Rejuvenating a Smile

Pickled beets are NOT Cheyenne’s favorite snack.

Last Wednesday night, a hurricane arrived on our doorstep.

With a rare break from college, work, and an internship, our niece Cheyenne came home mentally and physically exhausted. And fighting a cold. She tries really hard to eat right, but like most Americans she gets caught in a trap between what’s really healthy and what’s convenient. It’s a Catch-22. When you’re a busy college student, it’s an impossible battle to win — especially when campus food services are catered by hospitality organizations that don’t share your aunt’s obsession with real, whole, and organic food.

The trip home, which usually takes three hours, had taken her seven. She left campus late after training all day for a new job. Between detours, pit stops, quick visits, and making a couple of deliveries, it was after 11 pm by the time she walked in the house keyed up and running on adrenaline. The storm surge that occurred after welcoming hugs left a puddle in the middle of the floor in the shape of Cheyenne. She had held it all in as long as she could.

It’s been a tough year.

Thankfully, I was clued in to the fact that our typically bubbly girl was at the end of her rope and needed to completely recharge her spirit and her body before heading back to Memphis. I had exactly one week to turn her world around and get her ready to face the new semester. We sent my Beloved off to bed. Then Cheyenne and I sat up until 2 am talking and crying. Crying and talking. We’re chicks — it works. Because she was so stressed, if she didn’t cry it all out the first night she would continue to hold everything in.

Once the stress-induced tears subsided, it was time to implement my Recovery Plan. I knew she needed to untangle her muscles, ridding them of the toxins that were being held in her tissues. I had bought her an unlimited pass to Balance Yoga Studio, and I told her that I expected her to go to at least one class every day. Yoga works differently than any other form of exercise. It stretches the muscles and stimulates the organs. The mental aspect is as important as the physical strength that it provides. Thankfully, she likes yoga, so she agreed despite the fact she just wanted to lie in bed for a week. There was no way I was going to let that happen. When you’re tired, depressed, or stressed, the worst thing you can do is lie in bed. It goes against everything your body was designed to do. Granted, it feels good to crawl under the sheets and hide, but it’s the worst thing you can do for your muscles and your brain. Unless you just want them to turn to mush.

I had told her before she came home that I planned to provide her a steady diet of wholesome foods that would help her detox. But at 2 am, no one cares about detoxing. So it didn’t take long for her to realize that there was no junk food in the house. No chips, no ice cream, no chocolate, no soda — nothing that her body was craving. Instead, I popped a nectarine in her hand and gently smiled.

Before we went to bed, we mapped out her days. We planned which yoga classes she would attend and added in the other things she had planned to do while she was in town — hair appointment, eye doctor, and visits with friends. I laid down the law. For the next seven days, her plate had to be 50% greens and veggies — no breads, no fats, and no sugars. Most especially, nothing processed. She was to drink nothing but water and green tea. And most importantly, she was to sleep on a regular schedule and have a shot of wheat grass every morning to wake up her blood cells. With a hug and a quick kiss on her forehead, I sent her to bed.

Bless her heart, she listened. She went to yoga. She ate her veggies. She drank buckets of water and green tea. She avoided sugar. I slowly reintroduced healthy fats once the bad ones had been eliminated. On Friday night, we watched my favorite documentary, Hungry for Change. This documentary changed my world. It explains why diets don’t work and the importance of eating whole food. If you have ever been on a diet and then gained the weight back (plus a few extra) then you must see this movie. Go to the website. Buy the download. And watch it — repeatedly. You’ll thank me later.

By the time we pushed “play,” she had been home 48 hours. Her system had been hydrated with good nutrition. She was already feeling better, and the fog was lifting from her brain. We stayed up and talked. And talked. And talked. Again, we’re girls — it works. By the time we went to bed, we had solved the world’s problems. Or at least a few of hers.

On Saturday, we went to the Downtown Farmer’s Market, had breakfast, visited with friends, and then headed home. That afternoon, we took the boat out and went swimming. We soaked up the vitamin D and relaxed. On Sunday, we took the boat out again. By then, her skin was glowing, her eyes shining, and the crinkled forehead was smoothed. It was time to kick her detox up a notch by adding veggie juice to her new diet. Juicing improves blood and oxygen flow to muscles and organs.

I had gotten an email a couple of weeks earlier from The Weekly Juicery, a retail store in Lexington, Kentucky, that makes and sells veggie and fruit juices. Occasionally, they make deliveries to Murray. Kimmye Bohannon, owner of The Weekly Juicery was coming to town and bringing juice. I order two cases (16 portions per case) of freshly pressed juices, one for Cheyenne and one for me. I love The Weekly Juicery’s drinks. Pure, healthy, and fresh, they add a direct boost to my diet. Their Green Lemonade is a powerhouse of nutrition. When we came home from the lake, we went and picked up our juice. Then Cheyenne, Vince, and I headed to a yin yoga class together. Yin is a slow stretch yoga that just feels good, especially after an afternoon at the lake.

Fresh veggie juice fuels a healthy body.

Cheyenne did everything right and her body responded. Smiles and giggles replaced brave faces and tearful pouts. I literally watched our niece go from gray to technicolor in just a few days. She’s always been beautiful, but she became radiant in every aspect of the word. It was amazing to watch her respond to my hippie-new-age conditioning. Others might not agree with how I handled her diet. My mother would have filled my plate with mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, fried chicken, and chocolate pie. Comfort foods do not provide any nutritional comfort to your body. Instead, they clog your arteries and build fat cells. Well-meaning fat cells, but they don’t enrich your blood stream or stimulate your colon.

It was gratifying to see her accept the peace that good nutrition and healthy exercise can provide. We watched her transform, like a rose blooming after a morning dew. She headed back to Memphis refreshed, renewed, and with a backseat full of frozen juice. They will continue to work their magic, getting her off on the right foot for another challenging semester. The hurricane had calmed and a rainbow of peace had taken its place.  New dorm, new job, new classes — she’s going to need all her strength. But she’ll do it and then take on the world, Green Lemonade in hand.

Aunty Am’s Recovery Plan

Exercise at least 30 minutes every day (preferably yoga for the stretching of muscles and organs)

Establish a regular sleep routine that includes at least 8 hours of rest

Watch the documentary Hungry for Change

Eat a healthy diet of whole foods (preferably organic)

  • 50% of your plate filled vegetables and fruit. Choose lots of green leafy vegetables first.
  • 25% protein (nothing fried)
  • 25% whole grains

Stay away from processed foods which can be loaded with salt and sugar.

Start Juicing!

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