The Cleanse, Part I

Sometimes we find ourselves in an inexplicable phase of “leveling up.” I blame Trump. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, since the beginning of this year, I have been stretching myself to do more and be more, in ways that have seemed difficult or impossible in the past. I’ve witnessed other friends, both near and far, making big life changes as well.

So perhaps there is something about being faced with evil that kicks us all into action. After all, the Death Star is not going to destroy itself. The God of War isn’t going to go down easily. (Couldn’t help but throw in a Wonder Woman reference.)

On a related note, my husband and I are going on two weeks of the Whole 30 diet, which is more accurately a food “cleanse.” Eric has been a total purest with the program, while I have taken a few missteps here and there. If you don’t know what Whole 30 is, you might think it’s a form of unnecessary torture since eating sugar, dairy, and grains (just to name the big ones) are all off limits. Oh, did I mention alcohol? I’ve slipped almost every day with the last one. It’s hard to explain how emotionally attached we are to food and wine/beer until we start cutting these things out. As you may know, I “suffer” from what could be considered chronic anxiety, so allowing a beer or even a half a beer at night when I am already going without dessert, bread, sweet creamer for my coffee, and cheese seems forgivable. Sue me.

This emotional attachment to food that has been written about in Whole 30 recipes books and information, is no joke. Maybe you know this already. Maybe I am preaching to a choir of folks who have been there and done that, but facing my emotional attachment to peanut butter (no legumes either) and chocolate has been truly eye-opening. I have had moments of raw irritation and tears for no rational cause. I have have had days where I struggle to get off the couch and others where I could challenge the Road Runner to a sprint down the block. I am a mess. Go figure. I didn’t need Whole 30 to know that, I suppose.

So what’s the big deal? What’s all the fuss? Why should I subject myself to intense mood swings and shifts in energy level?

I think I am figuring it out. It’s like running, actually. I never knew I’d be able to run a mile or two without coughing up a lung. I didn’t know my body could adjust to constant pushing; I thought it might collapse underneath the master’s whip.

A segment on NPR’s On Being, called “Running as Spiritual Practice” reinforces my own experience. In this episode, wherein a number of runners talk about how they started running and the discipline and stillness the practice has brought them, one woman runner proclaimed, “Once I learned to run, I wondered what else had I been lying to myself about!” Learning to run had given her a glimpse of what she was made of, that she was capable of accomplishments beyond her wildest dreams. Her own faulty perception of herself began to crumble.

And I think this is it. When we put forth any serious effort, we realize that we are capable of greatness. We are capable of growing and changing. We can actually improve our little selves and our seemingly tiny lives. We can see glimpses into new dimensions, into galaxies once impossibly far and away.




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