Good, Better, Best

When I put my mind to something, I am like a dog with a bone. And when I decide to make a change in my life, there is absolutely nothing less than 100% as I make the shift. And if there is a guideline, parameter or best practice to follow…I follow it. Take this cleanse I am on, for example. If the book says; no sugar, no caffeine, no nightshade vegetables, then I will not let any of those pass my lips for the duration of the cleanse. It doesn’t even occur to me to bend the rules, even just a little bit.

Hmmm…guess I’m a wee bit Type A, huh? But that’s a topic for another blog post!

images (31)When I decided to give up all animal products at the start of my cleanse sixteen days ago, I had no idea that I was at the very beginning of yet another amazing leg of my journey. The past sixteen days has been truly incredible. With Dr. Brian Cement’s book, Life Force, as a springboard, I have learned more about food and nutrition in the past two weeks than I have learned and truly understood in a lifetime. I feel like a bit of a junky; I am reading books, watching videos, listening to interviews and Googling like crazy on the topic of nutrition and health.

And my focus of all this research is on raw food. I am learning about wheatgrass, blue-green algae, sprouted nuts, seeds, kale, sprouts and living food. I am also learning about oxygenating my blood, enzymes, detoxification and elimination.

raw-food-pyramid_24x24smI have been circling around the raw food lifestyle for a few years now and have never really landed on the remote possibility that it could be for me. I have essentially been eating raw food for the past two weeks and I feel absolutely wonderful. My eczema is clearing up, I have a zippy energy, and I have a feeling of clarity that has been missing for some time.

Knowing my propensity to get completely absorbed by how I choose to live my life, it would be very easy for me to slip into a militant raw food lifestyle. Yesterday’s measly garden salad for lunch was a bit of a reality check for me.

In two days I start my two week holiday. Week one I will be skiing up north with the kids at my mom and dad’s ski chalet. And week two, Simon and I will be in Barcelona. I cannot possibly expect that I can eat 100% raw for those two weeks. I know that my smoothie for breakfast will be raw and that I will be able to find the odd raw restaurant along the way. However, I need to let go of the expectation that I can sustain the way I have been eating the past two weeks while I am on the road.

My Radical Act for today is to allow myself to embrace the fact that I have made a Radical shift in the past two weeks and that I have come a long way in a short period of time. I realize that for this shift to be sustainable, I need to allow myself the time to adapt my lifestyle and always feel free to make the choices that are consistent with my values and appropriate to where I find myself when it is mealtime.

And so, while I am on holiday, I will continue to eat as well as I possibly can and look for every opportunity to make the choices that are consistent with the way I want to eat. What I realize though, is that there will be a good, better and best when it comes to how I nourish myself and that I am consciously and intentionally choosing to embrace and to celebrate all three.

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Happy Cow

I am on Day 9 of my 21-day meat-free Clean Cleanse. Apart from my eczema which, I think, is just beginning to subside, I feel absolutely wonderful. I am loath to make any pronouncements at this point, but I have an inkling that I will not want to go back to eating meat at the end of this 21-day experiment. I am finding my raw vegan diet extremely satisfying and completely delicious. Not to mention the fact that my energy is zippy and my clarity splendid.

The only hitch to my anticipated diet strategy is how to take it on the road for my upcoming holidays.

13-2In just over two weeks Simon and I are travelling to Barcelona for a week (part business and part pleasure). Even though we don’t leave for two weeks, I am already starting to think about and plan our trip. Usually I am thinking clothes, guidebooks and maps. This time, however, I am thinking food, food and food.

I have never travelled to Spain and I have no idea how I am going to feed myself while I am there. I know that I will travel with my Magic Bullet, my raw smoothie protein powder for breakfast and LARA bars for snacks, but what about meals?

Long before I decided to remove meat from my diet, I ran into a wonderful man at Loren’s raw food café who told me about Happy Cow. Happy Cow is a website that enables vegetarians and vegans to locate restaurants all over the world which cater specifically to their needs. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention because, frankly, I didn’t need to. As a card-carrying-carnivore, I could eat anywhere I wanted with little to no fuss.

images (25)However, now all that has changed and I am thrilled to have discovered that there are people out there in the world supporting the vegan and vegetarian world travellers.

Just before jumping on this blog post, Happy Cow informed me that there are 6 vegan restaurants, 33 vegetarian restaurants and 64 health stores right in Barcelona. I even get reviews and descriptions of each and every one of them.

So now, I get to relax and enjoy the happy anticipation of our trip knowing that Happy Cow has my back.

Now, if I could just get Happy Cow to liase with Air Canada to discover what food I can bring on the airplane with me for my seven hour flight… 🙂  images (26)

The End of the Tunnel

rainy-day-in-parisI have been off Prednisone for seven days. And I am on Day Seven of my Clean Cleanse.

Energetically I am feeling more of a spring in my step than I have felt for a very long time. The impact of coming off of Prednisone, removing meat from my diet, and starting a cleanse, is absolutely blowing my mind. And the raw live diet I am eating at the moment is feeling incredibly resonant.

Ironically, while I am feeling this incredible resonance within my body, my eczema has returned full-force. My arms, legs, abdomen and right hand are covered with a red, swollen and painful rash. My arms are the worst…it feels kind of like having a really bad sunburn that doesn’t just hurt but is also itchy to the point of driving me mad. It hurts to wear any clothing on my arms and I am back to waking myself up in the middle of the night scratching like crazy.

25199564-optimistic-word-cloud-concept-with-great-terms-such-as-hopeful-upbeat-happy-and-moreTwo months ago, when I was in the throes of this kind of eczema flare, I felt defeated. I felt powerless and hopeless and I didn’t know where to turn. The only solution I could come up with was to head to my local Emergency Room to cover up the symptoms and to get some much-needed relief. Prednisone did give me the relief I was looking for…but at a very high cost.

Two months later I am feeling more hopeful than I have done in a very long time. I feel like I am on the right track. I feel like I am deep-cleansing my body and that the eczema is simply a by-product of all the junk in my system that just wants out. And now I am living in a way that is going to allow that to happen; exercising regularly, meditating daily, eating a clean diet including wheatgrass, sprouts, blue green algae and lots and lots of pure water.

I am thrilled to realize that I now see a light at the end of the tunnel…and it’s not the oncoming train.

photo light at the end of the tunnel...


I did my very first cleanse three months ago. I had always been reluctant to attempt a cleanse for two reasons; the first being that I was concerned that I would be hungry all the time, and the second being that I had heard horror stories about the physical effects of cleansing and detoxification.

cleanprogram_post (1)Well, it turns out that I was not hungry all the time and actually loved every minute of my cleanse. And, what I hadn’t taken into consideration in terms of the ill-effects of detox, was that I had already given up all the things that cause people so much discomfort; sugar, alcohol, caffeine, dairy, and gluten. So, really, my cleanse was just learning to eat a slightly different combination of foods at more prescribed times.

No sweat at all!

This cleanse, however, is proving to be entirely different.

headaches-cartoonBy about 3:00pm yesterday afternoon, I had a headache so severe I thought that perhaps the top of my head might actually blow off with the pressure. I slept badly last night and when I awoke this morning I felt groggy and disoriented and my head did not feel much better.

By the time I had been up a few hours and had consumed massive amounts of water I could feel the headache easing off slightly. I have been able to function today and, when the house miraculously emptied of all the men in my family, the quiet time did my head a world of good. I even felt well enough to make a Raw Lemon Cheesecake and the process of juicing lemons and grating zest felt both meditative and calming and my headache has been downgraded to just mildly uncomfortable.

I am absolutely amazed that removing meat from my diet is causing me to have this physical reaction. If I were coming off coffee I could understand the headaches. But coming off meat? Seriously?

And while I do not like the sensation of the headache, I am now absolutely fascinated by what is taking place in this miraculous body.

And what will tomorrow bring? I can’t wait to find out!helthy-body-alternative

Life Force

Every once in a while a magnificent non-fiction page-turner drops into my life. And the one that dropped in three days ago, and that I am reading voraciously at the moment, is entitled Life Force by Brian R. Clement. Dr. Clement is the co-director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in south Florida and is an alternative health specialist with thirty years of healing cancer, diabetes, ulcers, depression, IBS, hepatitis, and Crohn’s Disease, to name a few .

lifeforceFive months ago, my friend, Loren, who is a passionate and wonderfully outspoken raw foodie, regaled me with her three week residential experience at the Hippocrates Health Institute. I had never heard of the institute and listened with a combination of horror and fascination as she entertained me with her experience at Hippocrates.

I was certainly fascinated but quickly dismissed Hippocrates and Dr. Clement as having anything to offer me. The foundation of their wellness program is a strict raw vegan diet and as a proud card-carrying-carnivore we were certainly at odds.

I have always loathed the word ‘vegan’. It’s not vegans I have a problem with, just the word they use to classify their way of life. It has always sounded to me like some kind of hostile alien race come to take us over and suck out our brains.

A rational attitude? Certainly not! But there you have it.

So anyway, shortly after the Hippocrates conversation, Loren began to encourage me towards numerous raw vegan recommendations. She also told me about Dr. Clement’s book and recommended it as a good starting point for me. I have no idea why, but I went straight home and ordered it off Amazon. I wasn’t in the least bit interested in entertaining a raw vegan lifestyle but for some reason, possibly to placate Loren if she asked me, I ordered the book.

A few days later it arrived on my doorstep. I carefully unpacked it and placed it on my bookshelf. And, as I did so, I realized that it would likely be in the next school Book Sale before the year was out.

When I wrote about giving up meat during my Clean Cleanse the other day, what I did not mention is that it had been Loren who had challenged me to give it a try. She didn’t even have to push me too hard. It seems I was already primed for her gentle encouragement.

6a00d8341fd10e53ef01a3fc415273970b-800wiI am on Day 4 of the cleanse. I am now four days with no meat and I am not sure I have ever felt the kind of exuberant energy that I have experienced over the past three days. I have felt it in my workshops. I have felt it in my meditations and I have felt it in my workouts at the gym.

I kind of wondered if I was imagining the shift but I really do feel incredible.

I decided to give Dr. Clement’s book a quick glance to see what he had to say about removing meat from my diet. What I really wanted was for him to tell me that I would have more energy and that my eczema would clear up. I wanted to hear the good news story about the three-week choice I had made. I was in no way prepared to get completely and utterly sucked into a stunningly wonderful read about my body, my health and the food that I have been choosing to nourish myself with.

And do you want to hear the craziest thing? I am actually considering the raw vegan lifestyle!

All I can think is that the teacher is always there when the student is ready. Loren was at the gym on Tuesday morning to give me the gentle nudge, Dr. Clement’s book was ready and waiting on my shelf the moment I was ready to read it, and my body was primed for this Radical Act of removing all animal products from my diet.

All I know is that it feels like a quantum shift in the way I am choosing to live my life.

Hey, maybe this is one of those Radical Acts of audacious health that I have been so deliciously anticipating.

I have no idea where this is heading but it sure feels like I’m on one cool and crazy ride10499254-bungee-jumping

The Radical Act of Health Continues

Three months ago I wrote a blog post entitled; A Radical Act of Health. My post pronounced my intention to work toward and to claim audacious physical health over this year. What I did not know at the time was that I was quickly heading toward a health crisis.

clip-art-rollercoaster-347569In the past three months I have been on a roller coaster of health. The peak of the ride came in December when my eczema, which had always been itchy and annoying, flared to a crisis point. My immune system went into overdrive and I was covered with so much eczema I don’t think I have ever felt more miserable in my life. The complete and utter misery finally drove me to an Emergency Room visit on Boxing Day where I happily surrendered to pharmaceutical intervention.

I have been on Prednisone since Boxing Day. The girl who does not even use Advil or Tylenol has been on a heavy oral steroid for almost two months. I tried to come off the Prednisone a month ago and ended up right back where I had been in December. And so, for the past month I have been decreasing my dosage by 1mg per day to try and trick my immune system into believing that all is well.

Unfortunately, the cure is almost as bad as the disease. Prednisone has made my face puffy, my hands shake, and my heart pound. Even when I am settling into bed for the night I still feel as if I am driving around in fifth gear. And as I have been slowly cutting back on the Prednisone, my eczema has begun to rear its ugly head again. I now have eczema on my face and ears and I have never had it there before. It is getting worse, not better. The thought of going back to where I was in December is unthinkable. But staying on Prednisone is neither an option nor a solution.

So what is the solution to this ongoing crisis in my health? I have been asking that question for weeks and have been feeling as if I have been hitting a brick wall in terms of an answer.

The answer came this morning.

flintstoneI have spent the past four months giving up my favourite foods; chocolate, nuts, cocoa, red peppers, spinach, and kale, to name a few. I decided that I would try anything to get my eczema under control. But, really, if I am honest, I was willing to try anything…except removing animal protein from my diet.

It seems that I would do anything as long as I could remain a card-carrying-carnivore.

I have been hiding for months from the probability that giving up meat would radically alter my health. I know that meat is highly acidic, I know that it is inflammatory, I know that it is hard on my digestive system and I know that it drains me of energy. But I have convinced myself that I would starve without it.

Yesterday was my last day of Prednisone. To celebrate, I decided to start a 21-day cleanse this morning to give my body a kick-start into better health. My Clean Cleanse was so successful last fall that I wanted to revisit the feeling. But this time, I have decided to add a little extra.

I am giving up meat for 21 days. I have decided to be brave and bold and courageous. I have decided to do the one thing I thought was impossible for me. Isn’t it funny how what we resist persists?

I am both excited and nervous to see what will happen in the coming weeks. Will my eczema clear up? Will my digestive system calm down? Will my left hand stop aching as if I have arthritis in the joints? Will I have more energy?

Or will I just feel hungry all the time?

I have absolutely no idea what is in store as I continue this journey of Radical Health…but I will keep writing and I hope you will keep reading!A-journey-of-a-thousand-miles

The Saturday Caffeine Blues

As thrilled as I am about the success of my cleanse, I am also aware that I had it easier than many people who launch themselves into any type of detoxification regimen. For the past three years I have been 100% gluten-free and dairy-free. I am not a drinker, I don’t like candy and I absolutely cannot drink coffee because the caffeine makes me feel shaky and unwell. And so, some of the hardest giving-up aspects of cleansing were already well established and no biggie for me.

I have already revealed my weakness for chocolate in a previous post. What I did not mention is that Twining’s Earl Grey tea is another. Earl GreyI am, however, so sensitive to caffeine that I need to indulge sparingly and one cup per day is my maximum. About a month before the cleanse, I got into the habit of waking up early, making a cup of Earl Grey tea and climbing back into bed with my book to quietly start my morning. The smell of the fragrant steam rising from my tea cup first thing in the morning quite simply delighted my senses and I fell in love with a new ritual.

Fortunately, my Earl Grey ritual was not established enough by the time we started our cleanse for it to be a painful loss. I simply replaced Earl Grey with Tazo Vanilla Rooibos (which has a distinctive fragrance also) and kept the lovely, quiet mornings going.

One of my favourite things about Saturday mornings is that my morning tea ritual has extended hours. On a Saturday morning I have been known to read in bed for three hours! This morning, my husband was up first and brought me up a cup of tea. To celebrate the cleanse being finished, I decided to go back to my morning favourite. And, oh man, did I ever enjoy that cup of Twining’s Earl Grey!

It is five hours later and I am still feeling completely and utterly crappy! My body feels shaky on the inside, I have a sort of heavy feeling in my chest and I am absolutely exhausted. It’s all I can do to resist the urge to lie down and sleep-it-off. However, Michael and Zachary are both sporting ripped-up jeans and gaping shoes so I am off to the mall…oh joy, oh rapture. I mean, really, what better place to feel enervated on a Saturday afternoon?

Honestly, my mind is absolutely blown…five hours after one cup of mildly caffeinated tea and I am feeling categorically dreadful.

Talk about coming down from the heights of my cleanse with a crash!

Well…I’m off to the mall. Oh, and did I mention, we also have to return a dead fish to PetSmart?Feeling crappy

A Bittersweet High Five

Twenty one days ago I jumped, with some trepidation, into the unknown realm of cleansing. afraid to jumpTwenty one days later I am thrilled to report that I am a cleansing convert! I actually enjoyed the cleanse so much that I am reluctant to go back to ‘normal’. I even considered extending the cleanse but it felt sort of like clinging onto a good thing that eventually loses its shine. A huge success factor was that, for better or for worse,  my husband and I embarked on this voyage of discovery together. Fortunately for our marriage, it was usually better! 

It’s amazing how curious people are about cleansing and the cool questions I have been asked over the past three weeks. I have decided that to celebrate my wildly successful cleanse I would share the highlights (and maybe for those of you who have considered a cleanse but feel as intimidated as I used to, maybe this will help).

Katie’s Clean Cleanse highlights…

  • Energy: I feel a spring in my step that makes me feel like I have Flubber in my shoes…and it feels wonderful!
  • Happiness: A feeling of happiness on a cellular level…I know that probably sounds weird but I have been working so hard to be happy for years that to feel it just come naturally from somewhere deep inside this miraculous body is mind-blowing.
  • Hunger: I have allowed my body to feel hungry without desperately needing to fill it. And I was NOT hungry the whole three weeks as I had anticipated. I kind of actually liked tuning into hunger when I was feeling it (go figure!)
  • Blood Sugar: Absolutely no blood sugar crashes.
  • My Heart Rate: Not one episode of racing heart…not one.
  • Self-Control: I HAVE it and I am really good at it. And there were very few times, once I got into the swing of the cleanse, that I even needed it.
  • Eczema and Hives: Significantly calmed.
  • Colourful Lunches: Being limited to certain foods encouraged me to expand my boring repertoire of the same foods week after week; bright orange squash, vibrant purple cabbage and brilliant green Brussels sprouts to name a few. heathly_heart_vegetables_400_400_s
  • One Meal per Day: Knowing that I was only preparing one meal per day gave me the energy and drive to prepare a really delicious meal. I am usually a reluctant cook but I discovered abundant mid-day energy that I exuberantly channeled into lunch preparation. And it occurs to me that if I have more energy to prepare it, then doesn’t that also mean that my body has more energy to digest it? Something to think about.
  • Time With my Husband: I absolutely loved having lunch every day (except for a few days we were running workshops) with my husband. It was time right in the middle of the day to sit down, relax and enjoy a quiet meal together (with no kids around to draw our attention elsewhere).
  • Sense of Accomplishment: I know that my little cleanse does not crack the top one million on the scale of global importance but I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Three weeks ago I thought I would be relieved and delighted to be looking at the back end of my first cleanse. The reality is that the high five at the finish line has just a tinge of the bittersweet! High Five

Happy Friday! 🙂

Feel the Meal

You are what you eat’ is an adage that is so commonly quoted it has very little meaning for me. If I were to give this pithy little saying any consideration at all it would occur to me that if I want to be fit and healthy I need to eat good food. And that definition has served me just fine…until now.

I am on Day 14 of my Clean Cleanse and I’m feeling better than I have felt in a long time. I have abundant energy, hunger is not constantly distracting me, I am eating mindfully, cooking healthy food in completely new ways and not feeling the constant ups and downs of my blood sugar. Emotionally, I am feeling happy, sparkly and more optimistic than ever before.

I had my lunch at 12:30 today and did not have another bite of food until 7:30 this evening. That is seven hours without a morsel of food- absolutely unheard of for me. Usually I get so hungry between meals I end up with the shakes. And when I did eat at 7:30 tonight it was a pleasant meal, not an all-out pig fest.

You are what you eat’ has taken on an entirely new meaning for me. I am realizing that I am actually feeling what I eat. I am living the notion that what I put in my mouth informs how I feel after my meal. It may sound crazy to those of you who have already had this epiphany but this is a Radical shift for me.

I feel the meal!

I have 7 days left in my cleanse and I am actually dreading the end. I don’t want to give up this feeling. I have discovered the proverbial fountain of youth, vitality and life spark and I don’t want to go back to the way I felt before.

So how do I keep it going? Do I become a vegetarian? A vegan? A raw foodie? I really don’t know but I am sure looking forward to the discovery of the Radical Act of living my food in a whole new way.

You are what you eat

Hi…My Name is Starving!

I am one of the hungriest people I know. When I am eating breakfast I am thinking about what I will have for lunch. When I am eating lunch I am already thinking about dinner. I don’t ever skip meals. Heck, I don’t even skip snacks! It seems I am always hungry and I get kind of panicky if I don’t have a snack on hand.

This insatiable appetite earned me one of my most ridiculous nicknames at camp the summer I was 14. We had travelled up to camp by bus and arrived just before lunchtime. By the time we found our tents, met our counsellors and got unpacked I was well and truly starving. We made our way to the dining hall and sat with our tent groups. My counsellor, Sue, had all the serving bowls lined up in front of her and was dishing out the food. I was so hungry I didn’t hear her ask us to let her know what we wanted and didn’t want on our plates. So when she (finally!!!!) got around to me I just told her…”I’m starving!” Her quick response was; “it’s nice to meet you Starving and what would you like for lunch?” Sue called me ‘Starving’ for the rest of my career at that camp and if I were to run into her at a camp reunion she would probably still use that nickname.

I’m starving”.

To this day there are certain diet-related words that are just not part of my lexicon; diet, fast, cut down, cleanse. It is the final word in that list that has always felt particularly unpleasant and perplexing. Cleanse. I have never been able to understand why people would actually choose to give up all their favourite foods to be hungry for 21 days! I mean, really!

You might be surprised to hear that I am on Day 11 of a cleanse. Yes, Starving is halfway through her very first cleanse. And the great news is that I am NOT starving! I stumbled across this cleanse when I was out west in September and as much as I tried to ignore the good sense and the nutritional science behind it, I just could not. So, on October 25th my husband and I took the leap and embarked on the 21-day Clean CleanseClean

It’s really very simple; a liquid breakfast, a regular lunch (from the approved foods list) and a liquid dinner followed by a 12 hour fast. No gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no nightshades (potato, tomato, eggplant, peppers), no eggs, no beef, pork or processed meat, no alcohol and (much to my husband’s chagrin) no caffeine.

I am astonished to report that what I thought was going to be fairly torturous is really easy and kind of fun. And I am experiencing hunger in a whole new way. Rather than immediately filling the need, I am being with my hunger. I am embracing it as an amazing experiment and listening to my body. And I am less hungry than I have ever been.

And, the best part…when I awakened in the cold and dark of this November Monday morning I was struck by a miraculous realization…I am happy! I am really, truly, feeling happiness. I am not deciding to be happy, not working at being happy…I just am. It’s as if a heavy weight has been lifted from me and I am now kind of dreading the end of the cleanse. Go figure!

And so, Starving is turning in her old handle for a new one; Radical Queen of the Cleanse, perhaps?