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

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 20: Ten days left. Time to prepare for the real world.

image.pngOkay people, we are nearing week 3. You have ten days to go. We’ve had our few days of not feeling great, we are now on the mend. Now it’s time to RALLY! The Whole30 Day by Day makes a great point on Day 20: “While ten days to go can be an exciting prospect, Day 20 is a reminder that you only have ten days left. Which might lead to, ‘I’m not there yet.'”

Ah yes, a daunting thought for sure. Perhaps you’re either wondering if you will achieve certain goals or still worried you won’t figure it all out. Maybe you’ve had experiences in the past with roller coaster diets that you crash on and rebound after. So that cycle might feel like a prospect to you and that is, of course bothersome. But the reason we have invested so much time in educating you is to help you realize that you now have tools that will last you, well, forever if you want. Like it or not, you know stuff about food now. And you know stuff about yoga. You know that the two together are possibly the two very best things — sustainable things — that you can do for your health. So no matter what Day 31 brings for you, you have tools in your pocket that no one and nothing can take away. Not even your dastardly SCALE.

You may also be starting to think about how you will maintain after Day 30; many of you are already planning to keep going. Or, you might actually have some stress around the idea — I usually hear something like this from participants: “I don’t want to blow everything I’ve worked so hard for, but I’m not sure how to maintain this pace, this diet, this much yoga and this lifestyle — in more moderation.”

These are fair concerns. And the short answer is: with a plan.

I was asked recently if I was going to do a follow-up on the habit blog… a follow-up that included some thoughts about how to sustain a habit after creating it. You have learned about the structure of a habit; how it starts, that it needs a cue, a routine and a reward. Once you have the habit formed, your brain lets that habit ride on auto pilot while it moves on to other things. You know how you can run up a flight of stairs after you take the first few steps without even thinking about it? Or how you can back your car out of your driveway without hardly any deliberate thought? That’s a habit. Those are acts of will that are so ingrained that they take very little presence and almost no deliberation. You’re not quite in the stage of transformation where you no longer have cravings or you don’t have to think about how to structure your day. You’re probably not quite there yet with your diet and yoga, but you are laying very solid groundwork. Now, you are likely asking, when will this willpower become automatic? What if my old habits start creeping back?

“The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and image.pngrewards,” says Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit. “Without habit loops, our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life.” So they are actually a good thing, if they are a good thing. And, you’ve created a lot of additional good habits. The question is, how do we sustain them and not let the old ones come back?

One of the keystone good habits of success is a little thing called willpower. Willpower is not only a keystone, but a necessity for sustaining good habits.

Now you may be thinking — if I need willpower to create a habit (i.e., I  need discipline to get to my mat every day) and I need a habit to create willpower (i.e., I need to get to my mat every day to feel strong enough to build up my willpower) — which comes first? Duhigg suggests this answer to the riddle: Make the willpower itself, the habit. “Sometimes it looks like people with great self-control aren’t working hard — but that’s because they’ve made it automatic,” Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania researcher says. “Their willpower occurs without them having to think about it.”

One of the first things you can do to prepare for “moments of weakness,” when you are no longer in the protective arms of your Indigo30 team, is get clear about what those scenarios might look like. I’m willing to bet that for the most part, you all are doing the program really well most of the time. And, I’m willing to bet that the times that you falter, weaken or even fall off the wagon are times when you are stressed, squeezed emotionally, pressured, uncertain or under duress. It’s in those times that willpower seems to evaporate. What is needed to strengthen the willpower in times of strain is… a plan.

Call it an exit plan, an emergency plan, or even a contingency plan, almost every company, building, or event has a plan in case things break down or get out of hand. It’s interesting that humans don’t have these kinds of standard operating procedures. (I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we all came with manuals?) Call it a 911 plan or call it a routine, it’s something we can call on and follow when our willpower loses its steam and when the ice starts cracking under our feet. We need something to help us not crack with it.

But here’s the thing. It’s not a quick fix. It’s something you have to practice. Your backup plan for when (not if, but when) you start to crack under pressure is something you have to practice and make a routine. You have to determine right now, on Day 20, what that plan is going to be, and start practicing it now… not on Day 31, but today, so that you are ready when the shit hits the fan. Because when the shit hits the fan, it’s not going to wait for you to practice your response. Your main job, from today forward, is to create a new habit loop of willpower that will be automatic after Day 30.

One willpower habit loop you all already have is your small group (if you are engaging with them. If you are not, then you have not created a habit loop of accountability.) So after Day 30, you will likely keep up communication, especially when you hit rough patches. This routine of checking in with one or all members of your group will re-invigorate your willpower. You just don’t realize it’s already happening. So going forward, you can say to yourself, “When I find myself skipping yoga for more than 2-3 days, my plan is to … (check in with my group/make a yoga date with one of my group pals/etc.) You are already doing it. Your work now is to keep the habit loop alive.

It would be beneficial for you to determine which parts of the Indigo30 you want to sustain once the program is officially over. After you have that written down, make a list of situations that you think would throw you off — they don’t have to be unpleasant, necessarily — scheduling, travel, social situations — aren’t negative, but they absolutely have the capacity to disrupt a positive habit loop. Work through these scenarios (role play) with your family and friends (and small group) so they don’t just live in your journal or in your head.

“This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives,” says Duhigg. The better you get at recognizing what will trigger, the more you can ready your plan. And before you know it, you will be communicating with your pals about going to yoga together without actually consciously thinking through how you are trying to get back on track. It will just happen because it’s a bona fide habit.

Friends, you have all the control in the world over what you eat and how you take care of yourself. You have choices that millions of people do not. Take these small lessons, the ones that arrive on your Facebook feed each morning, the ones that your leaders are sharing with you because they love you, and all the little tidbits in between, and take action. Do something amazing with the insight and education you are being given, that I believe is being channeled through me and your other teachers, to help you be the very best version of you. Don’t take it for granted and please don’t let the small things trip you up. You are too grand, too wise, and too informed to let that happen.

Now start planning. You only have ten days left.

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B