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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2023

This too shall pass

Melanie in Portugal at table
What a five day detox taught me about a commonly half-baked statement

“Everything is temporary.”
Brianna Wiest’s recent post rang loudly in my ears. 

My body is temporary.
My plans are temporary.
My work is temporary.
My friends are temporary.
This life I’ve built is temporary.

The marriage I adore, the house I live in, the worry I’ve felt, the joy I savor, the sorrow, the pain, the heartache, and even the tree outside my front door. It’s all temporary. 

So, why do I feel as if I must hold on tight to my plans, my suffering, the things I surround myself with? It’s all temporary anyway.

A week ago, I had a call with my functional medicine doctor about my constant bloating along with my allergy flare-ups. My guts would swell after everything I ate and the fitter I got the more it showed. I eat incredibly healthfully and listen to my body’s needs, yet something was off. No matter what I did, bloating. 

Then my eyelids would get red and puffy, and my under-eyes would crack. With lots of testing and trying new methods and foods, we figured out it was mold and bacteria that just wouldn’t go away. After two years of trying everything else, it was time to take drastic measures. She muscle-tested my body and let out a sigh before asking: 

“How do you feel about not eating for five days?”

Umm… no?

That’s definitely not what I was hoping she’d say, yet as I looked at my calendar, it was perfect timing if I had to. The Universe seemed to have a plan for me and knew it was time.

Dan was leaving for a wedding in Italy the next day for a week, my house would be empty and no one would be cooking food around me. My house would be empty of food smells and distractions. I had tons of creative plans and a lot of alone time to make it happen.

“Sure, let’s do it. What could go wrong?”

Over the next five days, I would put my body through a bentonite clay detox. I would drink more water than a mermaid while taking glasses of food-grade liquid clay mixed with apple pectin (it tastes as bad as you think). 

All the while, I would dream of eating burgers and sloppy pizza. What I didn’t realize was how this would be the toughest mental game of my life. 

[Before I go any further, I have to make a medical note: This clay detox is not for everybody and should only be done under doctor supervision. I am not a doctor and am only sharing my own experience, so please make sure to consult with someone (happy to refer mine) before doing this.]

What I would learn later is that this kind of detox cleans out your intestines. It attaches itself to the walls of your large intestine to get rid of mold, bacteria, and cancer cells while healing telomeres (which help you live longer) while also being great for your genetics. 

It’s a full reset of your system. Yet even with all of that knowledge, my mind was not prepared for what would happen as I processed this detox.

Over the next five days, I’d begin to go into full ketosis (where my body burns fat instead of carbs for energy) and truly understand what my body was capable of (while wondering how I was still alive). This detox was able to shine a light on how much I craved, how little I noticed, how unconscious I was as I was feeding my body, and how much I thought about food.

I’ll spare you the details of what happens to a human body as it processes this clay mixture, yet jump right to the top 10 insights I found as I spent 5 days alone resetting my entire digestive system, my nervous system, and my time management. 

1. The human body is a powerful container.

When my doctor first shared the details of my detox, I kept trying to explain how it wouldn’t be possible. Then I reminded myself that people around the world go for days and weeks without food and stay alive. I am in a very lucky position to have a doctor and access to healthy food and clean water. I know that as a healthy adult, this is something my body can do more easily than many others because I take good care of my body. Over the course of those five days, I found that it wasn’t just my strength in muscles, yet also willpower and mindset that would allow me to white-knuckle my way through the hunger and exhaustion. I also knew it was for my highest and best good, especially since I outwardly show my symptoms when my body is unhappy with its food or environment.

2. Food takes up a lot of my day.

I had NO idea how much of my day was spent thinking about food, preparing food, desiring food, eating food, cleaning up after food, or just being hungry. By the end of this, I figured out that I spent at least 30% of the day thinking or doing things related to food. When I didn’t have to think about food, only taking my little mixture of detox potion three times a day, I had way more time to do the things I’m normally too busy to do. The only problem with this is in my next point…

3. I can’t be creative when I’m starving.

While I had tons of time, I had a really hard time concentrating on anything. I planned lots of creative time while Dan was out of town, yet when I dropped into this detox, I realized just how little of that would get done. So I decided to spend the time finishing projects around the house that never got attention. The only problem was that I’d start cleaning a pile in one room and walk to another to see something else I could do. This is pretty normal for me even when I’m well-fed, yet I could normally reorient myself quickly when I have food in my system. When food is missing, all of my distractions are on high alert to make sure I don’t stay on track. Humans need food to focus, even if we’re prone to distraction.

4. I have a lot more bad habits than I realized. 

Spending my days alone without food, my bad habits showed up in big ways. I watched too much TV. I didn’t read enough. I spent too much time inside when I really wanted to be outside. I wore workout clothes when I could dress up. I scrolled through my social media feeds instead of journaling. I bought stuff I really didn’t need. 

5.  My cravings = my feelings.

As I moved through my days without food, I could see my feelings through my cravings. A Five Guys burger, a brick-oven pizza, a pile of Albanese gummy bears, homemade onion rings dipped in dill ranch from the local dive, a glass of rosé, and my all-time fave: Bitchin’ sauce with avocado oil chips (mmm…). Every feeling had an equivalent food choice. Anger, frustration, sadness, joy, giggliness, wonder, boredom… not one time did I say “goodness, I’d love a salad right now.” I saw just how often I went to certain foods when I had certain feelings. Not being able to eat the foods caused me to realize just how often I allowed myself to succumb to the cravings instead of allowing the feelings. Once I allowed the feelings, I could move past them quicker and more lovingly. I’ll be using a lot more grace instead of food in the future.

6. I can do anything I set my mind to.

Three years ago, I found out that I had been doing incredibly adventurous things my entire life with suffocating anxiety. I did everything scared, like jumping out of an airplane or traveling all of Scandinavia for three weeks alone. Now that I don’t have anxiety, I’ve realized there’s another level to this idea of doing things I set my mind to. I honestly didn’t fully believe that I could make it the whole five days. Even my doctor said that if I couldn’t make it, whatever I did would be helpful. It would take every bit of my willpower and belief in myself to get through it, and I did. This showed me that it wouldn’t matter what stood in my way, I’d be able to find my power, even if it took everything inside of me to do so. I feel unstoppable now.

7. The best way to slow down time is to stop eating.

Do you ever go on vacation and wish the time would slow down? I have a great new trick: just do a detox while on vacation. The days will slow down to hours and the hours will slow down to minutes. Then the minutes will become seconds. I couldn’t focus on a book, journaling, a movie, or cleaning, so each moment became obsessed with “how can I get to the next time I have to take this clay mixture?” and my days slowed down to a slow crawl. OR, instead, you can focus on being in the moment instead of what’s going to happen next–that would be a better way to slow it down. We do have the power to slow down time when we’re more present.

8. My eating needs to be more mindful.

When was the last time you put a blindfold and tasted something for the first time? That’s how I’m eating everything I eat now. As if it’s the first time. Before this detox, I would put food in my mouth and look down to see that my food was gone without remembering what it even tasted like. For years, eating food was more about making sure I got enough nourishment, yet now I want to taste every single thing I eat. Taking time with each flavor and ingredient instead of devouring it to meet a specific intake goal.

9. I have a lot of unfinished projects because I’m “busy.”

Do you have piles sitting in different places that you’ll “get to at some point?” No? Just me? I’m one of those very particular kinds of people who likes order. My mantra at home is: “Everything has a place and everything goes in its place.” It’s something my mother instilled in me. I have a hard time when things aren’t where they’re supposed to be, yet I also have a habit of creating piles that I’ll put in their place, then don’t seem to find time to put them there. Over these five days, I had time to put them away, and I realized just how much “stuff” I need to Marie Kondo–trash, recycle, or give away. If it doesn’t give me joy or serve a specific function, it goes. So, I’ve begun finishing those unfinished projects and have greater awareness around how much energy they’re taking away from the things I want to finish. 

10. Being alone is underrated. 

It’s been two years since I was home alone without someone in my home, so taking five days without live human interaction was going to be a shift for me. Only one of those days did I spend any time with someone (who had been sick and wasn’t eating either), so giving myself the space to see the truth of what being alone really looked like, I found that I need more time alone. I really love being with myself. I’m a pretty badass companion, so I’ll be scheduling more alone time in the future (hopefully with food included so I can be more creative.)

BONUS: I am OBSESSED with strength training.

When Dan & I moved to Vero Beach, we hired a personal trainer and started going two to three days a week. If we’re home, we never miss our scheduled days and when I started this detox, I had to cancel a week of appointments. I didn’t realize just how integral those training sessions have become to my mental health until I couldn’t go. At almost 44, I’m in my hot-girl phase, in the best shape of my life, and I know that it’s only going to get better. More weights, please. 

This too shall pass

Much like Brianna’s note, I have “This too shall pass” tattooed on the inside of my right bicep. This phrase is typically only associated with hard times, yet can be even more powerful when used in the best times. Everything passes. Everything is temporary. Hard times are temporary. Beautiful moments are temporary. So, what if we allow ourselves to see what’s possible in every moment? 

  • What if we took time to take note of the teaching of the hard times?
  • What if we sunk into the beautiful moments and savored them?
  • What if we smelled that fresh peach and delighted in the scent before taking a bite?
  • What if we touched that peanut butter to our tongue and made a delightful noise?
  • What if we held our loved ones a little longer?
  • What if we said nice things to our bodies instead of focusing on what we don’t enjoy?
  • What if we truly knew that everything was temporary and allowed ourselves to live in the moment?

In order to live extraordinary, even if temporary, lives, we must take care of these beautiful containers we’ve been loaned for this lifetime. It’s up to us to make this temporary time on earth as impactful as we can. So, what do you need to shift in order to step more fully into this temporary life with impact, love, and delight?

Here walking alongside you, one savory step at a time.

xoxo
Melanie