Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Problem with Cleansing

Ah, its January, so in holistic/yoga/health nut circles, that means its time for a cleanse!

While most people consider cleaning up their diet, exercising more, or losing weight, the health-concious-iest among us have to take it a step further. If you're already vegan, gluten-free, etc, what else can you eliminate? Enter the "cleanse."

The term is unfortunately typically associated with the "juice cleanse," which entails some number of days where only clear-ish fluids are consumed, and unfortunately, those fluids do not include scotch. If you own one of these noisy, expensive machines, that means you have the honor of watching pounds of perfectly good fruit and vegetables pulverized into a few ounces of disgusting liquid (I'm looking at you, kale), all while making the kind of mess in your kitchen where your husband comes home and feels lucky he has my psychiatrist on speed-dial.

I you are either 1) a celebrity or 2) lazy and bad with money, you can sign up for a service who will deliver your juice to you. Considering how weak you'll be from only drinking juice, this will prove crucial. Especially because your ass will be glued to your toilet seat.

You see, to the "holistic" crowd, cleanse really means one thing: ceaseless diarrhea. The uninitiated hear "clearing toxins from the liver" and are told of occasional skin breakouts, but waaay too much euphemism is used when it comes to the colonic effects of juice.

Like this, but on a toilet. 
This is because of the way water moves back and forth across your gut. Remember that from biology class in high school? Do people still learn about the movement of water from areas of high concentration to low concentration? Like this:

Anyways, when you drink water thats full of sugars and particles that are NOT absorbed by the body, it actually pulls more water into your gut. So even through you're drinking a ton of liquid, you can actually end up shitting out even more.

Also, all that sugar is feeding the garden of bacteria in your gut. As those bacteria eat the sugar that you're not absorbing, they create gas. So not only will you be peeing from your butt, you can also look forward to filling the yoga studio will enough farts to set off a fire alarm.

I'm obviously being facetious. The truth is, the occasional juice cleanse rarely does any lasting harm. Review of the literature is scant to say the least. The truth is, most of us can do just fine not eating ANYTHING AT ALL for days at a time. In the hospital, we frequently have patients on IV fluids who are NPO (short for the latin phrase for nothing by mouth) for days at a time. The fact is, as long as you're hydrated (drinking water), you're fine. The human body is awesome like that.

To live, we need lots of stuff, thankfully in small quantities. But there are 3 things we need on the kinda-regular: sugar, fat, and protein. The fact is, a juice cleanse provides the water and the sugar, but very little in the way of protein or fat. When the body doesn't get these things from the diet, you metabolism harvests them from your muscles and fat stores. The fat harvesting sounds awesome, but the muscle wasting - not so much.

Even the high "nutrient" content that everyone refers to is something I have issue with: by digesting these plant extractions without their natural fibers, there's a fairly high chance you won't absorb the nutrients that are there. When you eat fiber, you gut simply works better. It doesn't just "make you regular." To completely over-simplify, it helps slow things down enough for you to actually absorb all the good stuff that's there.

All this stuff will make you poop. 

However, I have fallen in love with occasionally (read: 3-4 times a year for no longer than 5 days) restricting my diet. It works as a mental reset more than anything: it helps develop a taste for healthier things, helps break my addictions to salty, fatty, fried foods (at least for awhile), and yes, help to relieve any, ahem, blockages.

Notice that I focus on the MENTAL aspects of the cleanse. I'm sure my cholesterol and my colon and maybe even my weight are all the better for the extra fiber from eating a ton of fruits and vegetables. And this time, I'm hoping the slow re-introduction of glutens and dairy products will once and for all whether I have any sensitivity to these foods.

Here's to a "cleaner" new year!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Bwah ha ha ! I FINALLY got into eka pada koudinyasana! After 2 years of sitting like a fool with my shoulder hooked under my knee and being told to just let my leg lift. Um how? My legs feel like cement.

This was me. For a long time. 
Then, while doing a class on yogaglo (which I cannot recommend too highly) with Tara Judelle (who, up until this point was NOT my favorite teacher, mostly for silly reasons, like her high rising terminal and humblebrags about teaching in Bali). But she showed how a swiveling the hip of the front leg open makes your front foot...magically lift off the floor.

So that move got me to this:
Which is pretty good. I guess. But I knew what I wanted and I wasn't about to back down now, when so much was at stake.

So I bent my arms. No dice. That back leg is HEAVY! WTF? All that running and biking and i don't have the hammies to raise that back leg?? Whenever you feel like a yoga pose is impossible, flex your abs (ahem, in yoga-speak: "engage your core) and shift your balance. I leaned forward. Voila!

Yeah, obviously I don't look like that. Soon I'll have the nerve to post a picture of myself. But until then, trust me, mine looked almost exactly like this. In my head. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Who am I?

I am:
1. Human.
2. A wife. To the most patient and hilarious man I know.
3. Mommy to the World's Most Wonderful Dog.
4. A daughter. To the World's Coolest Parents.
5. A total Yoga Nerd. I'm spend my down time studying Light On Yoga, and puzzling over Pantajali, designing sequences, and occasionally actually spending some time on my mat.
6. A Student. I graduated college and then medical school years ago, but as any Nerd will tell you, once you train yourself to study, its hard to stop!
7. A food nerd. I also read cookbooks. I've done this secretly and then not-so-secretly since I was 7 or 8. Like my yoga nerdism, I read about cooking about twice as much as i actually cook.
8. An artist. Not a very good one, but with enough talent that it CAN be relaxing, not skilled enough that I don't find it occasionally incredibly frustrating.
9. A visual junkie. Like most human, probably. I adore museums, hikes, street art, pintrest, glossy magazines, Craftsman houses, and am in constant search for asana photos.
10. An Actual Nerd. I love comics and science fiction and fantasy and RPG and Star Trek and MST3k... the list goes on.
11. In constant pursuit of skills. My husband used the term "Ninja Training," but I'm obsessed with a Lifelong Quest to acquire multiple skills. Currently working on knitting, piano, hand stands and arm balances,

I believe in
1. Moderation in all things. Even though this is obviously problematic (what about moderation in.... moderation? *head explodes*)
2. Mindfulness. Knowing what we're doing while we're doing it, understanding the implications of our actions, recognizing and responding to what our bodies are telling us are the keys to finding peace and health.
3. Compassion. This means remembering to be compassionate not only with others, but also with ourselves. It sometimes seems easier to be kind to others all while being our own harshest critic. When we accept our own faults, we are much more accepting of the foibles of others.
4. That everyone is doing the best they can, and we can all do better.
5. That Wisdom comes from the meeting of Feeling and Reason.
6. God. As a concept, as a part of humanity, as a spiritual force, but definitely NOT as a bearded man in the sky.
7. Science. While accepting that science requires some belief, and if history teaches us anything, science is very frequently wrong.
8. Yoga as a source of healing. When I use the term 'yoga,' I am referring to the Union of Body and Spirit (when I refer the yoga you do in stretchy pants, I use the term 'asana'). When used appropriately, and as long as we don't expect too much of it, it can be the Answer to a lot of the problems common to the human experience.

Moving time!

In the process of moving my tumblr over to a more text-friendly format, and picking up where I (sadly) had left off!