12.06.2011

Upside Down

hanging out

I hesitate to share this photo, yet somehow I feel compelled to put it out there. Avery took it a few weeks ago, back when our maple tree still had leaves. It's a little blurry, and a part of my body I normally keep covered is quite bare, but this picture has taken on a new meaning for me recently.

Whether hanging by my knees from a tree or practicing handstands (I actually googled a tutorial!), I have become fascinated with turning my body upside down. It occurred to me this morning that my body understood this metaphor before my brain did: I've turned my life upside down and now I feel right side up.

Everything I once believed about nutrition I've washed down the drain. My definition of food has been completely rewritten (along with most of my recipes). My refrigerator and pantry have been cleared, cleaned, and restocked. Our meals and snacks have been transformed 180 degrees. As a result, I got skinny, my husband stopped needing pain killers, my daughter's tummy troubles went away, and we're all much nicer and happier than we used to be. To paraphrase my son, our new diet has revealed our true selves.

Who knew that such profound changes could occur by simply changing what we put in our mouths? I firmly believe in the saying "you are what you eat", and I'm also convinced that the food we choose to eat feeds not just our body but also our spirit. Just think of the role food plays in religion: forbidden foods or food combinations, fasting for holy days, symbolic foods used in religious ceremonies. Food is so much more than the sum of it's calories.

Procuring and preparing food for my family is my sacred responsibility. Gathering around the table to eat as a family is a sacred occasion. Feeding others conveys a sacred message of love. Even washing the dishes, while not a sacred or beloved act, is a sacred time during which I meditate, letting my mind wander as my hands complete a task requiring little to no thought. My body is a sacred vessel, and caring for it with food and movement is my sacred duty.

Perhaps the picture above is me bearing my soul, expressing my beliefs. This morning I received an email from a friend who said the tone of my recent posts is that of a convert. I couldn't agree more. Would it be going too far to say I feel reborn? Perhaps, but that is exactly how I feel. After all, we enter this world head down and feet up - put your hands over your head and you've got a handstand.

I've reached a new level of clarity in my life and it has everything to do with what's on my plate (and yes, I mean that literally and figuratively). I don't take food lightly. Yet I fully appreciate that what's on my plate might not suit your taste. I don't want to sound like a preachy zealot about eating meat and vegetables and abstaining from sugar and grain. Just because it's worked for me doesn't mean it's the right way or the only way. I don't believe in a one size fits all diet. I believe in freedom of religion and nutrition.

My intention is to encourage and inspire you on your own path to health and well being, both physical and spiritual. Just as my body is compelled to hang on tree limbs and practice handstands, my fingers are compelled to type about diet and exercise. I can't help but share this new found passion of mine. I want you to feel good and be happy in your own skin, right side up or upside down. You can dish up or pass the plate, follow the recipe or adapt it to your taste. The most important ingredients are not in the grocery store or refrigerator, the garden or the pantry. They're inside of you: power, intention, love, faith. You've got a full cupboard in your soul. Open it up and get cooking.

23 comments:

  1. I just picked up a few Paleo cookbooks at the library. The most challenging part will be my children. Any advice to a mom of a 7 year old candy cane? xoxo michele

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  2. michele! you've been on my mind! yes, the most challenging part of paleo has been my kids. but i found power in the word "no". my husband even commented on this change in my mothering.

    i too am a mother of sweethearts. every day, all day, "can i have a cookie?" no. "can we make cookies?" no. but after we eat meat and veggies for dinner, you can have a square of dark chocolate or berries with whipped cream. and maybe for breakfast tomorrow we can make pumpkin muffins with almond flour.

    it has been a power struggle getting the family to adapt, but after three months, i can say that they're finally coming around. eating good food has given me the strength to stick to my guns, and serving them good food has made them realize how much better they feel when they eat right. in one word: perseverance. look deep in your cupboard - you've got a big bottle!

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  3. i love being upside down too. i love your point about how we are born. handstands and headstands are my favorite yoga poses and i credit them with helping me recover from depression... i realize this is more of a paleo conversation than a yoga one, but i liked your metaphor and happy for you about your healthy path!

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  4. What we eat is a huge part of our lives and our identities. I absolutely agree that feeding our families is a sacred responsibility. And the metaphor of religious conversion for a life-changing diet is an apt one, as I can affirm, having experienced both. A fully paleo diet is not for me, but I'm a fan of whole foods, so often the recipes are ones I get behind.

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  5. I think you are awesome and inspirational. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

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  6. I'm a fan of being upside down, too! (I eat well and am happy about it, but it's the upside down thing that I enjoy most.)

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  7. I love the "I believe in freedom of religion and nutrition". I too feel feeding is my sacred responsibility- but to me grains are a big part of that. I track down local heritage grains and grind and bake them. When people try to convince me how much better I'd feel without them, its upsetting. I have great intuition that I use to feed my family- thats why I drove 1.5 miles to meet a farmer in an alley and buy 50lbs of wheatberries!
    I'm glad you have found a way that is so helpful to your family- and glad it has translated to so many aspects of your life.

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  8. you are an inspiration to me.
    we all have to find our own way.
    i rejoice with you.
    i am thankful for your enthusiasm and willingness to share.
    pax.

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  9. Those last five lines? A lightning bolt!

    I cut, pasted, enlarged the font and printed them out to hang in my kitchen (with your name at the bottom, of course).

    Thank you for writing what I know in my heart to be true.

    Namaste, K-

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  10. I'm nervously inspired to try this too. My 11 yr old daughter has ongoing tummy issues and we've tried different things (testing for food allergies, eliminating dairy) and nothing has really done the job. I wonder if I could get her to give this a good try... the sugar part would be the hardest (for me as well). But, I'm thinking about it.

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  11. I love this post. Thank you for the thoughtful way you put it out here. While I'm not with you on the type of diet you and your family have chosen, I love the way you are presenting it. It is your journey and something you are excited about.

    I also really appreciate the line about "freedom of religion and nutrition". Powerful and inclusive and so true. So often posts about this diet or that can feel very "do this or you're a terrible person", so I really appreciate the tone you take with yours.

    You have also reminded me how much I enjoyed being upside down (monkey bars, hand stand, head stand) as a kid and how much I now think I need to give that a try again...

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  12. Love it Molly. So happy for you in this new part of your journey.

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  13. Hoo boy, I fell off the paleo wagon the past few months, allowing a suddenly hectic schedule to throw me off my game. We raised several species of our own meat this year, have oodles of storage veggies in the basement, receive 19 eggs a day from our hens...and yet I have fallen back on grains and sugar as of late, and fallen HARD. Such a slippery slope. And guess what? I feel TERRIBLE, lack energy and focus...and I know it's all about what I'm putting into my body. I am so grateful for your reminders...it is most definitely my Sacred Responsibility, not only to put the good food on the table for my family, but also to take good care of ME so that I can better serve them in every way. Sigh. Definitely time for a pantry re-assessment.

    Also...handstands! I love the tutorial. It was on my list of things to master this year, and I fell off that wagon, too. I think there will be a wall calling my name tomorrow...

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  14. You've inspired me on my path, Molly! As you know, I've been a vegetarian for all my adult life, so going Paleo isn't the right direction for me. But around the time you started your own food pilgrimage, I started one of my own. Mine has involved smaller changes.

    Basically, for a year now I've been going to a new workout which I love. It's such a mental and physical challenge, and I have muscles and tone that I've never had. But when I hit my one-year anniversary, I felt disappointed that I couldn't better *see* the results of all my hard work. I've never felt overweight, but a layer of fat has crept on over time, and suddenly I realized that I wanted to see my muscles!

    So my eating changes have involved paying better attention to portions, and to all the little mindless bites that can slip in over the course of the day. I also wanted to trade out some of the carbs I usually eat for more vegetables. And to save treats for the times that I *really* wanted them.

    It's been working! But I think what's kept me most on track has been hearing about your progress. Seeing your resolve and your results has helped me keep at it so I can see results of my own.

    I thought about sending this as a private email, since it's really sort of personal. But then I decided to send it as a comment, to celebrate all you've done for yourself and your family, and all you're doing for others. You inspired me before I ever met you, and you continue to.

    xo.

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  15. i'm really enjoying reading along, molly. my oldest just turned 10, and we had the ubiquitous chocolate birthday cake, we are a low sugar/grain household to begin with and the very next day after eating some cake (and licking the bowl, the beaters and sampling icing. ahem-sugar addict, who me?;-)) i came down with a crashing migraine that took me out all of today. and my youngest who had a slice of cake after dinner tonight, is now listening to stories with papa nursing a "big head-ache" with an icepack.

    I'm convinced we have sensitivities and have tried going the whole grain route too, like a poster above, but after two years of that, i think we may need to deepen the change.

    as I said, i'm really inspired by this!

    ~erin

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  16. How awesome! I'm very inspired. Will you share a typical daily menu with us?

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  17. I love this! Add intuition to the cupboard. Sometimes (I wish more often) I use my intuition and measure my energy when I pick up some food to eat it. If my energy goes down, I know it's not for me. Much easier than counting calories :)

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  18. really interested in learning more... i would also love to see a daily/weekly menu for breakfast/lunch/dinner (with kids in mind) - alot to ask i'm sure! any resources would be great too :)
    cheers

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  19. This blog is really very nice. I'm a fan of being upside down. Great blog which you sharing.

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  20. Have you also eliminated dairy? We're attempting to be grain and sugar free, but I freeze up when I think about not relying on yogurt, cheese, and milk. My 3.5 year old does not like the texture of meat (except highly processed ones). He's getting there since I started grinding up his meat again, but I was wondering where you and your family are with dairy.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

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  21. Thank you for articulating your experiences with this transition so well.

    I too had the zeal of a convert when we went paleo last year but I think I scared more people off than I inspired with my wild-eyed near-nonsensical babbling about embracing our human animal heritage :)

    I need to find more trees to climb and hang upside down in.

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  22. Loved your habit post, today (yesterday) ;)

    And love hearing your ongoing updates, here.

    Cheers,
    M

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  23. encouraged? check! inspired? check!

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email: mollydunham@sbcglobal.net
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