It is post-fast day 35. I said I’d touch base with you on post-fast day 15, but I am just now able to write. I’ve been on the road trip of a lifetime, the long way home on our move back to Florida from Oklahoma. I’m tossing the idea around about writing of it, later this summer, maybe during the month of August, since juice fasting seems to be taking over my blog for the first months of summer.
While it is still technically spring in most of the rest of the country, summer has begun her humid dance in east central Florida, where both my husband and I grew up, 10 minutes from the Atlantic ocean and surrounded by a plethora of bodies of water – the Indian River, Banana River, and Sykes Creek, among others. Oh, how I love a Florida summer! Before I update you on the juice-fast particulars, I’ll rabbit trail for a paragraph and tell you what I love most about summertime in the sunshine state….
Stacks of fiction waiting on my bedside table to be read. Ambitious culinary plans that I’m too tired to carry out during the school year – learning how to make authentic Spanish paella, making mozzarella and canning salsa and tomatoes and pickles, making my own soap and drying out herbs that I’ve grown myself. A flourishing vegetable garden with huge heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy on the vines. My eternal struggle with caterpillars. The morning chatter of the hundreds of different bird species that live in my neighborhood alone. Afternoon thunderstorms that beg you to take a nap to the boom and clatter of their staccato parade, and then awaken you with the silence and gleam of a newly washed world where the sun shines cool on all the wet, and the toads hop out for the evening. The smell of the river – a living, brown, striving smell of all that flows and swims beneath the surface. Days that are full of contented exploration. Mornings spent at the beach with friends. Taco night. And going to church sunburned. I love the smell of the pool and the sound of the filter. Flip-flops. Collecting seashells. The thick, sultry, moist green tropical vegetation everywhere, and the tiny insects that wait to be wondered at on every leaf and stem and petal.
I will stop now, because this is turning into a post about Florida summers, and I have all summer to write about that….
Post-fast I am doing great. I knew the 30 days following the fast would crucial for establishing new and good habits. One thing I’ve had to learn, surprisingly, is to give myself a little grace to have the occasional sweet or potato chip or non-Spartan food. At first I was really strict, which is probably good. And at first, when I would have something bad, I would be full of fear that I had ruined everything, and so I would immediately start beating myself up about it and recommit to living like a culinary monk.
However, I quickly realized that this isn’t realistic for me. Or desirable. I love to cook, I love to try new foods and read cookbooks and watch the cooking channel on tv, etc. So it’s not going to work if it isn’t realistic with who I am. And that’s what I had to come to terms with. For the most part, I have been sticking close to fruits and veggies for my meals and snacks, but I have had frozen yogurt a few times, and some amazing Mexican food on our road trip, and I even allowed myself some of my old favorite snack – salt n vinegar chips – the other day. All of these treats have been allowed through the lens of self-discipline, and I treat each one of them as a choice, which gives a lot more value and thought than just reaching for the nearest unhealthy food. I have learned to actually turn my eating habits into a choice with limitations and caution. I feel strong and I feel free. And peaceful, which is such a blessing.
I have changed. That’s the important part. Not just my outsides, but the way I view food and indulgence and strength and freedom. I no longer need these foods to make me feel good, to make me feel like I am in control, and free. They were the opposite of those things, and I was deceiving myself. Food seems like such a simple thing, but in our entitled American culture, it is very much an emotional, spiritual, physical and mental thing. Food is very psychological, and you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat.
Disciplines that help me to fill up on healthy choices and not bad ones are:
1. Drinking a whole glass of water in between each meal, and before each meal, so I don’t confuse thirst for hunger.
2. Splitting a meal with my husband if we eat out, and ordering a side salad, which I eat first, with my glass of water, and only have a few (tasty) bites of the entrée we ordered.
3. Eating a piece of fruit as a snack before considering anything else.
4. Having a boiled egg in the morning, instead of fried or scrambled with butter, with a piece of fruit, and maybe a piece of toast, and my coffee.
5. Asking myself if I’m truly hungry before I eat something. Often, I’m not. I’m just bored, or thirsty, or trying to avoid doing something that I need to do, like writing or cleaning or going to bed.
6. Writing lists of healthy meal options to put on the fridge for those days when I’m brain-dead and liable to eat chocolate for breakfast, cheese for lunch and ice cream for dinner. Oh, you don’t have those days? Lucky you.
7. Enjoying every bite of food, and eating slowly. Dining is a new concept for me. We should dine, not wolf it down in the car on our way to soccer practice for the kids. Slow down, sit down, eat slowly, and talk with those you love. Dine.
My addiction was broken in the fast, but I still have a healthy amount of respect for my weakness in this area, and I’m not going to be stupid about it.
I’ve also started running again. I’m up to about 3 miles right now, though I only run about half of it, but I briskly walk the rest. I’m hoping to be at 6 miles by the end of the summer, and running 30 miles a week or so. I’m also doing some push ups and crunches for my abs and arm muscles, so I can tone up a bit.
I lost 24 lbs. in the juice fast, and I’ve gained about 5 back, which is totally normal, once you start eating again. Now, in order to get to my ultimate goal weight, which was to lose 30 lbs total, and which is also within a healthy BMI, albeit on the low side, I will be running, continuing my healthy diet, and possibly doing one more long juice-fast this summer. Maybe not for 30 days, but perhaps for 21, just to get myself to that finish line that will mean so much for me.
It was so much fun to have you along for this journey, that if I do one more long fast this summer, I’ll bring you along with me, so you can be witness to my final arrival in goal-weight country, and perhaps be inspired to take action for your own health goals.