So Fast

“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore.  I am thawing.” 

~Laurie Halse Anderson~

The snow, we fervently hope, is finally finished.  After a record 14" a couple of weeks ago, we were praying, chanting, and offering sacrifices to the gods that there would be no more white stuff falling from the sky.  It has been such a long winter.  March snowstorms certainly don't make it any shorter.  The great thaw begins here in many ways.  As Spring draws nearer, I inevitably start to think of the growth in the garden and yard.  There are beds that house perennials here that come back again and again.  They spend a season flourishing before they sleep and re-boot for another season.  A large portion of the new beginnings this year for me are also about a re-boot. 

I'm not a go-to-the-doctor girl, I will freely admit.  I go for my yearly exams, but I don't really want to spend any time there, don't want a pill for something, don't want a specialist.  Western medicine, while certainly effective and life saving in many, many situations, has failed me personally.  I spent the past 20+ years pumping my body full of "safe" hormones that changed something as basic as my reproductive cycle.  Intuitively I knew it wasn't a good thing, continually asking the same questions about it, but doctors time and time again assured me how "safe and practical" birth control pills were.  Not a fan of pills?  How about a partially invasive IUD?  Or a patch?  Or a hormone ring you can insert?  Or even an invasive surgery to sterilize you (that you will need to pay for fully).  I mean, birth control should be the woman's responsibility, right?  It's our uterus, after all.  Why on earth should a man be bothered to worry about altering his body with drugs or devices (because Patriarchy).  Oh, and by the way, even though we said it is federal law for insurance companies to cover it, we really aren't going to cover all of it, just some of it...that is, only if we aren't "morally opposed" to covering it.

The weight continued to pile on.  My self esteem continued to plummet.  Multiple health issues began to manifest.  Frustration mounted until I was just DONE.  So I quit the hormones.  I then expected my body to get itself together.  Why wouldn't it?  I quit the damn hormones.  

Nothing got itself together.  

Diet overhaul, weight loss goals, lifestyle changes, shackled to the scale praying to the weight loss gods that I had dropped a pound or five or, at the very least, hadn't gained any, NO CHANGES.  Feelings of failure, guilt about the food that I wanted, renewed resolutions about "doing better".  Conversations with more doctors ("Have you tried Weight Watchers?  You obviously aren't doing this right"), more blood tests, scans, offers for them to prescribe more drugs and hormones (seriously?), or surgery.  Those were the extent of my options.  The panicked feeling of being completely out of control is not a good place for me to be.  I am an educated, informed woman.  I know I am my best (and only) advocate for my own personal health.  Why does no one know what is going on with my body?!  Why are they not listening to me when I say something is wrong?!  All I know is that my body is in crisis and I don't know what to do and neither does Western Medicine.

So I changed what I could control and it started with relegating that damn scale to the basement and losing the "goal weight" mentality to truly seek what my body's natural weight is.  I changed my internal dialogue and began curating images and words that were about curves, about forgiving myself, about total health, about the sublime beauty and healing of solitude, about connections- personally, to the earth, to my spirit, to my mental and physical wellness, about investigating my passion and peace.  Then the food sources changed permanently.  Local meat, organic food, local everything when possible, seasonal eating as much as possible, no GMO's, re-calibrating my body to a seasonal rhythm.  Exercise as often as possible, but no longer shaming myself about when I miss and then berating myself to begin an entirely new plan while throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater- just staying the course-staying the damn course.

Positive changes slowly happened over the course of a year but still my body is in crisis.  I then spoke with a friend of ours that did a fast after reading, The Tao of Detox, by Daniel Reid.  He had a pretty profound healing from the fast, so I read the book.  Much of it resonated with me and I'm on the path to a fast right now.  It's a hell of a path.  On a path that will involve NO FOOD for five days (for a girl that gets violent when hungry), I have been forced to really look at what my relationship is with food.  I knew it was deep, I mean food is my passion, after all.  Everything it represents is tied to a memory and connected to my very core values.  I just had no idea how entrenched specific food items are and how intertwined it is with every single thing about my emotions. It feels like I'm holding a totally knotted necklace in my hands and trying to figure out how to begin to untie it.  It is intricate and appears so fragile and it's a total freaking mess in there.    

The prep for my fast is five weeks long.  I am in week three right now.  Week one was to cut flour and sugar, week two was red meat, this week has been dairy.  I was sailing through this prep until this week.  Shit got real this week, y'all.  I have been pretty unscathed so far.  Flour/sugar/red meat I am totally OK with cutting, but dairy...dairy is HUGE.  I mean, it's the if-loving-brie-is-wrong-I-don't-wanna-be-right kind of huge.  It's the half-and-half-in-my-morning-coffee-ritual-so-I'm-not-homi/suicidal  huge.  It's yogurt-for-breakfast-every-single-day huge.  So Monday I may or may not have dropped my basket.  Tuesday was a little better, but then that hopeless feeling that you get when you are really detoxing set in yesterday.  

Last night may or may not have involved tears as I really examined some pretty complicated emotional ties I tried to unravel from food.  Of course I always knew my emotions were tied to it, but I had no idea the extent.  I am eating to sustain myself physically right now and with no mood buoy forthcoming in the guise of a meal, I am having to look at some hard and not-so-pretty things about my emotional health.  You know that whole "self examination" thing (yuck) is just so uncomfortable.  I have a week of no grains and a week of total vegan and juicing to go before I begin the five day fast.  I fully anticipate the vegan week to be hell on earth.  The only way out is through, kids.

This fast is not a magic bullet (there are no magic bullets, you know).  What happens at the end of the fast if nothing changes?  I don't know the answer to that.  I just know it is part of my journey right now.  It is part of an ongoing dialogue where I absolutely refuse to allow numbers to be a part of the conversation anymore (numbers of pounds gained or lost, numbers of sizes up or down, numbers of calories taken in any day, number of miles on the treadmill, number of laps to go...).  This fast is a re-boot.  It is also an opportunity to dredge the emotional well and see what is lurking in the murky depths (so much lurking).  I tell my five year old first time swimmers that to be brave means you do things even though you are scared or nervous and that sometimes when you are brave, you are rewarded with amazing adventures and more fun and freedom than you ever would have had if you stopped because you were afraid.  I'm telling myself those same words this month. 

The garden is finally starting to awaken.  Chives are up, lemon balm has begun to rise, day lilies have started to peek out of the hard ground.  I am ready to dig in the warm earth.  I know that those days of sunshine and 70's are coming.  We just have a little longer, friends.  Until then, fast prep continues.  I'll keep you posted.

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