a work in progress

the halfway point


I recently embarked on the Medical Medium liver rescue cleanse in an attempt to treat my autoimmune disease, food allergies, and a laundry list of symptoms. When I first reviewed the nine-day map of what I was supposed to eat, how much of it, and when, it all seemed simple enough. The protocol wasn’t completely foreign to me, I’m no stranger to food restrictions, and nine days is nothing. I realized Thanksgiving was the day after I was scheduled to complete my liver detoxification, decided it was meant to be, and went all out.

For the first five and a half days I closely followed the eating schedule. I referenced the book so frequently I decided to keep it out on my kitchen table, open and ready to go. I went to the grocery an absurd number of times and spent more on produce than ever before. I devoted what felt like hours cleaning said produce and preparing it for giant salads, liver detox smoothies, and snacks to eat while I was at work. I postponed plans that I knew would hinder my ability to follow the protocol, I stuck to my schedule, and I waited patiently to see the wonderful ways my body would benefit from my sacrifices.

But then the weekend came, and it was my boyfriend’s birthday, and everything just kind of fell apart. I woke up that Saturday morning and followed my plan for the first half of the day. When one o’clock hit, however, we met a bunch of his friends out for day drinking and celebrating, I decided that I would enjoy a cocktail or two, but try to avoid foods that were on the no-fly list. Needless to say, that didn’t work out at all, and I’m sure it was better for everyone in attendance that after two hours of drinking and no solid food in my stomach all day, I scrapped my entire plan and decided to just have fun. I ended the evening with lemon water, just like Anthony William recommends…but only after tacos, scotch, and an obscene number of tater tots.

The next day looked very similar. It began with all the right foods and even a pilates class, but then we joined friends for brunch and followed that with a Saints game. Once again I tried to salvage the day by ending on a strong note, but by Sunday evening it was blatantly evident that my liver detoxification was over.

As I prepared for the week ahead I wondered if I wanted to throw in the towel and resume my old habits, or get back on it and do what I could before Thanksgiving. Was I noticing any positive changes that might make me want to try again? Should I wait until after the holidays so that I could really do this properly? I absolutely hate doing things halfway, and I was kind of upset with myself for giving up so quickly. I’m a compulsive, goal-oriented person. Falling short of a standard, whether self-imposed or not, is not something I’m comfortable with.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I was really enjoying most of the new habits I’d acquired in those few days. I didn’t miss my morning coffee and oat bran at all and no longer spent the morning hungry and looking for snacks. Additionally, my skin was noticeably clearer (someone actually told me I was glowing; imagine that!), I had more energy, and I was sleeping better. I couldn’t tell if my joints ached less than usual, but considering the amount of effort I still spend stifling my symptoms, I wasn’t surprised. I determined that I would keep some aspects of the program that I liked, scrap others, and agreed not to beat myself up anymore for straying off-course.

As the days passed that’s exactly what I did. I made the protocol fit my life rather than the other way around. Still, I followed some of the guidelines and actually created a system for myself that not only was sustainable but still allowed me to see some benefits from the changes I made. The biggest sign occurred during my acupuncture appointment the day before Thanksgiving, Without knowledge of the steps I was taking to detoxify my liver, my acupuncturist informed me after my assessment that she wouldn’t be treating any points associated with my liver meridian. Typically that’s the spot associated with most of my symptoms, and it’s been my primary focus since I began seeing her about eighteen months ago.

Maybe there is something to gain from doing something halfway?

With chronic illnesses and chronic pain, I have to budget my time, energy, activities (and basically everything) very carefully. Honestly, I think that most people would agree that their resources are limited by one factor or another and that they have to make sacrifices, too. We’re all faced with the decision to choose what we can and can’t handle all day every day, right? While my inclinations tell me that it’s not worth doing something if you can’t do it all the way, my body usually isn’t on the same page. Do you know how long it took me to learn that it was still worth running even if it was only at 40% of my body weight, no more than two miles at a time, and no more than three times a week? Or that it’s possible to go to a party, have a nice time, and leave early? Perhaps it’s less of a cop-out and more about self-preservation, listening to your body, or simply doing what’s best for you instead of for someone else.

So, as you go about the holiday season where we are (at least I am) guilty of taking on even more than I can handle, don’t be afraid to half-ass something. Hell, take it a step farther and say no if you need to, because there is plenty to be gained from that, as well!

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