Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fast Not Furious: Why Denial Can be a Master Cleanse for the Soul!

I was raised Catholic and throughout childhood watched my darling Mima deny herself sweets every spring for Lent. This was a massive sacrifice for my chocolate adoring grandmother.

While as kids we didn't really understand why she did it, we knew that when Winnie Brennan finally enjoyed chocolate on Easter Sunday, it was the most delicious thing she'd ever had.

So that's exactly what fasting does! It makes the things you cherish even more delicious..... but is that the only thing we can learn from fasting?

We've all heard of people who delve into Master Cleanses, Detoxes, and all sorts of other types of body and food restrictions. "I'm on a vegan fast." "I'm doing a juice cleanse." and the prevailing response from nutritionists is that it's just not all that good for you.

I absolutely disagree.
I think that a good fast,
a mindful period of self-denial
 can be just what a body needs.

Last year for Lent, I gave up men. I gave up dating, flirting, socializing, kissing and everything else that had to do with men. I needed a major reality check on the kinds of guys I was spending time with and the types of relationships I found myself developing. I'd received some pretty confusing post divorce advice about re-entering the world of dating and was lost, more than often heart broken and generally a bit of a mess. I wrote about it every day in a blog called "Naked with Chanel No.5" which is now being looked at for my next book.

When I broke that fast, went out on a date, kissed a guy - I realized that while it seemed super cool, it was also way too early to re-open those doors. I had changed during that mindful fast and learned what mattered to me about the thing I couldn't have for those forty days. Allowing myself time was the healthiest choice.

Denying myself what I'd gotten pretty used to,
turned out to be a very good idea.

This year, I'm taking on Lent with an Ethiopian Orthodox fast. (Yes, I know - an Ethiopian Fast sounds like a rude joke - but it's not.) I'm working with an Ethiopian NGO called Project Mercy and while spending time in the most rural areas of Ethiopia, I witnessed true poverty and sacrifice, kids who walk seven miles round-trip to go to school and survive on 24 ounces of food a day. I wanted to find a way to further my experience there - keep mindful of what I saw, and commit to being changed by the journey.

Project Mercy - Yetebon, Ethiopia - Photograph by Dewey Kebert

Following the Christian Orthodox tradition, I don't eat before noon (a total Western diet "no - no") and when I do eat, I'm vegan (really tough when training for a marathon). Except on Sundays, those days are free-days, (according to my friend Randall who knows more about Ethiopia than I do.)

Since I'm a total meat eating, early rising, exercising, power breakfast fan - this is a pretty big deal. I'm into day 15 and it's been tough. Traveling this last week meant that I had to try to figure out how to stay focused during early morning research interviews and eat vegan in Indiana. In Indiana, even green beans have meat. I'm walking the marathon to prevent injury. I'm a little hungry. I'm little grumpy. I'm also kinda sad I only have 25 days left because I'm learning a lot about what it is to use food as fuel and be grateful for what I have been given. (I've also lost 6 pounds)

I briefly broke the fast and had scallops and cheese yesterday. My body was none too pleased with that unexpected misstep. Sorta like what happened when I broke my last fast and my heart was none too pleased.

I think the experts might be wrong. I think cleanses are necessary. The only challenge I have for you, is that you are mindful when you start and learn something from it.

Cool - What are you cleansing your body from and why? How can you choose to keep your body cleaner down the road?

Time for a  Raw Detox?

OK - What processed toxins have you filled yourself with that you need to remove? What processes in your process can you change to eliminate the toxic for good?

Your body is your temple.
Maintain it well
and others will worship it.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

A Power Blonde Gets Camera Ready - 1 Min - 5 Minute Makeover Not much more too it than that! Here's how I go from just a wee bit mid workday drab, to super camera cute for appearances like the ones on Huff Post Live! It's a five minute job if you start with the right tools. I'm a Laura Mercier and Nars kinda girl!