Indigo30 DAY 30: Farewell

We have arrived … we have come to the end of our journey together. I am so grateful for the time that we shared. I am grateful for the lessons learned, the friends made, the goals achieved, big and small and everything in between.

Endings are always odd for me, I have to admit. I’d have to sit down with someone a lot more clever than myself to dig up some psychology on why I tend to go a little numb during goodbyes, but I am fairly sure it has something to do with the fact that I have had many endings in my life.

As a child I had many traumas of “low-grade neglect,” as I sometimes call it, the child of functioning alcoholics, and I had to grow up fast. It has always felt like a loss, my own childhood, especially as I watch my own children grow, and realize I cannot remember very large portions of my early years. Then the storms really blew in. I lost part of my home to a forest fire when I was 14. I lost my entire home to some kind of “accidental” fire when I was 16. I lost my mom mentally that day, her eyes rolled back into her head and she never returned to us, but rather to the bottle and any other numbing agent she could find to escape everything but a shallow breath. I lost my dad 12 years ago to my mom’s alcoholism and addiction, and subsequently to a new wife and life that didn’t really have any room for me, my brother or our children. I lost my mom to the heavens 6 years ago when her addictions, sadness, depression and despair were finally soothed by death. I’ve lost two and a half husbands, all three to some kind of addiction, and my behaviors in response went from very bad in retaliation to very enabling to, at long last, albeit enabling for a while, a non-negotiable  break with almost no emotion. (They call me the Head Witch but I am starting to think of myself more as the Black Widow.) I am a single parent who is raising her boys with no family around but, as irony would have it, an incredible sister-in-law. I built a company from less than nothing. The loss and aloneness I can feel at times are paralyzing. Thousands of moments have passed, when I have felt like I had no options, no wisdom and no guidance, when I have looked up because looking down can become a tendency, and imagined a holy angel, my mother, and said, “Why did you leave me? I need you. I can’t do this all by myself.”

As I look back on my life and its abundant loss, mostly of love, harmony, security and family, I have learned the skill of resilience and grit, which I am so thankful for, because gosh I have needed it when crumbling was just not an option. The downside of steadfast resilience and grit is a kind of numbing, a hardening. And it makes goodbyes feel like just another loss I need to gut through.

Before I even started this program, I vowed to myself that I would go through all of the processes with you, and be my own student. In many ways I also feel like I have now become my own teacher; the brilliant and wise teachers I have had over the years have, through their teachings, brought me back to me. I often hear them tell me in meditation, “You already know this. You already have the answers. You don’t need me to tell you. You already have this in you. I am not your teacher, you are your teacher. Stop looking outside of yourself. It’s all within you. All you have to do is listen.” Without me realizing it, through years of yoga, meditation and inquiry, I have learned the most important lesson of all: to trust my own intuitive way of doing things. Intuition isn’t always pretty. Trusting it is sloppy at best. Intution is flighty and it wanders all over the place and most of the time, it doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s a confusing house of mirrors, with no apparent strategy and seemingly no end. And yet, we all sum it up — what our gut, or our soul, or however you want to describe the inner knowing — with this common phrase, “everything happens for a reason,” which is an easy thing to say if the trauma isn’t happening to you, or after you know said reason. And it’s irritating AF to hear when you’re running into mirrors, bloodying your head.

So much of what I have written — perhaps all of it — is me teaching myself through you. The stumbling blocks, the sticky spots, the blind spots that lead us astray, the quagmire that we sometimes wallow in — I am doing all of the same things. I just have a really remarkable tool that I never really understood nor did I realize I had until the past year — it’s a piece of my heart and soul that always whispers, “keep going.”

Keep going, it says. Even if you have to slow down, just keep going.

When you want to fall apart, go ahead and fall apart. And then keep going.

When you want to run like the wind in the opposite direction of all of your responsibilities and all of the things that you created by your own choices and actions, go ahead and run. And then stop, and turn around and face it all like a warrior. And keep going.

When you feel all alone, keep going.

When you feel completely supported and everything is ambling along with ease and gentleness and comfort, keep going.

When the road comes to an end, you better get your thinking cap on and figure out how to build a new road. Because you have to keep going.

________

I was born near the Yankton Indian Reservation in southeastern South Dakota, on a very cold winter’s night in February, 1974. I was only one of two babies born that day. The reservation is the homeland of the Yankton Sioux and covers approximately 262,300 acres. It is the second-largest Indian reservation in the United States that is located entirely within one county. Legend has it that while Lewis and Clark gathered with the Yanktons in 1804 on Calumet Bluff, a baby boy was born. Captain Lewis learned about the birth, sent for the child, and wrapped him in an American flag. Lewis gave a speech in which he prophesied that the boy would live to become leader among his people and would be a great friend of the white men. “Struck by the Ree” (1804-1888) grew up to become Chief of the Yankton Tribe. As a leader, he befriended the whites, yet remained dedicated and loyal to his people. I love this story. I love that — a spritual leader of Mother Earth and the Great Spirit, brought people unlikely to befriend, together, and was a highly respected Chief among his devoted people — was born where I was born.

I grew up from age 2 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Black Hills rise from the horizon, a gloriously dark, mysterious and unexpected island in a sea of green and yellow prairie grass. Its pine forests and granite peaks keep centuries of stories and history, while the aspens whisper in the breezes and cover patches of foothillls like a blanket made of golden threads. Home to the Lakota Sioux, who called this place Paha Sapa, or Black Hills, because its pine-covered slopes appear black from a distance. The hills are not only magical to see and feel, but the Lakota viewed them as the center of the universe, home to spiritually significant sites. The majestic buffalo, sacred to the Lakota, still roam. In fact, they roam on my brother’s ranch, and I have fed the enormous, beautiful beasts with my own hands, while tears streamed down my face in awe.

There is a book I cherish, called The Lakota Way. It speaks of the beliefs, values and wisdom that have sustained the Lakota people, the people of my birthplace and home, “since time immemorial” through stories — stories handed down generation after generation. The author, Joseph Marshall III, wrote another book, called Keep Going, the Art of Perseverance. This book always sits on my desk.

Before I leave you, before I say goodbye, I want to share a short piece of this book.

A young man asked his grandfather why life had to be so difficult sometimes. This was the old man’s reply.

Grandfather says this: “In life there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning, falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty, badness as well as goodness. I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality. Life is a journey sometimes walked in light, sometimes in shadow.”

Grandfather says this: “You did not ask to be born but you are here. You have weaknesses as well as strengths. You have both because in life, there is two of everything. Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose. Within you is the heart to feel compassion as well as the smallness to be arrogant. Within you is the way to face life as well as the fear to turn away from it.”

Grandfather says this: “Life can give you strength, strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief. You must stand up in the storm. You must face the wind and the cold and the darkness. When the storm blows hard you must stand firm for it is not trying to knock you down, it is really trying to teach you to be strong.”

Grandfather says this: “Being strong means taking one more step toward the top of the hill, no matter how weary you may be. It means letting the tears flow through grief. It means to keep looking for the answer, though the darkness of despair is all around you. Being strong means to cling to hope for one more heartbeat, one more sunrise. Each step, no matter how difficult, is one more step closer to the top of the hill. To keep hope alive for one more heartbeat at a time leads to the light of the next sunrise, and the promise of a new day.”

Grandfather says this: The weakest step toward the top of the hill, toward sunrise, toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm.

Grandfather says this: “Keep going.”

My friends of Indigo30, it has been a pleasure teaching you and learning with you. Thank you for listening to my words. Now go and share and do amazing things with the gifts you have been given from every teacher, including yourself.

Your Indigo30 is now complete.

Indigo30 DAY 29: Your words

All of this Whole30 and yoga stuff is a really super good idea, but if we never found out from anyone if it actually worked, then none of it would even matter. It’s because we tell each other about the results we’ve experienced (or haven’t) that we continue to learn and be motivated to be better. Human beings are results-driven, even in the minor things. We expect our car to start and run. We expect certain things to happen at specific times of day. We want to know that our efforts are seen and that some things in life are certain. The expectations and desire for results are driven by habits, which mold and frame and direct our days — thousands of them. Some are simple, like the habit you have of making your coffee in the morning, with the reward of the delicious, foamy first sip. And others are complicated, like the habit you have or know of someone having of fighting an addiction. They all swirl about and pull from emotions and often times feel vastly out of our control. “But every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable. The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager,” writes Tal Ben Shahar, of Happier. 

In the course of the last 28 days, really more like 35 days, because the preparation week really counts in my opinion, you have shaped, formed, shifted, reorganized and changedimage.png some of the biggest habits a human being can have. You have done this. Your willpower has a pattern now, and you are the one who made that happen. You decided, consciously, to do the work, see the cues and the rewards that drive your routines, and create new rituals around your daily behaviors — rituals that have meaning and value not only to you but to the people in your lives. Your families have been impacted. Your friends have watched you shift and change and stay the course. People who were once strangers, are now your friends, with their superhero capes ready to throw on and help you back up anytime you stumble.

You did other things too, things that no one could predict and things that won’t sell diet books: you became accountable for your behaviors.

“I realized that I am the reason my family eats out so much. My lack of organization around meal planning and just plain laziness at times created chaos during what would have been time of comfort for me and my family. By not having a plan, I made their evenings hectic while we all tried to figure out dinner and usually made an unhealthy choice,” writes one I30 participant.

I have been working with students for over a decade, helping them to come clean and get straight and own up to their role in relationships and breakdowns that occur in their lives. Especially when the default is to blame.

Very rarely does anyone own it like this.

“I realized I’ve been dropping the ball,” she said. “Cooking for my family for the last 28 days has been so lovely. They can’t wait to hear what’s for dinner. They have never once said, ‘I wish we could just go out to eat.’ My daughter even said, ‘Momma, I love this whole thing you are doing because the food is so good!”

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You can’t put a number, especially a scale number, to something like that. These children are going to remember this time for years to come. They will be in college someday longing for their mom’s healthy home cooking. It will be part of the reason they can’t wait for the holidays. They will remember going to yoga with their mom and remembering holding her hand at the end. They will remember her encouragement and how she took care of herself. And the pride in their eyes when they look at their mom — glowing, healthy and happy, is nothing anyone can put a number to. That is what quality of life looks like. That is happiness.

“When I was told I had to stop running because of an injury,” writes another participant, “I spiraled into what I couldn’t do. I got depressed and ended up having surgery. Surgery didn’t help. It made things worse. Had I found yoga, I wouldn’t have gone that route. Yoga reminded me that I could exercise and not injure myself. I just do what I can do. Some days it’s not much, but it’s better than me sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself. Thank you for putting this program together. I’ve learned so much it’s crazy.”

Many of you have remarked that the combination of nutrition and movement has been a game changer — that the diet without the yoga might have left you feeling a little obsessive over the food, and that the yoga without the diet might have kept you eating stuff that wasn’t really working for you but that you might have dismissed “since you were working out all the time.” The two components are what creates the balance, the effort and the ease. The two disciplines actually hold each other accountable. As we have learned, you cannot be all in on one and sort of in on the other. They work together. Add in meditation/mindfulness/self-reflection, and you have a perfect triad of balanced wellness.

“I’m actually more nervous to end the Indigo30 than I was starting it,” writes a student new to the Indigo30. “I’ve never had so much energy. It makes me a better speech language pathologist, a better friend, and a better person to be around. The meetings were so helpful and I loved hearing about other people’s NSVs. The blogs helped me A LOT — the introspection is huge for me. I tell others that it’s not about losing weight; it’s about seeing how your body reacts to certain foods. It’s about gaining insight into your own habits with food, and it’s about doing something you didn’t think you could.”

Some of you were looking for education, and were curious. Others were looking for a reset. Still others were looking for a distraction from the hardships of life, something to redirect your focus. You all have admitted that this was more than you thought it would be — why were you suddenly finding yourself crying tears of gratitude on your mat? Why and how were you suddenly not craving a drink amidst friends and normal social circles, totally content to say, “no, thank you” with ease? Why was it easier than you anticipated?

Because you didn’t do it alone. You redefined what “hard” really is. And you saw change occur.

“I probably would never have done this type of regimen without Indigo as a support group.”

“I have struggled with anxiety and depression. Over the past month my mood swings have been almost non-existent. I have not felt so ‘stable’ in several years. My chronic migraines have almost disappeared. I have decreased my caffeine intake significantly. These are things I never, in a million years, though possible.”

“I’ve had personal challenges/disappointments/losses that I’ve experienced for years. All of THAT was hard. And it still is. Pouring my energy into what I thought was going to be a ‘distraction’ that turned out to be a blessing — this reset — was not hard. I have learned so much, made new friends and bolstered my confidence as I prepare to take the next steps on my journey.”

_______

It’s not always easy to know what our purpose is. There will be days when you feel aimless and lost, alone and so vulnerable. You will think you are just chasing your tail or wandering directionless, feeling like no one and nothing even notices the path you are traveling, because they are so hyper-focused on their own path. Most of all, you may battle mostly with yourself, relentlessly seeking achievement and perfection; running toward some intangible goal of “finally good enough” when all the things have, at long last, perfectly lined up. Until the day comes, and it will if it hasn’t already, when you realize that the battle is only with your own reflection. If you reach out and try to touch it, there will be nothing there. But if you look around and see what’s outside of, and beyond that reflection, you will find real people with real feelings and similar, real battles, whose hands need to be held and who also need to be pulled away from the enticing reflecting glass so that they can see, in your eyes, who they really are.

The mission of the Indigo30 was to educate participants in nutrition and yoga in such an impactful, but balanced way, that how they live — their lifestyle — will automatically, by default, impact and balance others as they exemplify and share what they have learned.

“As I now look toward my future,” a hesitant-to-share Indigo30 participant writes, “this experience will always go with me. My degree is concentrated in Nutrition and Wellness; my goal now is to work with individuals who want to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Therefore, I thank you, for providing this experience. It has not only helped me but will help others with whom I share it.”

Mission accomplished.

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One more day.

Keep going.

B

 

Indigo30 DAY 27: An introduction to the Reintroduction

Don’t do what I did the first time I did the Indigo30, which was not TRULY learning about the re-introduction a few days before the final day. All I could think about was BEING DONE. And I can even remember being a little defiant about doing the image.pngreintroduction all together, like, “Nah, I don’t really need to do it properly, I will figure it out.” I do remember having the WORST STOMACH ACHE EVER on Day 31 after eating some quinoa. But that morning I also had cream in my coffee. And I had a glass of wine on the night of Day 29. (Bad cheating! I was such a rogue.) So even though I thought it was the quinoa, it could have been any of the three. But I didn’t really know because I mashed them all together in a 12-hour period.

After 3 years of studying the Whole30, I still have to give myself the constant reminder that the Whole30 is a dietary reset, intended to help us figure out what foods affect our digestion, energy, sleep, mood, focus, cravings, athletic performance, and symptoms of a medical condition — negatively. “Careful, systematic reintroduction is the key to identifying which specific foods aren’t okay for you (and the effects they have on your body and brain),” encourages the Hartwigs in Whole30. So do NOT skip, blow off, rush through, modify or forget about this step. You guys, if you skip the re-introduction, it’s like getting to the end of the race but never crossing the actual finish line. It’s like I tell my teachers in training — you must complete your last assignment, or I can’t give you your certificate. Why put in ALL this work and not get what you came for?

“Reintroduction is actually a lifelong process. The more you pay attention to how you look, feel, perform and live after eating certain foods, the more you will notice their subtle effects. For some, gluten makes them sad. For others, dairy makes them break out — but not until two or three days after the exposure.” I can remember an esthetician once told me that the sugar that I eat now will show up as a breakout on my face or back 30 days later. I was like, OMG. NOOOOO!! I don’t even know if that’s actually true but it was enough to make me not want to eat sugar because it felt like a horrible forever-kind-of cycle. I can’t remember what I ate a month ago! But now it’s a huge, angry cyst on my chin. Yuck.

I can promise you this, if I can’t promise you anything else on this program. If you blow off your yoga and you decide to celebrate with pasta and wine or beer and pizza followed by a bowl of ice cream and a night-cap, Day 32 is going to be hell. You will feel like you have been lawn-mowed. Your Sugar Dragon will reawaken with a vengeance, you will have zero energy and your trips to the bathroom will be frequent and uncomfortable. And you really won’t know why.

There are two ways to work the Reintroduction: the Fast Track and the Slow Roll.

The Indigo30 Fast Track

image.pngThe Fast Track is the complete reintroduction protocol in ten days. This is for folks who know exactly what they have been missing and want to figure out quickly if these foods negatively impact them. You are going to keep up with your yoga schedule because you know how to safely pace and modify and when to back off a little (in class) but you love how you feel and you need the discipline of coming every day. If you feel satisfied with the results of the Indigo30, are a Type-A, structured type person, then the I30 Fast Track option is for you. This plan is also the best route for someone who undeniably lives with food allergies and is not certain what is causing so much genuine and life-altering upset.

The basic timeline of the Indigo30 Fast Track is as follows:

DAY 1 (optional): Keep your entire diet Whole30 compliant while evaluating a gluten-free alcohol. The best options are a gluten-free, low-sulfite red wine (Fit Vine is fantastic, as is Scout & Cellar. Both wines are free of residual sugar which makes them so much better to drink, of course in moderate quantity, after this program) 100% agave tequila or gluten-free beer. This is the day to re-introduce it but don’t go overboard. Then, go back to Whole30 for the next two days and see how you feel. Alcohol is a major part of social life, and, you have done just fine without it for 30 days. Take a little time to determine how, how often, how much — if at all — you really need it in your lifestyle.

DAY 1 (OR 4): Evaluate legumes while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. I caution against a big bowl of beans — you know why. You could try some peanut butter or some miso soup. After this day, go back to Whole30 for the next two days.

DAY 4 (OR 7): Evaluate non-gluten grains (corn, brown or white rice, certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, etc.) while keeping the rest of your diet W30-compliant. Oatmeal, white rice, tortilla chips, gluten-free bread… (I know all you saw just now was TORTILLA CHIPS). After this day, return to W30 for the next two days. Pay attention. You are getting all the intel you need during this time about what truly works and what doesn’t.

NOTE: You may experience a moment of loss or sadness when you come to the realization that some of your most favorite foods truly, after all, simply don’t work for your body — like at all, not just for 30 days. Dude, I get it. It’s a bummer. And… it’s not. It’s just food. It’s not a loss of life or loss of a pet or loss of a relationship. It’s the loss of a routine and a reward that you created by no deliberate fault of your own at some point in time and found enjoyable. Be present with the irrationality of feeling loss and depression over tortilla chips. Then, take a deep breath, shake it off, and get to your yoga mat. 

DAY 10 (OR 13): Test run gluten-containing grains (any product made from wheat, rye or barley-bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, beer, etc.) — and of course keep the rest of your diet W30 clean. You could go with a muffin or some whole-grain bread, maybe some wheat crackers or a beer. Only do a bowl of cereal if you can use a nut-milk over it.

COMPLETION: Now you know. Your reintroduction is over, and you can decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t. If drinking alcohol gave you a splitting headache, if yogurt made your bowels blow, or bread made you break out like a teen, only you can make the call about if it was worth it… and it may be! And that’s okay! The win here is that you now know going in how it will affect you. And I would put money on the notion that you probably won’t indulge as much as you think you will anyway. Pretty great for just 30 days of work after a lifetime of wily ways.

The Indigo30 Slow Roll 

The Slow Roll doesn’t follow any particular timeline. The entire idea is to just carry on eating Whole30 and doing your yoga until something comes along that causes you to have to make some new choices. Is it a special treat at a party? Is it a weekend vacation to the beach where your yoga happens as napping on a beach chair with a magazine?

image.pngWhat’s great about the Slow Roll is that you get to continue the momentum you’ve built, living symptom-free and energized as long as you stick predominately to the plan. Another huge bonus that you may not have even realized is that when you do choose to reintroduce food that you think is the greatest, most irresistible thing ever, you’ll savor it more. You won’t be bringing a large amount back in at any given time, so it’s likely that the side effects won’t be as severe or last as long as they might if you are really going for it like you do on the Fast Track.

This option is for the person who has already done the Indigo30 before and has a really good sense of what foods do not work for them. It’s possible that you may want to Fast Track to see if anything has changed — we know this is possible as we age — that we can’t tolerate things quite like we used to be able to (alcohol!) This option is also for the person who doesn’t have really severe food allergies and doesn’t need super definitive answers. However, the Slow Roll isn’t just for ten days — this is basically your new normal from here on out. (In a couple of days, I will talk to you about my other approach, the “Paleo5,” which is another option after you ease out of the Slow Roll.)

As far as your yoga goes, I encourage you to take Day 31 completely off. Like, I don’t even want to see your smiling, triumphant face on Day 31. TAKE DESERVED, NEEDED REST. And on Day 32, get back on your mat, and allow yourself to determine how much yoga is truly best for you, your body, your schedule and your goals/purpose. I will always and forever tell a practiced yogi that 5 days a week is your standard, with one of those days devoted to a restorative practice, especially if you incorporate other workouts into your regimen. My only caveat here is that the routine — the ritual — for some of you, really helps keep you on the rails. And what a positive, glorious ritual it is! So keep going. Just keep going wisely. Hydrate often. Eat enough – nourish with good carbohydrate and good fat. Back off every now and then so your body can heal and therefore get stronger. Do imagenot ever push past reasonable limits. There is no direction ANYWHERE in any of the ancient teachings that says “push harder” or “if you’re not killing yourself you are not working hard enough.” No, no, no. Oh my gosh — NO. This idea is so not what was intended by the great masters. The ancient text, the Yoga Sutras, interestingly enough, only says one thing about the physical practice of asana: Sthira Suhkam Asanam. It means a yoga posture should be steady, firm and stable, yet also comfortable, light and delightful.

Straight from the Whole30 book is “One Slow Roll Consideration.”

“There is one way to keep your daily diet feeling more sustainable without jeopardizing your Tiger Blood. To give yourself a little breathing room on this stretched-out reintroduction schedule, consider relaxing on the Whole30 “no added sugar” rule come Day 31.

HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD!

… This doesn’t mean you’re eating frosting washed down with energy drinks (gross) but if you want sugar-cured bacon with your eggs, ketchup on your burger, or the vinaigrette dressing the comes with your restaurant salad, go right ahead. Note that we’re not actually changing your diet much here — you were already eating meat, condiments, and salads on the Whole30. We’re just broadening your choices a bit, in a way that won’t send you running for the nearest donut shop. Of course, if there are some foods you suspect (or know) will be ‘triggers’ for your Sugar Dragon, stay away! Sweetened nut butters or coconut butters, dark chocolate, or coffee creamers may send you hurtling down the path of cravings and overconsumption.”

I feel so happy that you now have a good path for when you’re on your own. I am feeling suddenly like an empty nester. (sniffle) I am excited for you and know you will crush it, no matter what comes your way. I feel confident that you will be able to decide, for yourself and in your heart, what is “worth it.” I do want to warn you though, and the book will tell you this as well, that your definition of “worth it” on Day 31 may loosen as time goes on. The discipline is to always and forever assess what is worth it as if you were on Day 15. Sometimes, as with so many things, the idea of a certain food is better than the actuality of it.

Be strong. Make informed decisions. And as always, keep going.

Love,

B

Indigo30 DAY 26: The purpose of happiness, and the happiness of purpose

Can you imagine how many Americans have “lose 10-20 pounds” on their goal sheet on January 2? I am in the fitness business. I know first hand that it’s… a lot. It’s staggering, actually. This goal is above most all of the following:

  • overall health and wellness
  • family goals
  • financial growth/stabilityimage.png
  • work success/promotion/earning
  • travel
  • buy a new ______
  • get the diploma/degree/certification
  • home projects
  • activities and hobbies
  • happiness

You read that right … happiness is sometimes not even on a goal list. It’s not on the little picture I posted here either. But “weight loss” is on there THREE TIMES. “Happiness?” Nowhere to be found.

Are you happy?

Like, truly?

I am leaving a lot of space right there for you to think about it. I know some of you are truly happy. In fact, one of you just texted me this: “I am grateful to be at a place in my life where I am just immensely happy and feel like my cup truly runneth over.” But you know what? This girl means it. And she works hard for it. In a way that I’ve never quite seen anyone do before. But if I tell you how I think she does it, I will give away the whole story…

Again,

Are you happy?

While that simmers, recall all we have learned about cues, routines, rewards, habits. Now I will add in a new concept; not so different from routines and habits — rituals. I spoke about this in my very first blog for the program. A ritual is different from a routine and even a habit in that it is motivated by a deeply held value. These routines and habits really truly mean something to our wellbeing, to who we are, to what gives us joy, to the respect we have for ourselves and others. Now, it’s not to be denied that a ritual can certainly go down a destructive path; drug addicts often have rituals for the administration of their chosen drug. Over-exercisers and people suffering from eating disorders have rituals for when, where, how often they workout and eat, or don’t eat. Of course this is possible. But so is a ritual of happiness.

How can or should happiness be a routine? Doesn’t that kind of take the creativity and spontaneity out of the entire concept? I suppose it could if the ritual becomes a chore for whatever reason. But, even “the most creative individuals — whether artists, businesspeople or parents — have rituals they follow. Paradoxically, the routine frees them up to be creative and spontaneous,” writes Tal Ben-Shahar, of Happier. Shahar, before diving into any of the substance of his book, gives the reader an assignment straight out of the gate before anything is even studied:

Each night before going to sleep, write down at least five things that make you happy — things for which you are grateful. These can be little or big: from a meal that you enjoyed (yes! a Whole30-compliant meal!) to a meaningful conversation you had with a friend, to a project at work, to God.

“In research done by Robert Emmons an Michael McCullough, those who kept a daily gratitude journal — writing down at least five things for which they were grateful — enjoyed higher levels of emotional and physical well-being.

If you do this exercise regularly, you will naturally repeat yourself, which is perfectly fine. The key is, despite the repetition, to keep the emotions fresh; imagine what each item means to you as you write it down, and experience the feeling associated with it. Doing this exercise regularly (as a ritual) can help you to appreciate the positive in your life rather than take it for granted.”
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Do this on your own, but also consider doing it with a loved one. Your spouse, your children, a close friend. It’s powerful. Get creative with it and channel it in unique circles. Every morning, my leadership team and I do our “morning huddle” by text. Most companies all get to meet in the board room, but we are yogis and usually on five different ends of town teaching all the yoga in all the places (and, we don’t have a boardroom.) So every morning, before 10am, we just check in and say the following things: Good morning! Then “my one big thing” (that I must accomplish today). And then we say if we are stuck. Like, “I’m stuck with getting the new schedules printed because there were errors on the last draft,” to which, as a team, we then pitch in and help our comrade get un-stuck. At the very least, we know they are struggling some, and can empathize instead of being left to guess. If we don’t hear from someone, we find them and make sure they are good — oftentimes they are so buried they haven’t had a chance to check in, and it’s an amazing opportunity to ask for help and offer it … and receive it.

Because of this blog and this program, I am also tasking them with doing a “goodnight gratitude text;” sometime in the evening before 9pm, we text the group and list 5 things we are grateful for. We all have to contribute. We all have to stop down, pause, breathe, feel, and write.

“A happy person enjoys positive emotions while perceiving her life as purposeful,” writes Shahar.

PURPOSE

For the last 25 days you have had two very clear (new) purposes alongside all of your other purposes: to eat Whole30 and do yoga each day. Because of those two purposes, you could very well feel called to other purposes —

  • perhaps you want to keep going and do another 30 days?
  • perhaps you want to read, Food Freedom Forever, which is a “life after Whole30” book by Melissa Hartwig and continue to learn more about habits, guilt and anxiety around food?
  • perhaps you are intrigued by the concepts I have taught, by the culture my team and I have created, and are considering becoming a yoga teacher?
  • perhaps you want to teach what you’ve learned to others?
  • perhaps you want to commit yourself to a Paleo lifestyle that you can maintain, sustain and experiment with?
  • perhaps next year you want to somehow contribute to the program?
  • perhaps you want to bring this program into your workplace or school or social circles?

Whatever you plan to do after Day 30, there is likely some purpose behind it. Even if it’s just eliminating your daily run to Starbucks because you’ve noticed you’ve saved $150 already by not buying a latte every day. Somewhere around those plans that are nurturing your deeper purpose, you have some emotion. Excited, nervous, certain, uncertain, worried, strong … emotions are stirring in there somewhere. Whether they are positive or negative, emotions move us … they move us from apathy, indifference, resignation and inaction to motivation. That very motivation makes us act. Imagine if we had no motivation at all, if we were totally indifferent … even to consequences. At some point, doing nothing will lead to harsher and more difficult consequences… until a breaking point. It will come eventually. Emotion plays a big role in the choices we make and the actions we take, especially our innate, deep down desire to be happy, which every human being wants. But emotion is not the only role.

“When speaking of a meaningful life, we often talk of having a sense of purpose, but what we sometimes fail to recognize is that finding this sense of purpose entails more than simply setting goals,” says Shahar. We are all in the middle of a goal we once set for ourselves — in fact, maybe some of you said, “I will never make it 30 days, or even 2 weeks!” — and you have. Are you acting like it? You all should be running around like crazy people, shouting “I DID IT! I’M DOING IT!” And yet, we aren’t. Instead, we are push the goal out further. Why do we do this? I think because often we set goals that perhaps don’t have true meaning and purpose. “When I lose 20 pounds I will be happy. I will be happy when I can fit into skinny jeans and look awesome.” And, the 20 pounds come off, and we say, “I want to lose 5 more.” Simultaneously, we say, “I so deserve a doughnut…” and then we feel guilt and shame and the goal that we achieved — because we didn’t tie a meaningful purpose to it (like, “I want to lose 20 pounds so that my body is healthy and therefore functioning more effectively, so that I am less reactive, more clear-headed, and more present with my family,”) is void of true meaning. Do you see the difference? To experience long-term happiness around something, we must determine if that thing has purpose and meaning, or if it is just a short-term benefit with long-term detriment.

Some of us know our main purposes, and they are usually in big buckets like “family” or “career” or “spiritual life.” An amazing exercise for all of us would be to see if — within those big buckets that no one will argue have great meaning and probably line with your values and passions — there are smaller buckets of purpose that do not have positive meaning. Look for the places where you feel like you are treading water, or exasperated, or apathetic. Look for places where deep down, if you told the truth, you were only doing or only a part of to make someone else happy or to look good. Think about how, if you continue to pour into those people, things, exercises, ideas, routines, you will strengthen the apathy versus strengthening the meaning. By continuing to keep up or look like you “have it all together,” with each passing day, your innate desire for happiness loses it spark. In one of my favorite books, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman writes that “each successive generation worldwide since the opening of the [twentieth] century has lived with a higher risk than their parents of suffering a major depression — not just sadness, but a paralyzing listlessness, dejection, and self-pity, and an overwhelming hopelessness — over the course of life.” He calls our age, “The Age of Melancholy.” If you watched the interview with Simon Sinek that I cited in a recent blog, you will recall him speaking about the Millennial generation: “The worst case scenario is that we are seeing an increase in suicide rates in this generation, an increase in accidental deaths due to overdose, and an increase in more kids dropping out of school or taking leaves of absence due to depression. This is unheard of. The best case scenario? We will have an entire population growing up and never really finding joy or deep fulfillment in work or life. They’ll just waft through life, saying, ‘It’s fine.'”

I submit that part of our problem here is that we are assigning meaning and happiness to the wrong things, things that don’t actually fulfill us at all. And sure, we make goals, but often don’t establish a healthy routine to get them. And if, by chance, we do, once we get what we want, we have already moved on to what’s next, not having taken any time at all to love — truly love — what we already have. No one wants to go through the climb to find happiness described by Sinek as, “…arduous and long, and difficult. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes. What [we] need to learn is patience. That some things that really really matter, like love, or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self-confidence, a skillset — any of these things — all of these things take time. If you don’t ask for help and learn that skillset, you will fall off the mountain.”

I know this blog is not a read that you will feel all warm and fuzzy about. It may leave you feeling scared or sad or even worried. Maybe this is just the emotion you need to feel to be motivated to act. I bet there isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t said or felt the notion that, “I just want my kids to be happy.” So be the example. Do the work. Stop messing around with your can’ts and shoulds and supposed tos. Stop wasting time self-deprecating and complaining about what you don’t have and what or who is wrong. You have yourself, AND, you have an entire generation that needs you now more than ever to guide and lead with authentic happiness. You have tools for nutrition, yoga, meditation, wellness, patience, discipline and community — do not let them go to the wayside. We have to work extra hard right now to make sure that we take the focus off of our little worlds of not-good-enough and direct it to the people who have the fewest amount of tools and the most amount of pressure, the generation behind each and every one of us.image

And while you are doing that, do some self-examination and get even MORE clear about what your purpose(s) are. You may find it’s time to slough off more than just sugar and carbs. The good news? When you figure out genuine purpose — no one can stop you, and you shine more brightly than the brightest star in the sky.

KEEP GOING.

B

Indigo30 DAY 25: Hold the eggs. And the bacon. (BUT WHY?!)

Because I bet you’re a little sick of eggs and bacon. I bet you are ready for more variety, but not necessarily wanting more on your plate, so to speak. If you’ve mastered the art of variety for this epic Indigo30, then you are likely always looking for new ideas!

On par with how I’ve rolled this thing out for the last 30 days, I’m about to share new ways to make not only our food more creative, but your YOGA more creative and fresh as well. Don’t worry, I won’t make you choose a different spot in the yoga room for your mat. (Although …)

One of the suggestions I’ve gotten in the past is to keep a “Best of I30” journal, a place image.pngwhere you could keep, note and organize all of your favorites into categories… perhaps that should be in the appendix of this compilation of blogs which will hopefully have a cover and a spine someday. But for now, get yourself a little 3-ring or a tabbed notebook to organize all the good stuff you’ve learned. (Don’t forget to include your favorites from our Tuesday Posting Parties, Yvette’s recipes and all the info in these super awesome blogs!)

And without further ado, here are more ideas to add variety to your routines so you can finish strong.

Great breakfasts that are not eggs and bacon (from the Whole30 Daily Newsletter):

  • Sausage and cabbage sautéed in coconut oil.
  • Smoked salmon, cucumber, tomatoes and dill (or homemade tartar sauce).
  • Grass-fed steak, sautéed kale with mushrooms and onions, side of guacamole/avo and tomato. And some grapefruit.
  • Shredded chicken with Anaheim pepper sauce and plantains fried in coconut oil.
  • GIANT spinach salad with berries, grilled chicken, roasted squash and roasted sunflower seeds… balsamic and olive oil.
  • Roast a whole boneless turkey breast with whatever spices and dried herbs you have, slice it, then eat it all week with veggies, avocado and salsa.
  • Caribbean Seafood Stew from Everyday Paleo.

Why not have a burger for breakfast? Try this:

Ingredients: ground beef, 1 egg, hot sauce (Rubin’s Red or Frank’s) 1/4 C. cilantro

Directions: Grill burger, top with egg fried over-medium. Sprinkle cilantro and hot sauce and devour!

Do you have the yoga yawns?

Are you tired of hearing, “Let’s start in child’s pose?” If you’re looking for a little variety in your yoga practice, sometimes it’s just as easy as asking your teacher for it! All of the teachers at Indigo Yoga are trained to be able to add and subtract poses in the sequence in a way that makes anatomical, biomechanical and energetic sense. Nothing is arbitrary and we don’t teach to entertain; we teach to educate. But, if you are wanting a change up, ask them to throw in an extra inversion, hip opener or arm balance. Or maybe there is a pose you want to work on for a few extra minutes. They will love the challenge and are savvy enough to even be able to take one suggestion and craft an entire class around it … without losing the essence and why of the sequence. Don’t fall victim to boredom and blame your teacher! Make a request!

And don’t forget, you lucky down dogs, you have TWO studios to practice at. Haul your butt 10 minutes down the road to the Sundance Square studio for a change of scenery. Nothing beats the twinkle lights in the trees when you settle in for your savasana nap. And if you’re lucky, your teacher will cover you with a blankie and tuck you in.

You miss sandwiches, don’t you…

There is research to suggest that getting your hands on your food can actually stimulate all of the senses. This is probably why eating a sandwich can be such a satisfying experience. But how to when no bread? Here’s how:

  • Lettuce wraps. Butter lettuce, collard greens are both great for nestling your contents and keeping it somewhat intact!
  • Grilled, baked or toasted sweet potato is really the winner for little slider-like sammies. And it’s delish!
  • Jicama tortillas work great for wraps as well. They are super delicious with tuna fish salad or chicken salad.
  • Sometimes, if you slice roast beef or chicken just thick enough, they can be like two slices of your favorite gluten-packed, sugar-laden, gut-bloating bread. (hahahaha). Put some mayo on those slices, add bacon, lettuce, tomoato and before you know it, you have a Breadless BLT or Cali Club.

Kiddo Inspo

Whole30 Forum contributor/member, Flynn, shares a handful of great ideas for cub-approved lunch snacks…

  • Gorilla Sandwich: Almond butter and banana rolled up in a romaine leafCrispy-Paleo-Chicken-Nuggets-e1438874710299.jpg
  • Shish Kabob: Flynn calls them “muscle sticks” and tells her kids how big and strong they will make them! Find a little stick of some sort, like a skewer, and put meat and a few veggies or apples/pineapples in between.
  • Chicken nuggets: What kid doesn’t love the nug? Homemade is pretty darn good, and here is a stellar recipe from Paleo Running Momma.
  • Ants on a log: It never goes out of style … celery, almond butter and ants. I mean, raisins.
  • Meatball lollipops: weird name, kinda sounds gross but kids don’t care! Use Tessamae’s ketchup for dipping.
  • Fun containers can be found anywhere. Kids love the bento-box styles with the little compartments. Because their little brains crave consistency and routine and organization too, just like yours does.

Revolutionize your yoga with some new learning

Going to daily yoga classes is fun for sure. It’s so GREAT when your schedule becomes consistent and you can really start to see progress and strength. Adding in new learning such as a weekend workshop, a studio program, an outdoor class, meditation sits (in a class or at an outdoor sit) can also deepen not only your knowledge base but level up your daily practice. Yoga is everywhere these days — you don’t have to look far to find some inspiring new curriculum. Keep up with the electives, workshops, trainings and programs Indigo Yoga holds all year long through the website and social media channels. We are always striving and growing to provide our students with the most cutting edge teaching.

And finally,

GO GET YOURSELF A NEW YOGA OUTFIT. Your old ones probably don’t fit anymore anyway. 

Love you guys!

Keep going!
B

Indigo3O DAY 24: Cleaning house

You’ve spent 23 days cleaning your insides. Can you believe that? Your digestive tract is now like a water slide! And because of that, your skin is clearing (or clear!) your eyes are brightening (or bright!) your hair is shiny-ing (or shiny!) … just by changing your food and getting on your mat, every darn day. You have successfully created a routine, and even your BRAIN is clean. Sure you are still feeling emotions, but I bet the mood swings aren’t as drastic. And I bet the smiles outweigh the frowns.

In the ancient texts of yoga, there is a practice called sauca. Sauca literally means purity, cleanliness and clearness. So good job with the body, food and digestive sauca! Kidding image.pngaside, sauca is first of the niyamas on the eight limbed path of Ashtanga Yoga. (This topic is as expansive as the horizon, so I won’t go into great details about the eight limbs … you can come to teacher training for that! You are, however, on the path, you may just not know it yet …) Suffice it to say that sauca has very great and deliberate importance.

I like to think of sauca as a blank canvas. A clean slate. An open field. Space for creation. What we know about life is that it is very hard to create anything of significance on top of something else. Think of a house that has been run down, neglected, beat up, littered with trash and losing its structure. Would we just build over and around it? No. If we had the resources we needed, we would likely tear the whole thing down and start fresh. This makes perfect sense, don’t you think? And yet, we do not do this with our own bodies and minds. Instead, we pile on more without taking the time to scrape the lot so that we can use our resources wisely. Enter, the practice/niyama of sauca.

Sauca refers to purity of mind, speech and body. We all know that you can look super fab on the outside, but if you are a wreck in your heart and falling apart in your mind and cruel to the people around you, no amount of makeup, weight loss, designer handbags, expensive cars, big houses or big talk will make a difference. You are still a wreck in your heart and falling apart in your mind and cruel to the people around you with a whole bunch of stuff to (try to) hide it from everyone. The irony? People see through it all. Sooner or later, in whatever way, they start to back away.

This niyama is considered essential for happiness and general well-being. Anger, hatred, prejudice, greed, pride, fear, aggressive, passive aggressive, shaming, impatient or dominating communication, intolerance, negative thoughts … these things cause what the yogis refer to as “impurities of the intellect,” and according to these pretty dialed-in dudes, they are cleansed through the process of yoga — but not just poses. The poses help us get to the next level of “cleansing,” which is stillness. It is ONLY when we get still enough to listen that we are able to then clean out thought, or more professionally stated, inquire or self-examine. We cannot know ourselves if we are running around chasing the clock and chasing our tail all day. Busyness is an epidemic. We are not more important to others because we are busy. And we are not lazy if we are not busy. What a complete and total black hole of despair we have created with this busy culture! And in the meantime, we are losing our sense of self. When we sit quietly and practice mindfulness and meditate — or even just pray — we get still enough to listen and self examine. We stop talking and start listening. That is the third step of sauca.

“Sauca doesn’t lie beyond asana (poses) so much as it lies before it,” writes Emma Newlin. “If we turn up on our mats with a sense of aggression instead of ahimsa (non -violence), self-denial instead of satya (truthfulness), laziness instead of tapas (discipline or burning passion) and impurity instead of sauca (cleanliness), then we’re not likely to progress as positively throughout our sadhana (our practice).”

Sauca also calls for a cleanliness of surroundings. Home space, car space, office space. I am a very organized person and keep my spaces pretty clean and neat. Zen space for me is comforting. image.pngSo my routines for cleanliness are ingrained. My children often tell me that they love how tidy I keep things because it helps them feel calm. And they know where their stuff is which keeps them from getting frustrated looking for something, extends the life of their toys and belongings and keeps them from panicking and freaking out in the mornings before school. That is a huge win. It’s more work for all of us to keep up with, no doubt. But the trade-off is immense — peace in a typical time of struggle.

Perhaps for the remaining days of your Indigo30, since you have most all of the routines down now, you can take a look around at your spaces and start to clean them out too. Clean out some junk drawers. Purge your closet. Organize your desk. Choose just one thing a day so you don’t get overwhelmed.

You know how to scrutinize the contents of your food — now do the same with the products in your home — household, personal care, pet care. If you took some personal inventory of all the things you slathered on your body each day, I bet you would freak out. Shampoo, conditioner, body soap, shaving cream. Toothpaste, face cleanser, face lotions, makeup. Hair detangler, volumizing mousse, hair spray, on and on with the hair products omg. Body lotion, perfume, deodorant. And don’t forget, you then dress yourself in clothing that has been washed in laundry soap, softener and sometimes bleach.

I could keep going. I haven’t even gotten to all the stuff you clean your house with. Listen, I’m not trying to get you to use fewer products or stuff — the idea of practicing sauca is to pay attention to what’s in what you use. Examine the contents for harsh chemicals. Your body has to work so much harder to deal with all of them. Emma Newlin uses a great example, one of simply eating an apple. “You may or may not know that apples have the highest amount of pesticides of all fruit, which is why it’s best to eat organic apples. If we eat an apple full of pesticides, our body has to detoxify and digest the impurities before being able to absorb the goodness of the apple.” What a shame!

And it’s really no different on your mat. If you come into class holding onto a whole bunch of negativity, it’s going to take a little while to burn through it all. And friends, I’m here to tell you, after 25 years of practicing, that some days, the fire isn’t stoked hot enough to burn through all the funk. But you get on your mat anyway, because some is better than none. Even if you have only 20 minutes — PRACTICE FOR 20 MINUTES. There is no apathy on a yoga mat. You get on it and you do the work, the work of purity of heart. Because you know that on the other side of that hour is a new perspective.image

Zoom your lens out macro this week. Start looking at the bigger picture, the wide-angle of your life. Look and listen for what needs some attention, some sauca. Perhaps it’s your sock drawer, or perhaps it’s how you speak to your spouse when he/she isn’t meeting your expectations. Perhaps it’s your garage, or perhaps it’s a relationship that needs some clean up (a.k.a, you taking accountability for your role in it.) Whatever it is, on the path of the yogi, we stop, we breathe, we get present, we own who we are and how we are showing up in every situation, and then… we take action for what is right and good and clean and pure.

You’ve got this.

KG,

B

Indigo30 DAY 23: Favorite Finds A-Z, Vol. 2

I’d bet that a second alphabetical list of cool must-have/try stuff would just make your Day 23, wouldn’t it?

Let’s see if I can do it again!

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Favorite Answer – “YES, THAT’S COMPLIANT.”

Favorite Brooke Blog – The Poo Post. Yep. Still the winner by a shit-ton.

Favorite Cookbook – Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. I love this gal. She is funny, witty and her recipes and blogs are some of the best, often touted by Whole30 themselves. She has a few books out and is often featured in Paleo Magazine.

Favorite Dry Shampoo – Moroccan Oil and Evo’s Water Killer

Favorite Egg Recipe – Green Chile Beef Egg Cups by the Defined Dish

Favorite Food Processor – KitchenAid Mini 3.5 Cup Processor. It’s small and sweet and easy to use, better than the big one, which always feels like such a production! Plus mine is BLUE.

Favorite Grain-Free Dog Food – Blue Buffalo. My mutts are sooooo sensitive … they itch and scratch until the cows come home. If I go off-program with them (haha) even for one day, they are scratching themselves silly.image

Favorite Hack – Using rubber pet food container lids on canned items like coconut milk or olives.

Favorite Interview – Simon Sinek discussing the Millennial generation. You’ll never view our kids, their futures, our parenting and our futures, regardless if you are a parent — the same again — after you watch this. Simon is my hero. (Is he single?)

Favorite Japanese (compliant) Foods – Sashimi, shiitake mushrooms and green tea. Delish!

Favorite Knife Set – Cangshan Knives, available at Costco. A sharp, good quality knife is essential for your kitchen. A dull knife can be dangerous because it requires more force to use, so it is more prone to slipping and cutting where it’s not supposed to — like on your hand. The ideal kitchen knife will have a sharp blade that holds its edge well, good balance, a comfortable handle and durable construction. If you can’t get new ones, take yours to a sharpener — for around $40, you will feel like you have a brand new set. (Try Fort Worth Shaver & Appliance on Montgomery, that’s where I’ve always taken mine.  And, periodically Central Market does knife sharpening as well.)

Favorite Lipbalm (for right now) – Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm in Peppermint. Listen, I have about 5,000 other favorite lip balms, but Fresh Sugar’s Lip Caramel might be just a little too glossy and a little too caramel-y for some of y’all.

Favorite Mayo – Homemade. All day. Recipe in the W30 book. Cinch. But if you can’t whip some of your own up, Trader Joe’s has one that is sugar-free. Why, I ask you, why does anyone think mayonnaise needs sugar!!!!! (Imagine me losing it a little just then.)

Favorite Nut Butter – Mine is still Rx Vanilla Almond, but Kila loves NuttZo, which has cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and celtic sea salt! Wow! Now that’s a blend!

Favorite Oprah’s Favorite – Cuisinart TOA-60 Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer. Since Oprah knows all the things, I trust her when it comes to, well, all the things. Instead of deep-frying, opt for this Cuisinart air fryer that lets you get the crispy fried-food flavor without the added unhealthiness. PS: It’s important for you to know that O is a spokesperson for “WW,” or, “Wellness that Works,” formerly known as “Weight Watchers.” Thank you Alexa, for making sure I am properly informed of all the important news. (Alexa is also one of Oprah’s Favs. You’re welcome.) image.png

Favorite Pressed Spice –  Tumeric. I love to get turmeric shots at Juice Junkies, and combine one part (one shot) with 3 parts tart cherry juice. Tumeric is super amaze for reducing inflammation in the body. However, I hear the magic powers of Moringa are hot on turmeric’s heels!

Favorite Question – “Wine is technically a grape, so… I can have it, right?”

Favorite Root Veggie – Red and yellow beets. Roasted with evoo and mint.

Favorite Skin Product – Almond oil in the shower right before you get out. Coconut good too, Jojoba better, but it’s pricier. No lotion needed, skin smooth as silk.

Favorite Timesaving Tip – www.realplans.com – are you using this? WHY NOT IT’S THE BOMB.

Favorite Underarm Deodorant – Native. The best! Best texture, best quality, best effectiveness, best scents! Available at Indigo.

Favorite Vitamin – I prefer to take liquid vitamins from Tespo – I am much more apt to take them and absolutely apt to not feel nauseous when I do. Buy the cute little dispenser imageand get your custom vitamins sent by auto-ship. They will make up for the thousands of expired vitamins sitting in your cabinet.

Favorite Water Bottle – The Whole30 bottle, of course! Available on Amazon, of course!

Favorite Xylitol Substitute – Mint leaves. C’mon, you have to give me points for coming up with an x-word this time.

Favorite Yam Preparation – 5-6 minutes in the microwave! No joke! Super easy. No need for all that cooking drYAMa.

Favorite Zoup – ZUPA bottled soup. Whole30 approved and sent straight to your door!

There. I did it. Now YOU DO IT.

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Keep going!

B

Indigo30 DAY 21: What is yoga?

One of the first questions I ask a new group of teachers in training is this question: “What is yoga?”

At first, they always look stunned. They sit there for a second, like I’m joking. I almost always have to say, “No I really mean it, what is yoga?” After some consideration, they realize it’s a harder question to answer than they thought. Sheepishly, they will start giving me words that are typical and expected of people who are already doing yoga.

“Compassion.”

“Non-judgment.”

“Poses.”

“Breath.”

“Community.”

And the list continues to grow, sometimes with a few concrete answers but mostly with conceptual thoughts about their own experiences. Then, a brave soul finally pipes up and says, “A workout.” (At which time, the yoga lords come out of the clouds with their baskets of snakes and banish all of the participants to eternal life in a world of carnivorous, non-recycling, socially unconscious half-zombies, performing only step aerobics and driving gas guzzling SUVs.)

When the word “workout” is mentioned, I say, evenly, “Yes, and when you workout, do you do it just once? And then you’re done?” They all shake their heads and say no, you do it regularly, forever, because it’s important to stay physically fit. And in my mind, I’m  thinking, “Now we are getting somewhere.”

So my next question is usually something like this: “So what kind of results do you get from doing yoga every day?”

…I feel better, I look better, my sleep is better, I’m stronger, I have less pain. I am not as reactive with my spouse or my children. I have more ideas. I am more productive at work. I get better at time management and organizing areas of my life. I make better food choices and don’t crave so much junk food, sugar or alcohol because I want to feel great the next day. I sleep better and I am more focused. I don’t get so caught up in drama. I make and achieve more of my goals, I am inspired by my teachers to believe in myself and do great things, and most of all, I make friends. Friends who are like-minded, supportive, compassionate, happy, working for similar goals as myself, and most of all, real.

Those are pretty darn good results for a “workout.”

I explain to the students that the reason I actually like the idea of people thinking yoga is a workout is because it is. Why are we trying to say it’s not? Well, because there’s just so much more to it than just a body workout. And because the purists don’t want to cheapen it. But the thing is, for new people, if we started spewing out all the things we think yoga is, their eyes would start crossing, they would feel overwhelmed to say the least, and intimidated at most. All the other wonderful benefits of yoga are things that we become. And people are watching. They see.

There is a cool little equation thing that happens, and that is what they start to see. When you “workout” with your community, day after day, and you are feeling healthy and fit, your relationships improve, you change your habits because of cool programs like the Indigo30 — you become more fluid in all aspects of life and the people around you notice. You love the changes, improvements and experiences so much that you go more often. It becomes a routine. And before you know it, it becomes what I believe yoga really is: a lifestyle.

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It becomes so ingrained in who you are that your whole social circles change. It becomes so automatic that it’s almost no different than brushing your teeth — the idea of not doing it is not a deliberation or an option; the idea of not doing it is funny and out of the question. (Yoga is like brushing your teeth but instead brushing your body – getting all the funk and particles and film and plaque off of your physical body and out of your mind. And Indigo of course, is a Sonicare.) You have adopted a new lifestyle, and it would be very hard to knock you out of it. But, it’s possible. Sometimes it only takes one person to suck the life out of something you love very much. One person with one comment, and suddenly, you’re questioning everything, even this wonderful new lifestyle that somehow started with a seemingly harmless “workout.”

I’m talking to you about this right now because there will be days when you are so tired that you don’t want to brush your teeth before you go to bed. But you get up and you do it anyway. Because you know you have to. There is mighty change and strength that is needed in our world right now, and we have to do our daily work on our mats to be able to consciously, clearly, and wisely make decisions for ourselves, our family and our communities that evolve us instead of just tolerating or even denying. It goes so far beyond our mats, but it starts at our mats, which in many cases is where our heart sweats and bleeds and repairs itself.

My oldest son, Freddy, is reading Night, by Elie Wiesel, in school. If you are not familiar, it is a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of a Holocaust survivor. I was an unusually voracious reader when I was a teen, reading all kinds of Holocaust novels and British history novels, and so I have read and known this work for almost 30 years. It is a must-read for every human on the planet. One of the questions for his review was about how Elie, the main character, felt when a Hungarian gypsy strikes his father. (The answer is that he does nothing, and is forever haunted by not standing up for his father.) When Freddy and I got to this question, we talked about the idea of non-violently standing up for what you believe in, and owning your truth, at all costs. We talked about how remaining quiet and silent to please others whose voices might be louder can come from a lack of courage, for sure, but that as leaders, we must own what is right, and fight for it. We talked about instances at school, social circles and in the world, where people are either sitting down on issues, agreeing with things they don’t even understand just because the people around them are, and most of all, the bravery it takes to speak up for what is right and good, even if it means getting beaten down. I told both of my boys in my mother lioness voice, “BOYS, YOU STAND UP. YOU STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT. YOU PROTECT YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND STAND UP. There is no grade, there is no achievement, there is no sport or diploma or job or status that will ever make me as proud as you standing up for others.” (To which, God love my born Texan boys, I received a “Yes ma’am.”)

As you bring your Indigo30 to a close, you are only turning the page to a new chapter. One that you will have to fight for at times. Your new lifestyle of yoga and healthy livingimage will invite criticism and judgment. Some will question your spiritual and religious beliefs because of stories and myths and misunderstandings about yoga that have been swirling for centuries. Hold steady. This is who you are now; you know that your little “workout” is a way of living now, one that has brought you nothing but betterment.

Call on the strength of all who have come before you who have stood up for themselves and a conscious evolution of the whole. And above all, keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 15: HALFWAY THERE! What to expect, what not to expect.

Expectations are a darn tricky thing. In fact, there have been thousands of moments in my life where I realized the only thing that was causing my suffering was an expectation I had of something or someone. And being brutally honest, the expectation was usually unreasonable. And yet, how does one set goals without having expectations? I mean, even just logistic expectations? “I have a goal of completing the Indigo30. If I do 30 days of yoga and follow the nutritional standards of the Whole30, Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 10.05.14 PMI expect to feel great at the end of the program.” Not unreasonable. It’s when we inflate a reasonable expectation with something that’s irrational. Maybe for a few days, you could think about expectations like math (I seem to equate (haha) so many things with math these days, but damn it’s logical!) — listen, everyone knows that 1 + 1 = 2. “If I eat an apple, (1) and I add raw almond butter (+1) I can be sure that I had a healthy, compliant, nutritious snack (=2).” The facts equal the outcome. There are no variables or unknowns.

It’s when we do this: If I do yoga (1) and eat Whole30 (+1), I should lose 10 pounds by Day 15.”  Wait, what? That didn’t even factor in any variable (body composition, fat to muscle ratio, how many other and what kind of calories you’re eating, how hard you are working in class, if you are losing fat but gaining muscle, or even if you had any real weight to lose in the first place …?)  Do you see how easily we can create stories and unreasonable expectations? And it’s happening in your sweet little brain and therefore in your surroundings ALL DAY EVERY DAY. With your spouse, with your children, with your colleagues, with where you are in life, even with strangers in the car in front of you, expecting them to behave exactly like you need them to so that they keep your life moving at the pace you think it needs to move: “<<HONK>> WHY IS HE JUST SITTING THERE AT THIS LIGHT! <<HONNNNK>> GET OFF YOUR DAMN PHONE YOU _______!!” (Meanwhile, who knows but what this man in front of you just lost his wife to cancer and put his head down to cry at the stoplight.) You know it possible. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.

I’m serious you guys, your expectations are unreasonable. And wherever they sit with this program right now, I want you to do a very serious real-talk check in. Because if you’ve even followed the program 80-90%, your body is absolutely, positively changing somehow, even if its minor because 80-90% effort is 80-90% better than 0% effort. You’re likely sleeping better, your skin is likely clearing, your eyes are probably brighter, and no matter what, because I’ve thrown about a million things at you, one noodle is going to stick on the wall that you will remember, so admit it or not, you have also learned something.

Now I don’t want to discount the potential feeling of discouragement or overwhelmment. I know it’s real. I know the benefits everyone raves about are so coveted that you want them all and want them now. And some have them already. But for others of you, you have to stay the course. Your math equation has way, way different variables than your fellow team member. Your expectation of how something “should” be or “is supposed to be” could very well be the thing that’s holding you back. It usually is.

Today I realized that I’ve cared more about what I weigh than the true health of my body. I understand now that if this doesn’t change, I will never lose all the weight that I need to. This is my goal for these 30 days: changing my mindset and changing my life.” — Sara K., Whole30 Day by Day

What’s Actually Happening

During week three (can you believe it?!) you are still adapting. You have a groove, for image.pngsure. I like to think of the ego right now sitting in time out with it’s arms tightly crossed, smirk on its face, just tapping it’s foot, plotting. Like it’s saying, “Okay fine. I’ll let her do her ‘Indigo30 thing’ (in a snarky tone with and eye-roll and air quotes). She will be back. And when she is, we are going back to how it used to be, when I was in charge of her decisions and self-worth. And I will entice her by reminding her that she deserves that glass of wine and coconut cream pie, and everyone around her is WRONG.”

No, we aren’t going to let that happen. Ego may be sitting there tapping its foot, but the truth is, it’s hanging on for dear life. It knows its days are numbered now that you have control over your health. It may deliver some sucker punches as it tries to claw its way back — like cravings, negative self-talk or making you question yourself. But you have the tools now: phone a friend and get to your mat. STAT.

Now as long as I am ranting about reasonable expectations and being real with how things actually are versus the story, I think it’s good to address this question: What if, after these two weeks, you haven’t noticed much happening? Nothing miraculous, nothing huge, nothing out of the ordinary or surprising. You may be asking, is this Indigo30 thing really working?

First, it’s an absolutely fair question to ask. So think about the math equation again. Some of you came in already having done yoga for quite some time. And your diet might have already been relatively clean. So your equation is going to be pretty simple — you will just keep getting cleaner and stronger, but it’s also possible that your “progress” feels  smaller and slower because you were already pretty far along to begin with. This program, this time, has put you into what I call “refinement mode” or “polishing mode,” where your focus becomes even more detailed and specific. It’s like when you’ve been doing a yoga pose for a few years — and the teacher has you move your knee one half-inch to the right. To the beginner that would be silly if the rest of the pose was all over the place. But to the more intermediate student, that half-inch is refinement, and it can change the pose entirely for someone who is advanced. If your equation is different, say you’ve never done yoga or you were drinking soda pop every day or whatever that might look like — your results will vary as well. If you had a fair amount of weight to lose, it’s likely that you’ve lost a bunch already. And remember — please, please remember — IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS. Your body is literally healing and fixing itself and can finally function effectively, like it was designed to do from the months and years and DECADES of dietary abuse. You cannot expect it to be totally transformed in 2 weeks after years of neglect. It’s put up with a lot of your negligent shit for a long time. And a good portion of it is probably stuck in your lower intestine.

However, check this out, just because. If you are not seeing results, ask:

  • Is your food quality truly 100% Whole30-approved? A few small diversions (a single nibble of a cookie here, a splash of cream in your coffee there, and that one half-glass of vino when you really needed it after that grueling day at work, those few days you “took off” from yoga because gosh, you were tired …) All of this, even just the singular events themselves, are more than plenty to impede your progress. The program must be completed with 100% food quality and consistent yoga practice for the full 30 days for optimal results. My teacher, Baron Baptiste, usually says this at the beginning of a training, “You will either do this program, or your program. If you do this program, you will get certain results. If you do your program, you will get the same results you’ve been getting your whole life.”  …Sobering, huh.
  • Are you eating regularly? If you are cheating yourself out of meals you are cheating yourself of valuable nutrients by eating too little or too infrequently. And because you are doing yoga every day, I’m telling you — you won’t make it through class if you don’t have fuel. I’ve done this to myself a few times, not on purpose but because my brain runs so fast that I forget to eat. I am strong and practiced, but when my diet is this squeaky clean, I need to nourish a lot more regularly; if I don’t, even I’m in child’s pose seeing stars. Not good or smart.
  • Are you adding plenty of good fat to each meal? Straight up, y’all: if you skip this you simply will not have enough energy to keep going or think straight. Fat is image.pngGOOD. Fat is your friend! Maybe think “PHAT” instead and you will like it more. Same with good carbohydrate. I am not going to even say add in more say “especially if you are active,” because if you are doing yoga every day, you are beyond active. You are busting ass. So feed your body properly – add in sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin… all great fuel sources.
  • Are you sleeping enough? Lack of sleep affects hormone and stress levels, which as we have learned, absolutely, 100% affect body composition.
  • Are you exercising too much? I know we challenge you to get on your mat a lot, but are you doing other workouts as well? Are you maxing your practice every time you go to yoga? You must pace for the long haul and always aim for balance.
  • Do you have an underlying medical condition that could potentially be affecting hormone levels, energy production, etc?
  • Are you stressed? I don’t have to explain. You know.

If you can honestly, completely say that you have ALL of these factors in line, then my answer is not only irritating but probably what you need to hear and practice above everything else you’ve learned: be patient. Many people report that it truly did take the whole 30 days (and even then some, remember Melissa Hartwig’s testimonial?) to feel the magic. Let the journey unfold. You are a complex, complicated being. It’s good to have some goals, but let the results and enlightenment come when it’s all ready to reveal itself. If you do your math right, your answers will be exactly what they are supposed to be.

Keep going.

B

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Indigo30 DAY 13: Time for adventures!

Welcome to Day 13, you are nearing the half-way mark! You should be very proud. Half way is a great milestone. But just like doing a yoga pose or even a long sequence of poses, there’s this little triumphant squeal of glee — Yay! We completed one side! — and then the overwhelming realization of — Omg, we’ve only completed one side …

So your work right now is to “stay in the river,” as many a guru has probably said over the years. Don’t swim faster and yet, don’t just tread. You still have a ways to go. Just stay in the flow, keep a steady pace, and let the natural rhythms move you forward. You are already seeing NSVs and progress — you have shared them proudly with your friends and peers. So imagine what’s coming if you stay the course! Adventure!

Food is the way to your friends’ hearts.

One of the funnest things you can do during your Indigo30 is get to know your comrades with a meal swap. You really cannot believe how much you will love this and learn from it. You are probably ready for some new dishes, or you are starting to tire from leftovers, or you just want a day off from cooking. Well, Indigo30 Superstar, it’s time to branch out and spice it up! I promise you will not regret this. It’s kind of like the old fashioned chain letter!

It’s pretty easy to do and you can do it with one pal or a whole group — or maybe a couple of groups. Then, coordinate your meal swap. The meal swap is better with a few people – 7 is ideal. Once you pick a time and a location, each of you can make a dish that has 7 image.pngservings or a big batch. When you get to your potluck, swap it all out and BOOM – you have one new meal a day for the next 7 days! (or you can freeze and save for even later!) Share your bounty, because your chili may be super fab today, but it’s not as good when you’ve eaten that gigantic crockpot full 5 meals in a row.

Is swapping with your pals not very convenient for your schedule? Set up a roaming brunch, lunch, or dinner party once a week. Each of you commits to hosting the others for one meal, sharing in the cooking (and, hopefully, the clean-up). It’s a great way to socialize over healthy food, share kitchen tips and tricks, and pick up some sweet lunchtime leftovers for the next day.

Try a new spot. 

image.pngDo you go to the same spot in the yoga room every day? Yeah, we know who you are. And we know what kind of temper tantrum you internally have when someone is in your spot. Yogis, yogis, yogis. I want you to use your new tools of mindfulness right this minute, and get present to what is actually happening when you walk into the room and someone is in your spot. Okay — all that is actually happening is some completely oblivious person who has absolutely no idea that you have this attachment to the outcome of your practice being based on where in the room your mat is, just put their mat down there. That’s it. Or, they are wrestling with their own attachment issues and just got there before you did. Now, pause, step back for a moment, and consider how completely, utterly absurd it is to get upset about a spot for your mat in the yoga room. (Got it? Are you smiling/laughing?) Then I want you to consider that there may just be a new experience waiting for you in a different spot … perhaps there is a cooler breeze up in the front. Or perhaps hiding in the back won’t work so well this time because the teacher decides to do the entire class facing the back. Or perhaps a new student (maybe even the one who stole your spot) looks over at you and says, “Hi, I’m new. I’m really nervous. How long have you been coming?” And you realize that your purpose, instead of getting your way, was to befriend someone who is scared and worried about being new and different. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s a good enough reason not to be attached to your spot.

Some of you are like, “I really have no idea what she is talking about right now, I could care less where my mat is. Half the time I’m rolling in late anyway so I don’t even pay attention.” — To you, I challenge you to arrive early and go to the same spot each day and play with consistent routine. Stretch yourself by sharpening consistency. Bust through old patterns. Break through into new spaces, the same one every day for the next 15 days.

You now how to make both of these things a new, exciting pattern? Grab a friend, or your small group, and go together. This will keep things fresh and will keep you accountable.

Spicing it up with actual spices

I planted an herb garden a year ago and after all of this rain, it’s going completely bonkers. imageI have more herbs than I could ever use even if I cooked all day every day all week. They are fun to cut and give as gifts, and even if I don’t cook with it, just having the smell of basil wafting in my kitchen brings smiles.

If your cooking is feeling a little bland, take a spin around the world with some new spices. Chances are, if you are willing to step out of your ho-hum cooking box for a minute, you will discover flavors you didn’t even know existed! Just changing just one spice can turn an Indian curry into a savory Spanish stew. The right spices can make or break a dish, turning everyday ingredients into authentic ethnic cuisine.

But be careful with seasonings (mixtures and blends). They can be tricky and sneak the sneaky sugars in right under your spice sniffer. Check out the ingredients in this taco seasoning commonly found at chain grocers:

Yellow Corn Flour, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Citirc Acid, Autolyzed Yest Extract, Natural Flavor, Caramel Color (sulfites).

“Taco seasoning” sounds innocent enough, but this spice blend is anything but innocent (or healthy). I’m sure you are looking at the list now and know exactly why these ingredients are not okay by Whole30 standards, but are they really okay by any standards? image.png

Sometimes, spices and seasonings intimidate people with their fancy-sounding names like Za’atar, Dukka, or Tabil. Melissa Joulwan (author of Well Fed), is a spice-a-holic and has an awesome list of spices and how to use them in this GREAT article.

Spice Hound is another great resource to help you identify Whole30-approved spices to fill your cabinet. A full 100% of their salts and spices meet Whole30 criteria, and 20 of their spice blends are also Whole30-approved.

Here is a complete list of all approved Spice Hound blends:

Adobo Seasoning Cajun Rub Chili Powder Blend
Chinese 5-Spice Powder Curry Powder Dukka
Fines Herbes Four Peppercorn Blend Garam Masala
Garlic Sea Salt Herbes de Provence Italian Seasoning
La Kama Panch Phora Poultry
Pumpkin Pie Spice Seasoning Sea Salt Tabil
Turkey Brine Za’atar

Though they last a long time, spices can be expensive. If your cabinet is empty, commit to buying one or two new spices a week, until you’ve collected enough to transport you to any foreign country (and cuisine) in just a few moments!

You’re considering a potluck with your new I30 buds, a different spot for your mat against all better judgement, and are about to buy Garam Masala. Now let’s try … some totally new foods! Here are some beginner and advanced “foodie” options that will keep your Whole30 from boring and snoring.

Beginner/Intermediate:

  • Ghee: Like butter, only better! A personal favorite is Bulletproof Grass-fed Ghee, but there are many great brands.
  • Coconut butter: My most favorite I30 find this go-round! Delicious by the spoonful straight out of the jar. (I could stop there, because I have done a lot of this lately) or as a slightly melted topping for sweet potato, apples, or berries. You guys, I nearly DIED when I took my first bite. Look for Nutiva Coconut Manna in the nut butters section. Tip: when you get it, it will likely be solidified in the jar. You have to dig it up and even out (I dug it all out of the jar, mixed it up good and put it back into two) because the oil will separate from the pureed coconut meat. I promise you, it is worth every second of effort! And as a reward, peruse the Nutiva recipe page — you will have loads of post-I30 treat ideas ready to roll with this magic manna from the heavens.
  • Jicama: A sweet, crunchy root that looks like a big, round potato. Peel, chop into sticks and top with lime juice and chili powder, dip in salsa or guac, or just eat plain as they come. Central Market has jicama tortillas and rolls, which are delicious with tuna fish mixed with W30 mayo rolled in!
  • Coconut Aminos: Soy sauce is off limits for your Whole30 (I’d like to see you bid farewell to this gut buster forever, but for now…) I will tell you, coconut aminos taste the same. They’re a healthy Whole30-friendly replacement for soy sauce in recipes, and perfect for dunking sashimi. Find them in the soy sauce aisle of your local health food market—or order from Amazon. Speaking of sashimi…. gosh that sounds good! Have you thought to add it into your restaurant options? Bring your coco aminos when you go! You can buy them in single serve packets!image
  • Sauerkraut: Raw and fermented, sauerkraut contains tons of healthy bacteria to keep your digestion happy with all of its natural probiotics. Purchase it at any of our local grocers or let Whole9 Envoy Extraordinaire Stephanie McCormack teach you how to make your own in this fun video. Sauerkraut has made a serious comeback!

Advanced Adventurer (Vegans and Vegetarians, kindly skip to the end…)

 

Okay my friends, my word count is way out of range, so in closing as always, KEEP GOING, and in the words of a wise little bear..

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B