At the time, I was working as a Personal Assistant to a CEO of a hedge fund in Manhattan. This job was no joke. There was always sooo much to do. I was your typical NYC work-a-holic at a finance firm, working as many hours as the investment team and analysts - often times more. I barely saw the light of day. I almost never left the office as we all ate lunches at our desks. 7 pm turned into 9 pm and then often times 10 pm+. Dinner would be ordered in, also eaten at the desk. I'd take a car service home to Brooklyn, then often times take care of more work emails from the blackberry. I also saved every bit of money I could and spent my weekends investing in real estate. I was so driven to be financially self-reliant (I think due to growing up poor). I also was the breadwinner and hoped that I could one day take a break and raise some kids. So I was trying to fund my motherhood years so that I could do that. And I gave it my all.
And all this time (years), I was so driven that there was about ZERO care for my physical body. Even going to the bathroom seemed like it got in the way of my work. (That can be New York for you. And I was a complete sucker.)
Lunch often came late in the day when I realized, "Oh, I haven't eaten lunch yet. Or breakfast. Crap." Nearly every second seemed occupied with working instead of caring for my own needs. Though, of course, it would be almost a guarantee that I would have eaten a morning pack of M&Ms and a pack of Oreos from the fully stocked candy cupboard at work. Work paid for lunch, so eventually when I ordered, I would just get whatever sounded good...and dessert would often be ordered in, too (Carnegie Deli cheesecake anyone?) Being slim can have it's disadvantages as it's easy to get away with eating unhealthy foods.
As you can imagine, my physical body and hormones were amuck. Combine this lifestyle with nearly zero spiritual practices or emotional abilities. And a marriage that for years had offered no feeling of security whatsoever. Oh my.
I had monthly headaches - sometimes severe. I had PMS - sometimes severe. I had cramps. Even though I was thin, I noticed that my stomach was often bloated in response to what I was eating. My skin was never clear. I had anxiety [social anxiety, fear of planes going down or subways being blown up (it was post 9/11), anxiety over losing my husband.] Later on I started to get some serious fatigue during the day and often wished I could take a nap at my desk. And at one point - because of a record low with my husband's state and his declarations and plans, I actually felt dead. That's the only way I can describe it. No life. No energy. Dead.
And this was nearly the state I was in when I met this spiritual healer.
Can't you just see that starting with my physical body was the #1 place to start?? I think that's the case with just about all of us. I think it's really, really hard to be in harmony with your spirit when we're not being kind to ourselves. And so...
The first thing she had me do was keep a food diary.
Ohhhhhh.......yikes......that was a wake-up call. Just the practice of this helped me to eat healthier foods because I was mortified to write down "Nutter Butters" and "a handful of chocolate kisses" at 10 am. Likewise, I didn't want my lunches to start at 4 pm (due to being "too busy" and also that candy cupboard.) And so, I started deliberately setting aside time to actually nourish my body. I ate breakfast! Ha! I tried to order lunch earlier. I started snacking on healthier foods and cut back on sugar. And...I cut out gluten at her suggestion. "Cold turkey" she said. And so, cold turkey it was.
Here is a sampling that I still have in my phone under "Food Diary." This was the beginning, and while not perfect, this was a really, really good start compared to what I had been eating:
10:00 am - Banana. Puffed Brown Rice with a little whole milk (I was not dairy free at the time.)
12:00 pm - Rice Crackers
1:00 pm -Organic Green Split Pea and Carrot Soup. Hemp Smoothie with Banana, Blueberry, Omega supplement, Rice Milk.
8:00 pm - Bowl of Beans with grated cheese.
10:00 am - Bowl of Gluten-Free Oatmeal
1:00 pm - Cashew Chicken with Broccoli and Brown Rice
4:00 pm - Snacked on Terra Vegetable Chips
7:30 pm - 1 Chicken Enchilada w/ corn tortilla, Bowl of Beans
9:00 pm - Friends over. 1 Gluten-Free Brownie and Icecream
10:00 am - Greek Yogurt and Honey
11:00 am - Almonds
2:00 pm - (2) Chicken Tacos (w/ cheese, lettuce, tomato), Side of Black Beans
8:00 pm - Baramundi Fish w/ garlic and olive oil, side of Sauteed Carrots
10:00 am - Organic Peach Yogurt, Rice Crackers
2:00 pm - Turkey Chili with white beans, hominy, bell peppers, carrots, a little cheese
4:00 pm - 1/2 cup Puffins corn cereal, Raw Cashews
7:00 pm - Taco Soup (beans, tomatoes, corn, organic ground beef, cheddar). Side of raw carrots and hummus.
So, the food diary. It changed.my.life!!
It made me accountable and started a new pattern. My spiritual healer wanted to see it each week when I met with her for acupuncture. And so I dutifully recorded my food. And then she'd say, "Let's do this again this week." And I'd do it again. I kept the food diary for maybe 6 wks.
I really, really have to give it a lot of credit because for the first time in years I was CONSCIOUS of what I was eating. And I was intentionally trying to NOURISH my body with nutrition. This required setting aside extra time to care for myself, something I had not been doing for years.
The physical changes that took place in me were unbelievable. Eating healthier foods was one thing, but being gluten-free brought me vitality that shocked me...
-I had what felt like never ending amounts of energy.
-My stomach became flat as a pancake - no more bloating (for me, this is directly related to gluten).
-I no longer even thought about taking a nap.
-My face glowed and people would comment on it. And...
-My PMS, headaches & cramps disappeared. I mean...GONE-ZO!!! I haven't had them since!!!
But even greater than the physical changes was the spiritual awakening that began to take place. It was like I became so connected to life, to my potential, to my soul, to my worth. I went from feeling "dead" to this & this. (These were two photographs that I happened to have taken right at the beginning of this transformation. I swear, I became a different person.) My anxiety disappeared. My self-worth increased. Since my body was well and had what it needed, it was like I had an abundance of energy...energy that I could use to heal, to reach new levels of worth and potential, and to pursue virtues like love, gratitude and forgiveness. That takes some good, healthy energy. And if you don't have any of that energy stored up...I think emotional healing can be very, very difficult.
There is more to come. But today - for starters - I thought I would just put this out there...
Does anyone want to do a food diary? :) :) :)
Perhaps you are wanting to change your life; perhaps you are wanting to cut out gluten or dairy or sugar or caffeine or any foods you're sensitive to or addicted to; perhaps you want to just eat better snacks; or eat a healthy amount of food (whether it is more or less). Whatever your goals are, I encourage you to start a food diary now. I'm telling you, it's empowering!!! It can be the beginning of a new life. I'm proof of that. :)
And, find someone to share your food diary with! I think that is key as it makes you accountable. Or, if you'd like, I invite you to use the comment section here to record your foods. :) :) :) Yes. Sounds crazy, I know. But it could be a helpful way to stay committed to something. And it might even be inspiring to see other people doing this with you. It could be a way for us to swap some healthy food ideas and perhaps as readers here we could offer some support to each other. Of course, you could do it anonymously if you'd like. Let's do this for ONE WEEK and see what happens. Thursday to Thursday. Anybody game? My first bit is in the comments.
(I took these photos in Prospect Park last spring.)
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