Well, it sure has been a busy month and a half since I last wrote. I had tons of fun making raw food during the first half of August. Then my diet got a little sloppy and I felt a slight inclination toward a cleanse. I wasn't really motivated to do anything too drastic, but I wanted something...something to test and strengthen my "discipline muscle." I picked up a book on a whim called "The Optimum Wellness Cleanse" by Kathy Freston. The principle behind it is that for 21 days you abstain from the "Big 5"; all animal products, alcohol, caffeine, sugar (except for stevia and agave nectar), and gluten. While this cleanse was obviously targeted at people who eat a heavy, meat-and-dairy laden diet, I was fascinated about trying to go completely sugar and gluten free for that length of time. I knew this cleanse wouldn't actually be very cleansing for me, considering it allowed unlimited amounts of foods I know to be less-than-life-force-generating, such as soy products, mock meats, mock-cheeses, nuts, etc, but I thought the sugar and gluten restriction would be enough to practice self-control with. I also knew it could help prepare me for a stricter cleanse afterward, if I decided I wanted to increase my level of cleansing.
The Optimum Wellness Cleanse was exactly what I expected; not very cleansing for someone already living a mostly vegan, alcohol-free, and caffeine-free lifestyle but definitely challenging in terms of living completely gluten and sugar free. I enjoyed the lack of sugar obsession that resulted from abstaining. Temptation was there at first, but then melted away. I just didn't crave it. I was, however, allowed to eat raw sweets since stevia and agave were considered cleanse-approved, so I wasn't completely lacking dessert. I did encounter a slight struggle overcoming the urge to eat my beloved dark chocolate which was NOT cleanse-approved, due to its sugar and caffeine content.
Once my 21 days were up, I felt good knowing I could live without sugar and gluten. But I did not feel great. I did not feel cleansed. Ever since my failed attempt at doing Natalia Rose's "Detox for Women" program, I've wanted to do it again. Well, actually, I wanted to want to do it again. I wanted to feel the motivation to do it. But over the past few months, I just haven't had the urge to give up my vices and take control of my finances enough to do it. But somewhere toward the end of the "Optimum Wellness Cleanse," I looked down at my body and realized it looked so unnatural. I just knew I was meant to be thin, lean, and toned with smooth, firm skin. Yes, I have hips and a butt, but I am not meant to have the "extra baggage" around them. So I was suddenly drawn to the "Detox for Women" program again, and decided I wanted to commit to it as much as possible for the entire month. I told myself I would just lean into it (a term I learned from "Optimum" which I like and can now understand better with the "Detox" cleanse) and could "cheat" if I really wanted to.
So I started Detox for Women. I re-read the book, bought plenty of produce for juicing, made a few glasses of the green juice all at once and froze them in individual cups to make my mornings easy (just grab, go to work, let defrost, and drink!), bought plenty of salad greens and veggies, and started eating according to the principles of the program. A few days in, I decided I wanted to eat raw goat cheese (and the also acceptable organic pasteurized goat cheese, sheep cheese, and raw cow cheese) but this time, closely monitoring how I reacted and felt; the last thing I wanted was to trigger a binge. The last time I chose to eat the raw goat cheese, I instantly wanted to eat less-cleansing cheeses, and then quickly moved on to eating all sorts of unhealthy, non-vegan and non-cleansing foods completely. But being very picky about my quality cheeses helped. Since I have always loved cheese, vegan and non-vegan cheeses alike, it really makes me feel satisfied when I allow myself to eat it in some form. And since soy products and processed foods are restricted on this program, I am going with the goat cheese. Another allowance that I love about this program, is the 70% cacao dark chocolate I can have for dessert. I LOVE dark chocolate. It's just so luscious and light. I'm also allowed a glass of wine. I'm not a drinker--in fact, I haven't drank in over two years, but something about this time in my life made me feel like a glass of wine with some dark chocolate was appropriate; this feeling definitely had a lot to do with the fact that my boyfriend is on tour for over a week right now, and I really want to have "woman-time" while he's away, and treat myself really loving and act feminine. I have had a few of these wonderful, peaceful "wine-and-chocolate" evenings and feel no feelings of addiction or binging. I don't even get anything more than a slight, warm, buzz. Sigh. What a perfect serenity I feel from being so in control of my body!
I'm on day six of this program and I already feel amazing. I've been drinking my juice every morning, eating two salads a day, and properly combining all my meals. I can already tell I've lost weight, even though I am still dedicated to avoiding the scale. I don't care how skinny I get; no good can come from becoming weight-obsessed again. I feel so beautiful and that is all that matters. I look forward to the remainder of this program and intend to incorporate many of these principles in my diet and lifestyle for good.
But it doesn't stop there; I have more news. For the past few months, if not longer, I have had this strong urge to quit birth control. At the very least, I have wanted to quit using it continuously. I have been on the pill since I was 18, which means I have been consuming synthetic hormones for 7 years straight. I have used it semi-continuously (which gives you 4 periods a year instead of one each month) for at least 4 or 5 years, and completely continuously (absolutely no periods) for about 2 of those years. I grew up with a lot of shame about my feminine body. I started puberty before any of my friends and was not ready or prepared for boobs and periods when they came. I was so embarrassed when my mom forced me to wear a bra when I was nine. And I was so disgusted when I got my period when I was 14. I was always really uncomfortable about having a period, so once I learned I could quit having one by manipulating my usage of "the pill" I was all for it. I didn't care what the risks were; I didn't even ask. I just asked if it was possible to end my period and gobbled up those pills every day.
But then I started learning about health and nutrition; about hormones and estrogen. And with "Detox for Women" I learned a little bit more about how birth control pills (and any medication or drugs) can interfere with cleansing and weight loss. So I've had this nagging feeling that I should quit birth control, but didn't know what else to do. My boyfriend and I have never had to use condoms in the six years we've been together and we are very determined to avoid pregnancy. But I had been using and abusing my body for our sexual convenience for too many years and just decided I was done. I wanted to be a natural, real woman for once. There's just been this sudden change in me, where I want to embrace my femininity, respect my body, and treat my self well. I want to have the most perfect and pure female body that I can have, inside and out. And that means, not only do I need to eat a pure, cleansing diet and quit eating shit-food, but I also need to quit pumping my body with fake hormones that could be really detrimental to my well-being. I've heard what an over-load of hormones can do. I just want to experiment with going off "the pill" and see what it feels like; I have never had that experience as an adult woman! For all I know, I might feel completely different...in a good way! I am prepared that I could get sick and not feel so great while my body detoxes from the pills. But it will be worth it in the long run.
Anyhow, part one of the story: get off the pill. Part two? Well, I knew I needed some form of natural birth control, if there was a such thing. So I did an internet search and ended up: HERE. I was so fascinated by what I learned from this website about the "Fertility Awareness Method", so I bought the book that explains even more about it. Basically, "FAM" brings you completely in touch with your feminine body, helps you gain a deep understanding about your menstrual cycle, and ultimately teaches you to know when your fertile and infertile days are. This seems like it is exactly what I'm looking for: a way to embrace and understand my feminine body, live naturally and hormone-free while still avoiding pregnancy without a constant use of condoms! If done correctly and consistently, "FAM" is supposedly as effective as "the pill." Awesome. I can't wait to start reading this book. I have read so many positive reviews about it and one of my co-workers has read it and loves it also.
Yesterday I took my last birth control pill. If all goes well, I should be getting my first period (in at least two years) soon...hopefully this week, but who knows how long it will take for my cycle to become re-established. And for the first time EVER, I am looking forward to it! A period has brought me nothing but shame and disgust before; now I recognize it as a privilege and a miracle of the female body. Instead of mutilating and manipulating my body, I am going to learn how to work with nature and embrace who and what I really am on the physical level.
I can tell I am on a new path in this body of mine and I am greatly looking forward to it!