"The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." - Samuel Johnson
Black Bean & Corn Salad Tostada with Avocado & Chili Sauce
As many of you know, I am currently rounding up Week 2 of a cleanse that is becoming a yearly Spring ritual for me. This cleanse has become an important part of my ritual of shedding the Winter's blahs - the hibernation, the extra few pounds, the lazy habits, and the comfy-coziness of winter.... and to move into the fresh, new, lightness of Spring. I am all about re-charging, re-birth, renewal, change, and evolution, and for me, the only better opportunity for change than the dawn of a new day is the Spring of a new year.
This will now be the third year that I am choosing to cleanse my diet of foods and substances that I believe (based on many different sources that I have looked into) contribute to the inflammation within my physical body. Those foods and substances are Alcohol, Caffeine, Dairy, Meat, Wheat, and Sugar. In addition to giving up the inflammatory foods, this year, I decided to simultaneously give up logging in to Facebook for 21 days as well. I have done "Facebook Cleanses" in the past, but never at the same time as my Spring Cleanse.
Although the physical benefits are aplenty, for me this cleanse is not physical, but rather, psychological. Old habits die hard, and I would argue that new ones do too sometimes. It's amazing how "addicted" I become to certain habits. I'm addicted to checking my Facebook on my phone just like I'm addicted to having eggs and toast for breakfast on Sunday mornings. For the record, none of these habits that I have discovered about myself have been inherently bad, it's just that they are happening unconsciously. I have been reaching for my phone to check.. whatever.. without even knowing what I was looking for, why I was looking at it, or the fact that I had literally just looked at it a few moments before.
Becoming conscious of those instinctively driven habits is Step One for me. Then, exploring where the cravings that fuel these habits might be coming from is Step Two. Example: This morning we had a birthday breakfast at work. All of the items that were brought in were things that I am refraining from eating during this cleanse. I came prepared with my own food, but found that after I was done eating, I was longingly looking at and smelling the breads and muffins that were brought in. In a typical day, I would not wake up and truly desire blueberry muffins or chocolate chip bread. However, at a typical birthday breakfast, would have sat there and mindlessly ate several pieces of it. Is that bad or wrong? No, I don't think so, since I do not typically eat those things that I personally consider "once in a while" foods, I am not shaming myself for having eaten them. However, I personally dislike the idea that I would mindlessly eat it or eat it without consciousness. To me, this means that my cravings had more to do with just giving my mouth something yummy to chew on and not because I was hungry or needed food.
"We are not here on this earth to indulge our every whim; we are here to become richer and deeper souls, and then push our light out into the world. In order to step up into our larger role, we must tend first to whatever holds us back."
Much of my growth in these past few years has been dependent upon becoming aware of myself; my habits, my desires, my feelings, my motivators, and mostly, my dark side that I try to push down. By doing this cleanse, I am able to focus on a huge area of my life that tends to center around desire, feelings, motivations, and darkness. Food/Eating/Weight and the shame that comes with these areas have always been a struggle for me, and in the past few years, I have really worked on cultivating a healthy relationship with food - nurturing my body while tantalizing my tastebuds, without inducing shame and remorse. This yearly ritual is just an opportunity to really set a benchmark for myself, reminding myself of what I can accomplish as long as I plan ahead, keep aware, and have faith in myself that I can.
This way that I live for three weeks a year is not a way of life for me. This is not something that I personally would continue to do beyond the 21 days. I feel great by the time I am done, both physically (more energy, better immune function, clearer skin), and mentally (greater mental clarity, fewer cravings, greater sense of resolve). That feeling of accomplishment, paired with the overall increase in energy (both from the cleanse and Spring's natural affect on me) sends me into Summer in a way that feels.... ready... but I would never do it for much longer. There are too many foods that I enjoy that fall into those categories, and I think it is okay for me to enjoy them mindfully. This opportunity just gives me a way to realize what motions I am moving through each day and why. That is what is most important to me.
More on this later...
PS. To those of you who say.. "What the Hell do you EAT??" Please see the photo above of this year's Cleanse Favorite - voted on by both me and my wife. That is a corn tortilla, fried in a little peanut oil, topped with freshly sliced avocado, a black bean and corn salad that has lime, cilantro, onions, and tomatoes, a little fresh salsa, some green chili sauce, and Frank's hot sauce. As a good friend of mine would say - FLAVOR-TOWN! I don't even miss the cheese and sour cream (okay, maybe a little bit, but it's GOOD.)