What Going 99.9% Vegan + Sans Alcohol Did For My Mind-Body-Soul
I will be the first to admit - I never (NEVER!) would have thought that I'd be able to go vegan and not have a drink.
and i did it 99.9% of the time.
But, there's a first time for everything. And, while I was in Bali and the days leading up to it / afterwards, I decided to be completely plant-based (meaning no meat, dairy or processed foods) and nix any late night drinks or beers by the pool. It wasn't out of torture or a weird competition with myself - I actually did not feel compelled to have anything that wasn't fueling my body in a positive way.
And guess what? It felt amazing.
i know what you're thinking: she must be crazy! or she's totally geeked out in california and lost all her cool.
maybe you're right. because for the longest time, I felt like I needed protein and a sip of wine after work. As a runner and obsessor over HITT workouts, I felt the need to fill my body with all the things it asked for - and ended up craving. It wouldn't be surprising for me to go on a 7-mile run and end my day with a burger and a glass of a deep red Chianti. I was burning so many calories in an intense way and kept feeding my body with the fuel I thought that I needed to sustain myself.
But, I couldn't have been more wrong.
what it feels like when you eat (and drink) clean
it's an interesting thing, this idea of eating and drinking "clean."
when you're not doing it, you don't realize what you're missing out on. everything in your body feels like it's operating "just fine." you may need a cup of coffee in the morning to get going. you may not be able to fall asleep until 1am. you may find yourself crashing around 3pm - craving something, anything to make you feel awake. you might feel bloated and tired and annoyed more often that you probably should.
but, it's fine! that's being an adult, right?
that's how i thought it worked, anyway.
it was only once i started fueling my body with things that made me feel good - like really good - all the time that i realized how deficient i had been in energy, feeling, and overall excitement about life. i didn't realize anything was wrong until i was on the other side.
because you see -- i always thought i was doing everything right. i was sure that i was eating healthy as much as i could - the weekends were for fun anyway? if anyone saw my diet monday through thursday, they would think i was the epitome of a health star: granola and yogurt in the morning with a cup of coffee, nuts for snacking throughout the day, salad for lunch, and a veggie-quinoa bowl for dinner. I had it down pat.
...and maybe some wine.
...and maybe only 1 sip of water.
...and maybe overworking my body at intense workout classes every single day so my adrenals were fired up until i tried to go to sleep.
...and maybe starting on friday rules flew out the door and i stuffed my body with cheese and meat and loads of alcohol.
i know--it's hard to balance a completely "rigid" healthy lifestyle, especially when it doesn't seem fun. but maybe there's a point when our bodies say: i've had enough. and, that intense, overwhelming lifestyle doesn't seem like something that even appeals to you anymore.
because, once i started cutting processed foods, dairy, meat and alcohol out of my diet for the most part--my tiredness went away. i didn't need that 3pm coffee break. i wasn't craving eggs or bacon or a big, fat wheel of brie cheese anymore. crazy enough - a few sips of wine seemed like a party. and it made my head hurt.
i was feeling more clear, more confident, more well than i ever had...and i didn't want to do anything that would mess it up.
so, what does eating clean look like in real life?
i think this is the coolest part: eating (and drinking) clean looks different for every single person.
in my opinion, the reason that all this stuff (being vegan, not drinking alcohol, adding herbs to your diet) gets a bad rap in the mainstream is because it seems exclusive. it's like - you can't sit with us if you're eating meat.
but for me, it's completely opposite.
i think the most important thing is to go with how your body is feeling that day. i was recently inspired by a book called woman code by alisa vitti. alisa is a graduate from the institute of integrative nutrition (like soon-to-be me!), and after curing her own pcos (polycystic ovarian syndrome) with healing foods, she has dedicated her life to helping women understand their hormones - and make them work better using what we put into our bodies (food + drink).
in her book, she talks about the cycles that all of our bodies go through hormonally, which also impact our thinking and moods and physical ability. this mindset has completely changed my view on living and how we should approach our diets, our physical exercise and our lifestyle.
that being said, you could find 3 different sample menus, and their accompanying physical exercises / grounding practices in my new e-book, A 3 day guide to nourish your mind, body and soul. it walks you through exactly what you should eat, how you should move, and what you should practice thinking about in order to achieve this "clean" way of living.
and hey - it's not completely plant-based. because we are all humans, and we all need different things in order to feel our best.
so with that - try experimenting with your own body. learn to understand it's rhythms, and what it's telling you it needs (sometimes that might be a piece of chocolate you know!). we need to stop beating ourselves up for not living exactly according to plan, and do what feels best at the time.