The Essence

Look around.

What do you see?

I see beauty.

I see life.

I see love

in gold sparks, floating on the late summer breeze.

Autumn slowly makes its descent.

I can smell the sun

bouncing off the trees.

Leaves cheering in their gleeful dance.

The day is new; Clean slate.

I feel empty,

yet filled with the warmth

of the seasons passion.

She urges me to hold on.

“Hold your head up.”

“Brace the winds.”

“Keep moving forward.”

I do not feel stress

as I rest with each breath.

Exhale.

Here comes the breeze again.

A cosmic dance.

I float in the winds ripples;

Make waves with every movement,

Every thought,

Every feeling.

I’m in love with a dream;

An essence.

A reflection shown through a slivered mirror;

Depths unseen and unknown.

The wind stills again and the ripples cease.

Through the puddle of our reality-

a glimpse.

I’m alive.

Banana Island Detox & What It Taught Me

For the past 7 days I have been on a cleanse called banana island. I wasn’t sure why I was doing it, I just felt like it was necessary at the time.

Banana Island is a detox where you eat only bananas and greens for a set period of time.

I had been eating 20 bananas a day minimum, along with a head of romaine. I was also drinking a gallon or more of water (most days).

Around days 4-6 I experienced gas and bloating. I realized later this was due to a few reasons:

  1. The bananas weren’t full ripe. I couldn’t find brown spotty ones and settled for bright yellow. This caused constipation.
  2. I was not drinking enough water. Once I realized this and started drinking more water, all gas and bloating diminished.

Takeaways:

  1. If you are to embark on banana island, prepare ahead of time with plenty of spotty brown bananas. If they aren’t ripe and spotted, the starches have not yet been converted to sugars and are much more difficult for the body to break down and use for energy.
  2. Always drink enough water. It is much more important than the food you are ingesting.

Overall my experience was very rewarding. I had more energy, I felt stronger and could go for longer while working out, and I was also much more peaceful. I typically have crashes midday and am easily susceptible to mood swings.

However, I did experience a drastic shift on day 7.

Day 7 I was already off as I was feeling a bit sleepy. Later on in the day a coworker started talking calories. Calories are never something I worry about. I am more of the “eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full” kind of person. I adopted this mindset after years of binge eating disorder followed by a physically and emotionally exhausting period of time where I… you guessed it: counted calories.

I won’t get into the details of the conversation, but basically I had already met my RDA of calories after lunch time.

My first instinct was to get angry. I had spent my whole life with an eating disorder I thought I was over and now I have someone telling me that scientifically speaking, it was the opposite case.

I was in disbelief. I became stubborn in my mind and let this fester for hours. I kept asking myself, “why am I so mad about this? If I know I am doing what is best for me and I have good intentions then why should it matter? All I am doing is listening to my body, I know what’s best. If I know what’s best then why am I so angry? Why can’t I let this go?” and so on…

When I was eating I never felt a definitive “full” feeling. I stopped once I was satisfied and ate again when I felt my tummy asking for more. Could I have been eating too much? Possibly. It could have also been what was causing constipation and I didn’t realize it. Yet, it still felt like something deeper….

Then, it dawned on me. It didn’t matter how much I was eating so much as it mattered why I was eating.

When I started this journey, I felt a bit lost. I felt like I hit a fork in the road, but both of the roads had a very dense fog on them. I had no clue what way to go. By the end of my journey, the fog began to lift and I realized it was the same road all along. The problem was that I was running.

Sometimes I can be a bit of an escapist. Two popular tools I abuse are my phone…and food. When there is something coming up that I am not quite ready to face I will avoid it at all costs. I can not yet answer why. I often envision the life I want for myself, the things I would love to create, manifest, and mold into reality. I can see it all perfectly. In all this daydreaming I easily lost sight of my passion. I forget to hold dear the drive that can get me to where I want to be. I love to think about what my life could be, but when it comes to putting in the work? Nah… forget about it…  I’ll just eat/check instagram instead.

On Day 7 I was faced with a harsh reality check. When I arrived home from work with my last banana meal in the seat next to me, along with my keys and phone, God gave me a kick in the ass. I unlocked the passenger door before getting out of the car so I could pick up all my stuff. When I got out on the drivers side I subconsciously locked the car and shut the door.

Well, Shit.

Now all of my stuff was locked in the car. My last bundle of ripe bananas, my phone, keys, my highly perishable probiotic! Woe is me! Whatever will I do now?!

I walked to the lawn and laid down in the sun defeated. Okay lord, you win. I am done with my consumeristic ways from now on. I will face my reality and start living in line with my passions. You sent a sign and it has been heard.

This isn’t the first time something like this has come up for me. By this point it was becoming common knowledge to me that when I focus on creating and doing things I love, food and all other distractions become secondary. When I focus on painting, for example, hours could go by before food even crosses m mind. During the duration of this cleanse my main focus was all about food. “Do I have enough bananas? Am I hungry again or thirsty? Did I eat enough for the day?” I let my self and fall on the back burner. I forgot about my own desires and passions.

Thankfully, my brother was home to let me in the house (my mom wouldn’t be home for another 5 hours), so I could get a small start on loving myself again. I was able to change out of my work clothes, do yoga, clean my room, and watch The Matrix. I had never seen The Matrix until that moment; It was further testament that I need to start believing anything is possible, and I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to.

Who knew that deciding to eat only bananas for a week would help me realize that I was subconsciously avoiding self-love and living in line with my passions? Who knew that by doing a cleanse, I was really avoiding myself? And how ironic that what really got cleansed out wasn’t necessarily physical toxins, but mental ones? Negative self-talk and depressive thinking.

It’s always a good idea to cleanse every once in awhile. Even if you’re the healthiest person alive, you may still find that there could be some benefit behind it. Just remember to stick it through and have faith in yourself. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.

 

P.s. be sure to drink enough water.

Why to Cleanse

Last week I made a post on how to know when it’s time to cleanse and I talked a little about the cleanse that I am currently on. If you have not read it you can check it out HERE.

Now I will go over some of the things I have learned so far, how this cleanse has made me feel, pros and cons, and share a yummy recipe to satisfy the sweet tooth.
I am on the 6th day of this cleanse, so halfway through. The hardest thing about it is remembering to take the herbal supplements. I will probably have an extra day or two worth of pills to take after my 12 days are up. Another difficulty was adjusting to the foods recommended. My diet before this cleanse was mainly bananas and dates, and both of those are not recommended during the time of cleansing due to their higher sugar content.

Having a limited diet is also a blessing in disguise. It opened a doorway to a whole new abundance of recipes to try out and I have been enjoying experimenting with more vegetables and different foods than I would normally eat.

As for how I have been feeling, to my surprise, I have had a lot more energy. I have moments where I feel a bit more tired or my stomach starts to hurt a bit, but then it is quickly over after I realize I just need to go to the bathroom. This detox has opened my eyes to how connected energy and the gut truly are. If the digestion is sluggish, or there is a buildup from eating foods that are difficult to process, it will decrease energy tremendously. Forty-five to seventy percent of daily energy, on average, is put towards processing food. This percent increases as we eat heavier and more processed foods.

On this cleanse, I have been eating mostly raw, all whole foods; saving the cooked and heavier foods for the end of the day. On the days when I experimented with eating cooked foods for breakfast I found my energy levels started to dwindle much sooner.

Some of the benefits I have experienced on this cleanse thus far include: a LOT less bloating, clearer skin, clearer thinking, connection to the body and its natural signals, better sleep, newfound motivation and passion.

Some of the cons: moments of bloating and brain fog before using the bathroom. … That’s it. I feel better after going to the bathroom every time.

I recommend everyone try out a cleanse at least once. There are so many different kinds of cleanses out there. There are even one-day resets for those of you who feel you do not have the time or feel timid on making the commitment.


Reasons I recommend a cleanse:

  1. It connects you to yourself.
    • A cleanse allows you to tune in to your bodies natural signals.
    • It releases old baggage so you are able to focus on here and now.
  2. It is an act of self love.
    • A cleanse is a commitment to yourself.
    • By turning the focus inward, you are acknowledging that there is work to be done, and by releasing all of the old build up you will be able to start fresh and grow anew!
  3. You will feel so much better!
    • Low energy? Low libido? Yeast problems? Gassy or bloated? Angry for no reason? Cleanse.
    • A cleanse is more than just clearing old waste and toxins from the body. It is clearing all of the negativity that has made its home in your body through time. As we progress through life, we carry old burdens with us. A cleanse can bring those up and release them leaving you feeling much lighter.

If you are thinking of embarking on a cleanse, here are my top tips to make it easy and painless:

  • Stay hydrated. Always keep water on you. If you don’t drink plenty of water, any toxins being kicked up will just sit inside of you leaving you feeling fatigued and sick.
  • Go at your own pace. If you feel you are only capable of a one day cleanse, then start there. We are all in a different place, and some may have a lot more toxicity built up than others. Release what you can handle and do not try to tackle it all at once.
  • Eat plenty of whole foods, low-sugar fruits and vegetables. Keep the heavy foods (starchy, protein-rich, fatty) to a palm sized portion and see how you feel from there. Keep the focus on high-fiber fruits and vegetables with a high water content.
  • Rest. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the noise of daily life, but if you feel you need to take some time to relax and be with yourself, do it. Light some candles, take a bath, read a good book. Whatever it takes to keep you grounded and at peace.
  • Ask for support. Sometimes our biggest downfall during a cleanse can be being around others who are not on one. Make sure the people you surround yourself with know about and respect what you are doing for yourself. That way you feel supported through the process and will feel less tempted to go off-course.
  • Forgive yourself. If you mess up once, do not worry about it. I have already forgotten the pills I was supposed to take at least 3 times, and I ate grapes (a high-sugar fruit, not on my acceptable list) on the first day! That did not stop me from striving forward towards my goal. Never let a bump in the road keep you from yours.

Recipe

Sweet Potato and Millet-meal

Serves: 1

1 Cup cooked Millet
1 Small baked Sweet Potato
Almond Milk, to cover
2 Tbsp Ground Flax
1 Tbsp Almond Butter
Dash of Vanilla
Generous shakes of Cinnamon

Directions: Stir the millet in a container with the flax, vanilla, almond milk, and cinnamon. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight, or while the sweet potato cooks. Cook the sweet potato whole in a glass baking dish for an hour at 300 degrees (quicker at higher temperature, but not as good for you.) Right before the potato is done baking, put the millet concoction into a small pan and warm on low. When the sweet potato is done, cut it in half and drizzle almond butter in the center. Plate it up and Serve!


 

My Story.

I struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life growing up. I was shy and had trouble making friends. I felt insecure about my appearance because of the hair on my body, my crooked teeth, and my bloated belly. I sat around and played video games or watched television the whole day. If I wasn’t laying on the couch I was in the kitchen, debating what I would snack on next. Cheese-Itz? Fruit Loops? Frozen dinosaur nuggets and mozzarella sticks?

The most fruit I ate was gummy snacks. The closest thing to a vegetable I would eat was french fries. I always had trouble using the restroom growing up. I remember going to the doctor once when I was younger and seeing the concern on his face when I told him I didn’t remember the last time I pooped.

Luckily, my mom got me started young on the organic, hormone-free, cage-free, etc… so for most of my life I’ve had a slight interest in the purity of what it was I was putting in my mouth.

In middle school I had my first try at being vegetarian. I was and still am an animal lover, so naturally that led me to not wanting to eat animals. It didn’t last for long; My mother supported me with some hesitation, but regardless. My dad, however, showed little support and made me eat a philly cheesesteak the day I told him.

I never had a very tight relationship with my parents. Everyone in my family had the tendency to keep to themselves, so I never quite learned how to interact with others and speak my mind. I also became quite the loner in my teenage years. I spent most days in front of a t.v. or computer playing video games and trying to make friends online. I wasn’t allowed to have friends over because my dad worked nights and wanted to sleep during the day. I had trouble reaching out, and when I did I would often explode after holding in my emotions for so long. This led me to fear reaching out even more. I didn’t want to be mean to people and figured it was my nature, so I avoided interacting as much as possible. On the bright side, through these experiences and isolation I had learned to be self-reliant and independent. I dreamed big and wanted an amazing future for myself, I knew I wanted to help others and I wanted to make a lasting impact on the world around me; For the environment, the animals, and fellow human beings. The only problem was that something was still missing from my life. I would constantly search to fill a void I could not pinpoint. I developed unhealthy eating habits with overeating, then eating less or skipping meals when I felt “fat” or gained too much weight for my liking. My mother was always worried about her weight and talked about how “fat” she looked, so I felt I should be doing the same. I was told, as a 145 lb, 5’8” teenager that I was overweight and needed to watch it. As a child I didn’t know what that meant. How do I watch my weight? What do I do to fix what everyone is telling me is broken? My whole world was what I grew up on; the Standard American Diet, staying indoors because there is sunburn and bugs outside, and keeping to myself because I couldn’t spend time with friends until after my parents divorced while I was in middle school.

This began the cycle of binge eating on foods I thought were healthy because they were organic, starving myself when I started gaining, and then wasting away summers on the couch not eating or drinking anything. I slept and played video games because nothing else was working, so why do anything?

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I decided something needed to change. I was still in a cycle of binging and starving, but I started picking healthier options to binge on. I swapped my cheese-itz for popcorn and traded the pb&j sandwich for a turkey wrap with spinach. I was never a soda drinker, but I did make sure I always had water with me. I was still depressed and anxious, spending most of high school in a state of dissociation to make it through the day. I felt like a ghost, going through the motions, numb, and observing from the outside.

By the end of my senior year I had met my best friend Erin who happened to be a vegetarian. She taught me to trade in meat for boca patties and morningstar sausages. Though still not the healthiest way of eating, I was already starting to feel better physically and mentally by eliminating animals from my diet. This opened a door to the realization that how I feel physically has a correlation with what I put into my body.

Summer came along and my depression got worse. I immediately moved out of my hometown to a house an hour away. I had no license, only a couple of my few friends had licenses, and I spent the majority of the summer alone in my bedroom, journaling about how lonely I was.

When I went off to college I shared a dorm with two dear friends; my cousin Olivia and her high school friend Sam. We all kept each other sane through our first semester at University. The piles of homework had us depressed, stressed, and for them, missing home. I didn’t mind being away at college. I was enjoying my time there with Sam and Olivia more than I was at home all alone. The college experience itself, however, had me ready to kill myself. It was drastically different than what I experienced in high school where all you have to do is show up to pass. I dreamed of being an art major until taking an advanced class in high school and deeming myself not good enough. This led me to go the complete opposite route in college where I tried majoring in business. I couldn’t even last half a semester in my math course. I was completely lost. I had no vision of a future for myself. I was amazed I even made it into college at all, thinking I’d have offed myself by the time I graduated high school.

This was a very introspective time for me. When I wasn’t doing my school work and listening to depressing music, I was journaling. I was and still am very big on writing down my emotions and what I’m going through.

 

“If this is what life is like, then what’s the … point? I feel like I’m going through some kind of self torture.”

 

“Life is just stress, anxiety, and depression with rare good moments that convince me it’s worth it. Either way I’ll end up in a … job I don’t want but need to survive, I’ll go through a midlife crisis with debt and more stress, and then I’ll die. I might as well just die right now and save myself the trouble.”

 

“I wasn’t made out to go to school and get a dead end job purely for the ability to keep living in this hell, but it seems to be the only option. I’m really trying. I’m trying so hard and I feel like it just won’t be enough.”

 

“I can’t live in this world and be happy.”

 

This is what was going through my mind day in and day out. This is what I was manifesting every moment of every hour. I was constantly living inside a dense and heavy cloud of negativity towards myself and this life I felt cursed into.

After dropping my math class, I had a lot of time on my hands. Erin regularly enjoyed documentaries and shared interesting ones she found with me. I mainly watched ones on nature, but one day I noticed a documentary called “Vegucated.” I started watching it thinking it would teach me how to incorporate more vegetables into my life, but instead it dove me into the world of Veganism. I was thrown onto a rollercoaster of emotions over the planet, the animals, every individual impacted by what I chose to eat, and how I was fueling my own body.

Halfway through the documentary I was in tears. This was the push I needed. I texted my mom before I even finished watching to tell her that I was vegan from that day forward, though it took me a few more months to fully transition.

I replaced my cheese with daiya and started eating more whole grains, bean, and vegetables. I watched as my life slowly started working its way up out of the heavy cloud I created. I felt infinitely better now that my lifestyle was beginning to match up with my beliefs. My bloating was going away and my bathroom visits became regular for the first time since childhood. I started dropping excess weight effortlessly.

By the time the next summer came around I was 30 lbs lighter. I began exploring my personal beliefs and spirituality. I dropped out of college after that first semester to reconnect with myself, get involved in a regular yoga and meditation practice, and learn how to cook healthy plant-based meals. I was so excited over this world of health and wellness I discovered that it didn’t take long before I was obsessed.

The sunshine and rainbows didn’t last long. My stress over not being or doing enough followed me. I was doing a lot more now, living for myself, living the healthy lifestyle, but something was missing. I was doing everything I read about online! I was following all of the new fads, doing what the nutritionists do, shouldn’t I be happy and stress free?

Not necessarily. I was doing all of these things out of the wrong place. I was doing it because I felt like it was what I should be doing. I wasn’t doing it because I believed it was what’s best for me. Sure, I wanted to save the world, be healthy, slim, peaceful, successful, you name it- but I wasn’t doing it out of love for myself. I was doing it because I felt like I needed fixing. I was doing it because I was lost. I needed something to follow, to encourage me to keep going. I needed something to give me the power I didn’t see within myself.

The next summer rolled around and I found myself in an unhealthy “relationship.” He was everything I looked for in a partner: vegan, big on cleansing, exercise, and spiritual practices. What took awhile to realize was that he was also obsessed with perfection. He had a large ego searching to consume all innocence and replace it with what his idea of perfection was. I was lacking in self-confidence during this time, still didn’t speak up and aimed to please others. I was self-conscious, constantly wondered if what I was doing was enough and what he would think of me if I didn’t do what he thought was best.

He wanted me to be a raw vegan, and he was personally aiming towards breatharian. I developed an eating disorder around the purity of what I was eating, and if I was eating enough to get the nutrition I needed or too much to be connected with the universe. Eating became a coping mechanism, to distract myself from what was really going on. I put my passions on hold until one day, I found a school called The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).

I finally remembered why it is I do what I do. This school combined my passions of making a difference in the world around me, others lives, and my own. IIN taught me to go back to the basics, remember who I am, what it is that I really want for myself, and helped me find what I had to do to get to where I want to be.

Instead of shaming myself after a large meal or eating something “unhealthy,” I began listening to my body. I learned how to fuel it with what it’s asking for and listen to the natural signals of when to start and stop eating. I became mindful of my dietary habits and how they reflect what’s going on in my life. Before noshing down on that candy bar, I’ll take a step back and ask myself what’s happening inside myself and in my environment to make me crave the sweets.

I began tearing down my walls, uncovering layers of dust that have been thrown onto my canvas through the years. I built up a new foundation for myself, based on what I believe and know is best for me. I began living from a place of compassion rather than fear.

My time with the boy soon ended as I learned more and more about what it means to love myself. I knew I had a lot of work to do inside before I could know what I truly want for myself, especially in the realm of relationships.

How I see others and how I interact with others is a direct reflection of my beliefs and how I feel about myself. Any judgements that rise about other people are really what I judge about myself, and what I perceive to be a certain way. What I admire in other people is what I would strive to manifest within myself. If they could be that empowered, why couldn’t I?

I began looking at the world from a different perspective. I now see life less as a destination, and instead as a journey that is always growing, shifting, evolving, and bringing me along with it. I released expectation to outcome and began manifesting dreams into reality one moment at a time. I use stress as a tool, found ways to keep myself grounded, and balance time between work, play, and rest.

You may be wondering, why am I telling you all of this? What interest is my story to you?

Everyone has a different background, different struggles, different way of handling emotions. However, we are all capable of getting to where we want to be. When we let go of expectation and start living for ourselves from a place of love, then we can achieve anything we put our minds too.

Do I want everyone to suddenly drop out of high school, do yoga and become vegan? Not necessarily. I want to encourage you to experiment. Listen to what your body and intuition are telling you and find what works best for you.

Through personal experience, I have learned to rise from a place of hopelessness to one of endless possibility! I was able to release baggage I had no idea I was carrying and build a new platform to stand upon. One that is flexible, sturdy, and treats life as a dance, rather than a battle.

I was able to tune into myself, my body, and my dreams. Now I know it is my journey to help others do the same. What I experienced is not entirely unique to me. Each individual has the power within themselves to cultivate their dreams into reality. Everyone has the power to overcome fears and negativity, and start living gracefully while chasing the burning passion within. You have the power and the right to know and live the lifestyle that is best for you! Together, we have the tools to build you a new foundation and rise out of the ashes. Why not start now?