Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How Changing My Diet Changed My Life

Two years ago I smoked, drank at least two glasses of wine a day, had no libido, and was on the verge of a divorce. I was angry and unhappy. I had regular panic attacks. And each day brought a deeper feeling of worthlessness and defeat. My energy level was almost non-existent and I felt trapped in a downward spiral. I was afraid all the time, felt myself aging before my time, and didn’t know how to change it. All I could do was go through the motions of my life, even though nothing felt right. Let’s face it – you know you’re in trouble when you have a panic attack while doing Yoga!

But everything began to change in April of 2008 when I interviewed Karyn Calabrese for the Ageless Beauty issue of Today's Chicago Woman magazine. A 61-year-old who had been eating a raw diet for 38 years and looked younger than most 40-year-olds, Karyn is the owner of Karyn’s Fresh Corner CafĂ©, Karyn's Raw Vegan Gourmet Restaurant, Karyn’s Cooked, Karyn's on Green and Karyn’s Inner Beauty (a state-of-the-art wellness center) in Chicago. I spent a day with her, sampling raw cuisine and talking about health, fitness, beauty, marriage, sex and spirituality. And she told me that cleansing was the portal to physical, emotional and spiritual growth and that by healing the body we create a better environment from which to live our lives. During our conversation I began to realize that on a cellular level my body knew exactly what to do to be its optimal best – it me who was getting in the way.

I didn’t believe I could ever attempt anything as demanding as cleansing, but the conversation with Karyn lingered in the back of my mind until I could no longer dismiss it. And on May 12th, 2008, I wrote on my calendar, “Today is the day I let my body heal itself.”

I stopped smoking that day. And I never looked back. Less than a month later I did my first cleanse – a 21-day period without alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, and all animal products. As the days passed I began to feel younger and more energetic. I was bounding out of bed at 5:00AM and falling asleep quickly and easily at night. And I saw my life with a clarity that I hadn’t enjoyed since I reached the legal drinking age many years ago.

Because I was no longer propelled by the chemicals in processed foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, my body’s chemistry stabilized. I no longer crashed after a sugar high, caffeine buzz or a glass of wine the night before. And that made it easier to deal with life more rationally. Instead of turning disagreements with my husband into toxic, emotional tantrums, I could speak matter-of-factly about the issues we were facing. And instead of turning the smallest issues into dramas – in any aspect of my life – I simply dealt with them and moved on.

I haven’t had one panic attack since I began cleansing. My husband and I have worked through the long-standing obstacles that threatened our marriage, and I’ve brought my libido back to life. Each day I wake up knowing that I can have a positive influence on the day ahead. I’m having more fun than I have in years. And as I approach 50, I feel younger than I have in two decades. And I just bought a pair of Size 5 pants in the Juniors department at Nordstrom!

To be sure, cleansing is not a panacea for everything that life throws at us, but it can be a great stepping-stone into a world of balance, focus, clarity and better health, both physical and mental. And it’s a springboard for those who want to take their health to a higher level. That’s what it was for me – I changed my health, my looks and my life once I started cleansing.


  1. Ivy, beautifully written. I admire your courage and commitment. Does it take one to hit rock bottom before we can make the drastic changes needed to lead a “heathy” life? It’s so much easier to just continue on same path; especially when it involves so much travel and craziness. What is the “spark” to actually motivate? Why must we wait until life threatening events force us to make those changes? It takes time and energy to actually get time and energy. Why can’t it be easy to make changes and be healthy? If that was the case, wouldn’t the world be full of healthy happy people? Seems that evolution is working against us. More to come…..Lazy in Seattle

  2. Thank you, Lazy! Love your handle! You're right -rock bottom does seem to be the place where the life-changing decisions are made. Perhaps there's something to be said for desperation after all! In all seriousness, rock bottom is the place where we realize that what we've been doing isn't working and we have to change things up. And for some of us, until we get to that place, we'll coast through life and take the path of least resistance.

    There are so many cliches that are designed to make hard work more palatable - "No one said this was easy," or "Nothing of value ever comes easy." And they're based in reality...

    I've been watching "Life," the miniseries on the wonderous aspect of nature around us. And every animal, fish or bird featured on the show faces some unbelievable obstacle in their everyday lives. But each animal accepts it and finds a way to deal with it. No whining, no egos; just a matter-of-fact determination that seems to declare, "If I don't do this I'm gonna die," or "If I can't do this my babies won't survive and the species could die out."

    That's the course of nature and beauty of evolution - it weeds out the weaker of the species; the ones who don't want to do the work. That way the next generation gets the strong genes!

    I wish we humans got a pass, but it's no different for us. We've got to keep pushing every day of our lives. If that weren't the case, we'd all be born with a hammock that unfolded from our backs like a pair of wings - wow, wouldn't that be great?!!!

    Thanks so much for your interesting and thoughtful comments! Keep 'em comin'!

  3. Ivy,
    Would love to read your interview with Karyn Calabrese! Can you possibly post a link or the article itself? Love reading your work! :)

  4. Hey, Jenny, great idea! I'm not sure how to post a PDF file but I'll give it a try. Be patient with me... Thanks!

  5. This is divinely inspired. Thank you!!!

  6. Ivy
    What an inspiration and don't we all identify with your experience??? I too would love to read the interview. Lack of excercise and poor diet are my problem. I will look forward to more of your insights!

  7. Go Ivy!! I'm excited to read blog, 2,3,4, and more! The idea that the best is yet to come is a game changer:)

  8. Thank you so much, Lois and Andrew! Your affirmations are so deeply appreciated. Be sure to check out the interview with Karyn - I just posted it today. Sorry, I don't know how to insert a PDF into the bulk of a post - I'm so ridiculously ignorant about how to blog! So I'm learning as I go - my typical M.O!

  9. Ivy, how right you are! I'm not quite as diligent as you BUT, I've been eating better [love, love Karyn's], taking supplements that aren't the size of horse pills and trying to exercise more. It may not be optimal, but it's a start and now with your blog, I've no doubt that more guilt will set in and I will force myself to do more.

    One thing you might want to mention is the importance of taking the right brand of vitamin. So many of us think the ones we buy at a health food stores are good for us...not true...so it's best, before treating oneself, to see an integrative specialist to find out exactly what your particular body needs, as well as the brands of supplements that will be most beneficial.

    Good luck, Ivy....loved your story!


  10. Hi, Joy! Thanks for chiming in with such vital information. You're a font of knowledge when it comes to this stuff so please keep sharing the information you've gleaned with us! That's what this blog is all about - creating a forum where we can share information and ideas. Thank you SO much for checking in! I'll hope to hear more from you in the coming weeks!

  11. Hi, Joan! Thanks so much for your encouraging words. And if you're up for it, I'd love to hear your insights about your cleansing experience. Thanks so much for checking in - great to hear from you!

  12. Ivy, This is great. You have been my inspiration for many years and I look forward to reading more of your work. I still want you as my trainer!!! : )

  13. Randi!!! So good to hear from you! Thank you so much for your encouragement! And, Honey, let's hit Park City for a month and we'll both be in the greatest, healthiest shape ever! Big hug!

  14. Ivy, what a fabulous story! Having met you AFTER your first fast, I'd assumed you were ALWAYS that vivacious, energetic, positive, toned, health conscious woman I met through Kathleen! I'm in for another fast.

  15. Hi, Jane! Thanks so much for your kind words. I wish I'd always been health conscious - I'd be so much further along than I am now! But things happen when they're supposed to, I guess. I think the other qualities you described were always there but were depleted during an eight-year period that ended two years ago. And during that time I used all the products we eliminate in our cleanse to try to comfort myself. Wow! That didn't work! I really thought I was going to be panicky and unhealthy for the rest of my life. So when I had such amazing results during that first cleanse, I felt like I had truly set myself free. That's why I'm so passionate about it now - if I can help someone else make simple changes that have profound effects, I am honored to do it. I'm so glad you're in, Jane! Here's to the growing GAS CAP family!

  16. Just checking to see if I can do this...

    tech challenged in Dallas

  17. You DID it, Nadeljean! So very glad you're here!!!

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