Positive visualization and meditation to change habits

I'm excited about today's post.  Very excited because I've hit on something extraordinary.

As you may be able to tell if you've read any of my past posts, I love educating myself; reading and researching to find answers, and following myriad rabbit holes to see where they lead.  I believe that every discovery I come across just gets me closer and closer to the way of optimal health- and kicking addictions and habits.

Last week I found something called The Gabriel Method, through this article.  I was intrigued, and visited the website http://www.thegabrielmethod.com to learn more about this extraordinary story.  To give you a basic summary, the author, Jon Gabriel, found himself extremely overweight and frustrated that nothing he was doing was working.  He had a life-scare experience with the 9/11 tragedy, which changed his life and prompted him to find ways to release stress and convince his body to heal.

Now, I have always leaned on positive visualization for all sorts of things.  I visualize a procedure going well (when I perform veterinary surgery); visualize myself with abundance; getting the job I want, the apartment I want, the list goes on.  I don't just "believe" that it works, I know.  I have known for  many years. Why is it I never applied it to the subject of kicking sugar, or losing this extra 15 stress pounds I'm carrying around?  Wild.

I've read the book already (I devoured it in 2 days) and have used his nighttime meditation MP3 every night for 3 nights now.  I already feel incredible.  He isn't just using visualization to convince the body to drop excess weight, he also believes that life can be more positive and fulfilling.  I've got more energy, I feel happier when I wake up, my body feels alive.  The premise he bases his method on is that our bodies "want" to be fat, for many reasons- to protect us emotionally, or from perceived famine (which is how our primal brain interprets money woes and so forth), or from low self worth.  Convincing your body and mind that you're safe, you're awesome, successful, energetic and love healthy food is the way to go- not deprivation.

So how does this relate to kicking sugar, the entire point of this blog?  Well, if you convince your body to want and crave healthy foods, natural and whole foods, and to shun processed crap, you will eventually just not care for super sweetened things.  They will taste terrible in your mouth.  Even in the past 2 years I have trained my body to prefer dark chocolate that is not that sweet- I  no longer care for the intense sweet commercial candies that are everywhere available.  If you train your mind to prefer fruit, veggies and grassfed meats, eventually the other stuff will lose its pizazz.  Especially if you aren't making them "forbidden", just cutting out the desire to eat them.

Well that's revolutionary, isn't it!  For years I've been trying the denial method, only to fall off the wagon and go for it whole hog.  I'd feel bad about it, use logic on myself, to no avail.  A craving is a craving.  What I do know is that I particularly crave sugar when I am feeling very stressed out, lonely, sad, unheard and so on.  Perhaps this is my body's way of helping me make a layer of fat to insulate myself from the bad feelings or situations, who knows.  Either way, when I eliminate stress or retrain my mind and body to crave a run in the wood instead, I'm only picking a win-win situation.

I'll keep you all posted.  I'm still of course following the feminine 28 Days Lighter, as I want to feel my cycle calm down (another culprit in the sugar binging), tracking my energy and mood.  I am excited to see how the Gabriel Method will assist in this other idea, as well as in my desire to kick sugar for life.


Fructose malabsorption, an update

Although I have been searching for answers to heal my belly for a long, long time, I feel only in the past year have I really hit on what is finally working.  As I wrote last spring, I discovered after embarking on a cleanse with the Whole 30 that I have a pretty terrific intolerance to a lot of different foods- aka Fructose Malabsorption.  Great.  After much more reading and research I came upon the FODMAP diet, and have learned quite a bit since then.  I'll post some helpful links at the bottom, if you're curious to learn more.

So how am I feeling, nearly a year later?  Well, I've had my ups and downs and have experimented a little, but for the most part I'm pretty strict with the FODMAP protocol.  I have the protocol printed up and hanging on the fridge, and keep it bookmarked on my smarty phone so that if I have questions when I'm grocery shopping I can refer to it quickly.  Mostly I have to say my diet is pretty damn boring.  Being FM means you can't eat the things I love.  NO broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, GARLIC, onions, all stone fruits (be still my heart!!  No apple picking for me this past fall.  I died a little inside.) It's a big list, a really big list of "no".

Is it worth it?  YES.  I no longer bloat like I'm 6 months pregnant.  I no longer have to make sure I know how to exit a social situation quickly for fear I'm going to fart like a college boy and embarrass myself.  In fact- fart jokes in my presence are such a common thing that people are a little confused that I'm not farting a lot anymore.  I guess it was just a part of my existence.  Ugh.  Anyway, I feel a lot better.

In the times I've gone ahead and had a forbidden food, I'm quickly reminded why I chose this path in the first place.  It sucks to bloat, to not fit into your pants because your belly won't allow it.  It sucks to fart like a damn trumpet early in the morning (good morning, lover!). My hope is to test out some certain foods and see if I do actually react to them. I miss garlic, for example. I want to eat good, raw sauerkraut; probiotics are so necessary! I want to eat some cherries. I know some things may not be available to me, or that I will just suffer the consequences when I choose to eat them.

The agony is being invited over for dinner, or going to a potluck.  I hate the way it feels to tell a friend who invites me over, "Well you see, there's this long list…"  Thankfully most people are amenable to being emailed my favorite FODMAP list so they can see for themselves what I can and cannot have.  There have been some awkward moments however when I can tell the friend is put out.  That's a yucky feeling.  It makes me want to avoid social situations involving food, frankly.  Often I will eat before going out so that I'm safe; I can snack on something but not be starving and obligated to eat something that will make me sick.

Sometimes you get fooled, too; particularly in restaurants.  All restaurants except those in EBF know about the gluten issue and have foods to cater to those folks.  But, FM?  Forget it.  EVERYTHING has onions in it, did you know that?  Everything.  Particularly everything in the lunch bar at my local health food store.

It's worth it though, totally worth it.  I'm happy to be feeling better, despite my limited menu.  If I could afford it I'd go to a dietician or nutritionist to make sure it's all balanced appropriately, but I listen to my body.  If you suspect you have FM or other issues, definitely get checked out for allergies, fructose intolerance, celiacs or gluten sensitivity and let a nutritionist guide you.  It's much faster and safer than my fits and starts and experimentation.

Some helpful links:
Good FODMAP summary here
Excellent summary and list
IBS free website
FODMAP recipes

Sugar free life: consider your menstrual cycle

I'm back on the wagon, after a "cheat day" which turned into a "cheat week" which turned into a PMS eat-all-the-things disaster.  I felt bad about myself, felt angry and upset- why can't I just stick with it? I had such crazy hormonal shifts, and felt like only chocolate could make it all better.  Is this normal?  Do I have to go through this, month after month, so good at refraining from sugar for 2-3 weeks and then have it all come crashing down?

For this particular scenario, I'm on a Whole 30 support group on Facebook.  It's just a small group of friends who all made the commitment at the turn of the year to stay on the Whole 30 and see each other through.  The fascinating thing is, we made it to the end and then we all hit PMS time.  Each and every one of us "cheated", needing or wanting wine or sugar or carbs in some way.  We all had terrible things going on- mood swings, cramps, cravings, you name it.  We each then guiltily admitted to falling off the wagon, and having a hell of a time getting back on.

Someone then suggested a book, 28 Days Lighter Diet, which is written specifically for women.  I can't say enough good things about this book!  They address how our cycles work, they get into cravings and mood swings and pain, and why it happens.  They show you how to take control, by knowing when to exercise hard, what kinds of foods to go for, and when to retreat from the world and relax.  I think a big part of the craving cycle is, at least for me, a cry out for a break or a "treat" to soothe me when I'm overbooked, overworked and overstimulated.  They advocate avoiding gluten and minimizing sugar so they are in line with what I'm hoping to achieve.

I'm determined that this will help me to stay on the wagon the way I want to.  I also read a great article recently of a woman who has been sugar free for 3 years, found here, because she relies on coconut oil for her craving fixes.  Switch fat for sugar and viola.  I certainly have been leaning on the fat more and have found that the sugar craving is absolutely reduced.  Ha ha- until it isn't…

If you have cravings, find you're missing chocolate, try this on for size:
unsweetened chocolate fudge
This recipe has been saving my butt.

Cheers to a better, saner month!