My sister and I are enjoying a week long getaway in beautiful San Diego, California to celebrate (a few months belatedly) our 40th birthday. I packed so much in the way of athletic apparel and equipment (running shoes, yoga mats, foam roller, resistance bands, etc.) that my mom commented that it looked like I was going on a fitness retreat. On the other side of it, my sister and I between us purchased at least $200 of candy and other junk food to bring with us on that same so-called “fitness retreat.” So which is it, fitness retreat or junk food getaway?
Well, Monday morning we went and ran 5 miles along the beach, and then came back to our room and proceeded to eat so much candy and treats that well before the day was over we both felt very sick to our stomachs. We then took a break from the treats for a couple of hours so that we could eat MORE later on in the evening. Could I possibly give you a better example of disordered eating? I am going to say the junk food getaway won out on Monday.
The next morning we got up early and made the drive up to Disneyland for a fun day of rides in the happiest place on earth. Unfortunately, my blood sugar was so out of whack from all of the treats that I got very sick on the third roller coaster ride of the day and remained in various stages of nausea and motion sickness the entire rest of the day. It was pretty much my worst day ever at Disneyland, and I completely blame the junk food binge. Oh wait, I’m not finished. I still managed to eat more treats during the day, in spite of the nausea and the inability to handle any rides. Once again, junk food getaway takes the day.
And so the saga continues. Just like an alcoholic I feel remorse for my actions every day after making myself sick, and I commit to changing, and then I repeat the cycle the next day. But today, Thursday, I made a shift. This is something very new for me and very significant. Tired of feeling sick and weak and lethargic every day of my vacation, I decided today that this has to stop. I cannot subject my body to this anymore. I cannot feel like this anymore. So today, after giving it much thought and after discussing it with Denise, I decided to throw away all the rest of the junk food I had here in San Diego. I threw away everything, no matter how much I had been looking forward to eating it. I threw away everything, no matter how delicious it was, because nothing tastes delicious when you have spent six days in a row in a perpetually nauseated state. I threw it all in the garbage, and I feel like I have been freed from captivity. I have been liberated from this horrible monster, and I am going to stay away from that monster for good. Denise and I are going to start working through the 12-step recovery program for addicts. We are going to have weekly meetings. We are going to heal our bodies and our relationship with food. I have finally shifted. I am finally free!
Pounds lost: TBD
If you have been keeping track of my progress at all, you know that I should be almost 3 weeks into my diet makeover by now. Unfortunately, I have nothing to show for the last two weeks other than bingeing and weight gain. I weighed in this morning barely a few pounds down from where I was when I started this whole thing. Before I gain the last of that weight back, I am digging in my heels and screeching to a halt. This has to stop, now! But how?
Besides eating a lot of very unhealthy, processed, nutritionally deficient food over the last 2 weeks, I have done some serious introspection. What makes it so hard for me to stick to a healthy, nutritious diet when my body cries out to me constantly for more vegetables. I feel wonderful when I eat greens and fresh fruit and salads and all that is nutritious and delicious. So why is this challenging me so much? The answer has not come as a huge surprise to me. I have been aware of it for some years now, though I don’t believe a I have ever looked it full in the face until now. But here and now I must confess, before the whole world (or, at least, before anyone who comes across this blog post), that I am a junk food addict. This is shameful and embarrassing for me, a health coach and a running coach, to admit, but it is true. I have reached the point where I, like alcoholics or drug addicts, understand that I cannot overcome this addiction on my own–I need God to help me.
So now I have admitted that to myself, but I am still trying to figure out what that will look like. How do I get into that partnership with Him? I know it will involve a lot of prayer and meditation, but from there I’ll be looking for divine guidance and inspiration. I know Jesus Christ can heal me. I will now have to learn to trust Him more and take this one day at a time.
In the meantime, I am starting my six weeks of whole foods over again. So tomorrow will be day 1.
Pounds dropped: 5
Well, here I am starting week 3 of this green diet with very little to show for it since those first 3 days. So what has happened? Aren’t the greens helping me to lose weight? The answer is yes, they are helping me to lose weight, but the extra flour tortillas with ghee, honey, and cinnamon are not, and the bags of microwave popcorn are not. Yes, the cravings have hit, but they came at the tail end of a 10-day healing crisis. Remember in Post #2 how I mentioned that I had a little tickle in my throat? Well that tickle turned into full-blown bronchitis, which I have not had in years. I used to, however, have it several times a year over a period of many, many years. So this was my healing crisis.
And what, you may ask, is a healing crisis? A healing crisis comes anytime you start eating a clean, non-toxic diet, or you do some sort of cleanse, or make any other significant lifestyle change that allows your body to detox and heal. When your body is given the resources it needs to repair and regenerate damaged tissues, and to remove toxins from the cells, it will take advantage and get right to work with some spring cleaning. And that spring cleaning tends to be somewhat uncomfortable. I pulled the following explanation from a newsletter (reference is below) and I really like how it explains what is happening inside the body during a healing crisis. Note that this is only one paragraph from a fairly lengthy article. I encourage you to click on the link and read the entire article, as it is very informative and very interesting.
“TEAR DOWN THE OLD TO MAKE WAY FOR THE NEWAs the body is cleaned up, previously dormant innate healing mechanisms can be spontaneously reactivated and various types of tissue regeneration can be accomplished. During regeneration, the body destroys defective tissues and cells in order to reconstruct them. This can be experienced as pain or inflammation or even just unusual aches, pains and fever. During healing, the immune system will set to work killing off pathogens like viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Destroying these can result in the release of by-products released by the pathogenic organisms as they are killed. These must also be flushed out of the body during cleansing. In a severe toxicity-related health picture, long-term toxicity can eventually contribute to serious degenerative illness such as arthritis, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, viral illness, depression, anxiety, diabetes, etc.”
The full article can be found at http://www.wholeapproach.com/newsletter/archives/2002/11_November.html
It is no surprise that one week into this very nutritional, detoxifying diet I hit a serious healing crisis. Most of my life has been extremely toxic in terms of diet, stress, skin and hair care products, pharmaceuticals, etc. Until the last decade or so I regularly loaded my body with extremely toxic substances such as NSAIDS, antibiotics, and even Accutane. I also had a lot of pathogens buried inside me. Of course my wonderful, capable body took this first opportunity to get at least some of the garbage out. When I look at it this way, I am happy that I went through this healing crisis. A couple weeks of missed workouts and a pretty miserable cough were a small price to pay.
In the next post we will deal with those devilish cravings.
About a year ago I blogged about whether you should exercise when you are under the weather. In that post I concluded that exercising was probably okay as long as you went easier than usual and listened to your body. Well, I have been sick quite a bit in the past two months (watch for a future post on “My Healing Crisis”), and I have been listening to my body a lot, and I think I have changed my mind about exercising when you are sick. Here are my thoughts.
The natural state of your body is health and freedom from illness and disease. Your body was created to be able to fight off infections of all kinds and to keep all systems running optimally. If you are ill, your body is sending you a message. That message may be that you are overtraining and your body wants a break (see my post “How do I know if I am overtraining?” for more on this topic). It could be that you are not getting enough sleep. Perhaps you are chronically stressed, which depresses your immune system and makes getting sick easier and more likely. Maybe your relationships with spouse and children need some work. Whatever it may be, your body is sending you a message every time it submits to some illness. Therefore, when we get sick our job is to figure out why we are sick (assuming that is not the natural state of the body). Gone are the days when we could look to the sick family member or coworker, or the coughing lady in the grocery store line, and blame them for our illness. If we are sick, it is because we are out of alignment with our higher self and with our dharma, or life’s purpose.
So the next time you get sick, take some time to look at all areas of your life (e.g. nutrition, career, relationships, social life, education, fitness, etc.) and consider the areas where you might be out of alignment. Taking some time to slow down and listen to your body and your spirit tell you about your life can be enlightening and edifying. Ideally you should be setting aside time to do this on a regular basis, health questions aside. If you are not, however, then getting sick and being nudged into some down time and reflection may just be the best thing for you.
We have all seen an over-trained athlete, even if you didn’t realize that is what you were seeing at the time. They are those people with really fit, toned bodies, but they look old and run down, their eyes and skin are dull, and they are not exactly the picture of health that you would expect to see from an athlete. So how can you tell if you are overtraining? Here are a few tell tale signs.
1) You feel tired all of the time. If you are finding it difficult to wake up in the morning, even when you feel like you have had sufficient sleep, and you are dragging through your day, you may be overtraining. Try to fit in a nap and, more importantly, back off your training volume or intensity.
2) You have aches and pains that don’t seem to go away, one or more of which are starting to tend toward injury status. In order to prevent a full blown injury, back off your training volume or intensity. Also, eat more greens. Green leafy vegetables will help to speed recovery and will help you stay healthy at an appropriate level of training.
3) You are extra grumpy with your family and friends. If you feel that your energy is low, and you are snapping at your spouse and kids with very little provocation, back off your training volume and intensity. Drinking more water and eating more fruit may help to boost your energy levels and your mood as well, and should aid you in keeping your spirits high at an appropriate level of training.
4) Your legs feel like they are full of lead. It is normal to feel some heaviness in your legs and body for the next day or two after a long run or a very challenging workout. However, if you are feeling that heaviness day after day, and every workout feels very difficult, then chances are you are overtraining. Try taking a few rest days, and back off your training volume and intensity.
Overtraining can also depress your immune system, slow your recovery time, and is often less effective for improving cardiovascular fitness. If you suspect you may be overtraining, I highly recommend you reevaluate your training program, or better yet, hire a training coach. And remember, taking a few days off from training is not the end of the world. It may just be exactly what your body needs this week.