Friday, October 23, 2015

Feeling My Best During the Holidays

I love fall. After all, it’s Andy’s and the kid’s birthday, there is pumpkin everything, it’s (supposedly) cooler, I get to wear scarves (hopefully soon for longer than an hour in the morning!), there are candles on the table and spiced cider on the stove… But then again, life always gets extremely hectic this time of year. I find there is less (or no!) me time, our meals are uninspired because I just want to get something/anything on the table, I sleep less, and eating “whatever" certainly doesn’t help me feel or look my best.

For the last few years, I have tried to focus on health and well being during the holiday season. Making health and well being a priority has made the holiday season a lot more enjoyable for me. At times, to achieve overall well being requires actually giving up something. We have made sure not to attend every holiday event but only those that fit in our schedule. I also carefully choose what I put into my body so that I can feel my best.

Doing a Conscious Cleanse - a food-based cleanse - always helps me feel my best, and I often feel the need to “clean things up” in the fall. I should note that I often reintroduce only some of the principles I’ve learned from doing the cleanse at a time like this and don’t do another full-on cleanse.

I never thought of myself as the “cleansing type” before doing my first Conscious Cleanse. In fact, I probably had a lot of misconceptions about what a cleanse is (or can be; a cleanse is not/should not be a crazy crash diet - see more below). I don’t like extremes and instead prefer to enjoy most things in “moderation." And I probably would have never done a cleanse had I not been asked at the very last minute by a blogging friend to review it. I literally had no time to think, and once I had committed I decided to stick to it 100% and see what would happen.

And I am so glad I did. Because for the past (almost) three years, I have been able to fall back on the principles I learned from doing the Conscious Cleanse whenever my eating (and living) gets a bit out of whack (like right now).  Warm lemon water, big salads, soups, journaling first thing in the morning, other forms of self care, and more all help me get back to “normal.” Doing a Conscious Cleanse - or even just re-focusing on some of its principles -  always makes me feel better. 

When I did my first cleanse in January 2013, I discovered that I was sensitive to gluten (something I had suspected but didn’t want to believe since I thought it was such a “fad"), and it truly changed my life for the better as gluten affects my digestion, mood, and joints, and I feel a lot better without gluten in my life.

Here are some questions you may have about the Conscious Cleanse and my answers:

So what is the Conscious Cleanse? Do you get to eat only rabbit food and drink green juice? 

The answer is no. You actually get to eat lots of different foods while doing the cleanse (and there is a LONG list of delicious foods you can eat), and I like that you are never hungry. However, there is a list of common allergens (dairy, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten, etc.) that you are asked not to eat (and drink). At the end of the cleanse, you’ll reintroduce these foods one by one, paying close attention to how they make you feel. Since your body is “clean” and you introduce each food by itself, it is much easier for you to see how your body reacts to each food. It’s still hard for me to believe that I had never paid closer attention to the awful “side effects” I experience whenever I eat gluten.
Is it difficult to do the Conscious Cleanse? 

To be honest, the foods I eat when doing a cleanse are not that different from the foods I normally eat: lots of salads, soups, turkey/spinach burgers (without the bun), raw veggies with avocado, green smoothies, veggie stir fries, etc. So for me the food is not that different, and I am in fact cooking quite a few Conscious Cleanse meals regularly throughout the year. However, I do notice that I have to plan and prep more because the “convenient foods” (really packaged foods) I tend to grab when I’m busy and in a hurry are off limits: a piece of cheese, gluten-free crackers, chips & salsa, packaged sauces (they contain sugar and many other ingredients that are off limits), etc. I am just as happy with veggies and avocado cream or black bean dip (so easy & delicious!), a cup of soup with rice, or a green smoothie, but it’s important to have these foods prepped so I don’t get frustrated when I’m hungry. So the bottomline is: the Conscious Cleanse is not difficult to do, but you should spend a few hours a week prepping food to make the experience enjoyable. 

One thing that makes the Conscious Cleanse very doable is all the support you get while doing the cleanse - six live teleseminars, a private Facebook group where fellow cleansers as well as the coaches give great support, suggestions, and cheerleading, and daily email reminders that help you focus on different aspects of well being. The support truly makes a difference!

Why would you do a cleanse right before the holidays? 

I think right before the holidays is a great time to do a cleanse because it takes the focus away from food and lets you focus on other areas of your life that bring you lasting joy. One element of the cleanse is daily journaling first thing in the morning. I really love that added "me time” as well as other aspects of self care that are encouraged - taking a bath, going on a walk, doing anything nice for myself. Often when we grab food that in the end doesn’t make us feel our best, it is really something else we are looking for, and the cleanse always reminds me how important it is to take care of myself.

What happens after the cleanse is over?
After you reintroduce the foods you eliminated on the cleanse one by one, you are encouraged to live by the 80/20 rule. That is, eat according to the rules of the cleanse 80% of the time and enjoy little indulgences the other 20%.

Is a cleanse just a crazy crash diet?
The Conscious Cleanse is definitely not a crash diet. You are encouraged to eat until you are comfortably full, while being mindful. Since you eat healthy foods, drink no alcohol, and eat or drink no added sugar, it is likely that you’ll lose some weight on the cleanse. However, weight loss is not my primary goal for cleansing. When I did the cleanse for the first time, I wanted to find out what foods I may be sensitive to as I had a suspicion for quite some time that gluten “wasn’t sitting right with me.” I didn’t weigh myself during the first cleanse, but I know I lost some weight because my clothes fit a lot better at the end. During subsequent cleanses, I have focused on eating the best foods for my body and relying less on pre-made foods, sauces (my number one vice!!!), and caffeine (unfortunately, I recently fell off the caffeine wagon again….).

So, yes, I think you’ll probably lose some weight, but I don’t think weight loss should ever be the main motivator for doing a cleanse - feeling your best and finding out what does and does not work for your body should be your main motivation for doing a cleanse. Also, it’s a great way to “reset” your body. It’s so easy to get used to too much sugar, salt, sauces, etc. And your body expects these flavors. Once you take them out completely, your taste buds will be happy without them or much less of them.

Where can I find out more about the Conscious Cleanse? 
I have written numerous times about the Conscious Cleanse over the past few years. Here are some of my previous posts:

If you are interested in the Conscious Cleanse, you can find out more information here. The next Conscious Cleanse starts on November 4. In fact, that’s when the transition period to the cleanse starts, and you make one change a day for five days (like eating more vegetables or reducing, and eventually eliminating, coffee).

But you don’t have to do a full-on cleanse to feel better in the next few months. Just focus on one or two things that you’ll do for yourself every day! It could be anything: eating an extra serving of veggies each day, limiting (or eliminating) caffeine or alcohol, cutting back on sugar, reading for 30 minutes each day, not over-scheduling yourself, doing some yoga first thing in the morning, making time for a walk each day - the list goes on and on.

Questions: How are you going to take care of yourself during the next few months?  

Be well,

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase the Conscious Cleanse through one of the links, I earn a commission.]