February 13, 2012
I am addicted to sugar. I never felt truly addicted to smoking or alcohol or drugs – none of which I put in my body anymore – but sugar still kicks my ass. Anyone who’s followed my blog these last few years has read about my trails and tribulations with sugar many, many times.
I am also allergic to sugar. It makes my system acidic, causing inflammation, which makes me break out (little tiny pimples all over my face) and contributes to flare-ups of psoriasis. I’ve had psoriasis consistently for almost two years now.
I’ve given up sugar a few times in the past, but never made it longer than a few weeks. I tried again at the beginning of 2012, but after 6 days (during which I felt amazing) I caved and went back to my cycle of sugar binging.
So this time, I’ve decided to place a wager. I’ve bet my friend China Brooks that I can go 30 days without eating refined sugar, starting today. She also is going sugar-free, and if either of us give into temptation during the 30 days, we have to Paypal the other $25. I don’t generally make bets but I’m pretty sure I’m too proud and stubborn to lose one. 😉
Many people are unaware of the truth about sugar – how addictive it is, how toxic it is, and how prevalent it is in processed foods. I’ve experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual gains that come with giving it up. I’ll be exploring these over the next 30 days as I share my experiences and struggles and, hopefully, win my bet.
February 5, 2011
A friend asked me the other day what I do to get so much energy.
There are probably 100 factors but here are a few I feel I have control over right now:
1. Eating Clean
I’m 36 days into my Clean Eating Challenge. I’ve dropped intoxicants (alcohol, caffeine) and severely limited refined sugars, processed foods (including bread), dairy, and meat (when I do eat meat, it’s chicken). I really feel like my body needs less sleep now – I’m guessing less recovery time from the stress you create in your body by eating foods your body isn’t made to process. My skin is so much softer and clearer. My memory is better – I realized recently that I now remember people’s names after hearing them one time (that one’s pretty strange), and I find I can remember everything without having to write it down (I’ve started shopping without grocery lists). My sense of smell is sharper. I have fewer emotional lows. My psoriasis is fading. The pea-sized subcutaneous cyst that I’ve had on my neck for a few years is almost entirely gone (when I put the paste my Ayurvedic doctor gave me on it it shrinks, but I have to keep that up or it returns).
What I AM eating is foods from Farmer’s Markets. I no longer shop at Whole Foods due to their policies on Genetically Modified Organisms and Monsanto, and I’ve been to Trader Joe’s about 3 times this year. I’ve started to get to know my Farmer’s Market vendors in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and Culver City, and they’ve started cutting me deals! Last weekend I made my Leek, Sweet Potato and Pear soup, with Ginger Asparagus Quinoa with a Carrot Ginger sauce on top of that. I’m also eating a lot of Bolani (available at both the CC and BH markets). Bolani is my new favorite thing – it’s like a quesadilla made with super-thin naan-like tortillas, and instead of cheese it’s stuffed with lentils or pumpkin or spinach or potato (the first two are my favorites). When I need a sugar fix, I eat fresh melt-in-your-mouth dates. If you have a sweet tooth and you’ve never had fresh dates, you need to try them.
Last year I meditated about 6 days a week; on the 1st of 2011 I made a 100% commitment to daily meditation, and intend to keep that for the rest of my life. Some days it’s 15 minutes, and some days it’s an hour. Some days it’s in my room, some days it’s on my porch, some days it’s on the beach. Like eating clean is clearing out my body, I feel like meditating is clearing out my mind. Science is proving that meditating is exactly like working out. Your brain is a muscle, but instead of physical strength you’re building focus and clarity. Ideas flowing to me.
I do yoga two days a week; I run a few days a week as training for a 1/2 marathon I intend to complete in May; I try to talk a walk every day either during lunch or after dinner, and I try to hike on the weekends. We all know that, paradoxically, exercise energizes you.
4. Saying No
In 2011 I’ve been practicing saying No to energy drains. Energy drains like intoxicants and refined sugar and sub-optimal foods, but also energy drains like people, or like doing things I don’t REALLY want to do. I’m simply being honest with people – everyone – including my boss. If I don’t want to do something, I tell them. If I’m not available to talk to them on the phone about their problems, I tell them. I make it clear that it’s not personal and my saying no is not a reflection of how much I do or don’t value them as a person or as a friend; but I’m just getting more real. It’s so refreshing, and I’m finding out that it works better for everyone.
5. Doing what I love
I wake up crazy early because I’m EXCITED to get up!!! I want to meditate and write and create! I want to read empowering and inspirational quotes on Twitter! I want to come up with ideas and work on co-creative projects with people I love working with! That could be #6: co-creative projects. I am working on awesome, fun, inspiring projects, (outside of my day job) with about 6 different partners right now. These are projects I’m doing just because I WANT TO, but working with another person keeps me moving forward when, if I were trying to do it by myself, I might give up.
I’m hoping that eventually I will be able to support myself I know that soon I will be able to support myself doing things I love with people I love. That’s my #1 goal. Create my perfect day, every day. And with these small steps, create my ideal life.
So, this is where I think I’m getting all this energy. Join me?
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
– Alexander Graham Bell
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.”
– Tony Robbins
[quotes shared by the awesome Mastin Kipp at TheDailyLove.com ]
January 6, 2010
I succeeded in not buying anything on Day 1 of my challenge—and I even bartered my way out of paying for pre-existing dinner plans!
Friends at Catalyst Art Collective downtown are doing a fun little experiment in which you can come over for five days of nommy homemade vegetarian dinners at $5 a pop, or buy individual meals for $7. I’d already committed to Tuesday (Pesto Calzones) and Thursday (The Legendary Peace Patties) before starting the Consumer Fast. So I had my $7 ready last night. Fortuitously, one of my friends jokingly offered to pay me $5 to perform what he considers a loathsome chore—folding laundry. I bargained up to $7 and viola—free dinner! Woohoo for archaic nonmonetary exchange systems!
This morning, I planned to get up early and do some reading for a project I’m working on. Whenever I get up early, especially to read or write, I always want coffee. I love coffee but have cut back considerably, since I’m pretty sure it contributes to my psoriasis flare-ups. On Day 1 of the CFC, I brewed my own coffee at home in my French press. But…it didn’t taste very good. It wasn’t…fulfilling. That might be because the bag of Peet’s I have has been sitting in my cupboard for a very long time. So I didn’t want to brew at home this morning. I decided (rationalized) that since I’d saved $7 the night before, it would be ok for me to spend two of those dollars on a cup of coffee on Day 2. But I was torn…was I already breaking the fast after only 24 hours?!?
My plan was to walk down to Organics To Go (makers of the best cuppa coffee in Los Angeles, according to me), take my coffee and my Kindle to Hancock Park (home of the La Brea Tarpits), find a sunny spot on a bench, and read for a few hours. Still feeling guilty about spending $2 on coffee on the second day of my fast, I dug around in my wallet to see if I had any “frequent drinker” coffee cards from Organics To Go. You know, the ones where you get 10 punches and the 11th cup is free. Well guess what—I did. I had a card with 10 punches. WIN! I got free dinner the night before, and I could get free coffee this morning!!!!!! I was ecstatic!!! I pulled on my Vibram FiveFinger shoes (see prior blogs) and strolled down to Organics…but…the tables weren’t set out in front. Maybe the barista had gotten to work late…well, at least the doors are open…but…where is the coffee station? Where is the salad bar that was built into the wall? NOOOO! OUT OF BUSINESS!!! GONE! FAIL!
So that sums up my morning: pride (bartering the night before), guilt (wanting to buy a $2 cup of coffee), elation (surprise free coffee card in wallet), redemption (not spending the $2 and sticking to the fast), devastation (favorite coffee shop in Los Angeles is closed. No coffee).
So I went back home, made a cup of plain Irish Breakfast Tea, which wasn’t bad or good…but had a little bit of caffeine in it, I suppose.
I was also going through old emails last night and, oddly enough, ran across this DailyOm from Dec 31st:
Filling Imaginary Voids – DailyOm.com
“Consuming To Heal: In our culture today, we are constantly encouraged to consume. This includes food as well as purchasing ever newer items that we may not need, often using money that we may not actually have. It could be that we are trying to fill a void we feel within ourselves, but if we take the time to examine it, we know deep inside that this is not the solution. We may notice how quickly the joy fades after our purchase or once the food we’ve enjoyed is gone, and how soon we feel the urge to do so again. This is a symptom of disconnection from our true selves, so the first step toward balance is connection to our center.
When we connect to our center, we access the fullness of who we are as an individual spirit. We also connect to the energy source of the universe, from which nothing can be lacking. It could be that we have been energetically starving ourselves but trying to feed the need physically, outwardly. Once we make the decision to reconnect, we have the ability to examine the behavior from a higher place within ourselves. We can look, without judgment, at the thoughts and feelings that occur before and after our indulgences to find a pattern. We may want to keep track of these observations in a journal so that we can go back if we lose our way.
Often boredom is the main cause for the desire to eat or shop. But when we connect to our center, our intuition can more clearly guide us to the places where our energy can best be used. We can replace the boredom with a meditation practice, a class, a project, seeking a new job, or getting involved in a charity. We may even want to begin planning an adventurous trip. Whatever inspires us tells us the direction we should go. When we find the place we are meant to be, we become so consumed by its constant creation that the frivolous filling of an imaginary void becomes a thing of the past.” – www.DailyOm.com
I didn’t actually read the email above until after I’d started the Fast, but this is exactly why I’m doing it. Getting more connected with the Whys of what I do by breaking habits and patterns and modes of thought that aren’t the best for me. Instead of drinking coffee, maybe I need to let go of the belief that coffee will help me focus, thus making me a better writer/reader/whatever. Maybe I just need to listen to my body more and get more sleep so I don’t feel the need for it, or energize myself through healthier ways, like exercise and apples.
Something else that popped into my mind was an article about how humans like rituals. Going to your coffee shop to buy your cuppa and then pouring in your specific amounts of creamer and sugar are definitely ritualistic. The article mentioned that this is probably why Corona beer is so popular—the lime ritual. Maybe it’s time to form rituals that don’t include some kind of intoxicant…caffeine, alcohol, nicotine? Smoking is definitely ritualistic. And people always say it’s the simple habit of having that smoke after dinner that’s the hardest part to change. In our science-based society, where magical or shamanic rituals are no longer accepted, and even religious rituals are falling by the wayside, all we’ve got left is sugaring our Starbucks, liming our Coronas, lighting our Marlboros. Rituals of consumption… How sad.
In addition to my 30 Day Consumer Fast, I’m also forming two new rituals—20 minutes of meditation per day, and 10 minutes of writing (which, as you can tell from this post, tends to turn into way more than 10 minutes). What kind of rituals do you want in your life?
By the way, if you don’t subscribe to DailyOm.com, I highly recommend you do. You will only ever see me use the phrase “highly recommend” when I’m referring to something excellent, so trust me. DailyOm sends out insightful and sometimes jarringly relevant emails Monday-Friday. Hey, new ritual? 😉