It's Day 11 of my 30-day cleanse, and I'm noticing how many people associate the term "cleansing" with fasting and/or extreme dieting. I'm getting a lot of wide-eyed wonder that may be a bit misplaced. There are oh-so-many ways to clear the body of toxins and countless detox plans out there... many of which require pretty hard core deprivation. It's a little crazy-making for many people to consider weaving a cleanse into their daily lives. So how have I been doing it? By educating myself and carving out a unique plan that works for me.
Admittedly, having a live-in partner in crime (& cleansing) does make the process easier. Thus far we've abstained from all carbs, grains, soy, gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and most sugars (disclaimer: we're allowing a bit of honey and raw cacao here and there - rebels that we are). We're still eating loads of veggies, many fruits, fish and lean meats. Next week we will kick things into hyperdrive a little, letting go of meats and doing a short stint of raw juicing... but only as long as our bodies respond willingly. Starvation isn't on our agenda. The final phase will add in the final elements: purging and clearing of physical space + a much-needed digital detox.
Now that I've passed through the homicidal hrrummph! of withdrawal... things are really humming along and I'm reminded again why I do this. CLARITY. No, not in some holier-than-thou kind of sense... but literal clarity. My mind is sharpening and opening up to new possibilities. My emotions are leveling out; way less irritation, way more joy. And my physical energy is buzz-buzz-buzzing at a natural high from the time I wake up until my head hits the pillow at night.
No more dramatic crashes or cravings throughout the day. Way less knee-jerk responses to the heart-hunger that gnaws from within. Just the space to ground and be me, without the perpetual interruption of chronic imbalance and need.
And yes, of course my body is changing too... a thick layer of chronic inflammation is dissipating, making me look and feel lighter. Add to that, my systems are already functioning more optimally; I'll spare you the gory details there!
Why am I telling you all this?
This post isn't only a shameless share of self-celebration (which I encourage us all to do from time to time!)... it's also a reminder and call to action for any of you out there who've been wanting to cleanse or clear - literally or metaphorically - but aren't sure you can do it. May this post be a reminder that in ANY arena of your life you'll be much more likely to take the leap and reach your goal if you take authority and personally author the steps along the way.
Be open to the knowledge of the experts; heed the cautionary wisdom of the experienced. Yet if outside perspective has you in a holding pattern, you might need to give them both the finger and chart your own course.
Just some clutter-free food for thought.
Today's a shit storm of emotion for me... my keep-your-shit-together dam is bursting at the seams. I'm on day two of a detox and for those of you who've never been through one, take it from me... it's not for the faint of heart. MY idea of a cleanse does not involve starving; only abstinence from substances that provide solace outside the realm of nutrition.
And so... all of the ugly I've been masking, all the feelings I've been stuffing, every deeper craving I've disowned in the past year is coming up like a surging fountain spilling at my feet. It's pooling there, creating a mirror for me to look into.
Let's just say I'm not really loving everything I see.
So why do it?...
This choice (what some might consider self-denial) is becoming my annual spiritual departure from just that... the daily denial of self. Without my habitual addictions there's nowhere to turn from the honest-to-god truth inside. No sweets to sooth an ancient anxiety. No caffeine to conquer my raging resistance. No grains to soak up the beautiful ugly messes I've made.
Just me, no longer running from self.
Seeing it all for what it is.
It's deeply uncomfortable.
And it's profoundly worth it.
Over the course of the next month, I know from experience that I will continue waking up to myself in ways that I have been avoiding. However uncomfortable it might be, burning through these early days of discomfort will do more than clear my body of toxins, it will clear the same from my heart and mind.
I get my courage from sharing with you.
So thanks for listening.
P.S. Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be in advocacy of cleansing as a right of passage, per se. It's in support of *whatever it is* you brave in favor of the truth.
And then yesterday happened. Life stepped in to put me evermore to the test. My stepdad, who has been ill for some time now, died early Tuesday morning. I woke to a message from my mom sobbing; no matter how old I get the sound of my mom crying tears me to pieces. I won't go into the countless layers of emotion surrounding his death for me, but suffice to say it's complex... since then it's been roughly 24 hours of on/off self-torturous inner dialogue.
As it typically is with emotional surges, deep cravings rose to meet them on cue - techniques of self-soothing I have used most of my life to medicate through emotional pain. Last night, I wanted to crawl inside of a loaf of bread slathered with butter and let it cushion me forever. Lattes, martinis, french fries... they called out to my heaviness with familiar and intoxicating recognition.
And I said no... I said, "no thanks" to every. single. urge.
Not because I have to say no. Nor because I believe it's wrong to engage the pleasures of food and drink. (ha! I'm a total foodie, are you kidding me?!) I'm not at all interested in being some sort of nutritional martyr - self-righteous denial has nothing to do with my choices here.
I won't give into my cravings because I made a promise to myself... 30 days, no matter what. Every single day that I wake up in integrity with any vow I make to me I gain - not just greater health (that's just the icing) - I gain confidence that I have the power to design my life as I see it. Not to mention I gain access to yet another beautiful-ugly blessing; this time I deal with my emotions by looking at them versus drowning them in denial. I'll let you know how that goes. ;)
In the meantime, how about you? Are you keeping the promises you make to yourself?
A Special Message to my Zumba Students & Friends:
There IS such a thing as too much of a good thing. And I mean a genuinely good thing... I’m not talking about binging on bon-bons. I’m talking about a thing that lights you up from the inside. Dance does that for me. Movement and the liberation it brings. I can honestly say that it has saved my life on more than one occasion. But that story is for another day...
Most of you already know that I love me some ass shakin’. My specific passion has morphed throughout the years (Nia, martial arts, hoopdance). Since January 2009, it has been Zumba.... liberating, joy-inducing, wild-woman, sensuality-celebrating Zumba.
It does a body good. To a point.
What lights you up can burn you out. Choose moderation.
Experts say that moderate exercise can boost your immune system and contribute to overall health. Moderate, folks. Now call me crazy, but 7-9 Zumba classes a week isn’t exactly moderate. As you know, Zumba is a crazy fun, all-out booty blasting workout that pumps high-energy from minute-one all the way to the end. Sure, we build in some dips here and there. But there is no room for deep breathing. Interval format, yes. Restorative movement, not so much. Heads up, ladies (and you rare but fearless hip-girating gents)... ya gotta balance your muscle with grace. I don’t know how many times I’m gonna have to learn this one. And you can step down from your pedestals mind-body practitioners... even modalities that promise both (ie. yoga, Nia, hoopdance) can be overdone in spades due to our incessant desire to push it to further limits. Trust me, I have severely scalded myself on all counts. Thankfully, my body is sending me a very clear message once again...
After three years of pretty much non-stop teaching each week, my immune system is crashing. Big time. I have been sick more in the past year and a half than I have in the ten years prior. No joke. My body is in crisis-mode, and I have no choice but to listen. Of course my dance schedule is not solely at fault. Far from it. As a multi-passionate entrepreneur I have created a rigorous work schedule for myself, balancing paying the bills (working late into the night) with building a business during the day. Add to that loss of a dear loved one two years ago, and you’ve got a prescription for an emotional and physical body teetering toward imbalance. Oh, and did I mention that my diet could also use some improvement?
Hang out long enough on the edge, and eventually you’ll fall over.
As a result, I will be altering my schedule and my priorities, effective immediately. I will be going down to teaching only four classes per week. Yep, I’m gonna workout like a civilian. ;) And I will also be taking of August 5-11 for my birthday and some much needed me-time. Damn straight, and I deserve it! I know some of you will be disappointed at the changes, but I can promise that the space afforded will expand into into bigger projects that will inspire you on every level.
The biggest change will be at NW Women’s Fitness Club, where I will no longer be teaching regular classes. I have been with some of you ladies for many years, and I will miss you dearly. I have received a tremendous amount of love and support in that space, and I am a better woman for having known and danced with you all.
As many of you know, in 2009 I launched the Zumba program there. It has been a massive success, an achievement that continues to be a highlight of my teaching career, even winning me an award! And now that same program has grown to include a magnificent team of women who are passionately committed to your fitness and fun-time. That being said, I want to use what limited authority to offer a couple more very important reminders to all of my students out there.
First let me say that I appreciate SO much your words of praise and love around my teaching. After over a decade of teaching and sharing what I love, it moves me to tears to think that I have such a loyal and grateful following. I truly savor each and every moment of celebration for the talents that I’ve worked so hard to develop.
On the flip side, it pains me when I hear that other teachers are being held to unfair standards. Don’t get me wrong, ladies... feel free to like what you like, speak your mind when you don’t get what you want... but please, let us remember not to alienate ourselves from connection by attaching ourselves to one way of doing something. It is perfectly natural to be attached to one teacher’s style, to resonate with someone. And it is also unreasonable to expect (or desire) that someone else emulate it. I passionately believe that every person has a unique gift to bring to dance and teaching. Please don’t miss all that good stuff oozing forth right in front of you by wanting him or her to be someone else. I am sure you know from a lifetime of relationships, that doesn’t bring out the best in anyone.
You will see better when you expect better.
In my early days I was the studio manager and primary guest teacher for Nia’s founders. It took a tremendous amount of personal power and courage for me to step up in front of a room full of people who expected me to deliver at the highest standard possible; to stand in and hold a candle to the experts. At times, I could feel boredom and eyes rolling behind me. I imagined thought bubbles popping up over the students’ heads: “I wish Debbie was here.”... “Has it been an hour yet?”... “Who IS she and why in the hell is she doing THAT?” Of course some of this was nerves and may not have been based in reality, but it zapped my energy and my joy nonetheless. I never taught at my best when I was distracted by an air of disappointment in the room. I eventually learned to plug into the students who seemed to want to be there... the ones who genuinely wanted me to succeed. By anchoring into my peeps, I regained my center and found my own style. Over time, the people who didn’t vibe with me moved on, and I slowly developed my own following.
The point is, if you want to see ANY teacher at her best, flash her your most winning smile... cheer her on and mean it... take charge of your own joy... lift the energy in the room. That gorgeous creature in front of you has every right to shine in her own way. Please do your best not to inadvertently make her wrong for her uniqueness or her learning curve. She is doing her very best to serve you.
That being said... if, by chance, her style isn’t polished enough or just doesn’t sit right with you. No problem! But please check-in with yourself before you make it about her... or the management... or about anyone else. It’s your experience. Own it. Speak your truth without complaining or making anyone wrong. Own your right to make a choice, and walk on. Or better yet, keep experimenting with an open mind until you find a right fit!
When you own your experience, THEN you have the power to change it.
Ok. I will step from my soapbox now. ;) I just hate for you to miss out on all the magic of the moment by wishing it could be different. It is a wonderful feeling to be appreciated by you all... yet my most heartfelt desire (far beyond fame or accolades of any kind) is to inspire you to live and walk fully in your power. That is my real work.
I love you all dearly... and my heart aches a little in the letting go. But such is the price of change. I am 100% confident (seriously, I am that certain) that we will all gain something in this transition. IF we are open enough to see it. As always, I welcome your comments below. xo!
And if you like what I bring to class, you will love what I bring to coaching. Why not spend some quality time with me one-on-one? As an incentive, I’ve got a deal that will knock your socks off...
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