Thursday, January 31, 2013

T- Minus 1. . .

So . . . tomorrow's the big day.  The official launch of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church's Health and Wholeness Initiative with the showing of the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and the beginning of a month-long juice fast.  (We'll be showing the movie again next Tuesday, February 5th, and will be giving folks who'd like to try a juice fast -- but don't want to try going a whole month -- an opportunity to join the effort part-way through beginning on Wednesday, February 13th.)

I could have titled this post "Be Prepared," because that's what I want to look at -- preparation.  How does somebody prepare for something like going without solid food for an entire month?  Here are a few thoughts . . .

1)  Recognize that this will probably be pretty hard.  Lots of people find the first day pretty easy -- excitement, enthusiasm, endorphins.  Some people find the first day incredibly difficult, but lots of folks find it easy.  Perhaps deceptively so.  The second and third days, though, most people report as challenging.  There are a lot of changes going on -- physiologically as well as psychologically.  For lots of folks there's actual withdrawal going on.  So things start to get tough.  But usually by sometime around day seven -- but maybe as late as the tenth day -- things begin to turn around.  You start to feel incredible.  Energy increases.  Hunger and cravings (not always the same thing!) have really decreased.  If you can get to this point, you're usually pretty much good to go for the duration.

2)  Perfectionism can hinder progress.  Another, and more well known, way to say this is, "the perfect is the enemy of the good."  Some people, especially after seeing Joe Cross' movie, think that a strict regimen of vegetable and fruit juicing is the only way to go.  And it's got to be sixty days or it's worthless.  Neither is true.  The whole purpose of something like a juice fast is to give your system a chance to "reboot" itself.  The long-term goal, of course, is to make real and lasting change.  So if you want to/need to modify the reboot a bit, that'll be better than doing nothing.  So if "juice only" seems too austere, try adding in a smoothy or two.  Some people find the added substance (not to mention the inclusion of more insoluble fiber) helps tremendously.  Other people find that they can be successful when they juice for part of the day and then eat one healthful meal each day -- maybe a hearty vegetable soup or a serious salad.  And perhaps it should go without saying that not doing a fast for thirty-days is not the end of the world.  It's not failure.  (That's why at TJMC we're giving an opportunity for folks to join the fast "already in progress" at the halfway point.)  There's a scene in the movie in which Joe addresses this very thing, saying that if you succeed at juicing for ten days, or a week, well . . . in his Australian accent  . . . "good on you."

3) Falling is not the same as failing.  Some people feel that if they "slip" at some point during their fast, if they give in to their cravings and eat something, then they have failed.  I can speak from personal experience of how easy it is to start thinking, "Oh, well, I've proven that I can't do this so I might as well give up."  But there's a great Taoist saying that the definition of success is:  fall down seven times, get up eight times.  So . . . you succumbed to temptation and ate some of the veggies you were getting ready to juice . . . or you took a taste of the food you were making for your family . . . or you broke down and went through the drive-through.  Okay.  Not great, but not the end of the world.  Pick yourself up and have another juice.  Remember, the juice fast, in and of itself, is just a step on a much longer journey -- a lifelong journey of improving your health -- and as another Taoist saying puts it, "even stumbling steps lead not backwards."

4)  Have a plan.  Leonard Bernstein apparently once remarked that the way to accomplish great things is to have a plan and almost enough time.  For us, the plan part means to have your juicer and know how it works.  Have some recipes in place.  Go shopping so that you have the ingredients you'll need.  (Make sure to get lots of kale, carrots, apples and ginger!)

5)  Remember that you're not alone.  One of the reasons for offering this opportunity to the TJMC community is so that we can do it together.  And throughout the month (or half-month) we'll be able to check in with one another, and keep each other inspired (and honest!), and remind each other that this really is worth doing -- that the health of our bodies is as important as the health of our spirits and our minds.

So . . . for those who can make it, see you tomorrow night, February 1st, at 6:30 pm.

In Gassho,

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