Most of us are completely out of touch with our bodies. We’ve been drowning out the signals sent by our digestive and nervous systems for so long that it’s become difficult to isolate what ails us, and almost impossible to define solutions. Every day, a million different factors stand between us and our optimal state of well-being. Work, stress, lack of sleep, familial and social demands, personal issues, poor diets and more prevent us from feeling strong, healthy and clear minded. We seem to save money and make time for everything and anything except what’s most important – proactively caring for ourselves.
To some people, recovery from spinal surgery might feel like a game of Chutes and Ladders crossed with a painfully slow round of Monopoly. To me, a physically and socially active, hard-working, always multi-tasking woman, it was more like water boarding. About 8 months after having back surgery, I was frustrated not only with the unexpected duration but with my inability to stay on track with my usual healthy diet and exercise routine throughout recovery. I tried like hell to keep my chin up and to keep perspective, but at times recovery felt like an endless stretch of undulating pain and frustration marked with milestones too small and far between to bear. Just when I started to feel like myself again, I would have some setback or surge in nerve pain that sent me right to the Peanut M&M’s or if it was bad enough, Suzie cakes. I could have taken pain killers and zoned out in front of the TV, but that simply wasn’t an option for me. Instead I engaged in a tug-of-war with my pain and recovery – refusing to let it take anything away from me and demanding cupcakes as consolation.
I tried to ride it out with a smile on my face. God did I try. But the inconsistent results of my consistent focus and determination left me in uncharted territory. I felt completely and utterly powerless and that is not a position I do well in. I did my best to avoid old habits every time the pain crept back up or kept me awake at night, but as work intensified through the winter and my wedding countdown began, it became increasingly difficult to resist comforting myself with food (and then punishing myself with exercise or restricted eating.) I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I couldn’t fix myself and move on. For the first time in years, there were days when I was dangerously close to crossing the line between that weakened, vulnerable state and self-destructive. At a time in my life when I needed to be more in tune with my bodies needs than ever, I simply couldn't afford to wrap myself in the ironically suffocating comfort of old familiar habits. I knew I needed to do something dramatically different to pull myself out before I got in any deeper. I had come too far to sink back into those muddied waters.
I voiced my need to get back on track for good to a close girlfriend of mine after a weekend of debauchery in LA. She immediately suggested I look into the Clean Program. I entered the name into my phone's note pad and strolled out of the airport. Little did I know her recommendation would not only get me back on track with my diet and well-being, it would reduce my pain to almost non-existent, remedy some other minor nagging issues I had previously dealt with and most importantly, give me a sense of clarity and perspective I have never experienced before.