A few posts ago I announced I would do intro (for my sixth time in just over four years), for a month. The discomfort on Day 1 notwithstanding, I got off to such a great start, but subsequently went out with a fizzle. I think even this is worth sharing; as always, I believe my stumble can help others. What I learned:
1. Even six days on intro rocks for my body. In that relatively short period, I gained very much! I became deeply aware of recent food habits, I felt clearer, itching ceased, cravings diminished then disappeared, my feet felt lovely. I developed several new approaches and recipes (which I will share over time). A detox bath every evening soothed my soul and body. I worked out some emotional pieces (intro always shifts some longstanding stuff).
2. To do intro, I need community. This go at intro was my very first time solo. I felt no need for my son to do it again; I had asked my sister and my partner to join me, but both declined; because I wasn’t up for organizing it, I did not prepare and engage an online community. So, solo I started and solo I fizzled. I suspected, but now I know for sure, that with big challenges I do best when I’m in a relationship of accountability with at least one other person. Many of us find this to be true with exercise, maintaining sobriety, etc. In intro, we can be well served by acknowledging our social aspect.
3. It remains true that the longer I am exposed to foods I’m aiming to skip, the higher the chances I will ingest them. For me, having my home include only the foods I’m currently eating is almost as important as having community in place. (This was the first go at intro in which I was sharing a home with people who don’t do GAPS.)
4. In each new circumstance, we need to develop a new game plan. I didn’t anticipate feeling extra challenged by my new circumstances (again, sharing a home with people who don’t do GAPS, for example). Anticipating (or, in this case, learning) how a new circumstance impacts our capacities allows us to develop new approaches. Now that I know how my new circumstances challenge me differently, I can create new strategies. I could, for example, move out. However, I adore my three roommates and choose to continue living with them. I could next time, though, sit down with my roommates some weeks in advance and explain what I intend to embark on, let them know what I need in terms of support, and give them time to prepare for that. My roommates love me as much as I love them; they would absolutely do what they could to support me! We would implement the tips I present in the GAPS Guide book, such as having non-GAPS eaters eat their junk food away from the house, have party guests bring only GAPS foods, etc. These are not issues. What did prove an issue was setting my intro start date impulsively and last minute (indeed, the very day of). Is this what I suggest in the Guide? Noooo00… (Ah, I do have to laugh every time I ignore my own best advice.)
While my personal goal was to do intro for a full month, and I didn’t this time achieve that, I’m very glad for my effort and for what I did achieve. Many people do make a concerted go at intro then stop short of the initial intention. With much sadness, I notice that many readers refer to this aspect of their journey as “failing”. I’m not a big fan of that term. Intro isn’t a test and there is no judge, thus we can’t “fail”. The fact is, every effort toward intro is helpful. Every attempt does the following:
- gives our body a break, whether for three hours, three days, or three weeks. The body appreciates that and happily uses the time to heal.
- we learn what our needs our. In this case, I became acutely aware of what I had previously only suspected: that for me to do something like intro, I need other people. Another person might learn they need extra childcare in place, time off work, or a bottle of magnesium available. Each person’s needs are different from anyone else’s, and taking even a run at intro lets us find out exactly what we personally need in place for it.
- in making enough to go around, those around us incidentally end up with an extra-nourishing diet then and since then. Synergistically, all our diets improve even after The Great Effort.
- every food introduction -for example, of the raw egg yolk or fermented fish that had previously scared us to bits- leaves us a little more relaxed, open and adventurous for the next time we reach that stage.
- we learn new recipes, new approaches. These are then more easily applied in a subsequent go, one which is very likely to complete. When I watch my seven year old learning new things -reading, writing, math- I notice that he doesn’t necessarily grasp a concept or application the first time. He gives multiple goes, approaching it with different angles, until it clicks. Even after it initially clicks, his capacity drops again on random days before the learning finally takes hold and kicks in permanently, at which point he can move on to new levels or subjects. I’m a person that learns by doing, then giving up, then trying again, then letting go, then trying again. When I first did the SCD intro I cried a lot, because for me the learning curve was so steep. (Later I wrote the GAPS Guide book, in order to ease the journey for those arriving after me.) I struggled, did my best, did it imperfectly, gave myself a break, and later tried again. No harm, no foul.
Whatever our intention going in, we can frame a halted intro as a ‘ practice run’. Notice and appreciate the gains, even the small ones. Recognize that these will assist, support and benefit a full go when we do manage that.
Have you at any point started intro, then stopped before the progression was completed? Have you judged yourself as having “failed”? Did your frustration or self-judgment discourage you from ever trying again? What would help you to complete intro at some point in the future? For me, key will be community. You?