Life's Reset Button is called 'Tomorrow'
I have recently completed a successful 3-day juice fast and controversial as it may be, I wanted to share some of the reasons why I, every now and again, feel the need to hit that reset button and start all over (hint: it is not because this is a ritual favoured by the likes of Kate Middleton either!) I lost 10lbs in just 3 days having fasted on Nutribullet juice (primarily green vegetables) for 72 long hours. The physical results leading to such a dramatic drop were indeed impressive although the caveat to this is that the majority of the loss was purely water weight, but I must also admit that the main reason I started this fast was to kick start a new motivational agenda. I am no UFC fighter or Boxer trying to make ‘weight’, rather I am someone who is very much motivated by results and outcomes.
Physical change has always been a strong motivating factor in my life. I’ve demonstrated this in the simple act of changing my hair style or altering my diet and fitness plan to change my body composition. What I have always struggled with however, is altering my mind-set and physical change seems to be the only thing that works for me. I do believe that positive thinking, mindfulness, affirmations and meditation are all extremely valuable and excellent means of motivation but I still haven’t found the cognitive method that helps me.
Looking back over the past couple of months, I realise that I have been in a bit of a rut.
I alluded to the stress of being a Stay-At-Home parent in my previous blog post and as true as this is, there is no doubt that I am also dealing with my fair share of general stress myself. Indeed, caring for a toddler with food allergies requires extra vigilance and a certain element of extra pressure but on top of this, I have not been helping myself to limit and reduce my own personal stressors. I have been stuck in a cycle of tiredness and fatigue - my solution to combat this being to consume lots of caffeinated and sugary drinks as a quick ‘pick me up’. I would go to bed every night, literally wired. This, from the Nurse who has facilitated countless educational groups on ‘Sleep Hygiene’ in the past and here I was, doing absolutely everything wrong. If the post 5pm Coffee wasn’t enough, the lying in bed looking at the phone at midnight was the real killer to achieving any proper REM sleep cycle at night.
It didn’t take long until the burn out. I was getting increasingly fatigued as the days went on and inevitably, increasingly stressed. It came as no surprise that after weeks of dietary neglect and sleep disturbance coupled with high cortisol levels that I eventually succumbed to the dreaded ‘anxiety’, an ailment that I know a lot of people suffer silently with every day. Anxiety is something that all of us face at some time or another. For some, it is chronic in nature and affects them every single day. For others, it can be chemically induced and happens following the intake of too much caffeine, alcohol or drugs. Regardless, the more people I meet through work and elsewhere, the more I realise that each and everyone of us experiences anxiety in some way, shape or form.
Anxiety, in a nutshell, is a complex emotional response that has some similarities to fear. Both anxiety and fear arise from similar pathways in the brain and can cause comparable behavioural and physiological responses. These include sleep disturbances, rapid pulse, excessive worrying, a spike in blood pressure and that flight/fight response. There is one distinct difference however - fear is associated with a clear and identifiable threat (like when I was walking through a field with bulls in it the other day), whereas anxiety occurs in the absence of an immediate danger (something that I certainly felt during my recent ‘rut’).
There’s isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t experience both fear and anxiety, it is a part of our day to day life and something that has evolutionary roots. These emotional responses kept our ancestors alive thousands of years ago. If the mad Celt, Paddy McDermott, wasn’t afraid or anxious, he would have been savaged by something higher in the food chain. Paddy McD needed a bit of anxiety but all this feeling does to his descendant, Shane McD now is make him uneasy and unhappy.
Find the source, fix the problem. Now, I know, it is way more difficult than this! Anxiety is often multifaceted and can have many catalysts but recently one of the sources of the problem for me has been my diet. So I chose to start there and I decided to do a reset, a juice cleanse, which would detox my body and alleviate one of the known sources of anxiety that plagued me. For three days, I avoided a lot of foods that can cause immediate physiological responses akin to stress. These included high GI carbohydrates, sugary foods, highly caffeinated beverages, processed food, foods high in flavourings and finally, tofu. I love tofu but I have a conspiracy theory that it messes with your hormones. It contains phytoestrogens (or plant estrogens) and it has been suggested that water retention is connected with higher oestrogen levels. My God, was I retaining water, that’s how I lost 10 lbs in three days. However, water retention can, in turn, spike blood pressure and inevitably have a negative impact on your ability to feel calm. The point is, those who tend to experience anxiety should not need any excess water retention. Have you ever tried creatine? I have and I won’t again!
I feel a lot better after this fast. This is by no way a cure for anxiety but it did help with one source of my unease and might offer some assistance for some people who may just feel ‘off’ with no obvious or apparent reason. Nutrition definitely plays an important role in many factors in life, particularly maintenance of good mental health. Sure didn’t a wise Greek once say,
“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”
Hippocrates with the mic drop 🎤💪
❤️➡️ Please feel free to tag or share if this blog post helped in any way