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Detox…and Re-tox?

January 19th, 2015

!The January 2015 session of Unplug & Recharge—a 10-day juice fast/detox that I lead each year—recently came to an end. It was a great group of folks and, as always, I learned many things myself. The group had insightful questions and also had many good answers for each other throughout the session.

As part of the detox, participants receive daily modules or lessons about topics related to health. One topic that garnered a lot of interest was the section on toxins, most notably this passage:

“We live in a very toxic and somewhat unnatural world, and our bodies were not designed for the challenges we face at every turn from our contaminated food, air and water. Add to that the chemical soup in our clothing, household items and cars, and then toss in the virtually inescapable electromagnetic fields we endure everyday…well, you can see why we need to seek every break we possibly can from this toxic overload we call modern life!

“According to the World Resources Institute, there are 17,000 chemicals appearing in common household products, yet far less than half of them have been adequately tested for their negative effects on our health. If you take into account all the chemicals that you might come into contact with during a single morning, you’ll understand how critical this topic is to your long-term health. Just to get you thinking, consider a “typical weekday” in the average American’s life:

“You wake up after sleeping on bed sheets washed with detergents containing alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), shut off your electromagnetic-field (EMF) emitting alarm clock and stumble into the bathroom. You use toilet paper containing residues from the manufacturing process including bleach and select xenobiotic endocrine active compounds (EACs). Reaching for your toothbrush, you soap up your teeth with a concoction of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which is used to clean oil spills, and a dab of triclosan, which is a pesticide. If it’s your time of the month, you insert a chlorine-bleached tampon laced with synthetic ingredients, pesticide residue, and traces of dioxin. Being health conscious, you take your synthetic multivitamin, which potentially contains binders, fillers and other manufacturing additives, and is then coated with shellac. Awake now, you’re ready for a cup of coffee. Over 1000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee; more than half of those tested are carcinogens. You brew yours using tap water, which contains chlorine, fluoride (a by-product from aluminum production) and other chemical additives. Unknowingly, you pour your brew into a cup that was made using lead-based paints before you flavor it with a chemically laden “low carb” artificial sweetener.

And you haven’t even hit the shower yet!”

To me, this sums up entirely why I participate in detox classes throughout the year. There is so much “out there” that we cannot avoid and it truly seems to get worse each day. During each session of Unplug & Recharge, I try and do one small thing that will be sustainable after the detox is over. Switch to a DIY toothpaste, find unbleached toilet paper, go back to air-drying clothes outside…whatever I can manage that helps. And then, I try not to freak out about all the toxic stuff around me that I cannot control, or sometimes even influence.

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Say yes, say no

January 6th, 2015

yes-noToday’s entry is undoubtedly driven by the fact that I am several days into a juice fast/detox that I am leading. One of the participants emailed me this morning to say that tonite there is a birthday party (naturally, there will be a cake!), and she was thinking she would “just have a little bit of frosting…is that OK?” I replied that of course it was OK, but that after she swallowed that sweet confection, she would no longer be fasting.

I’m not trying to be a hard-ass or elitist fasting Nazi. Heaven knows I have aborted my share of fasts, cleanses, detoxes and the like before I was supposed to, and with far worse transgressions than cake frosting! But with a fast—and most things in life—you’re either “in” or you’re not. Fasting is one of those yes or no things. Another is sobriety. And being pregnant. You simply cannot do recovery part-time, or be a little bit expecting. With fasting, you are either eating food or you are not.

Sometimes I think it’s too bad that more of life isn’t as cut and dried. I know that there are occasions I have fallen short of my own endgame or goals due to the belief that “everything in moderation” is desirable or even achievable. For me “just one” of a lot of things can be a pretty slippery slope. Ever eat one chip at a Mexican restaurant? I can certainly do it, but it sucks. We all know that skipping the gym is always easier after you’ve done it the first time. And once you have a slice of cheesecake—well, might as well eat the rest of it and start over tomorrow, right?

I read a blog post recently that referenced the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister, and how the authors observed that people who appeared to exhibit the greatest amount of self-discipline actually expend the least amount of energy doing it. Through their research they discovered that these individuals lived according to specific guidelines that they rarely, if ever, deviated from. When you think about it, it does make brilliant sense. For example, I became a vegetarian in 1992 and I have not eaten meat since. For me, vegetarianism requires no thought whatsoever, and being around meat is of no consequence. I don’t eat it so I am not tempted nor do I feel cheated when I see others eating animal protein. There is no need to exercise moderation, no decision-making and no effort required.

I have an assignment I have my clients complete, it’s called “Say Yes, Say No.” It’s quite simple, really: for every yes answer you give you are to document what you are saying no to as a result. “Yes, I will stay up and watch the end of the movie” may also mean “No, I will not be going to the gym at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow.” The exercise asks that you do it for the converse as well: think through what you have passively agreed to by the act of saying no to something else. If you want to see the form I use, drop me an email at info@fork-road.com.

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Letting Go and SEO

December 31st, 2014

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Today I am making good on a promise I made a full year ago to Raylee and Heather, my social media advisors, to “blog more often.” Blogging, Raylee patiently explained at every meeting we had in 2014, helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Optimal SEO gets geeky social media types all excited. Me? Not so much. I’d rather not have one more item on my already insane project list, and that’s what making the commitment to produce a blog felt like to me.

But this morning, as I was writing the final entry of 2014 into my personal journal, I flipped back for a “year in review” experience, as many of us are wont to do. And I made a discovery: If a blog is a sort of a diary, I did blog. Almost every day. I didn’t share my observations with the world, but I easily could have published a good many of my entries. Like most people, I journal about what is on my mind at the moment. In my journal I complain, lament, brag, ponder…and sometimes, when I am lucky, I even solve stuff.

One of the issues I came to terms with in 2014 was the decision in early spring to cancel the third annual Des Moines Raw Food Week (RFW), which was scheduled for August. I founded the event in 2012, and it was a success from the starting gate. The accomplishment was due to a ton of hard work not just by me, but also by a dedicated committee of volunteers and a few sponsors who were willing to take a leap with us. That first year we had Dave the Raw Food Trucker as a featured speaker. We also had a variety of classes and tastings and a sellout raw rood brunch. In 2013 Jennifer Cornbleet came from San Francisco to do our keynote. We expanded the programming and the event was even featured in a British raw food magazine. Then, while I was knee-deep in contacting speakers and venues and sponsors for the 2014 event, the chance to do a second season of my television show Fork in the Road with Sheree Clark presented itself.  I was in a conundrum.  Both projects demand a substantial amount of time, attention and resources, and both were near and dear to my heart. But planning for RFW was running into snags. My first and second choice keynote speakers were unavailable. One of our favorite local venues was not going to be able to accommodate us. And some of our key committee members had their own personal challenges and commitments. In March, a full five months before the event was scheduled, I made the difficult decision to cancel RFW for 2014. While I knew the decision made sense (and the committee supported my assessment), it felt like a failure. And as I flipped through my journal (aka my “unpublished blog”), I realized that while I made the actual decision in spring, I didn’t let go of the processing of the decision until fall—well after the event would have concluded.

Reading those entries provided me with valuable insights, many in real time and a few after the fact. Maybe blogging would have flushed out a possible solution we didn’t see at the time. Maybe it would merely have helped me “let go” of the feeling that I had failed a little sooner. In any case, I had done the work of putting the words on paper already: What might I (and others) have gained by sharing?

So, I am going to commit to Raylee and Heather (and to me, and to you, if you’re out there) to do more of this in 2015. Happy New Year.

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