March started off with a surprise! I didn’t know at the point when I wrote my last post that I would be starting the month with a 10 day blood sugar detox. The detox required cutting gluten, processed foods, caffeine and alcohol out of my diet, and only allowed limited fruit. Additionally, there was a morning smoothie to start each day including: blueberries, almond milk, avocado, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almond butter, chia seeds, lemon and water. At various points in my life I have completed similar challenges such as following a raw food diet for a week, being vegetarian, being gluten free, etc., because it is a great way to learn about how your body reacts to particular foods, but this one was particularly painful. I am proud to say that I completed the detox (because at a few points I wanted to give up), and I learned a lot about my current habits and body. The hardest part of the detox, by far, was giving up caffeine. I had a constant headache for the first four days, and napped in the back office at work on my lunch break for the entire first week. I realized that I haven't taken a step back from my caffeine habit in a long time. I was also habitually drinking more coffee than ever before in my life. I experienced many negative feelings without my usual morning and afternoon coffees including: headaches, tiredness, impatience, cheerlessness, and depression. I learned that coffee is actually a mild anti-depressant, so taking it away so quickly turned me into a real April Ludgate.
There were some positives (after the withdrawals) as well though, including: liberation from a vice/habit, spending less money, falling asleep more easily, more consistent energy and then, of course, the pride from completing a difficult challenge. I have not yet decided which aspects of this detox, if any, will last, but I certainly hope to maintain some of the good habits including cooking more of my meals, a lot of food prep, and mindful snacking.
Although the detox is over, I still have a few weeks to go on my other two March resolutions: not buying myself anything, and oil pulling every day. They are both going wonderfully. So far, I would have bought or seriously considered buying: a hat, a tie, a bowtie, a subscription snack service, and a subscription menswear accessory service. I definitely would not have bought them all, but I probably would have bought some of them. I don’t think the amount of money I’m spending/saving this month will drastically change, but I do think the ways I’m spending my money (things vs. going out for drinks, going out to eat, purchasing pricier grocery/pantry items) will. My other challenge, oil pulling, has proven to be the easiest add-in that I have tried so far this year. I do it in the mornings while I’m showering/getting dressed, and no time is lost. I hope this will be the first successful add-in challenge of the year! I am also looking forward to seeing if I feel a drastic difference in the whiteness of my teeth and my overall oral health by the end of the month.
I have been thinking a lot recently about my overarching goal for the year, which is to further develop my mindfulness, and I have learned something surprising. I have not only learned the power of vulnerability and bravery through writing, but that I have come to rely on it. This blog has become more than just the way to chronicle the mindfulness challenges; it has become a part of them! Writing about my experiences has been the most important piece of becoming more mindful. I hope to continuing to be vulnerable here, so that I can become even more vulnerable with, by and for myself. Writing out my anxieties, realizations, experiences and identities is now my version of shouting into the void: “I’m normal and everything’s fine…right guys?” Once it’s been shouted, it’s on it’s way to resolution. Sometimes all you need is the shout.
So, let’s shout.
This year, I have been actively trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. I realized that there are so many rituals that I practice for no reason other than because I’ve done them for so long. Some of the many examples include shaving, plucking my eyebrows, wearing one particular type of underwear, and I’m sure there are many more that I have not yet realized. I had not shaved my legs yet this year until about a week ago. It was interesting how uncomfortable it made me feel. I worried about being judged any time my legs were visible, especially on the subway. I finally shaved because it was warm enough to wear my bike shorts on my morning commute, and the thought of my legs being that naked and visible put me over the edge and back into my comfort zone. The funny thing is though, I seriously doubt many people noticed; and if they did? They probably didn’t care. I realized that the only person that my hairy legs offended was me. I was also surprised that I was a little sad to finally shave them. I think they became an important symbol, but I'm not sure why. I have not, however, shaved my pits, much to the amusement of my mom who gets to see the progress every week at yoga. I’m not sure what these experiences mean for my shaving future, but I’m giving myself time and space to really test my boundaries, and they are certainly expanding.
So, I’m looking for more ways to make myself uncomfortable. Any ideas? I’d love to hear any input on more ways to challenge habits and rituals, or any examples of changes you have made! It seems like the lowest hanging fruit would be forcing myself to go out on dates. Perhaps that is in my near future. I’m finally, for the first time in a long time, comfortable enough with myself to get back out there.
All of this is summed up beautifully in one of my dad’s favorite quotes:
Let’s all work towards being the best version of ourselves that we can be for ourselves first, and then for others.