Every journey has its ups and downs.
The first week and a half of the Challenge was tough for me. As I mentioned in my previous post, when the challenge began Dave and I also decided to give the Paleo lifestyle a chance. We decided if we were going to do it, we were going all the way. So we grabed our reusable grocery bags and cleared out our pantry of all food that was considered contriband. We did the same to our refridgerator and then took everything over to Dave’s parents house so we couldn’t dip into the bag at any point.
I like most people, will experience waves of hangryness when I am first starting a diet. (wow…did you know that hangry and hangryness are legitimate words according to spellcheck?!) This first week of Paleo was no different. I wanted chips, I wanted cookies, and I wanted cheese. All of which are off limits if you’ve gone Paleo. I was emotional, I was hangry, and no amount of fruit was going to solve my problem.
Add to that the fact that Dave seemed to never have ANY cravings which just acted as lighter fluid to my hangryness fire. I couldn’t comprehend how he was able to avoid all the cravings I was having myself. I couldn’t understand how in the heck he wasn’t HUNGRY?! It was during this time, that I started to coorelate the incredible hunger I had, with the emotions I was feeling. I felt a little bit like they explain a transistioning vampire in the CWs hit show Vampire Diaries “Everything’s heightened, you (feel) just a little bit more intensely, love more powerfully. Anger becomes rage. When you’re sad, you’re in despair. Grief. Loss. It can cripple you. That’s why so many of us turn our emotions off. It just becomes…too overwhelming.” That was indeed how I was feeling. Every emotion I had was being elevated to an extreme. And the only thing I wanted to comfort it was food. Much like the only way the vampires heal those feelings is through feeding themselves. And I wanted nothing more than to have a switch that would just flip off these human emotions I was feeling.
It was the Friday of the second week in, and I hadn’t lost any weight according to my scale at home. I had signed up for a 6:00AM class at the studio, but my alarm hadn’t gone off and I had slept right through it. I decided that instead of derailing myself and writing off the whole day, I would attend the 9:30AM class that day. It turned out that the instructor that usually teaches that class was out, and one of the other instructors was subbing. The instructor that subbed that morning (Heather) is also a meditation coach. And that day, as class was drawing to a close, after our cool down Heather had us all focus on a meditation. This meditation is called Long Time Sun. As we started Heather asked for us to listen to the words of the first verse and apply it to ourselves “May the long time sun shine upon you, Oh love, surround you, and the pur light, within you, guide you on your way” I felt myself listening to the words and claiming the safe space they brought me to. All the while praying that God would help me find the energy and peace I needed to walk away from this hangryness.
The second first (same as the first) started and Heather encouraged us to think of someone that we needed to forgive and send the same message of comfort and peace that we had just received for ourselves out to them. This, my friends, is where the tears began to flow and I couldn’t fight them back. Thinking of someone that I was so resentful of, and sending them love and peace is exactly what we should do. But seeing this persons face so vividly in mind, to the point where she was practically standing in front of me, hurt. It felt like all the pain was hitting me all over again. And it took all I had within me to open up and genuinely attempt to forgive, send love and peace to this person.
The third verse started, and I was still reeling from the second. I paid attention to the words, listened carefully to what they were saying, and prayed that I’d believe them. Heather wrapped things up, and I wiped my eyes. To this day, I don’t know if it was because I pushed myself hard in class, or if it was because I was struggling so much with the diet, or if I was overwhelmed by the emotions I felt when I thought about this person – but whatever it was, I needed chocolate to fix it and knew I couldn’t have it.
As I made my way out of the room and to the cubbies I was still reeling from the emotional finish to class. I smiled at a few of my fellow challenge members and decided to stick around to ask Heather a couple questions about meditation. Growing up in a Christian household, I was taught to focus on prayer, not really meditation. If I’m being honest, meditation has always felt a bit occultish to me. But there was something about this particular moment, and the moments leading up to this day that had started to make me think that there may be something to this meditation thing. I explained this to Heather, and as I started asking questions the emotions of the morning and the weeks leading up to this morning hit me again. As I sat on the bench tying my shoes and asking Heather about meditation, I started to cry again. I apologized and Heather ran to my side and said there was no need to apologize. That one of the aspects of the challenge was definitely spiritual and emotional. And sometimes we “just have to feel our shit.”
Y’all…that’s exactly what I was doing. I was feeling my shit. And it felt like a giant rock sitting on my shoulders. I almost felt smothered by the intense emotions I was experiencing. But I was also feeling a tad bit of relief with every tear that was dropped. It took a few days, and LOTS of patience from Dave (seriously, have I mentioned how awesome he is?), but eventually I was back to being myself. Only this time my “normal” didn’t feel so heavy. I was feeling lighter emotionally. I was praying more regularly again, and I was trusting that being a forgiving person is who I wanted to be. I no longer wanted to hang on to bitterness and hurtfulness. I wanted to let it go, truly let it go. I wanted to spend my energy on being the best wife, the best friend, the best daughter I could be. I wanted to be positive, and be surrounded by positive people. I knew this now more than ever. It was at this moment I believed this 8 Week Wellness Challenge I had embarked on would be more than just a physical change for me and I was truly excited to see who would come out of this.