Emotional Detox

Posted September 12th, 2011 in Detoxification, Featured, Naturopathy by Hannah Yang

There’s something very melancholic and wistful about the changing of seasons – especially from summer to autumn, when everything just starts to….well….die.  With Spring  there is the earthy, mossy scented scattering of rain-showers, bringing with it the first green buds of life. The breeze comes calling with a little more warmth, promising sunshine and, to many hot-blooded heterosexual males out there, short skirts skimming the tops of lean (albeit pale) thighs.  But with autumn, the mood is more sombre.  The fresh scents of summer flowers, fresh-cut grass and grilling meat on charcoal bbq’s become muted by the northern winds that always seem to give a slightly frosty, metallic tinge to the nose.  The leaves that once created a green ceiling over streets and boulevards have now been converted to a multi-coloured carpet.  Now, I love the fall, in spite of the slightly depressing tone that comes with it.  Fall fashion always brings a smile to my face – the mixture of textures, colours that glow like embers, layering wools with silks, knee socks, open-toed booties, bright scarves….Autumn cooking is also a seasonal delight, with the apple pies and crumbles, pumpkin soups and muffins, butternut squash, root vegetables, slow-simmering meats in pressure cookers – ha!  Even the foodfare is dressed in fall fashion colours!  But I think what is probably most significant in a Naturopath’s world is that transition seasons call for Detoxification!  It is during this time that your body naturally starts to prepare for winter’s long haul of hibernation – it is during this time that it is best (both in eastern and western philosophies) to allow your body this chance to do a little bit of intercellular cleaning and give yourself a break from all of the things that summer patios and all-inclusive vacations do so well.  Fall is Detox Season.

Now it would be irresponsible of me to publish a detoxification programme on my blog for everyone to follow as each individual has unique needs, and detoxifications should not be taken lightly.  It isn’t about starving yourself in order to lose the beer belly – it’s about respecting your body’s organ systems and allowing them a temporary vacation from the excesses of the summer and being mindful of what you put (or not put) into it.  Not only is it about a clean diet in order to help clean out your digestive organs, but it’s about aiding the other organ systems to help flush out the toxins.  From your lungs to your kidneys, to your skin to your soul – these are ALL going to get rid of their shit.  Yes…even your soul, which brings me to the point of this here blog entry.  Beware the emotional detoxification that may occur during the physical detox.

Baggage.  We all have it.  We all deal with some of it, ignore others – some of us successfully shed a few pieces of luggage only to collect a couple of other key pieces.  It’s a constant battle to try to either dump it out so that you never have to carry it around again, or to hide it so that nobody else (including yourself) will see how absolutely f&*ked up you truly are, but no matter what your method of compensation, all your shit eventually comes to the surface.  Especially during a detox.  So be prepared for that really special side of yourself that seems to only make an appearance during Christmas dinners and family vacations, because I can almost guarantee that it will be triggered to come out again.  And when it does, acknowledge it.  Be present with the anger, the hurt, the pain, the fear.  Understand that it comes from a place of wanting to protect yourself.  But then try to let it go.  Much easier said than done.  I know.  TRUST ME, I know.  Six months of meditating in various ashrams in India, a divorce, a start-over in a new country, eloping, another start-over professionally, avoiding, crying, praying, yoga-ing, journaling, blogging, raging against anyone who tries to tell me what to do and I’m STILL dealing with the same.old.shit.  During that time I have found solace in running away, writing, wine, marijuana, music and a few relationships, both toxic and nurturing (friends, family and lovers) some of which i’ve let go of, some of which i’m still clinging to.  But it’s a process – a lifelong one – one that will require more than a few more years of all of the above.  But if you take care of your body, it makes it easier to take care of your mind.  Detoxify.  Breathe. Then rinse.  And repeat.

PMT Werewolf

Posted July 29th, 2011 in Featured, Female Health, Female and Hormone Balancing, Gynecology, Uncategorized by Hannah Yang

One of my favourite terms that I have borrowed from a good girlfriend of mine is ‘’white wine werewolf’’.  You know…when you take advantage of one of the 12 sunny days that we have here on this island by scrambling as quickly as you can, after work, towards the nearest patio that is not absolutely heaving with other like-minded sun-starved vitamin D3 deprived humans, order a bottle of chilled white chardonnay and promptly guzzle the whole thing down with the help of one other girlfriend?  On an empty stomach?  And suddenly you are transformed from this intelligent, witty, normally quite kind and generous human being into a snarling, bitchy, dramatic, sometimes weepy monster who ends up either drunk-dialing an ex-boyfriend or picking a fight with your current partner?  Yup – you’ve got it – you’ve turned into the White Wine Werewolf.

I find that this werewolf rears it’s ugly hide about 3 days before my period.  Which, funnily enough, normally falls on the New Moon.  It’s often after a particularly dramatic row with my husband that I gather enough wherewithal to check on google to see where exactly we are in the lunar cycle.  It is amidst the flying plates and drifting innards of an expensive cushion that I momentarily grasp onto the shreds of my sanity and think to myself ‘’oh shitballs – am I getting my period?’’  And sure enough, it is either a few days before or on the night of the New Moon.

One thing I always say to my nutrition students is to never ignore the intense feeling, no matter how off the wall or out of character they seem, that bubbles up in the days preceding your menstrual flow.  According to many specialists in the field of female health, your menstrual time is your most intuitive – when you are most open to the universe and to your true feelings.  But with great power comes great responsibility: These feelings need to be explored honestly, with the intention of wanting to understand and grow, analyzed with a clear and non-judgmental heart.  Hopefully not through the lens of a bottle of pinot grigio.

Tonight is the New Moon.  And, yup, you guessed it ladies and gents – I have shamefully tucked the hairy wolf tail between my legs and realised that I have eaten the poor innocent heart, pride and soul of someone close to me.  To my latest victim, you know who you are – it isn’t you, it’s me.  Really.  And everything that I said in the heat of my lunar-soaked craze?   There probably is some truth to it.  There always is.  But it should have been delivered with love, not with the blind rage of a hungry caged animal.  Always know that the more painful my bite, the deeper the vulnerability.  And this animal hates being vulnerable.  But I will try to address the obvious hormone-induced anger that I have in my heart and focus that fire into something positive.  Like Biodynamic wine.


Posted January 10th, 2011 in Featured, vegetarian by Hannah Yang

I know, I know, I suck at keeping a blog.  I started out strong, but then I fizzled in the end.  As my brother would say ‘’Strong execution, absolutely no finish’’.  And he’s right.

I apologize for the hiatus over the holidays.  I spent the past few weeks moaning and agonizing over the pros and cons of leaving my boutique-start-up-clinic (I like the way that sounds…) and being swallowed up by some large, corporate multinational behemoth of a spa (I have sold out – please see previous blog here). I have finally decided that stability, at this point in my life (and after the past 28 months of leading somewhat of a rock star existence) was exactly what the naturopath ordered.  With the New Year come new beginnings, and a bunch of resolutions that may or may not work out.  But hopefully, unlike this blog, there will be strong starts and an enduring loyalty to these personal commitments I have made. Here they are in no particular order…

a)    Vegetarianism.  Well, Mostly vegetarianism.  After two weeks in France with my in-laws over the Holiday season eating nothing but Fois Gras, Oysters, Lamb, Filet Mignon, Escargot, and more cheese than you could ever imagine with bottles of wine and champagne to wash all of that down (and believe me, I never thought it could possibly come to this given how much I LOVE all of those things) I swore to myself as I was straining futilely over the toilet for the 2nd day in a row and seeing nothing but pathetic pebbles that rabbits would have scoffed at, that I would eat nothing but salad and pulses for the rest.of.my.life. Then, after arriving home and being confronted by two National Geographic magazines in a heap under our mail slot outlining the long lasting devastation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on our ocean’s wildlife (there goes canned tuna…aaaaand every other creature from the sea) and the ongoing destruction of all of our natural resources, I promptly lost my appetite for anything with eyes.  But I am going to be realistic, and nobody knows more than a naturopath about setting reasonable, obtainable goals.  I am not going to turn into one of those raw food vegans (egad – I still want to be invited to summer BBQ’s!) and there is no way that anyone can get in between me and a hamburger on Day 1 of my period, Period.  PLUS I am married to a French man (His response to my ‘’Cheri, I am turning vegetarian’’ was ‘’okay, that sounds great – I will join.  Shall we do lamb tonight?’’).  I am going to allow myself 1 day a month (you know which day!) that I can eat whatever I want from whatever species that roams this earth.  That still leaves 353 days of the year that I am going to make educated, sustainable choices about what I put into my mouth.  And if I make exceptions every now and again (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and my birthday) I am not going to beat myself up about it, because once you start placing guilt into your feeding regime, that’s when things go very, very wrong.  At least in my experience. https://www.vegsoc.org/

b)   Gardening.  Living in London is much like living inside a green house that keeps it’s internal sprinklers on 24-7.  It’s green and lush and for the most part, the weather is mild, but it’s very, very wet. Like…always.  When I was living in Toronto, rainy days were the perfect days to stay in your pajamas with a great book and a mug of tea, or a bag of maltesers and a movie, or a lie-in and naked time with your significant other.  If you choose rainy days to do those things here, you will be a fat slob, unemployed or pregnant.  Or all of the above.  In keeping with my ‘’save the Earth’’ rampage that I am on (see a) above) I have decided that tending my own garden will not only help reduce my carbon footprint, but will allow me to enjoy the rainy days as more than an excuse to stay indoors – but a reason to take advantage of the outdoors Without needing a garden hose and a sprinkler!  There are very few opportunities in large urban centres to be in close contact with nature – but as inhabitants of this planet, we cannot truly reach our full potential or thrive physically, mentally and emotionally without constant connection with the earth.  We city dwellers often forget that, and gardening is the perfect solution.  It reduces stress, it gets you outdoors and keeps you (somewhat) active, it is a sustainable activity and you literally do reap what you sow. In your own backyard!  I am no gardening expert (in fact, I am pretty good at killing all my house plants) but a dear friend of mine is an expert and has this lovely gardening blog that I find rather inspirational.  I have even started saving our compost so that we can make our own nutritious topsoil for the spring when I really start to get my hands dirty.  Check It: http://growingpeople.wordpress.com/

And if my garden fails, I’ll just blame it on her.  Or get her to come over and help me turn my thumbs green!

c)    Be Kind.  To everyone, obviously, but more importantly, to myself.  When you are raised in a borderline insane Korean family, being easy on yourself and being kind (at least in the traditional, Western sense of the word) was something that only happened on birthdays and at funerals.  Or if you were lucky enough to win a Nobel prize or get a full scholarship to Harvard (Princeton and Yale are okay – Oxford and Cambridge are too far away).  Something that bought your parents bragging rights to the other members of the Korean community.  Not to say that my family was downright abusive.  It’s just that there were very high expectations – and if my brother and I did not perform to the highest standard (as in, being number 1 in our class, mastering the violin And the piano, bartering for world peace with our autistic mathematical skills – you know…) then we weren’t doing our best.  To them, there is no concept of ‘’damaging the child’s self-esteem’’ with the constant belittling when coming home with an A minus (A-Minus?  Are You Letahded??).  Belittling is what you deserved if you did not live up to the expectation of being the best – since it was tacitly understood that they would not expect so much if they honestly did not believe that we were the Best.  However, what that has ended up doing is to make me become extremely hard on myself when things do not go my way.  As a result, it makes me hard on those close to me – and that just does not help anyone or the situation.  And so I have decided to try to re-wire the harsh critic inside of me that has developed from years of criticism from my parents.  I am going to allow myself the mistakes of being human, because that is what I am.  I won’t insult or blame myself when I make the wrong choice, gain a few pounds, have a messy house or kill the occasional houseplant.  I will be gentle and be kind to the imperfect sides of myself, and in doing so, be more tolerant of everyone else’s.