; even claims to be the only reliable food source for B12. Bonus!
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I'd take a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast over tofu anyday! Actually, just based on my experience today... I'd take almost anything over tofu.
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Tomorrow is another day though!

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Day 14 & 15 of QW Cleanse: Weekend Update

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Wow, Days 14 & 15 of my Quantum Wellness Cleanse. The weekend. End of week two and start of week three.

Tomorrow morning I'll go into work and everyone will be asking each other, "How was your weekend?" .My office happens to be right next to the coffee maker so the ritual is both familiar and predictable.

For the most part, it's just the Monday morning version of the standard passing, "How are you?" with the appropriate response being something along the lines of, "Great. And you?"

If someone strays off script and asks, "What did you do this weekend?" that opens a whole can of worms and ya know, anything can happen. Personally, I've learned that brevity is always appreciated.

So... my weekend was great. Boat parade and lake party Saturday. Sunday was fun but productive. (And you?)

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let's get down to Quantum Wellness.

Two new food discoveries:

#1. With all the craziness of the morning prepping for the boat parade, I didn't plan as well as I should have re: food. Luckily I did make my quinoa chickpea salad as promised. Otherwise I might have let hunger get the best of me. The rest of the menu was meat, meat, meat, coleslaw, potato salad, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Everyone was eating chips and drinking beers -- or as we say in the Northeast, "beeahs." I was officially visiting the dark side. Except I could only looky, no touchy.

Hey - wait. POTATO CHIPS (or "crisps" as some of you would call them.) Ingredients: potatoes, sunflower oil, salt. I can go to the dark side! Okay, maybe you wouldn't consider this naughty. But in my pre-cleanse life, potato chips were a big "no-no." A moment on the lips for a lifetime on the hips and all that.

Somehow sitting with everyone and being able to eat those chips made not having all the other stuff reasonable. I was no longer just the skinny bitch eating *insert exaggerated sarcastic tone* quinoa salad instead of real food like the rest of the party-goers. Though that implies that I ate chips due to fear of judgment which isn't the case. I already know I'm being judged; that almost goes without saying at this point. The truth is I just love potato chips and in my mind I was having this incredible treat. Salty, crispy deliciousness. Add "vinegar" the list of ingredients and it's a PMS dream. Yum.

#2. Much less dramatic, but I discovered SMOOTHIES. Wanting to do something creative with the vanilla almond milk I just bought, I poured some into my mini-blender, added a big handful of frozen blueberries I had picked a couple of weeks ago with the kids and 1/2 banana. It was a little thick so I added a touch of water and blended again. Perfect.

Usually I don't like to drink my food -- which is why I could never do SlimFast or one of those liquid diets. But this smoothie was delish. I'm thinking it may be a good breakfast option. I'll have to keep my eyes open for a gluten-free protein powder. More berry picking is definitely on the agenda as well.

Onto the final leg of this quantum marathon. I still don't know where I'm going, but I can't wait to get there!
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