International Yoga Day! Summer Solstice! Week One Complete of the Whole 30!

Namaste bright and shiny lights! I hope you have been doing well! I have so much to celebrate today, it is almost overwhelming. Of course, that actually might be my energy levels that are improving drastically from the last week of getting my nutrition back on track. One week ago I decided to take control over my digestive issues I have suffered from since childhood. For 20 years now I have seriously studied nutrition and the different “diets” or eating plans. I have never been fully “diagnosed” ( whatever that means…hell, they are still “practicing medicine” after all) but have spent a lot of time in the past talking with doctors, dietitians etc that insist there is nothing wrong with me. And there isn’t, but food is my biggest nemesis at times. I eat healthy, but over the years have realized that I have a very sensitive digestive system. I don’t tolerate wheat, gluten, grains of any kind, beans, dairy, or sugar very well. My skin erupts in horrible and painful cysts, my hair was falling out years ago, my stomach gets so bloated I could pass for being 4 months pregnant at times, my brain always felt foggy, my knees hurt, and I had a terrible time with regular eliminations. ( I know, TMI..but, also the first and most important sign of a digestive system in dire need of help.) If you don’t eliminate properly daily, then you can have a whole host of issues as a result. And hey, we’re all adults and humans, so it is what it is…we all do it! So the last week, I have cut out everything. Except for organically, pasture raised, humanely raised meat from a local farm, organic vegetables, some organic fruit, and nuts. That’s it. And I already am feeling so much better. My skin is clearing up, my tummy hasn’t been bloated or gassy, I am sleeping better, my energy is starting to return to my normal speed of not sitting still for too long, and I feel great. Like I am taking my life back from the evils of the sugar monster. It was starting to tighten the grip again, which is so easy to have happen. Sugar is by far the most evil ingredient on the planet! It is the most addictive substance I have struggled with. And the issue is, it is in EVERY thing. Every thing people. Turn any label over and it is sure to appear in some form. I also realize some of you must be thinking: “she eats meat? I thought Yogis were vegetarians.” I so respect the folks who are, and I was for 7 years. The fact of the matter is, my digestion can’t tolerate it. Beans are hard to digest. Tofu and Tempeh are soy based. I avoid soy at all costs due to extremely high estrogen receptive breast cancer that is rampant in my DNA. I try to get as much protein from veggies as I can. But, in truth, my body craves protein. Some blood types require animal protein, and I am one of them. I suffered from major digestive distress during those 7 years, and thought I was trying to heal my gut then, but was only aggravating it. And I tried again this past winter for the three weeks I traveled through Nepal, India, and Bali. And I got so uncomfortable and miserable, I had to visit an Aryevedic doctor and had to get some herbs from him just to try and adjust, which helped, but the minute I ate some meat, my tummy calmed back down. It just is what it is. I respect animals and love them dearly. I eat from local, grass fed farms who treat their animals as humanely and compassionately as possible. It’s the best I can do.

My most amazing partner in this journey, Kevin, decided to join me in the Whole 30 challenge. I will admit that his diet is improving just in our time together. But, when we met, I’ll admit, the food snob in me turned my nose up on many occasions. I had a hard time allowing myself to feel comfortable even dating him because I thought we were just too different. It has made me realize how many people are simply not educated about nutrition and if you don’t take an interest in it and become your own advocate, how easy it is to just shop the middle aisles of the supermarket and fill your cart with all those unhealthy foods. I actually remember him asking me at one point why I don’t go down the middle aisles to shop. With the exception of nuts, coffee, and tea, or paper products, I don’t. I go to the meat aisle and produce aisles. That’s it. Sounds hard, but it is not! The outer aisles are where the real food is. The middle aisles are a conundrum of things I can’t pronounce or know what the hell it is. But yet, we eat all those chemicals and man made ingredients. Eating whole foods as they come out of the ground, off of a tree, or from a precious animal who was given a good quality life, is all I put in me. I did get off track with sugar. I’ll admit it. More on that in a moment.

The last week, exploring this new way of eating with Kevin, has been interesting. I admire him for all the changes he is making in his life as it is, but to take a grasp on his diet is impressive to me. Explaining that the next 30 days are going to be hard, and rewarding at the same time, was the easy part. Doing it, is a bit more challenging. But, he is crushing it! A couple of slips, not realizing what exactly we are doing, because hey..this is all new to him and nutrition is a new concept, is just part of the learning curve. It was also interesting to go to a store together and look at a few bottles of sauce to spice up a stir fry the other night, and it shed so much light on how much sugar and extra soy, gluten etc..is in stuff. And this was Whole Foods, not a regular store. It was shocking! Try it. Look at any label in your fridge: salad dressing, milk, ice cream…whatever you have. Read it. Look at that sugar content. Holy crap! No wonder it is the most addictive thing out there. They put loads of it in everything. I feel so great from cutting it out, but I am realistic and know that I will eat it again. I just want to get back to where it is every once in a while, not in every food I eat. It’s amazing how I feel just after 7 days of no sugar, amongst everything else, but this is what I was thinking recently was becoming an issue, and the proof is impossible to ignore. No bloated belly. No “rumbling” belly. No pains. Granted, we both still have the “I want ice cream” moments. But, we have an apple instead. Or strawberries. I am actually waiting for the shift, more for Kevin than me, but to hear him say “I don’t even think about ice cream anymore”. Not sure that will happen, and no worries if it doesn’t! Taking small or in this case, pretty big steps, to get a handle on our health and nutrition is what is important. Becoming aware of what the food industry is really feeding us, even us healthy eaters, is what is important. The first steps lay the foundation, the rest follows. The more you read and educate yourself, the better of an advocate you become for your own health. I believe this also just naturally builds body awareness. Paying close attention to how you feel after you eat something, can help you tune in and notice when something doesn’t agree. I personally don’t think doctors can figure it all out. Sometimes you have to be your own investigator and take your health into your own hands.

 

 

The highest honor from my peers!

I am in such awe for how my path is catapulting forward as a spiritual practitioner and yoga teacher. I went into the Teacher Training program at Asheville Community Yoga, in January 2016, looking to deepen my own practice, with no intention of teaching. My world was blown so wide open and I remember the “click” exactly, when my mind switched from “oh hell no”, to “oh my God, I was meant to do this!” Let’s be honest, I just really like to tell people what to do, and they do it willingly:)  ok, sort of a joke, but it is really amazing to watch a sea of bodies flowing and moving together, but in their own rhythm and motion. I feel like teaching is sort of orchestrating this amazing dance, where no two people look the same. It is quite magical and beautiful, and all I do is crave more. I LOVE teaching. Nothing else I have experienced fills my soul with such pure joy and the feeling that I am “helping” someone in some way.

This month, less than one year that I have been a teacher, I was acknowledged by my peers, teachers, and the guides who brought me to my teaching path, as the June Teacher of the Month, at Asheville Community Yoga. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such an amazing community!

Click below to read my Q&A and learn a bit more about me and my Yoga Path!

June Teacher of the Month: Jill Phoenix | Asheville Community Yoga Center

30 day countdown to 40!

Namaste Beauties!

Welcome to my very first blog post! Whew, I have thought about this day for a long time. I talk a lot, so it’s only natural to want to write and “talk” with even more bright and shiny lights out in the world. I have so much I want to share with all of you, and it will all happen in time. Today is kind of a milestone for me in a way. This day begins the 30 day countdown until I enter a new decade, and turn 40. That even just looks and sounds weird! How in the hell am I about to turn 40?! I don’t feel 40. I don’t think I “act” 40 (whatever that means!) And I don’t think I look 40. But, what does 40 look like anyway? Well, that depends on a lot of things, but mainly genetics and lifestyle. I got quite screwed in the genetics department, so therefore I am fighting like hell to battle the obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc that is in my DNA, with my lifestyle. My diet is basically Paleo, even though I can’t stand labels! Basically, if I can’t pronounce it or know what it is, I don’t eat it. I eat whole and organic foods, and avoid processed foods. I eat local and grass fed humanely raised meat, but limited. I have tried a vegetarian diet, and was vegetarian for 7 years. It just doesn’t agree with me totally, with some of my dietary and gut issues I have suffered from since I was a child. That all being said, today I start a 30 day elimination diet, or as a lot of folks know it as the “Whole 30.” Again, I can’t stand a label! Basically, my trip to the east this winter was difficult to stick to my eating plan as a lot of the places I went, focus on rice and naan as staples. Dairy was added to stews and curries, and a lot of my trip I wasn’t given the option for “gluten and dairy free” foods. I was an opportunistic eater and ate what was provided. How do you act “picky” or point out allergies in countries where people are starving? Well, I don’t know either and I didn’t do it. I ate and was happy about it. Until my digestion and skin argued loudly enough I had to visit with an Ayurvedic doctor in India. However, even after he provided herbs to help remedy my discomfort at the time, my diet and practice have not been back on track fully, slipping here and there, for many months now as I have been adjusting back to my life here in Asheville, NC. I moved in with my partner, Kevin, when I returned and needless to say…our diets are nowhere near or similar to each other. The more we are together, the more I want to be around him. So, in turn, my practice has slipped a little as well. Add in some unexpected travels to lose a family member to cancer, and all hell breaks loose with you diet and yoga and meditation practice.

So today, 30 days until the 4th revolution around the sun begins for me, I start a reset. Not only will my diet change and go back to the basics: organic meat, organic vegetables and some fruits, and nuts and eggs. That’s it. 30 days: no sugar, no processed foods, no dairy, no grains. For me, not too bad as this is my regular diet I have followed for years. But, I need a reset for sure to get back on track.

I am also starting 40 days of Yoga and Mediation. Every. Damn. Day. YES!! Some days I get “tired” or find any excuse to not practice. It has become easy to slip. I am sure a lot of you know exactly what I mean!  Well, I like goals and plans. I like structure and discipline. And I need the push and motivation to start 40 off on the best foot possible! We’ll see how it goes. I’ll be here writing about my experiences. I hope you will be too!

Have a most beautiful and positive day, doing what you love! Or, at least, love what you’re doing today!

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Warrior 3 along the Niagara River, Niagara Falls, NY May ’17