May 19, 2010
During the month of May, I took on a bunch of 30-day Challenges. Overall, I’ve been doing pretty well!
No Alcohol/Caffeine/Intoxicants Challenge:
In the past 19 days, I’ve only had drinks on two of them. May 7-9th I had planned a trip to New Mexico with my BFF, so I decided I would let myself “cheat” while there. Over the weekend I consumed two cups of coffee & four drinks. But aside from that, I have refrained from imbibing at nightclubs, Sunday brunches, birthday parties, on Cinco De Mayo, at dinner parties. I find the giving up of coffee more challenging in general, but at this point, I am really craving a glass of fine wine. Though I do appreciate the CLARITY and lack of hangovers or anxiety that go along with booze or caffeine. And the time I can put towards other pursuits (like writing) instead of having to recover or sleep in because I was up late partying. AND the amount of money I end up saving.
Last night my roommate and I got a 6 pack of non-alcoholic beer to go with a little feast we cooked. I had two, and it was actually pretty tasty, though it was a little odd drinking beer and not feeling any buzz at all. And I haven’t been drinking anything carbonated, beer or otherwise, so the bubbles made me feel really full and bloaty. Bleh. Well, that combined with the massive amounts of cheese I ingested. I “cheated” there too…
Ayurveda Challenge (No Dairy, No Citrus, No Acidic Foods, etc):
I love cheese. Love love love. Like, seriously. Robusto, Pecorino di Pienza, a nice dill Havarti, any kind of goat… mmmm. But my Ayurvedic doc says no dairy for me (fermented foods are acidic), so I’ve been staying away from it for the past few weeks. I’ve been resisting strong pizza cravings for this past week. I did, however, succumb to a wedge of Humbolt Fog last night……..and it was delicious. Humbolt Fog may be one of my most favoritest cheeses ever. Creamy, tangy, salty, YUM.
In general, I haven’t been eating dairy, or red meat, or sea food, or processed foods, or sugar. I HAVE been eating a lot of almonds, dates, apples, pears, and veggies: yams, kale, swiss chard, butternut squash & pumpkin soup, asparagus, artichokes, carrots, peas, etc. I’ve been trying to buy organics. I love eating a bunch of vegetables and not feeling full or bloated afterwards. However, I think I have a date addiction. W’NB! (See other blogs for definition of W’NB).
No Refined Sugar: I’ve stayed away from anything with sugar in it, except fruit. I’ve been eating tons of fruit. I have a serious sweet tooth, and I love cookies and chocolate almost as much as I love cheese. Bacon’s up there too. Wait, I’m not sure which I love more, cheese or chocolate…cheese or chocolate…hmmm that’s a toughie. Maybe cheese, just cuz there are so many varieties and ways to eat it. Anyways, during my cheat weekend in New Mexico, I ate, oh, three candy bars, a cinnamon twist pastry, some muffins, a bunch of honey, an incredible apple crisp with ice cream… Now that I think about it, I actually I don’t think I bought any cookies that weekend. So it’s been 19 days since I’ve had a cookie. I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than three. Last weekend I had some blueberry corncakes; they had syrup and powdered sugar on them. Considering how much sugar I usually eat (lots, every day), I am REALLY proud of myself on this. I’m sure stuff that I’ve ordered at restaurants has had some sugar in it, but I personally haven’t been buying most of the crap that I usually do. And I’ve even been good at work, despite donuts and a friggin’ CHEESECAKE PLATTER that was just left sitting out on the table for hours. I looked at it. Many times. But I did not eat it. (I just realized, that’s like a double whammy, CHEESE AND CAKE, united. Wow. I’m stronger than I realized).
On top of these I’ve kept up with my Blog-A-Day Challenge. I think I’m around 17:3. I’ve meditated every day, though two or three of the days I wasn’t able to hit the full twenty minutes. I let the Practice-Harmonica-Every-Day go for now – I couldn’t keep that up with everything else. Oh I also hit my Yoga-3-Times-A-Week goal last week.
OH and one of the 30-Day Challenges that I’m MOST proud of: I haven’t logged on to Facebook at work a single time this month. I’m trying to minimize Facebook as much as possible – I’d rather spend the time being productive, doing things that align with my life goals. I still check it occasionally on my phone, but I’m spending WAY less time there. So that’s a huge accomplishment.
Overall, I’ve been feeling great. Amazing, actually. I’ve been consistently super-happy. I’ve been clear-headed and focused and productive. I’ve been throughly enjoying life, and I haven’t been oscillating between ups and downs, highs and lows. It feels good. Most of these things that I’m avoiding give you a short-term high, and then a crash, or a hangover, or some kind of negative and opposite low. When you cut them out, you just stay high – provided that you’re doing other things that keep you there, like eating well, exercising, creating, meditating, reading, spending time with friends, laughing, getting lots of hugs – all of which I’ve been doing.
I still intend to write a long post on the various other WHYS that I do these Challenges, but basically it comes down to breaking old habits and forming new ones. Also, you don’t grow unless you’re challenged. I’m interested in growing. These Challenges are like games. I’d rather grow through self-imposed difficulties where I am able to exercise my ability to choose than to grow through some horrible events that are not of my (conscious) choosing. Like, say, cancer from poor eating or lifestyle habits, or a DUI, or whatever. Not that I might not get cancer anyways, since carcinogens are in our air and shampoo and water, and I’ve eaten crap food for most of my 31 years on this planet. But at least now I’m making choices where I can. I’m experimenting with my life. Some people think I’m crazy or weird because I’m choosing not to drink for 30 days. But it just depends on what angle you’re looking at it from. Mindless drinking, when you just drink because you drank before and everyone else drinks and it’s just expected (and believe me, it IS), is just as crazy. Everything is life is a choice. Everything. And for those few things that you don’t get to choose, that happen to you (cancer again), you can always choose how you react.
May 11, 2010
This post is about my recent successes and failures in the challenges I’m doing for the month of May (no sugar, no alcohol, no caffeine, no dairy, no processed foods, etc etc). I read today in Tal Ben-Shahar’s book Happier that it is the process of striving after goals – rather than actually attaining them – that makes us happy. Good news for those of us who aren’t perfect!
FAILURE = Missed a blog post again yesterday. BUT,
SUCCESS = I was also sugar-alcohol-caffeine free. This was with the added temptation of stopping at a Spanish friend’s birthday party at what looked like a fabulous tapas restaurant on La Cienega (La Paella). Y’all know that I love wine, and I LOVELOVE food. But I partook of neither. I had mint tea instead. I was very proud of myself.
SUCCESS = I also haven’t logged on to Facebook at work AT ALL since April 30th. That is a huge accomplishment for me. I still allow myself to check Facebook on my Droid occassionally, but you can’t waste quite as much time on FB when you’re interfacing through a phone. So, WIN for me!
FAILURE = Haven’t been practicing harmonica. I always do this with musical instruments. I’ve figured out that I have some deep-seated fears around self-expression. I’m musically talented but after the initial rush (one week), I lose motivation. I remember this being a habit since I was in 2nd grade (at least)… So, I haven’t been practicing, but I DO want to become proficient, and I’ve already booked two gigs so…time to start practicing. Maybe visualizing will help…
SUCCESS = Have been meditating or doing yoga every day.
SUCCESS = Woke up at 5:45am this morning (internal alarm clock) and went to a 7am yoga class at Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica. My goal is to go to yoga 3 times a week. I did yoga on Sunday in Santa Fe (it was incredible, a gong was involved, I had no idea what an audible tickling a gong can give you if played correctly), so today was my second time this week! I felt wonderful afterwards (and for the rest of the day). Hoping that I’m forming a new habit. I really want to check out Yoga West, which specializes in Kundalini (my favorite type) and is much closer to my house.
I have a blog drafted about why I do these challenges that I haven’t written up yet. It comes down to that you grow through challenges. I’m treating my life as an experiment & trying out different modes of living.
I also realized while writing this post that exposure to failure is good for me. Somewhere along the way I picked up the belief that you should never fail. It’s been very rare in my life that I’ve actually tried to do hard or challenging things, and risked failure. Better to do the minimum, the easy stuff, and not try my best. Then if I do fail, I’ve got excuses to fall back on. So, committing to all these challenges, and posting this blog detailing my failures, is a huge step forward for me. Woo hoo! This fear of failure also ties into perfectionism and starting things, but never finishing them. I have about 10 blog drafts I’ve started in the last year that I still haven’t published. I don’t like to “finish” things because once they’re done, you have to put them out there. You’re exposed, you’re open to criticism; you’re open to failure. Of course, this belief isn’t even true – I can always go back in and edit a blog (which, actually, is what I’m doing now! LOL).
This is tangentially related – I should use this in my future, fleshed-out post on why I’m doing the all the crazy challenges – but I saw this quote on my good friend China Brook’s blog tonight:
“Your former habits of thinking and being must disintegrate before better ways of behaving can begin to integrate.”
True dat! Check out her blog at http://chinabrooks.com/words/spiritual/
She’s my inspiration.