So first, a little backstory leading up to my desire for this Winter Detox...
My trip to Austria + the holidays + the fact that the winter woes seem to be hitting me harder than ever this year, have left my skin & body feeling...just not me. Not to mention, going thru what seemed like my body decided to be in a full on state of PMS for the entire month of December!
I apologize now for this post being so long winded, just trying to put into words what has felt like an ongoing out of body experience for 30+ days. To be honest, I'm not sure what exactly lead to my body's INSANE!! aberration, but my conclusion, is my body was rebelling against the combination of all of these things....
Austria. different country. different time zone. eating different foods & abandoning my normal gluten-free/dairy-free lifestyle. eating gasthaus food not just once, but sometimes 2x a day that is LOADED with sodium. drinking a ridiculous amount of wine (hello alcohol sugars = the worst!) oh! and sweets on top of the wine. Eeeeek! And drinking coffee 2-3x a day. This is Europe. There's no sense in going on vacation and not enjoying yourself. You might as well just stay home...
I walked & hiked miles & miles (5-8 a day) but actually didn't break a sweat for 12 days to release any of the toxins I was putting in my body. My feet & ankles were actually swollen my last few days in Austria. I also think my body was heading into PMS mode... so it makes sense we talk about this next. lol
PMS. Dear Hormones, I hate you. I have PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), which basically means I experience the most severe, brutal PMS ever. Another tidbit, I also have an IUD which actually takes away the physical period but you still get the symptoms. Not every month, more like every 2-3, my symptoms are UNBEARABLE. F$ck a bloated stomach -- my entire body swells. If you google PMDD, it says you can retain anywhere from 6-12lbs -- lucky me, I think I sometimes get all 12! I literally was squeezing into jeans that I wear all the time. For some reason, last month, my boobs were double the size (not kidding), tender to the touch & didn't fit in my bras. I don't poop for anywhere from 3-5 days. KILL ME!!! Looking at myself in the mirror is the worst feeling ever + I'm incredibly fatigued, lacking all motivation to workout and just want to sleep all day. Whew...good times, right!?
The Holidays. ya know, big family meals, wine & Christmas cookies + holiday parties. More stuff I don't usually eat but the holidays come around once a year and life is too short to not enjoy yourself & indulge. I actually didn't do much damage over the holidays.
Winter. Every year, once the wonderful, happy part of the season passes -- Christmas & New Years -- its all downhill from here. lol ok, not really, however, as the weather turns colder & colder (and dryer) for me, the winter woes set in. The Winter Season brings a bevy of changes in both our physical & emotional state. During the Spring & Summer months my Spirit thrives & soars!! The warmth of the sun on my skin, flowers & tress are in full bloom, I am happy beyond belief -- literally moving about my days, smiling to myself. My energy levels are thru the roof, I'm always at my leanest + my skin is tanned, hydrated & glowing. All of the things that come so effortlessly in the Summer suddenly become a bit harder to achieve in the doldrums of winter.
Just as the Earth does, our bodies shift, slow & retreat in many ways...
- shorter days + less sunlight = insufficient levels of Vitamin D, causing...
- decreased energy levels
- mood swings, fatigue & even depression in some people
- decreased activity levels
- sluggish digestion
- increased levels of stress hormones
- difficulty sleeping
- stressed immune system leading to colds & flu
- cravings for unhealthy, starchy, sugary & fattening comfort foods
- winter weight gain
- dry, parched skin & hair
So, let's talk about some of the not so obvious positives of winter, shall we!? As someone who's mood & energy levels are extremely effected by my surroundings/environment/weather/seasons,
I truly believe that our bodies will tell us what it really needs and it is up to us to be in tune with those needs AND...Listen.
According to the Yin & Yang theory in traditional Chinese Medicine,
Yin. cold, dark, winter, restful, inactive, female, negative, introspective
Yang. summer, hot, bright, active, male, positive
If you take a moment to think about the qualities associated with Yin (winter) it makes sense that many of us experience the feelings that we do during this time of year. Winter is meant to rest & replenish. We can't run at 100%, 100% of the time -- I know I sure can't! The abundance of energy that I feel from Spring thru Fall dwindles for a reason and as much as I hate to admit it, this IS a good thing. I run pretty hard all year long, by the time winter comes along, slowing my pace is a warm & welcome change, allowing my body to recover & restore its energies from how hard I've worked during the several months prior.
I recently came across this quote, and like so many quotes often do, they just have a way of inspiring and simply saying it so much better than I can! lol
This quote couldn't be more perfect for this post & what I'm trying to convey here...
Life is cyclical & I believe in living in harmony with these cycles & seasons rather than fighting against them. Personally, this quote resonates strongly. Spring & Summer, is all about how fast can I go/how much can I do/how lean can I get. Incredibly social, always out & about, on the go, traveling, a workout fanatic & living off of cold foods like green smoothies, salads & fruits. In Winter, I prefer to "stay"... Sleep more, I have to drag myself out of the house, rest more, workout a little less & eat more -- especially warm, comforting foods.
Which finally, finally brings me to this detox!! Again, sorry for the rambling!
What I cut out:
What I've been filling up on:
- high fiber, cruciferous, cleansing, leafy greens & beauty boosting, colorful veggies. cabbage (red & green), cauliflower, brusell sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cucumbers, mushrooms, artichokes, celery, carrots, spinach, dandelion greens, string beans, kale, red & yellow bell peppers, beets, etc...
- warming, healing spices. garlic. ginger. cayenne pepper. cinnamon. nutmeg. turmeric
- berries. blueberries/raspberries/strawberries/blackberries.
- citrus fruits. lemons/oranges/grapefruits.
- healthy fats. avocado + raw, unsalted walnuts, sunflower seeds & pepitas
- eggs. 2-4 day
What I've been drinking:
- water. 3-4L a day (room temperature, never cold)
- warm water + lemon
- ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar). Every morning, on an empty stomach - 2 tablespoons + 4-5oz. water
- green tea. in the afternoons (my fave is Yogi Tea - Blueberry Slim Life)
- natural, detoxing teas: lemongrass & dandelion root. I like to buy loose leaf teas from Earth Fare vs tea bags but do what is easiest/most convenient for you & your schedule
A few things to know....
- For me, the plan was to cut out meat for one week to really give my digestive system a break. I've felt so amazing eating veggie that I'm 2 weeks in and considering continuing for a full month. I'm not making an proclamations, because I love meat and know its a vital part of my diet for as much as I workout. I do notice I'm not recovering from my workouts as quickly since I haven't been eating meat. I encourage you to stick to an all veggie plan for at least 5-7 days, slowly adding meat back in after a week. You'll be amazed at how fabulous your stomach/digestion will feel doing this!
- Gluten & Dairy. I follow a fairly strict gluten-free/dairy-free lifestyle on a regular basis. I have intolerances to both, not allergies. I choose to eat gluten/dairy-free because I simply feel better without these foods in my body. Its just been over the last couple months that they were sneaking in too often due to holidays & travel. I truly believe that eating gluten & dairy when I normally don't is what contributed to such terrible, awful PMS + my body wigging out & blowing up.
- Sugar. I've always had a sweet tooth and have worked to get it in check over the last several years. I eat a couple small pieces of really amazing, super dark, dark chocolate (with sea salt or almonds) anywhere from 3-5x a week, which is good for you & loaded with anti-aging antioxidants & flavonoids.
- Alcohol. I pretty much only drink red wine, especially in the winter. I drank way too much in Austria & over the holidays. I definitely reached my limits -- my body was telling me enough is enough & was just completely over it. I actually barely drank on NYE or on my trip out to LA a couple weeks ago. I went out to dinner with my boyfriend in LA and drank water & green tea most nights.
Winter Organs: Kidneys & Adrenals. In Chinese Medicine, the Winter element is Water, which is associated with the Kidneys & Adrenals. These organs are responsible for our bodies Qi (energy) which becomes depleted in Winter. When our Qi is out of balance we tend to feel tired, fatigued, & have trouble sleeping.
What wears down our kidneys & adrenals?
- too much caffeine & alcohol
- lack of sleep
- poor diet - sugar, processed foods & starches
Nourish your body's Qi in winter by eating warming, nourishing foods, herbs & spices like I've listed above to restore & balance your Qi to keep your adrenals & kidneys functioning at their best to keep your:
- moods & overall disposition happy & bright
- body & immune system strong & healthy
- skin healthy, hydrated & glowing, even thru the cold, winter weather
I'm pretty sure I was heading in the direction of adrenal fatigue, which I've experienced a few years back, and that's what my skin was on the fritz, my digestion was sluggish and my overall energy levels were lacking. Since I've been doing my detox my skin is back to its normal, healthy, glowing self, my digestion is amazing and I have tons of energy!
Much love & wishes for an early Spring!! xx
Here's a look at what I've been eating over the last couple of weeks!