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My Plant-Based Journey

Putting My Body First

January 26, 2018

Hi, my loves. 🙂

I have been slowly coming back to life after my amazing Panchakarma experience at Surya Spa over the last two weeks, and I look forward to sharing all of the details with you. This is my first recap post and it’s mostly about inner musings and internal shifts that took place in my mind and soul, but especially in my body. The body is SO wise, the deepest well of knowledge, and I was able to be in such close symbiosis with it throughout this experience. It has been magical.

The PK experience was so unbelievably dear to my heart and really woke me up in a whole new way… in the sense that I’ve known I’ve needed to slow down for a long time now, but now I actually get it. Slowing down and living life more mindfully is not just something that I “should” do. Something to be achieved on a good day, or when there is time and space to do it.

No, it’s something I need to do for every aspect, every nook and cranny, every inch, of my health and wellbeing. 

I came across my dear friend Ashley Neese’s post this afternoon (check it out, she’s wonderful) about putting her body first, and the title struck me. That is what I want to write about today. That’s the first insight that I want to share from my Panchakarma.

Putting My Body First

I know I am not the only people pleaser here. So many of us, especially my fellow HSP’s (Highly Sensitive People!), get great satisfaction from making others happy, being well-liked, going above and beyond for the people we love, etc. And the larger our circles are, the more people there are to squeeze into that equation.

Somewhere along the line, between having this blog for almost 5 years (!!!) and living in both New York & LA in my adult life, I have cultivated a really, amazingly, large circle. Including you, if you are reading this! My greater circle is expansive and incredible, thanks to the Internet, so there is never a shortage of love and support but also never a shortage of people pleasing to be done (only in my mind, of course — the reality could be far different if I let go of my own expectations and pressure I put on myself).

No matter what, I keep my core circle really tight — most of my best friends are people I have known since kindergarten and middle school. Between my family and friends, my Internet life, and people who I have met in this industry and along the way… I have found myself over the last few months (years, really, if I’m being totally honest) feeling like there will never, ever, be enough of me or enough time to please people & satisfy all agreements / commitments, or make everyone happy.

It started to eat away at me inside.

By December (right before I went to Bali) I was so overcommitted and crunched for time I had a very real complete nervous breakdown. I had to un-commit myself from pretty much everything I possibly could, and took the time in Bali to seriously unwind and reconnect to my core inner being. It was amazing and deeply healing, but I knew in my heart it was the very beginning of a long road of unwinding from the way I had been living my life.

Then I came back, and after the holidays I hit the ground running again. Or at least I tried. Then my body started showing me physical signs of shutting down. It started with eczema which then turned into full-body hives (from my head to my toes, including my face, and everywhere in between), a ton of inflammation on the inside that was seeping its way to the outside, massive gut health issues, and of course the uterine fibroid that I now couldn’t stop thinking about ever since learning that I had it.

A few weeks ago I was crying on the couch with both legs bleeding from the rash and my back so inflamed I couldn’t even sit down — and I was deciding whether or not to cancel a photo shoot for the next day. I mean… am I crazy?!? DUH on canceling the photo shoot. Jonathan sat me down (or stood me up, in this case) and said: “This is crazy. Will you please cancel everything until you are better?”

I knew he was right and everything from my body to my heart was crying out for me to just STOP. To put myself first. To disappoint a few people to in turn really, truly, deeply care for myself.

So I did that, as much as I could. And then I headed into what I thought would be four days at Surya Spa which then turned into seven days. On my first day they took one look at me and told me seven days would be necessary, and they were so right.

Panchakarma Musings

While I was there, I took a full-on technology break. I didn’t open my computer, my phone was completely off, and I didn’t communicate with anyone (other than bumping into some friends in Whole Foods… a girl’s gotta live! Hehe). I didn’t even see Jonathan or speak to my parents! Total silence & introspection.

I did a lot of reading, watched some amazing documentaries, and dug deep into my heart, soul and third eye for WHERE these answers to my biggest health questions are. Why do I consistently get so sick, so run down, so inflamed, so PITTA (as they say in Ayurveda!), so anxious… when I am just living this life I’ve created for myself?

I came to a few answers, and the biggest one is this: I am living to make everyone happy before myself. It’s not that I don’t do things for myself, because I so do. I am the self-care queen. Kundalini, meditation, dry brushing, massages, facials, bubble baths, vacations, nights in, self dates, you name it!

But the problem wasn’t with the self-care… I was carving out the time for that. The problem was that I wasn’t putting myself first in everyday situations. I was still going so far out of my way to make sure I could be everywhere, do everything, run this business with my full heart, get back to people in a very timely manner, respond to all texts and emails and calls, on and on. A way of life that, over time, began fighting with my nervous system in every single way.

The other huge answer I came to was that I wasn’t taking care of my body in the way it was crying out to be taken care of. I have told myself for years that because I am into health and wellness, I eat extremely well, exercise, do yoga, rest, etc. that I SHOULD feel fine and healthy and well so I tricked myself into thinking I was when inside I knew I really wasn’t.

The truth is, my body has been crying out for a different kind of diet and lifestyle for a couple of years now. This became incredibly clear early this month when I began eating a dedicated Ayurvedic diet of kitchari, cooked vegetables, warming foods, nourishing ghee, spices, and herbs. I cut out my smoothies, salads, eggs, chocolate (I can’t live without chocolate so I am eager to add that back in!) and a lot of other daily staples to truly heal and listen to my body from the inside out.

Plant-Based Lovin’

For a long time I ran away from the plant-based way of life because clearly… I labeled myself as a vegan for so long and it was not healthy for me ultimately to be so attached or to be so limited. But now I do believe — no, I don’t believe but rather I know — there is a way for me to be predominantly plant-based while also listening to my body and allowing changes and ebbs and flows with time to occur. A plant-based diet is the most anti-inflammatory, and with how INFLAMED I have been it’s time I really listen and nourish my particular body  from the inside out.

I also did a ton of reading during the PK about the best way to eat for all of my various health issues and every. single. book. came back with the advice to be mostly plant-based. The books I was reading were not dogmatic or political. They were truly about HEALTH and wellbeing and longevity and healing and holistic alternatives. The universe was clearly pointing me in a very pointed direction.

In my head I have known for a long time that my body has been begging me to make this choice. In Bali I stated to J & myself that I was going to silently go plant-based for a while to see how it treated me. I officially started at the very end of December, and my gut health has been better than it has been in nearly four years. I can definitely say that this time around is already very different from my last dip into the plant-based waters, as I am fueling myself with lots of legumes and Indian basmati rice and healthy fats in a way that I simply did not do in my previous days as a vegan.

There is a lot more to the plant-based story here but I will save it for future posts and the Panchakarma podcast. 🙂

I should also say, as much as I love and respect everyone’s opinion on this subject, I am not looking for advice in this arena. I have been there, done that, and the whole point of this way of life is to listen to my own body and do what I feel is best for me from the inside out. Nourishing plant-based foods are calling me at the moment.

Wellbeing is a Lifestyle

As far as lifestyle… I realized that despite my best efforts I have still been running myself ragged in my everyday life. Just because I work from home and I am mindful about taking days off and having a great morning and evening self-care routine doesn’t mean that my work-life wasn’t totally bordering on workaholic overdrive. I would still wake up with heart palpitations about project deadlines, podcast edits, speaking engagements, events, etc. ALL the time. That is not the way I want to live my life.

Right now, my body and soul is craving a much more subdued life. One where I blog for FUN (and for work because of course that is my livelihood) and in a way that is completely balanced rather than taking on far too much. I am feeling the pull toward drawing inward and healing, spending more time in nature, and taking myself on healing retreats and trips versus planning out the original year that’s been in my head to host retreats all over the world.

A few healing trips I have coming up are… I am looking into a water fasting retreat in Sedona that I know will be deeply healing for me. I did a three day water fast during my Panchakarma and the dead cell & toxin die off was remarkable. As far as eczema, hives, and fibroids… water fasting (under the care of a trained doctor) is hugely beneficial and cutting edge. There is nothing new about it — but it’s something Western medicine has not latched onto just yet. I think in the coming years it will be one of the top methods of healing for those who are dedicated enough to dive in!

I am also going back to Bali for the month of April to heal. I will be alone, and will be writing, reading, getting daily spa treatments, eating all of the yummy local plant-based food, doing so much yoga and kundalini, and relearning how to be incredibly kind to my body.

I also have a few other healing retreats planned for myself that I will share when the time is right. 🙂

As far as exercise, the low intensity, low impact is still calling me. I will continue to do Orangetheory once a week (twice a week when I feel called to) to keep up my cardio routine because that is healthy and my body loves it, but I will not be diving into all of the running or massive amounts of HIIT at this time. Lots of yoga, and slow flow yoga to boot. Nothing too crazy over here.

LOVING Myself From the Inside Out

The biggest, hugest, most massive takeaway (other than feeling more psychically in tune than ever before during my PK) is how much I love myself and my body after this process.

Like all women (all humans, let’s be real), I have had my struggles with loving my body. There are parts of me I’ve always wished were different. Suddenly, during this PK, every single inch of me felt and RADIATED so much beauty in my eyes. Even the parts of me I have always felt the least in love with, I was holding onto with both hands and saying, “I love you, you’re safe here. It is safe to be in this body. It is safe to be a part of this body. You are so loved, and you are so beautiful.”

I truly believe this is a mindset and a feeling my body has been waiting for my entire life. The eczema itself was my body’s way of begging and pleading me to show myself wholehearted love. In many ways, I don’t think I have felt safe in my own body ever since I started developing massive stomach problems at the age of… zero!!! When I was truly just a baby. So always, as crazy as that may sound. I am sure a lot of you can relate.

The self-love I felt for my body throughout my PK was above and beyond. That is something I plan to take with me into my daily life, along with the lifestyle and dietary components above. I am also going to continue the Ayurvedic way of life and put a ton of emphasis on my routines, down time, and doing things on MY terms and my own way.

It’s been a long time of living one way (the people pleasing way), but I am ready to reverse it and dedicate myself to true healing from the inside out.

The best part is, I know this is only the beginning. I feel really good on the inside, but my rashes are still pretty much a mess and I still have a lot of toxins to release. The doctor at Surya Spa (Martha Soffer, the most amazing woman in the world) has me on a specific protocol and I will be back at Surya in a couple of weeks to do a liver cleanse with her. The toxins are still coming!

OH and I have parasites — a lot of them — and that is a story for another day as well.

I am so looking forward to hearing your thoughts about my very first Panchakarma musings, and all about how my body is ready for this new form of radical self-love. I have so much more to share on the subject and would love to hear your own stories + journeys of self-love! below