Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tools and Lessons Learned from Doing the Conscious Cleanse

Eating well and moving enough have always been important to me. Unfortunately, there were also a few times in my life when I made not-so-healthy choices, usually because life got stressful. During one particularly stressful and difficult period in my life more than a decade ago I ended up gaining a lot of weight, and it wasn’t easy to lose the weight and get back to my “old self."

After I lost that weight, things went pretty smoothly, but 2012 was not an easy year, and by the end of the year my workouts were half-hearted, my food choices not as good as they could have been, and I didn’t make time for myself. I still ate plenty of veggies and got some form of physical activity every day, but it just wasn’t enough to make me feel my best. When I was approached and asked if I wanted to do the Conscious Cleanse - a food-based cleanse - to review for the blog, I didn’t have much time to think and said “yes” (which I almost regretted as it seemed like I didn’t need one more thing to worry about in my hectic life; plus I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a cleanse, which sounded a bit like a fad to me). But doing the Conscious Cleanse turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.

The Conscious Cleanse is certainly not a weight loss fad. In fact, when I did the Conscious Cleanse for the first time, I didn’t even weigh myself. But I felt so much better at the end of the cleanse. Most importantly, it led to permanent lifestyle changes, and I acquired several new tools to get me back on track quickly whenever I veer a bit away from choices that are best for my body and mind (which has happened a few times in the past two years; each time I was very glad that I had the tools to turn things around before they got out of hand). Here are some of the things that the Conscious Cleanse taught me:

  • Warm lemon water is a great way to start the day and truly replaced coffee for me (I know coffee works for some, and I know people who do fine with coffee and can limit it to a reasonable amount. However, I am unfortunately not one of them. One cup turns into two. Two into three. Three into four… You see where this is going). 
  • Getting plenty of greens and some protein first thing in the morning makes me eat better all day. I started having green smoothies with plenty of greens, 1/2 banana, and hemp seeds for protein when I did my first cleanse, and I still have one most mornings. Other mornings I have smashed avocado with raw veggies or lots of sautéed veggies and a little leftover meat.
  • I have always eaten a lot of vegetables, but doing the cleanse made me realize that I sometimes fall short on raw veggies (especially in the winter). I have since made a conscious effort to eat raw veggies every day.
  • Prep work is critical to eating well. I’ve always shopped and done some prep work on the weekend. But while doing my first cleanse, I learned that always having food that is allowed while cleansing ready to grab was essential to make the cleanse a pleasant experience. This has translated to always having healthy food ready to eat. 
  • The Conscious Cleanse really made me look at sugar. I don’t really have a “sweet tooth,” and I never really added sugar to things myself, but I had to acknowledge just in how many products a lot of sugar is hidden. I learned to let go of ketchup and other sauces, which seemed hard at first but became easy very quickly. Before doing my first cleanse I thought of myself as eating pretty “clean,” but since then, I have reduced packaged foods even more. Now, eating packaged foods and sauces happens very, very rarely.
  • I also was reminded of the importance of self-care. Starting the day by journaling for just 10 minutes makes such a difference! I also got back to yoga and meditation. 
  • Since the Conscious Cleanse is really an elimination diet, I was able to confirm that I am very sensitive to gluten, and taking gluten out of my diet has left me feeling so much better - gone are daily stomach aches, foggy brain, and joint pain. 
  • Finally, I realized what a difference support makes. During the cleanse, cleansers receive daily emails and have access to a cleanser-only private Facebook page. In addition, there are six live tele seminars that I found very helpful as they provided support when I needed it the most. In addition, they served as “me time” and allowed me to focus only on myself.  

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Life isn’t a straight line but an at times messy journey with turns, twists, detours, dead ends, and failures. It’s easy to not take care of yourself the way you should in times when life isn’t “perfect.” I love that the Conscious Cleanse gave me tools to getting back to taking care of myself the way I should quickly. It’s truly a gift that allows me to live my best possible life.

Andy and I are looking forward to cleaning things up a bit again (he had quite a few indulgences over the holiday break…). The January cleanse starts on the 24th. If you are interested in a no-nonsense, food-based cleanse, click here for more information about the Conscious Cleanse.

Questions: Are you good at taking care of yourself? What tools do you have in place when life gets stressful? Is self-care a priority in your life? What is one thing you will do for yourself in 2015? 

I plan on getting outside every day, even if just for a short walk. Whenever possible, I look forward to long walks and hikes. Here are some pictures from a recent family hike. We plan to hike at least once a week as a family in 2015:

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Family Hike 02

Family Hike 06

Family Hike 05

Family Hike 01

Be well,

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014: Food & Exercise

When it comes to food and exercise, I like to evaluate from time to time what does and doesn't work. Most times, I keep an old-fashioned pen and paper diary in which I record what I eat as well as how much I move and work out. Looking back at 2014, here are some things I noticed:

  • Starting the day with plenty of greens and some protein keeps me properly fueled and makes me eat better for the rest of the day. 
  • Eating during a smaller eating window makes me sleep better and makes weight maintenance a lot easier. I usually eat breakfast around 6 a.m. and eat my last meal around 2 p.m. In the afternoon/evening I enjoy herbal teas. About twice a week, I eat an early dinner around 5 p.m. 
  • Meal prep is key to eating well. Whenever I spend a few hours in the kitchen on the weekends to pre-cook and prep food for the week, we eat a lot better. 
  • Being “too perfect” backfired in the summer. I had gotten to a very low weight by May (looking back, a bit too low), and I believe that led to some not-so-good food choices during the summer. While gaining a few pounds was actually good, not making food choices that made me feel my best was not a good thing. Going forward, I will remember to balance my food choices consistently and will always focus on eating what makes me feel my best.
  • Eating healthy, simple, & delicious food consistently makes weight maintenance and feeling my best easy. For me, this includes lots of veggies, enough fat, and some protein for most meals. I also eat limited amounts of fruit as well as some dark chocolate on most days. 
  • Walking at least 10,000 steps a day makes me feel my best. However, I also reached my limits a few times when I had a few back-to-back weeks with 100,000+ steps, and my weak/permanently injured ankle let me know. More is not always better!
  • Barre classes help my low back - which has been bothering me for years - feel its best. If I take two classes a week, the pain is completely gone. 
  • Yoga and meditation are an important part of my workouts that I tend to skip when things get busy and stressful - right when they are most needed! I need to make sure to make them a priority! 
  • After very inconsistent weight workouts in the middle in the year, I got back to a more consistent weight lifting schedule, and it feels great. 
Finally, to feel my best, I have been working hard at slowing down and enjoying the “little things” every day. When the kid woke us up at 6 a.m., we made the most of it and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise as a family!

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Questions: How were your food choices and workouts in 2014? What worked? What didn’t work? Anything you’ll change in 2015?

Be well,