Typically after I run a race there is another on the horizon. Going into Hartford, I deliberately planned a running respite to follow. I have actually been participating in something called the Yogi Detox run by Auyurvedic practitioner Cate Stillman. The detox began a couple of days after the marathon which was perfect timing. It’s a holistic detox that touches on all areas of life rather than simply a food cleanse. The program can be individualized and is designed to occur each fall and spring at the change of season. The idea is to clear out spiritually, physically, emotionally and spatially.
I took a rather gentle approach as this was my first experience with the program. First I focused on re-creating my morning routine to once again include an early wake up, meditation, yoga, oil pulling (I know weird, but I cannot stop) and preparing for the day ahead. Oddly this all fell into place rather quickly and before I knew it I was back to waking up between 4 and 4:30 with little effort. I’m not perfect and it doesn’t happen every single day, but enough days to make me feel calmer, more organized, and a lot more at ease.
Cate incorporated the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo into this detox. I have read most of the book and while I would love to jump in with both feet to clear out my entire house that is not realistic for me right now. The idea is to tackle your belongings by category rather than room. So the first thing I did was remove every stitch of clothing from my bedroom and elsewhere in the house and put it in my office. I went through each piece one by one, holding it, asking myself if it brings joy to my life and then either discarding it into the give away bin or putting it in a pile to keep. It was an interesting concept to use to determine whether or not I should keep articles of clothing. In the past I would have kept most of it by reasoning that I might find it useful again or there might come a day when it will fit or look good on me. I would say about 75% of my clothing ended up in garbage bags. I’ve done the same with my son’s clothing only we based his on what fit. If it’s comfortable and fits then it brings joy to Carlos!
The next project will be books/magazines and papers. Although the detox is a 4 week program the actual process of tidying up the Marie Kondo way might take me 6 months or more. I am a minimalist at heart, but my home does not quite reflect that yet.
The yogi detox recommends a few different styles of eating and supports a couple of rather drastic cleanses if you are so inclined. I was not interested in making any major changes to my diet other than to adhere to a whole foods plant based diet with an emphasis on raw foods and as few packaged foods as possible. This was not a huge departure for me, but it provided me with the challenge of not grabbing pretzels or other processed snacks on the go. I opted instead for fruits and vegetables if I was hungry.
I have been struggling rather violently with binge eating and a 10-12 pound weight gain since fall of 2013. I’ve mentioned it here at times. Although I tend not to harp on it like I might have in the past, it sits at the forefront of my thoughts most days. It has caused a surge of emotions and an onslaught of negative messages in my own head. Over the last 6 months or so I’ve tried to reconcile my feelings with my reality. It has become quite clear that for the first time in my struggle with weight I’ve learned how to maintain my weight consistently over the course of many months. I stopped weighing myself regularly last November. I have a documented weight from November 2014. I weighed myself again for the first time a number of months ago and weighed exactly the same as I did in November 2014. I weighed myself last week and I’m about a half pound less than I was a year ago. While I’m not at the most comfortable weight for my body I have not exceeded this weight in a year. It’s not an astronomical weight gain. I can reverse it and get back to a more comfortable weight if I continue to eat the way I have been eating throughout the detox.
Oddly with few restrictions on my diet as I entered into the yogi detox I have found that within the last few weeks I’m not hungry all the time like I have been for the last two years. My cravings are almost non-existent. I have not experienced a binge or even the urge to binge. It’s weird. I don’t understand it and I want to understand why I am suddenly feeling very differently about food. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve developed an iron will against my nemesis, but I don’t think that is it. I’m frustrated because I also want to know why I reverted back to old behaviors two years ago after running the Montreal Marathon. I know some might say don’t overthink this and just go with the flow. However, I fear the day the switch flips again. If I don’t know what triggers it then how can I prevent it?
I have dialed down my fitness to daily yoga, some kettle bell swings and a few runs a week. I run when I really feel like it and I run as long or short as I want to or my schedule allows. I am using the 30 days of yoga with Adrienne for yoga practice most days, but if time is short then I do as many sun salutations as I can. The idea is building a routine without the pressure of being perfect.
I’ve taken a similar approach with meditation. I have a strong desire to build a meditation practice in my life. I know from experience that even a few minitues of meditation every morning has a significant impact on how my day begins and often how it continues. However, I stink at meditation. My mind is all over the place. So rather than start with a lofty goal of meditating for 15 minutes or more daily I started with 5 minutes. I’m still setting my timer for 5 minutes sometimes 6 minutes. I think I did 8 minutes one day. My mind races in the beginning and then it settles a little bit and I remember to count my breaths because that helps me to stop thinking for a few seconds. Whenever I start thinking about something I begin counting my breaths again. I try to employ techniques I’ve learned from the free portion of the Headspace App and from various You Tube meditations. I may never achieve a complete meditative state, but I can continue to practice mindfulness and breathing techniques so that I am a calmer, kinder, and more relaxed human being.
The Healthy Lifestyle Expo conference could not have come at a better time. I was less than a week into the detox when I left forCalifornia. I did not have to cook or be around food unless I was hungry. I was able to do longer yoga sessions via my iPad. I ran one morning and went for walks during every break throughout the conference. I wrote about my goals with the Yogi Detox and outlined some goals for the year ahead. Upon my return home I stayed focused on simplifying as much of my life as possible.
As with every experience I open myself up to I’ve learned a great deal about myself and about how I want to go forward in my life. The idea of a spring and fall detox really speaks to my need to simplify and organize my life. The one theme that kept popping up in the weekly detox calls and on the online Facebook forum was the idea that the detox can be whatever you want it to be. It can and likely will become a deeper detox each time. This was a learning experience. I will continue to draw off of it throughout the winter as I strive to live a simpler, cleaner, more streamlined life and I will apply what I’ve learned to the next experience.
I know this probably seems way out there and a bit kooky. Some of it was a little far out to me too and I may never commit to a detox that involves deep cleansing practices, but I think checking in with ourselves a couple times of year is an easy way to realign values and restructure goals while taking a little time to take care of ourselves holistically.
Honestly, I’ve never understood the “brings you joy” standard (I’ve read about others doing similar cleaning exercises, and maybe I just don’t get it because I haven’t read the book?). I can only think of about a dozen possessions that really bring me joy. Clothes just kind of cover my body and prevent me from being arrested for public nudity. Some of them look better on me than others, but aside from days that I know will be preserved on film (particularly for holiday cards), I usually don’t care much one way or the other. Kitchen things just allow me to cook and eat food not directly from the pot and using my fingers, but they don’t really independently bring me joy. Maybe my mattress brings me joy, and I think our bed frame looks nice (and I have zero desire to spend money on a new one, and no good reason to use just a metal frame with wheels), but the frame itself doesn’t really bring me joy. Magazines might be interesting and I might want to read them, but I can’t think of any that I’ve ever read that have really brought me joy. Am I just a joyless witch? Am I not getting how that cleaning system works? Would the book be worth reading for me? Am I being too literal?
I’m in the same boat with the 10-12 (ahem, 15 for me) pounds since late 2013. I’m trying a vegan month right now (though I have 3 work dinners and 2 work lunches this week, and I’m not sure if I’ll get through them vegan), in hopes that it will help me lose at least some of that weight, mostly because I’m kind of trying to avoid too much processed stuff, and at least it kept me away from some Halloween candy — I looked at the labels and a lot of it wasn’t vegan, so I skipped it (but I did eat some, just less than I otherwise might have, so I’ll count it as a win). I should focus on the positive though as you mentioned — even if I’m not where I was, at least it’s not going up any more than it did early on.
Oh I had such a hard time with the does it bring me joy concept. I should have video taped myself because I was cracking myself up. Holding things and saying out loud “do you give me joy?” Carlos found it amusing as well. What I wrote in the post really made it sound like I took it seriously, but I just couldn’t. Clothing has never brought joy to my life because nothing ever fits properly, but you’re right compared to alternative of walking around naked I just wear I guess there is some joy in clothing.
I admit that being vegan is in part a way to keep me away from things like Halloween candy and desserts. The other day I was at a work luncheon and there were trays of delicious looking cupcakes on the table throughout lunch. It was painful, but I knew they were full of dairy so I wasn’t going to eat one. I just wish they weren’t parked in front of me!
Now if you’d held up Carlos and asked if he brought you joy, and concluded he did, I’d totally get that standard!
I actually read your reply earlier this morning and as I grabbed a pair of underwear, I asked if they brought me joy — and concluded they did not, but in the end, it was best to wear them!