Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Are You Hungry For?

To those of you who have been wondering, I am off The Cleanse as of a week ago Thursday, after spending a fun-filled night at the ER--again--when my cleanse supervisor told me to hie myself there, pronto. I'd called her to say I couldn't sleep because my heart kept pounding erratically and my hands were not only seizing up and going numb, they were endlessly twitching in different directions...and it was distracting. Pretty dense to try to ignore, eh? Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't I doing this cleanse in the first place because I couldn't afford any more ER trips like the one in January? Yes folks, life really is Comedy Central.

As it turns out, I had extremely low potassium and phosphorus levels, which they discovered after some testing, but not before trying to ply me with Zanax because they thought I might be having a panic attack. Well, you'd panic too if your legs and arms took off on their own for no apparent reason. So they hooked me to a heart monitor, and after lounging around until 3:00 a.m. taking potassium and fascinating the kids watching Mom's hands and legs randomly seize up; they let me go home wearing a 24-hour heart monitor for kicks.

Truthfully, I was scared, because although I met up with my doctor a couple of times for lab tests and discussion, and taking potassium/phosphorus; the seizing in my hands and legs turning-into-zombie-limbs (curling and hardening like rigor mortis) and incessant finger twitching didn't cease until this Tuesday.

A chiropractor once told me that in between cleanses, the idea is to build the body back up. I feel good now, heartily supporting my body with green smoothies, raw fruits/veggies/nuts, cooked veggies and baked fish (hopefully not mercury filled) and eggs (cage-free; yay for happy chickens). No processed food, unless Costco hummus is processed...and feeling energized and clear.
This cleanse taught me some things; about family medical history, about how precious--and fragile--life and one's relationships are, and of course, how important proper nutrition is. I suspect I wasn't drinking enough of the green juices (they are ironically, LOADED with potassium) mainly because by the third week I just couldn't stand the taste and could barely get them down. I also learned how little I exercise, my favorite pastimes recently being: reading, a good show, and the Internets...although by the end was actually exercising diligently and constantly on the move (my body was probably in shock just from that).

I discovered my doctor doesn't endorse long cleanses, saying they can cause electrolyte imbalances, so that and the potassium/phosphorus depletion all added up to cause trouble. To be fair, I didn't run into problems until I dropped from three down to one juice a day and maybe should have mentioned that to my cleanse supervisor. Funny thing is, by the last week, loading a Good Earth basket with organic ingredients, I kept wanting to throw in some young Thai coconuts, and had to keep saying, no, you can't drink that silly, you are cleansing right now. Turns out, coconut water is rich in electrolytes, so maybe it wouldn't hurt to listen to the body more, eh? (please pardon my fascination with this delightful Canadian habit--thank you Vancouver Olympics).

But I still find myself constantly thinking about eating (not as much as during the cleanse, when I bored my entire Facebook family with countless photo albums of...FOOD). You are probably thinking, well, that makes perfect sense, after practically starving yourself for almost a month...but I was getting good nutrients (just not enough of them) and having energy and no headaches, so I wasn't altogether heartless.

I was recently struck (figuratively, of course) by an article written by Geneen Roth in O magazine, Women, Food, And God; which really hit home. Here's an excerpt:

"For a variety of reasons we don't fully understand (genetics, temperament, environment), those of us who are compulsive eaters choose food. Not because of its taste. Not because of its texture or its color. We want quantity, volume, bulk. We need it—a lot of it—to go unconscious. To wipe out what's going on. The unconsciousness is what's important, not the food...When you like something, you pay attention to it. When you like something—love something—you take time with it. You want to be present for every second of the rapture. But overeating does not lead to rapture: It leads to burping and farting and being so sick that you can't think of anything but how full you are. That's not love; that's suffering.

Diets are the result of your belief that you have to atone for being yourself to be worthy of existing. Until the belief is understood and questioned, no amount of weight loss will touch the part of you that is convinced it is damaged. It will make sense to you that hatred leads to love and that torture leads to peace because you will be operating on the conviction that you must starve or deprive or punish the badness out of you. You won't keep extra weight off, because being at your natural weight does not match your convictions about the way life unfolds. But once the belief and the subsequent decisions are questioned, diets and being uncomfortable in your body lose their seductive allure. Only kindness makes sense. Anything else is excruciating. You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved."

And all I can think is, wow. This touches me to the core. And I know overeating isn't good for me, I know this. I've experienced it. And yet...I'm hungry for something, something I think food will give me. Probably because I associate so many good memories and feelings centered around food. Until I go back in time and conjure up those moments when I experienced a truly natural high, a happy so big I never forget:

Sitting alone in a hotel room in Heidelberg, Germany, looking out the open window watching pedestrians walk by below, passing the cathedral next door, and wondering if the bees buzzing in the geraniums in the flower box will come in the room to check me out?

Showering under an open window as a kid living in Florida, the birds carrying on in the trees one spring morning.

Sitting on a Florida beach, looking out over the ocean, listening to the waves being pulled up on the sand, scattering the pipers digging for sandfleas (the pipers, not me, though sandfleas are kinda cute looking crustaceans).

Watching fellow travelers on a shuttle bus heading to the LAX airport after attending Byron Katie's nine-day School For The Work, feeling like my heart was going to burst open.

Waking up laughing, from a dream where Paul Lynde, Cher, and I were swapping jokes while standing in the yard of my house in Florida, when I was all of about ten.

Walking the block after a flight to Germany to visit family, relishing the fresh air and feeling my legs again after sitting for so long on a plane and the three hour drive from Frankfurt to our small Bavarian town.

NONE of those moments involved food or eating. And I am left to discover what it is I'm hungry for. Think I'll start with Geneen's tell us folks; what is it you are hungry for?


  1. Holy coconut - this is a powerful post. I love Geneen Roth and you've made me want to run to the nearest book store to get her book. So much here resonates. I love your list of happy without food. Thanks for your amazing and insightful writing. Glad to hear you're okay, and amazed you managed to make seizing limbs sound funny. :-)

  2. Holy coconut for sure Lorna!!Wow what an experience you had!So glad that you are ok now!!
    Geneen Roth's comments are so very true!
    Being kind to ones body so important!Everything in moderation ..most diets too extreme leaving one with a feeling of deprivation.The body does know what it needs and the key is to listen to it. Usually overeating is emotional.For me this is/has been the case. Dicipline is important in staying on the path of eating for overall wellness. Man do I listen to mine since it worked so hard to heal my body this past year!!
    Lorna take care of yourself.Eat drink and stay well and happy.Everything in moderation.
    love and light anna xo

  3. This is such an interesting post. First, I'm so sorry you ended up in the ER, especially after making such a valiant effort to cleanse your body. Then, the discussion of directing kindness to ourselves. How true.

    Once, while meeting a friend for a drink, I poured out sorrows -- how disappointed I was with myself. She listened and then asked what I was writing in my journal. I replied just what I'd told her. She scolded me. Told me that writing of my anger at myself only kept me angry. That if I wanted to move forward, I needed to not only list my faults. To be kind to myself. Amazed how that changed things for me.

    Often a reminder is good. Perhaps I'm hungry for that book as well.

  4. That sounds incredibly frightening - I'm glad that you are ok. As for me, I'm always hungry for love (not necessarily the romantic kind either) I think. Sorry, I know how cliched that sounds but it's true. Big hug x

  5. Deb: Looks like you've begun a revolution here with your holy coconut phrase! Maybe it will be the title of my next post...let's both run to get her book; I can't wait, but Amazon was out of stock (thanks, Oprah). Maybe Costco?

    Anna: Yes, balance is something I'm learning. You do know that of which you speak, with what you have overcome, and I am inspired. Overeating is definitely emotional, for me as well.

    Julie: Your friend's sage advice is similar to something I read by Vietnamese Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh (is it just me or does this guy have a confusing amounts of "h's" in his name?). Kindness does really seem to be 'The Way', as I'm learning.

    Kitty: Maybe love is ultimately at core of what we are all hungry for. That resonates with me too. Hungry for a love we know deep inside of us, and trying to find it outside...

    Big hugs to all of you, my very kind and very wise friends.

  6. I stopped by to say how much I love your new blog look and noticed there's a conversation going here. :-) Looking forward to seeing what you do with Holy Coconut. Costco didn't have Geneen's book yesterday. But I know I'll find it soon somewhere.

    Hugs to you as well.

  7. Deb: I finally ordered it on Amazon. Cannot wait! I played around all day with different blog templates; might have frustrated viewers, lol. Coconut update soon...:)

  8. Very interesting, thought provoking post... hmmm, lots to think about here. Glad I stopped by today :)

  9. E.D.: Thank you for stopping by:) I find your posts hilariously distracting....Best!

  10. I'm thrilled you are OK. This was a powerful post. I loved how you tied it all together.

  11. This is the most amazing post I've read in quite a while. Everything about it rings so true; the book is a must have!
    (By the way, I love the dream about Paul Linde and Cher!)

  12. Debbie: thank you! And thanks for coming by :)

    Ethelmae: thank you, my copy is still on it's way from Amazon, the latest email from them claiming it's delayed because of weather...what? the post office can't handle a little rain/sleet/snow???

  13. OMG, the sharing jokes with Paul Lynde and Cher dream... I can't stop laughing.