The shift between summer and fall has always been a significant time for me. It has felt like a natural time to set goals for the “new year” (mine being based on the school year), whether it’s starting a new job, incorporating a new exercise class, buying new clothes, focussing on healthier eating, or building new friendships. This fall was no different (besides the fact I no longer work in a school) and I was ready to address some wellness issues. I had spent a lazy summer lounging at the beach frequently, cooking a lot, and indulging in delicious evenings around the fire with plenty of adult beverages. This type of “vacation mentality” is supposed to leave one feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world, however, 10 weeks of it had left me feeling tired, sluggish, foggy and depleted! It was time to take action! I decided that I would commit to a gentle, nourishing, anti-inflammatory diet. For me, this meant increasing green leafy veggies, reducing meat and dairy, bumping up the omega 3’s, focussing on plant based proteins, and...cutting out sugar and alcohol! (gasp!) The sugar isn’t a big challenge for me personally, but when it comes to giving up a daily habit that has been engrained as a form of relaxation for a very long time, that feels like more of a deprivation! My husband and I love good wine, and it goes hand in hand with loving to cook, so it was kind of a bummer knowing that I was going to miss this little luxury for 31 days! Rather than focussing on the negative, I decided to turn this into a positive adventure. I had read about “Sober October,” a fundraiser for cancer research in the UK, and adopted the name for my own personal challenge. So, on September 30th, I enjoyed my last bit (short for bottle) of red wine and the next day embarked on my new lifestyle. The first few days I was very conscious of the fact that I no longer had my evening routine to look forward to. I realized right away, that I was not addicted to a substance, but emotionally dependent on a habit. It took some time to ease into a new mindset, and I want to share with you what happened over the course of the month:
- After one really bad night’s sleep, I began to fall asleep faster and stay asleep more deeply, until I was sleeping 6 straight hours, getting up once, then falling back to sleep for another 2-3 hours of delicious, restorative, refreshing sleep! I couldn’t get enough! This has led to an earlier bed time!
- The brain fog lifted! After a few days, my thoughts became clearer, my mind worked faster and I felt sharp!
- My skin calmed down. I often suffer from dry, itchy, flaky and sometimes red and angry skin. After the first week, my skin felt dewy, and looked more radiant and healthy. I was hydrated!
- My eyes were clear and bright. No more bloodshot, tired and swollen eyes!
- My digestion improved. I started to feel natural hunger pangs, did not experience cramping and bloating, and my body adjusted to healthy regularity.
- I lost weight! Even without modifying my diet very much, I lost the puffiness in my face, hands and feet. At the end of the month I had lost a total of 9 1/2 pounds!
- I had very few feelings of anxiety. I felt a deep sense of calm. I felt rested and cared for. My moods were more stable.
- I saved a LOT of money! I enjoyed buying expensive teas and a few special treats,but those last a lot longer than a bottle of wine!
- I was using my brain more in the evenings. Instead of watching a movie until bedtime, I was taking time to relax and read.
- Although I was worried that without wine, we would somehow lose the romance in our relationship, that wasn’t the case at all! Without alcohol, physical and emotional intimacy is heightened as well!
After 31 days, I can honestly tell you that it was much easier than I thought it would be! I definitely enjoyed many benefits. Now that my body has taken the opportunity to heal and cleanse, it has also recalibrated and, at this time, a very small amount of alcohol has a much bigger affect. I do know, that I could easily slide back into my old ways, but I have enjoyed these surprising little gifts so much, that it has made me rethink my routines and habits! I actually look forward to my tea in the evenings, I really do!
I would encourage you to challenge yourself to a month of clean eating, and see what it can do for you! Even just reducing the amount of alcohol, sugar, caffeine and processed foods you consume can have surprisingly positive affects. Give this some thought, and it may help you to be more mindful through the holiday season, and after that, perhaps you will be inspired to give your body the gift of a restful and restorative 30 day break!
Need some ideas for cleansing and detoxifying, or anti-inflammatory recipes? Shoot me an email, and I am happy to provide you with suggestions!