Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thoughts on hitting the big 3-7

37 years, done. That's roughly 13,505 days, not accounting for leap years and any strange zodiac calculations that I'm uncapable of figuring out. I am not often inclined to bouts of deep personal reflection and introspection, but tend to steer my life using abrupt mid-course directional shifts when something feels not-quite-right. So rather than elaborating on the joys and sorrows of my life thus far, I'll pose this question to you, in honor of the beginning of my 38th year. . .

As for me?

I'm planning to give more, with a goal of one family volunteer activity/month this year, as well as volunteering individually when I can:

Our whole fam volunteered on MLK Day (we made dog and cat toys for animal rescues, cards for solider and for military kids, packed snack and activity bags for homeless kids, made bracelets for kids in the hospital, and valentines for former foster youth who are away at college, without a permanent family to send them care packages)

Say yes more often, and worry about the mess later

Keller's idea for today's snow day--Water World, which included a Sink or Float? station, biggest splash contest, dam building and a boat race; followed my Marley giving all of her plastic animals a good scrubbing on the kitchen floor

Feed my body and soul with the things that make me feel strong and healthy

My new favorite cookbook, which is helping me as I transition back to being a vegetarian--2+ weeks and counting with no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, alcohol or coffee <

Dave has made me promise to read this and learn how to clear some mental clutter and rid myself of quiet-induced giggling fits for at least 8 minutes/day<

My creative and talented brother-in-law and his fiancee gave me this, with advice to read it slowly as I allow myself to indulge in thinking of myself and my writing; I have found inspiration in its pages so far

Along that vein, Write more, make less excuses for not spinning stories from the ideas in my head that have been brushed aside for too long

Accept each experience I'm given, and love it for what it gives and takes from my one wild and precious life, because in words we learned as kids of the 70s-80s, You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have the facts of life ;) Told you I wasn't big on serious introspection!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


As Dave and I close out our 4th and final day of our first (but not final!) Cleanse/Detox, I thought I'd share a few highlights and lowlights from the whole experience.

First a word of wisdom--cleansing is definitely a look-before-you-leap undertaking. Unfortunately, I did something that might be better described as 'glance'-before-we-leap preparation. Sure, I researched the best juicers and plopped down $150 for a stainless steel centrifugal whoozy-whatzit. And yes, I did spend an hour searching the aisles of Whole Foods for things like galangal root and kombu to make sure we had every single ingredient for the first few days. I even spent time looking over the recipes. . .but apparently not enough time. See, I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's Green Plant or Naked Green Machine juices. They are tasty enough that my kids will even drink them. I looked at the recipes in my cleanse book and saw many of the same ingredients, so I figured we'd be good to go on Monday morning.

If I had to sum up Monday morning with a couple of punny song lyrics, they would have to be Just Beet It and I Nearly Lost You There. Let's just say that the ratio of kale/chard/cucumber/beet to apple apparently did not follow Trader Joe's guidelines. Yuck! I mean, I've never eaten a beet that I enjoyed, so I'm not sure why I thought drinking them would be any better, but I suffered through a 16 ounce cup of the swill, which involved holding my nose, chugging, making hair-ball hacking sounds, and then downing two huge glasses of water with lemon. This experience was my first indication that the 5-day cleanse I had chosen for Dave and I to follow might not have been the right choice. (Full disclosure here, Dave had suggested that we start off with a shorter, less stringent cleanse for our first one, but when Holly has her mind made up and feels more educated on a subject, Holly is not big on compromising. Three more disgusting green juices, one wheat grass shot and two bowls of broth later--I went to bed Monday night with a rumbling stomach despite having to eat crow and apologize profusely to Dave for the martyrdom I had enlisted both of us in.) We decided that night to switch to a different cleanse from the same book, which used many of the same ingredients but allowed for intake of solid food and included less dark greens in the juices and zero beets.

Here is what we ate/drank each day on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday:

2 green tonics made in the juicer(celery, kale, cucumber, apple, dandelion greens, parsley) Not terrific, but a huge improvement over the Monday swills.

1 wheat grass shot. Palatable, but not something we'll keep on the menu around here.

1 smoothie made in the blender (almond milk, green powder, bee pollen, lecithin granules, berries--we used goji, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, Udo's oil, Himalayan sea salt, MSM powder) It was actually really good and filling--we drank these around 10:30 or 11am and were fine without food until about 2pm.

1 humongous salad (mixed baby lettuces, avocado, apple, cucumber, sprouts, soaked almonds, dressing made from Udo's oil, lemon juice, and Himalayan sea salt) Delicious and filling. The salads were absolutely huge.

1 bowl of soup We had a veggie stew two nights (fennel, celery, butternut squash, zucchini, onion, garlic, artichoke hearts, water, salt, hot chili paste) and gazpacho one night (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, arugula, dulse, water, garlic, salt, cilantro, avocado). Both soups were good, but we both liked the gazpacho better.

What we didn't eat all week:

Things turned around for us on Tuesday and I can honestly say that if we hadn't run out of a few ingredients tonight, I'd be up for keeping this cleanse going for another couple of days. Dave is not sold on that idea--he has been dreaming of bacon cheeseburgers (which I have never personally witnessed him eating in the nearly 14 years I've known him).

That leads me to a different point, which is our reasons for cleansing. As the days have gone on, it's become clear that we had different goals for our radical dietary change this week. Dave cleansed for the purpose of detoxing and clearing his blood, liver, kidneys, etc. of chemicals that we all ingest through foods we eat and from the environment. I shared that reason, but also added to it a desire to get closer to the vegetarian (technically pescitarian) lifestyle that I had for five years before Keller was born. So now as the cleanse draws to a close, I'm as excited about the TJ's frozen quinoa/veggie dish in my freezer as Dave is about his fish tacos he's planning to get at Baja Fresh tomorrow.

How did we feel during the cleanse? I would say Monday was the hardest for me--the juices were so incredibly unpalatable to me that I almost swore off vegetables forever that day. The broths were tasty, but took forever to prepare (chopping veggies and obscure roots, simmering for 90 minutes, waiting 30 minutes to cool, straining away broth, blending it with small portion of squash or sweet potatoes in blender)and definitely weren't filling us up.

Cleanse/detox diets can lead to a lot of side effects such as: mood swings, headaches, gross tongue coating, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, vivid dreams, and a few other gems. I'd say we got off pretty easily, probably because this was not the most stringent of detoxes. I had a mild headache on Tuesday morning and again that night, but that could be attributed to getting off of caffeine. Dave and I have both struggled a bit with our mental faculties slipping at times--being forgetful, having trouble concentrating. Neither of us overexerted ourselves this week, limiting our exercise to brisk walks (together, which was quite nice), Dave went for a swim one morning, and we made a few attempts on the rockwall with the boys tonight. If I had tried to do my usual three bootcamp-style classes this week, I surely would've been carried out of the gym on a stretcher, or would have at least vomited green stuff everywhere. We both did get a bit of a yucky tongue coating, but that's a good sign that gunk is leaving our bodies. I'd say both of our moods have stayed positive, and we were able to cheer each other on when needed. Overall, our household has felt very calm this week compared to our normal mode of operating.

A few pointers for anyone considering cleansing:

* Do your homework. There are a lot of great books on cleansing. We used Adina Niemerow's "Super Cleanse". I bought it for my Kindle, which was super handy when I had to ask for help in Whole Foods with a few ingredients--I just pulled it out and showed them the list and the descriptions Niemerow gave for the really unfamiliar items. "Clean" by Alejandro Junger just arrived in the mailbox today and we are both anxious to read the scientific basis for including and eliminating different things in our diets.

*If the recipes look like they will take forever, they probably will. Some things can be prepared in advance, but the green juices are meant to be consumed pretty much right away, or at least within the same day. I spent more time in the kitchen this week than in the previous three weeks combined, and that time span included making an entire Christmas dinner.

*If the ingredients look costly, they probably are. I bought most of our ingredients from Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) because we figured if we were going to the cleanse, we should do it right and use organic products. Some of the supplements we needed such as bee pollen, lecithin granules, and MSM were pricey, but we have plenty left to incorporate into our regular diet now. I had to get a few things at the asian market because WF didn't have them, which involved calling Dave from the store and saying "Can you google Korean and Japanese names for Burdock Root?" (It's "gobo" if you're interested).

*If you don't like something in solid form, you won't like it in liquid form either. Trust me on that one.

*Plan a menu for the non-cleansers in the house. We had the kids draw up a list of five quick, easy dinners they all agreed on (spaghetti and meatballs, tortellini, pizza, grilled cheese, quesadillas) so we could have all of the supplies on hand and could throw their dinner together in between juicing and blending our own meals.

Will we do this again? I definitely will, and I think Dave would be up for another similar cleanse. I'm looking forward to learning how to integrate some of the things I've learned through this process into daily life.

Now for the TMI category. You can stop here if you are easily disgusted.

*Don't expect much to happen in the solid waste removal department. Cleanse advocates recommend all kinds of interesting processes such as colonics and home enemas. No thank you, but I could see why people might want to see more of a mass exodus during the cleansing process.

*On the other hand, gals, invest in some good t.p. because you are going to be visiting the potty to pee about every 30 minutes. I haven't had to worry so much about where the nearest toilet was since the last time I was pregnant.

*Beets will present themselves somewhere in your 'eliminations.' Dave had purple pee for an entire day, and I had little tinge to a different by-product.

*Mother Nature decided to mess with me and delivered her curse a week early, beginning the first day of the cleanse. I found that all of my usual symptoms were greatly reduced--less cramps, no bloating, less irritability. I may have to do this every month to make myself more bearable.