Why I Stopped Being Vegan

ListenToBody

After 8 months of a strictly vegan diet, one day, I decided it was no longer for me. Here’s the story behind that decision.

When I was growing up, I could put eating in two category: you either ate regular foods or you were on a diet. When we moved to the US, I discovered the world of the American diet system before I even came to know the American food system and for someone from Iran and Turkey, it was fascinating to say the least. I would honestly admit how I felt about the standard American food if I only knew what on earth it entails! I don’t think anyone can accurately describe “American food” to me. It certainly is not just burgers and fries and Turkey on Thanksgiving but what is it?

On the grand scheme, it mattered very little because as much as I loved America, I did not like my obvious American food options. In comparison, I was madly in love with Persian cuisine and thanks to my parents who remained committed to feeding us, either Persian food or a fusion of Persian-American food for variety was never far from reach.

My food journey just got better when one fine day I discovered sushi and then another even finer day yet, I discovered Indian cuisine. My world changed overnight! Who knew there could be so many tastes and flavors to feed our bodies with nutrients and sustenance? Even though I am proud of our delicious, mouth-watering, out-of-this-world Persian cuisine, I must say that Japanese and Indian dishes take it all to a new level.

So there, I love eating, but what I love more than eating is my body, my temple.

My relationship with my body has never been so unshakable, so intimate, and so commanding to the rest of my decision-making process. If my body says no, I say no. If my body says yes, well, then I say yes. You get the point.

I have always been relatively healthy and an exercise freak so always in good shape but it was not until my late 20s that I realized that I can begin to understand the intricacies of my body if I listen carefully and pay attention. Thus, I went on a self-discovery journey. I explored green juicing, raw foods, vegetarian diet, low-carb Atkins-like diet, and finally opened the vegan chapter phase.

During every single phase, I had two questions to ask myself:

Am I still benefiting from this?
Am I still enjoying this?

I aimed for a resounding yes on both accounts. If the answer to either of those were a no, I’d have to explore new options.

From January 1st until sometime in August, I was a strict vegan and boy did I love it. I decided to eat only vegan food simply because I wanted to know if it is as beneficial and enjoyable as it was made out to be from all of my research and studies. I did not become a vegan for any previous health conditions or to save the animal kingdom, much as I adore animals.

For me, I have been on a quest to find the most ideal diet for my body.

The vegan phase was simply fantastic, even the raw vegan episode. It was challenging and fun and it was met with strong resistance, so much so that I started to enjoy them. I stayed vegan when we traveled, when we went out and when we socialized. I felt great when I ate well. Lest you are mistaken, you can eat just as badly on a vegan diet as on any other. And I documented my fun journey here on the blog in detail. And I even learned how to make the most delicious raw vegan dessert on planet earth, so the benefits were simply fabulous.

Most of all, I did not crave or miss anything. I felt content and satisfied.

At least, I did until August. You see, throughout the year, I had started a serious training regimen for my body: indoor cycling classes, walking, weight-training, plyometrics and power yoga. I was building muscle, burning calories, breaking down and then rebuilding my body, or so it felt.

Somewhere along the way, I visited my beloved doctor, who fully embraces alternative lifestyles including a vegan diet, and my clean bill of health now showed a deficiency of Iron and Vitamin D. Nothing earth-shattering, but nothing to ignore.

Then one day, I simply couldn’t get the thought of eating other foods out of my head. My body started talking to me. It said the harder it worked, the more it craved other foods. For the first time in months, I started to think about non-vegan foods with salivation! This persisted for well over a week. And that’s how I just tired of a strictly vegan diet.

Just like that, I went back to eating fish, chicken and my plain Greek yogurt, and mind you, initially, I did this in complete shock and disbelief, and I was certain that I would go back to being a vegan soon. Except I didn’t – insert here more shock and disbelief.

I had become more obsessed about optimal health and yet, I had no interest to remain exclusively vegan.

Oh by the way, vegan means no meats, and no dairy and even no fish or eggs. I am appalled by people who call themselves “vegan” and then turn around and eat fish or cheese! Really, you cannot be both!

As I was saying, I made a decision to honor my body because the sound of it screaming in my ears became unbearable – although, it screams just as loud when I am pushing hard in cycling or strength-training class, but I heard a distinct difference, the first being a scream of what I now consider a balanced diet and the latter, a scream of weakness that I fully intend to turn into muscle strength and stamina.

In the last two months, I have felt a renewed surge of energy but I cannot entirely attribute it to any diet changes. Just as I started to listen to my body, I also started to listen to my heart and made radical changes in my personal life. I feel liberated with my new priorities, and my energy is boundless from 4:30am until well past 11pm. I exercise once, and sometimes twice a day, and I only focus on the work that matters to me, and this clarity in my priorities has dramatically shifted the energy vibrations. Healthy and strong are my barometers, and so far, the sky seems to be limit for this body.

Today, I remain in love with vegan food, delicious raw foods, and green juices and yet feel fabulous with the new non-vegan additions to my plate. I sleep 5-6 hours a night, eat extremely well, exercise at least one hour a day, stretch, meditate, work harder than ever before, listen to my body every day and it tells me that it is happy, content and fulfilled. For now, this works. Maybe in the future, I’ll be a full vegan or a raw foodist, or eat a strictly Japanese diet (yum!), who knows!

Right now, I feel fabulous with the new non-vegan additions to my plate!

Bakasan_Crow_InHawaii

How much do you listen to your body?
How are you eating these days?
And are you eating that way because it is truly the right way of eating for you or for other reasons?
Tell me everything in the comments!

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  • http://expatlifecoach.com John Falchetto

    A few years ago my allergies flared. I went to see my MD and she gave me a whole bunch of drugs. Nothing worked. My eyes were watery, nose running, all the time.

    I discovered the Candida diet. It basically cuts off all sugar, from potatoes to sugar powder. You are left with meat, and veggies.
    It was tough but it helped, a lot.

    I kept at it for a month and then moved to a Paleo lifestyle. No dairy, no sugar, clean, lean meats, veggies and fruits. Oh! Yes no gluten this happened because Ameena is intolerant to Gluten.
    I don’t miss any of them.
    I have tons of energy and we are what we eat. I don’t see it as a diet but as a lifestyle, I think that’s the mindset and it’s really important.
    Now don’t take away my coffee.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      John, I am SO happy that you found a solution to your health challenges. So happy! Some suffer a long time and tweaks and changes – well, drastic even in your case – make huge difference. So glad that you (hopefully) didn’t go the medication route either. Just happy you are over it.
      Glad that you also found a diet that works with your wife (hope I got that right ;)) because one challenge we had when I was vegan was what was my hubby going to cook for both of us – and he did a mainly vegan diet too. Love the diet — oops lifestyle – and think I could get on board so long as I have my Oolong tea, green juices and a lot of salads. :) Thanks so much for being here and part of this conversation.

  • http://www.freelancewritingblog.com Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog

    I’ve been vegetarian for about a year and a half, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back. Health and wellness was certainly a consideration – but one of several. I read the book Eating Animals….it was life changing. I doubt I’ll ever be vegan, but you never know.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dearest Ruth, thanks for sharing your eating style. I read so many books too, and reviewed them all here on the blog. It’s been an amazing journey and it’s only just begun. I loved being vegan, I don’t think you’ll miss much for a long time …. I just wanted to make a change for now. And summers are best if you ever wanna try a raw vegan. Documented that one in detail too. Thanks again for being here!

  • http://theway2fullconsciousness.wordpress.com/ Veehcirra

    I am not very disciplined when it comes to food, am so shocked you went vegan for that long. Diets are not my thing, I love my food…where I come food is like a way of life LoL.
    Reading this made me know I can never be a vegetarian leave alone a vegan,although am challenged to see that you do engage in cycling classes, walking, weight-training, plyometrics and power yoga, goodness me the most I do is drink eight glasses of water, sleep 7- 8hrs…seems like I need to something here!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Veehcirra, I am shocked with a lot of things I do too but it’s too much fun and I live to tell about it -plus, once you decide, it’s mostly a done deal. Just a matter of execution. So start small. I think exercise will benefit you tremendously so incorporate it into your life and see how you feel. Here to chat more if you like. Thanks again for being here!

  • http://ensojourney.com/ Alejandro Reyes

    While I do admire people who choose a vegan diet, after a huge self analysis, I chose not to take that step.

    Just as you did Farnoosh, I tried hard, but my body still asked for meat and a whole range of foods. So I decided to listen to my body. So far it has worked for me really well.

    I think the most valuable lesson is to listen to our bodies and care for them. Our bodies allow us to feel a lot of things, to experience the world. So the best thing that we can do is to simple accept that our body has needs and we need to care for them.

    Thanks for this insightful post, and the comments are also awesome. Keep up the great work!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hello dear Alejandro, I am very proud of you for doing the analysis, thinking about it, considering it, and then deciding that it was not right for you. That’s the only reason I write half the stuff here on Prolific Living, so that I share MY experience and empower you to make your own decision.
      Yes to listening to that body! The comments, my dear, make the blog and yours included as well. Thanks so much again and take good care of yourself.

      • http://ensojourney.com/ Alejandro Reyes

        Always glad to be part of this great community that you have built, and allowing me (and all your readers) to have a small window to look at your life experiences.
        I believe sharing the experiences is the best way to learn, and I’m glad to learn from someone with such a bright inner light as you.
        Thank you! :)

  • http://betweenthetemples.com Chris Harris | Between the Temples

    Awesome post Farnoosh!

    I have known some vegans along the way, and everyone of them were committed to the vegan diet in a militant sort of way.

    What was interesting to me is the ones that were not getting the benefit they hoped for from keeping the vegan regimen, or started to develop minor or major health issues. And so they become more strict taking more foods out, instead of considering the obvious.

    They weren’t listening to their own bodies as you were doing.

    I know one of those vegans would give in to eating meat when she could not stand it anymore. But then would return to months of vegan eating till the next craving over took her.

    I think you are the first person I have the pleasure of knowing that ate as a vegan, say of it that it has been a great experience, but I know my body needs more. Then you step out of the way and allow for that transition.

    In closing you mention your experiences with Indian and Sushi- I have been having those thoughts and experiences as well since trying those foods. It is amazing how much texture and flavor there is in Indian food and Sushi.

    “American food” can take a lesson from Indian cooking in liberal use of spices, and real ingredients. It seems that most of the food these days is predominantly salt or sugar in terms of flavor, and then with some kind of ingredients that aren’t real food themselves.

    Most American food is not bold in spices and flavors, almost as if we don’t want to offend any taste buds.

    I will stop my food rant here ;)

    Well done Farnoosh!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Chris, I welcome you and your rant here anytime and I enjoyed reading every word of it as I am sure did and will everyone else. Thank you for sharing.
      To be honest, I think that I could sustain myself on a vegan diet long term, and yes, maybe it would be very hard but it took so much planning to get exactly what I needed and also, I was just a bit tired of it. I think this hard core body “building” I have going on (loud laughter at self ensues ;)) is making me demand more real protein but I love vegan food. If you have a chance, try it. And Amen to Indian food – that was our feast tonight. Yum. Great to see you here! Here’s to the pursuit of phenomenal health, however we may get there!

      • http://betweenthetemples.com Chris Harris | Between the Temples

        Hi Farnoosh,

        I did not mean for my post to come off as a rant… but I am glad you enjoyed it ;-)

        Here’s to phenomenal health.

        • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

          Yes, stop ranting ;)! Is that what you took away from my positively encouraging response? Do we need to chat again ;)? Just teasing!!! I enjoy your comments immensely, Chris.

  • http://www.mommyhoodbyjess.com Jessica

    Thanks for sharing! I recently decided to try out a plant-based diet as well. I was really into it…for 3 weeks. If you would like to read about my journey, check it out here: 3 Weeks of a Plant-Based Diet

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dear Jessica, you are so so welcome. Thanks for sharing your journey and I am very excited for you. That sounds like just the kind of diet I have followed at times and may very well return to in the future. Great of you to also document your journey to share. Thanks!

  • http://www.aha-now.com Harleena Singh

    That sure was a wonderful story about your journey Farnoosh!

    I was a non-vegetarian earlier, though since the past 10 years have been strictly a vegetarian and loving it as well. I think being a vegetarian, though not fully a pure vegan, is much better than not being one.

    However, I do wonder if growing kids can become vegans also, as maybe the need for drinking milk (as it’s a complete food for them) is a necessity for them. That being another reason I cannot turn fully vegan as yet, or they would follow suite as well :)

    I do agree about listening to our body and certain food are known to cause more harm than good to our bodies, as each body type is different.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dear Harleena, thank you. I am very proud of you for staying vegetarian, you know, when I went vegetarian for a few months in 2006, I probably didn’t know as much as I do know and I gained weight so I was just in panic mode, and for me, dairy happened to be the main issue and even now, I keep it to just occasional plain yogurt, so as long as you have a balanced diet, good for you. You know, strict vegans raise their children that way – on soy milk I believe. Thanks for being here, Harleena!

  • http://thecopybee.com Brett Bee

    Your being appalled by vegans who eat cheese made me chuckle, Farnoosh, as it brought to mind a woman who came into my wife’s cafe recently. She fiercely proclaimed that she was vegetarian and demanded to know what vegetarian options were available, before finally settling on a chicken salad! It seems that in my part of the Caribbean, having vegetables on your plate qualifies you as a vegetarian.

    You’re so right to listen to your body. I’m amazed by our bodies’ ability to instruct us what they need. This is most clearly evident in pregnant women, of course.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Brett, how great to see you here. Our recent conversation about your efforts has really got me curious and fully supportive too.
      Thanks for sharing some laughs with us. I am sure that it means different things to different people but I just wish they wouldn’t use the terms. For instance, how about I try to eat a vegan diet as often as possible, instead of “I am a strict vegan” :)
      Thanks ever so much for being here.

  • http://cookinkkitchen.blogspot.com Kathryn

    I was vegan for 1 year, after I read “The China Study.” I thought it was the healthiest thing to do. However after some research the bad meat discussed in that book was not local, organic, free range, grass fed, and gently prepared. No wonder it was wreaking havoc on people and causing cancer! Turns out my body needs good meat, I ended up with so many problems being vegan. Today I follow a traditional way of eating by giving thanks to the animals I am using for my food. I visit my local butcher to buy meat that comes from local organic farms and include a lot of veggies, fruit, and good fat in my diet. It has made a huge difference in my physical and mental health! Oh and I bust out my juicer several times a week to get my green drinks in!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dear Kathryn, I believe someone else also shared that study with me. You have certainly taken the matters into your own hands, I am very impressed. And so glad to hear you are also into juicing. I am working on my green juice recipe book, from the demand on my juicing list, and I am delighted to offer it. So YES to green juices and to all the fruits and veggies and to your very balance diet. Keep it up! :) And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Come back anytime!

  • http://alwayswell.wordpress.com Sandra / Always Well Within

    Farnoosh,

    This is a great testimony to how we are all different and it’s so important to listen to our own body. Not to another person’s rules. It’s interesting that you could become short of iron in a relatively brief time period. My doctor tells me that even people in Hawai’i are running low on Vitamin D. Isn’t that strange?

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Sandra,
      Lovely to see you here, and we are indeed all very different. I am surprised about the iron too but I just got my new test results and the iron is at normal levels but not the Vitamin D. I wonder why.
      Thanks much for stopping by. I hope you are well.

  • http://nochnoch.com noch

    listening to body is so important. i didn’t listen for so long and crashed completely. i’m now rebuilding my habits :)
    noch

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      If you are on the right path, noch, then just focus on that. Thanks for being here and take care of yourself.

  • Sayumi Kamei

    Quite an inspiring story. Yes, listening to your body to really understand what it is telling you is so important to overall health.
    Then the obvious question arises, how do we listen? Is it what feels good? No aches and pains? Or how many push ups can you do today before gasping for air?
    The body is telling us the interpretation of what our minds are saying. The body feels good when our mind says it feels good. The body will start to slow down when our mind is exhausted. The body will feel pain when our mind is full of negative energy and vibrations.
    So the source of what body is saying is really coming from deep in our thoughts. If you listen to your mind, you are really listening to what it wants and craves. Then we can determine what type of food can satisfy that desire. No one else, no books, or exercising can really alter what your mind desires. Once you know what your mind wants, then you can find the food that is fully satisfying.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Sayumi, I had to read this deep and thoughtful comment a couple of times and I enjoyed it very much – you are right, how we listen is important. And what you say here is some examples. I think it’s very important to know what our mind is telling us but sometimes, I think, the physical body can send its own signals without intercepting the mind, other than for interpretation to the brain on what those signals are …. It is hard to really and truly know who is in charge, so being in tune to our body is the best way to manage it. And thank you for your comment.

  • http://www.spinachandyoga.com Nadya

    Farnoosh,
    Thanks for a great honest post! I completely agree that there is no better adviser than your own body. We have to learn how to listen to its feedback instead of relying on nutritionists, magazines, and celebrities to tell us how and what to eat. Many people dont want to take responsibility like that but those who do will find their unique perfect way to eat and maintain health.
    I went through vegan, raw, ayurvedic food periods and came to realization that my body feels best on simple food combinations that are easy to digest. I still have fish or chicken from time to time but keep preparation simple and don’t mix hard-to-digest items in one meal. So far so good!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dear Nadya, you are very welcome. So glad you also seem to have experienced it all first hand and are now doing the simple food combinations. By any chance, did you read Natalia Rose books? She is a big advocate of raw foods and I just love her. She talks a lot about the best food combinations so that you can digest them the most efficiently and what you said reminded me of her. I reviewed all her books here in the archives. Thanks much and keep it up if you are feeling good and strong.

  • http://www.turningpointmotivation.com Zac | Turning Point Motivation

    I’ve been a carnivore for so long, that I don’t think I can stop. I’ve considered going totally vegan because sometimes I think that my body just wants a break from eating meat all these years.

    I remember one time I was eating mostly salads everyday, and my mind seemed to be so clear. But I really missed beef and chicken.

    I believe in balance.

    Thanks for this thought provoking post. Farnoosh!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Zac, you can if you want to and if you had to and if it was an urgency in your life :)! Trust me, there are many motivations if you put your mind to something. I think going vegan was for me also a way of experimenting with the power of my mind. And it takes time to know what you can really eat on a vegan diet – it is a lot of good and nutritious foods, trust me – and that way, you have options so you may just not miss the meats as much. No matter, right now I am believing in balance too. Thanks again for stopping to share your thoughts!

  • http://sagoyism.com Josh Sarz

    And here I was, interested in transitioning to a vegetarian diet then moving into full vegan when I come to your site and see your point. I admire people who are vegan, but I’ve always been iffy when it comes to doing it myself. My body (and my palate) loves pork, beef, chicken and most of all fish and seafoods.

    Nice work here, Farnoosh. I totally get your point about listening to your body. I’ll just do some exercising to compensate for not going vegan. hehe

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Josh, dear, I have documented my vegan and raw vegan and raw foods and green juice phases to no end here on the archives. If you want to try it, go for it and learn from it. You will adjust not just your plate but also your social life if you set your mind to it but what’s your main reason for trying it? You need an incentive. As for exercise, find the incentive and go do it tomorrow! That is one thing that I believe in with great conviction. Best of luck and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • http://noteasytobegreen.wordpress.com Jennifer / Not Easy to Be Green

    I’m glad you listened to your body. I don’t think everyone thrives on a vegetarian or vegan diet, so although I’ve been a vegetarian for years, I don’t evangelize my diet. I tried going vegan for one week as an experiment — I planned my meals, made sure it was filled with a good variety of healthy whole foods, and felt miserably lethargic and apathetic by the end of the week. On the last day, I was watching Ratatouille and came to the part involving omelets. I’d been craving eggs for the past few days, so I finally snapped and made myself an omelet. It was absolutely delicious, and I think my body needed whatever was in the eggs. Some vegans told me that I didn’t give veganism a proper try and that I was doing it wrong, but…I don’t know. I do know I didn’t feel very good, and that my body runs fine on a vegetarian diet with a couple of eggs and a little dairy now and then.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Jennifer, welcome here and goodness, really? Lethargic and apathetic? I felt great on my vegan diet most of the time but I had to work hard to eat a balanced diet. Funny story about your craving and I think it’s great for you to listen to your body and also keep health in mind. Hope you have found the ideal way of eating for you now. And thanks for your wonderful comment.

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  • http://unfoldingyourpathtojoy.com Joy

    Farnoosh,
    I love the vibrancy of your energy! As you shared, you listened to your body *and* to your heart..embracing lifestyle changes as readily as you embraced food choices that would allow you optimal nourishment.
    The mind/body connection is strong for me. When I am in alignment, I am most effortlessly creative and each moment is a joy; when something is out of alignment, it manifests either in a feeling of struggle or in a physical symptom in my body, so listening to my body and remaining open and aware is essential to my overall quality of life.
    And, I love love love sushi! As much as I love raw vegan dessert and experimenting with flavors..a combination of sushi followed by a delicious raw vegan dessert is the ultimate!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hello my sushi-lover reader, dear Joy, how nice to read this beautiful assertion about the mind-body connection. I could not have said it more beautifully. Thank you for reminding all of us and indeed, that is where I am my best and at the top of my game. Raw vegan desserts are delicious but so is sushi, and all in moderation, right? (Well, I am still working on that dessert moderation ;)).

  • Rebekah

    Farnoosh,

    I love reading this post in the same week that a freezing cold day’s work in the boatyard prompted the body to demand a roasted pork sandwich, with chips :) I’m still wobbling through the changes in appetite brought on by yoga, learning to listen to the body as never before in my life — as the reverse of a lifetime’s habits, actually. I was amazed when the desire for meat and alcohol dropped away drastically and salad fever came on.

    It’s also good to see how listening to the body can be analogous to making authentic decisions in other areas of life, an ongoing theme at Prolific Living, and an ongoing practice in life. Thanks for this post (we’re having soup and salad tonight).

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi dear Rebekah, to whom I owe more than just a lengthy email in return and one I shall absolutely send this week, thank you for sharing the changes in your body. So glad you brought up yoga because it was a big factor in helping me listen, and an answer I was saving for Anne-Sophie’s question below: How to listen to the body. And thank you for also emphasizing authentic decisions in life; I know your own revelations in this area are quite worth telling and talking about and a big yes to salads, Rebekah! :)

  • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

    Hi dear Anne-Sophie, great question. I started to tell Rebekah (above) that yoga has helped greatly. Breathing deeply and just tuning in with meditation has helped a lot too. Also, when I have a stomach ache or other pains, I listen and I look back at what I ate or drank that may have caused it and I change things up. I also see how my body digests and eliminates and if things are not as they need to be, then I pay more attention to my diet. Hope this gives you some idea? Thanks for your question!

  • http://betweenthetemples.com Chris Harris | Between the Temples

    Hi Anne-Sophie,

    I felt compelled to add to Farnoosh’s excellent words- I hope you don’t mind.

    For myself, I heard people talk about “listening to their bodies”. For a while I never understood that. How do you listen to your body?

    Today I understand that better.

    A few things helped me to get there.

    First- a diet related thing to do is as you eat look for subtle signs of how your body is reacting to the food. You will be surprised at how quickly your body will let you know things.

    Many people eat and ignore subtle signs of food allergies that can lead to weight gain, skin problems, indigestion, etc. If you notice things like bloating, a sinking feeling in your chest, headaches, intense tiredness, having to clear your throat, anxiety, etc. This is your body talking to you about the food you are eating. This is a lesson I wished I had learned earlier on.

    I have come to realize I have food allergies to things like gluten, wheat, and corn- rankly many people do. My body let’s me know initially with phlegm in the throat when I am eating something I am allergic to.

    Another thing to pay attention to that is diet related is cravings. Cravings will often indicate deficiencies. Cravings need a little analysis before acting on them. This is an article in of itself. Opposite of cravings is when you sit down to eat something and there is no motivation to eat it, or natural hunger. Analyze that sensation and determine if you might be better off doing an intermittent fast, or finding something else to eat.

    The other thing I would share is what Farnoosh alluded to with meditation. Looking inwards. Developing an inner sense and intuition.

    My mentor has told me in the past I needed to be more aware of my surroundings by being more aware of myself.

    I began to understand this concept more when I started taking Russian Martial Arts a few years ago. My very talented teacher would stress the importance of being “mind full” in training- being aware of yourself. In other words, fill your mind with what you are doing with your body, and what signals your body is sending you.

    This man can hold a push up position on his knuckles for half an hour or more as a form of meditation. He would look for tension in his body and remove it or move it. He would listen to his thoughts or be in prayer. Knowing yourself is raw power.

    The slow training we did forced me to pay attention to my movement and sensations down to the smallest detail. Breath control, form, footing, movement, position, opportunities, mistakes, etc.

    Two of the most powerful teachers of self awareness is breath control and relaxation. Not just when your exercising or meditating, but any time of the day that you are awake and conscious.

    It was interesting to me to become aware that I would hold my breath when I sat down, rose up, or bent over. I would get tense in the shoulders when stressed, driving or leaning on my elbows. I dare say many other people do the same. Grunting is another form of holding your breath.

    Through being conscious of my breathing and relaxation as I walked I became more aware of how I walked. When I paid attention to how I walked I took notice of the signals from my feet that relayed the amount of energy being passed back into my body from the ground because I walked in a heavy, sure-footed way. I was amazed at how far up the body energy from the ground can travel when walking heavy,

    I also noticed I carried a lot of tension in my shoulders, which made my breathing shallow and labored. It was also transmitting tension up my neck into my head. I noticed my eye brows were furrowed as well.

    As a result of that awareness, I started to walk in a lighter, more relaxed fashion by dropping my shoulders, deepening my breath and walking more on the balls of my feet. I also softened my face and with the better breathe control the tension began to leave and my head become more clear. I then knew to look at my thoughts and see if there was something I was thinking to create the tension to begin with.

    I am sorry for the length of my comments, but that is a small example of how my self-awareness progressed my ability to listen to my body.

    Our bodies are always sending us signals about things we can’t even see, we only need to open the channels and listen.

    I hope that is helpful to you.

  • http://fightinganorexia.com Anne-Sophie

    Farnoosh and Chris,
    thank you so much! You gave me ideas of what to be aware of.
    After almost 1.5 decades of being anorexic and abusing my body, I am now on the journey towards loving my body and treating it with care. I started yoga to get away from the destructive workouts I used to do. I have tried meditating, but it is still hard for me to find that inner peace and to sit still. I am doing little baby steps, but I think I am on the right path.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Well, I am still in awe of the vast information Chris shared here with us, Anne-Sophie, so the full gratitude goes to him. Chris, this is something you should write about on your blog, I think, it’s extremely detailed and I am very, very impressed by how you broke it down. THANK YOU. I would love to get into Martial arts. Maybe in 2012. I will see. Thank you so much for sharing and for teaching me so much more about my body, all of which I am sure pales in comparison to being in that Russian martial arts class! Good for you!!!

    • http://betweenthetemples.com Chris Harris | Between the Temples

      When I read comments like yours- I can’t help but reflect on the number of mistakes I have made before gaining any sense of wisdom about physical, mental or spiritual things.

      And as soon as I think that; I think of George Bernard Shaw who said that youth is wasted on the young. Seems to happen more as I get closer to 40.

      Anyways, I am glad to hear that you have somethings to work with.

  • http://betweenthetemples.com Chris Harris | Between the Temples

    Hi Farnoosh,

    I am happy if anything I share helps someone else.

    After I wrote that response to Anne-Sophie, I was thinking that I need to expand that into a post. I may have to do that. I was very much inspired by the question and even had to hold back :-)

    I have taken various martial arts, but have no real talent to show for it- most of them I got bored with because everything I took was technique-based and required repetitive training to make the technique stick. Aside from intense boredom, not all techniques are suitable for all situations.

    Further- not all martial arts have the same outcomes or goals. You have to decide what you want to get from your training. Really study what is practical and a good fit. That said, like yoga you may have to try out a few places and teachers before finding something fits you.

    Something I have noticed in a vast majority of martial arts is the lack of depth in the teaching. A lack of developing and training the one true weapon you have (your mind).

    Anyways- if you decide to pursue martial arts, ping me and I will be happy to give you some pointers that may help you figure out what kind of training you want and where to get it.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Chris, you will be the FIRST when I get to my martial arts dream. Right now, yoga and deepening the yoga practice, followed by art and pottery classes, and building out this business, and cycling and hard-core workouts, and playing wife now and again, oh and traveling, they keep me busy. Why is there so little time? ;)
      Thank you for sharing your story – and your view into the world of martial arts, to which I have not ever had any visibility except the movies that Andy shows me every now and then!!! And happy thanksgiving, my friend.

  • Cheryl

    Interesting and enlightening. Thank you. You helped me decide. And the decision is, listen to my body. I’ll know.