I’m beginning to hear another phrase, along with my title, “if I had a dollar every time someone says ‘It’s not a diet, It’s a lifestyle’ I’d be a rich lady”.
“Diet” seems to be a dirty word, it’s attached to suffering, sacrifice, overall unpleasantness, maybe discomfort. “Lifestyle” sounds fun, right? It’s a life with style, something most people would readily agree to.
The fact is 80%* of healthy lifestyle changes revolve around diet, or let’s say the food you are putting into your body. If you’ve been pursuing healthy choices for any period of time, you know enough to stay away from fad diet schemes or to get pulled into the latest media darling of healthy eating – Gluten free cup cakes, anyone? But at the same time, with the world shouting in your face about obesity epidemics and toxic foods you may be itching to change your life this spring and totally unsure where to begin.
In my personal research of reading books, spending loads of time online, listening to all kinds of doctors, perusing loads of “diets” (Vegan, Mediterranean, Paleo, Plant-based, Clean, The Kind Diet, The Detox Diet, Crazy Sexy Diet, The Body Ecology Diet, Weston Price, Kimberly Snyder, Dr. Frank Limpan, Dr. Weil…..the list goes on and on), here’s the basic skeletal structure of what a healthy lifestyle looks like:
EAT: Non-modern foods – think as close to nature as possible (Apple vs. Apple Jacks), cook at home as often as possible. Think in groups like: protein, fat and carbohydrate, these are the things your body needs and can really use, not Doritos (which falls into the “franken-food” category).
MOVE: Exercise, six days a week. Walk, dance, run, garden, vacuum, jump rope – don’t worry about a set time or pushing yourself till you drop, just get your body moving and build on as you are ready.
DRINK: Water, water and more water
REST: You must sleep, all kinds of repair and cleaning goes on in your lovely body (much of which we still don’t completely understand) while you are getting your shut eye.
If you are in the midst of making changes, I’d also encourage you to BE KIND to yourself. Many of the less than healthy habits we’ve picked up have been in our lives for awhile, it takes time to let them go as well.
* This “80%” is a totally made number on my part, pulled from my own guess-timation while doing research. I assigned such a large percentage because it plays a very large part in getting healthy.
You know the Billy Idol song, “Rebel Yell”
“With a rebel yell she cried- “more, more, more”
In the midnight hour babe- “more, more, more”
With a rebel yell- “more, more, more”
More, more, more.”
Ok, Billy Idol wasn’t singing about restrictive eating, but it’s a pretty good summary of how it can feel. Especially at the beginning, there is a physical withdrawal calling out for more – more caffeine, more sugar, more food. Once that part passes, I had a little of the rebel syndrome where I wanted things ONLY because I wasn’t supposed to have them.
Now that our 21 days are up and I can eat anything I like, I’m finding it very easy and natural to slowly integrate foods. Yesterday we tried corn tortillas and a small bit of regular potato., while making our version of these delicious sweet potato, black bean tacos. I also had one cup of coffee and felt like a maniac having an anxiety attack – terrible! (although must be said I’m having half a cup right now – sigh.)
“Clean” suggests trying one food that was eliminated during the cleanse and having a test day. Basically one new food every two days: Eat Day (1) – Test Day (2). So you are easily looking at another two weeks if you want to be specific, trying tomatoes, cheese, soy, yogurt, banana, strawberries, bread, meat, pasta, different oils, the list goes on. I’m not making any promises BUT it is a great opportunity to really zero in on food sensitivities. For us, we feel pretty good with the over-arching message of this experience, if you eat whole foods, not junk and exercise and stay well hydrated, you feel pretty darn good and you look pretty good too.
Our favorite meals were the simplest, online you can find elimination meals that are fit for entertaining guests, but we stuck with basics: brown rice, quinoa, roasted veggies, big green salads, veggie soups, hummus, almond butter, avocado with veggies.
There you have it, the 800arrows winter detox experience, we’ll be gearing up again for one of these around the end of summer. Until then lots more “arrows” to explore!
An interesting thing happened this week. As my husband and I started to discuss how we’d like to continue the “Clean” lifestyle after this 3 week cleanse I found myself starting to cheat. I’m not talking coffee and french fries but maybe an organic brown rice cake smothered in almond butter and covered with blueberries after I’ve had a very filling lunch. While all those foods are “on program”, my purpose for this cleanse is to give my body a break, to abstain from the special little something after my lunch, this is a detox not an all you can eat buffet.
I am happy to explore the 1,001 clean chocolate-y dessert options out there, in fact I just ordered this Gnosis chocolate. But AFTER this three week experiment is over – in the meantime, my husband and I are discussing our strong finish to this 21 day food journey.
We’ve agreed for our last day to juice all day – no food, just green juice. My husband is pushing to juice for day 20 AND 21, he’s so hard core! I am not hard core and I’m not very nice when I’m hungry, so I countered with smoothies AND juices for days 20 and 21. Stay tuned to see how we decided to glowingly glide across our finish line.
My husband and I had a breakfast date today. We love stealing an hour in the morning, getting out of the house and enjoying time alone away from the demands of the day and all without having to call (or pay for) a babysitter. Obviously there was no gazing at each other over warm cups of coffee THIS morning (although it was cold and rainy and that would have been nice)….
instead, our favorite coffee place also happens to make green juices! They also carry these bars pictured above. I’ve been very curious to see what those Texas made bars are all about but when croissants and muffins are in the continuer below these bars, guess which snack I usually choose.
Not today my friends, I ordered my green juice and choose my “energy bar” – “Fabulous Ginger Peach”, my husband went with the blueberry one. Both were really good, I preferred my peach one but I’d happily eat either flavor again. Ingredients were all “Clean” approved, however eating a lot of dried fruit (due to sugar) is discouraged, this kind of occasional splurge is just fine. The texture was good, kind of fruit leather-ish with the occasional soft soaked nut crunch. No chalk-y anything or weird after taste or strange after-effects, it’s a winner folks.
Another bar we’ve given a whirl is the “go macro” bar. “Sweet Rejuvenation” cashew butter bar was our flavor choice, I usually choose flavors based on which box looks the most empty at Whole Foods – very scientific, yes? Our take on the bar is that it’s good, the taste and texture are very candy bar-esque without crazy sweet-ness. It’s very filling, very satisfying and left us with horrific stomach cramps. So, I’ll be passing on that in the future.
Overall, energy bars should probably be treated as a last resort. “Clean” seems to support the motto to stay away with anything that has a label. Our goal is to be ingesting whole foods that are freshly prepared BUT if faced with a buttery croissant do whatever has to be done.
It’s the last day of week 2 of our winter cleanse and things are good, very good. Skin looks bright, pants feel loose, energy is stable and peaceful, elimination is regular and happy, we’re finding a groove with this thing after a some what rocky start. The weather continues to roller coaster from sunny 70’s to gray, windy 30’s which would typically have me pulling my hair out, but instead I’m contentedly choosing between salad or soup. That’s the hidden gift in this food experiment – it’s really only partly about the food, the rest is the neon sign that eating certain things have very definite effects. Eating these fresh, whole foods as well as eating a bit more moderately, has created a breeding ground for “peaceful, easy feelings”. It’s created a quiet defense for our normally sensitive digestion and weightless armor for eczema and other skin issues. My thought process feels less forced, listening seems a little easier – okay I’m going to stop because I don’t want this to sound like if you can find the right foods to eat that all your issues will magically disappear. But I will say it feels a bit like a key to unlocking a different kind of existence, in our case, it’s a better existence.
Other than eating from the prescribed list of “Clean”, here are a few other things we did to aid in our detox/cleanse during week 2.
Yoga – if you know me, you know yoga is not my favorite thing, it’s not even on my top 50 list, but I received an invitation to a class with friends and the social draw (with no food distractions) was enough to get me there. Yoga, particularly twisting poses are recommended while detoxing, kind of like a nice squeeze for your insides to release any bad guys they might be holding on to.
The verdict: I’m making it a regular weekly thing for awhile, I found the social aspect very pleasant and the yoga moderately so 🙂
Infrared Sauna – now, I know I posted not long ago about not needing to shell out money for extras during your detox but with a bathroom under renovation – read no HOT baths, and freezing temps outside, my body wasn’t getting much of a chance to sweat. Sweating is another huge way our bodies eliminate toxins so a good sweat is recommended. I found an amazing place in town for a good price and off we went.
The verdict: I’m going back Friday 🙂 I loved it!! I did feel really tired in the evening though, so I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you have plans at night, unless you regularly do Bikram yoga or something.
Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement – Magnesium is kind of an unsung hero in the supplement world, people may know it can help if you are backed up, but it can also help calm you if frazzled or help you sleep or improve circulation to cold fingers and toes.
The verdict: It definitely fulfilled the unclogging portion but I was after sleep and circulation help. My sleep is good, but I’m waking about 2 hours earlier than I’m used to. I’m going to try again and break up the dose to morning and night to see if I can get away without it effecting my elimination. Whole Foods offered small packs to try so I’m glad I didn’t buy the regular size, but I plan to keep experimenting with the packs.
Stay tuned for week 3, we are planning a big finish.
With the burden of detox week 1 behind us, we’re beginning to reap some benefits of the “Clean” lifestyle. Skin irritations are clearing up, sleep has turned into an amazingly perfect experience for one of us, energy has bumped up and evened out for one of us, eliminations (we are talking poop people) have become as described in the book for one of us, a pound or two have fallen off. These things are nice to experience but what’s better is there’s a sense of freedom that comes with this program – like you can drop the chains of cravings and junk food. You don’t have to be a slave to mood swings (which I now see have loads to do with what I’m eating).
So does that mean I’m “healed”? Will it be a life without pasta and cheese or bananas, strawberries and yogurt or bread – warm, flaky, lovely bread? Probably not, possibly not? Let’s just see where the three weeks takes us, baby steps, right? Right now I’m very happy writing with my warm cup of ginger tea instead of my old friend jo, so that’s some major change!
But at this point a lot of folks, my husband and I included, start talking about making these “Clean” changes for good (or at least 80% of the time). That calls for research – gotta build up the recipe folder and get inspired, here are some links that if not completely “Clean” things could be easily modified.
Dr. Oz tried “Clean” and put together a whole manual of recipes and menu plans, some of these are repeated in the book but some are new, especially at the end!
My New Roots continues to be a resource I go back to again and again, her “winter abundance bowl” is on my list for this week.
Dr. Frank Lipman just blogged a week’s worth of Detox friendly meals. I plan to finally attack the Nori Roll, except I’m giving up on the roll, it’s too intimidating for some reason, my roll will look oddly similar to a rice bowl.
Heidi Swanson, is new on my radar but I’ve read about her on Rip+Tan, Dishing Up the Dirt, Valleybrink Road and Pamela Salzman – her online journal 101 cookbooks has me very interested and her book “Super Natural Every Day” looks like a work of art and I love the title.
That should tide us all over for awhile, happy gathering.
Yesterday felt….normal. There were some distraction sit-ups and some staring at my kitchen pantry for the magical thing I just WANTED (but wasn’t there). No major headaches, no terrible digestion issues, I think we are finding a groove. So, I don’t have much to stay but staying accountable on 800arrows, helps too. So to make it sort of worth your while if you’ve been reading, here’s my favorite lunch, so far – hardly ground breaking but perfect if you are in chilly weather:
Sweet potato and Kate salad (serves 2)
2 sweet potatoes
coconut oil (optional)
1 bunch kale (leaves separated from stems)
red peper flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 400
Scrub your potatoes and pork with a fork, place in oven and put a pan underneath to catch the drippings.
Cook for 40 minutes.
Once cooked, slice open spread a bit of coconut oil and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.
After washing and thinly slicing kale, place in a medium bowl
Juice 1/2 lemon, 1-2 TBS olive oil, sprinkle with salt and massage. You’ll feel the kale start to soften a bit, I feel it after about 1 minute. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
So, I mentioned our family was planning a winter detox, well then I got the flu, then my husband got the flu and here we are a couple weeks later with our kitchen under construction and we are beginning. Not the best time you say, I suppose not, but we are going with it. So here I am at the (near) end of day 1 and I’m feeling it folks. I truly thought I had kicked most of my caffeine dependency during my visit from the flu but my raging headache suggests otherwise or perhaps it’s my body freaking due to lack of copious amounts of sugar. Whatever the reason, I’m considering getting into my PJs at 5:00.
I share and air all of this because it’s a great opportunity for me to get excited about not feeling so good. It’s a terrific reminder my body needs this break. I’ve been partying like a queen, with heavy foods, too much food, too much heavy food, not enough of the good and over my fair share of the not so good. If you are following my line of thinking I’m impressed, can I blame run on sentences and incoherent thoughts on day 1 detox blahs? Sure!
Where was I? Oh yes, embracing the fog, I’ve been caffeinate-ing and sugar-ing my way out of this fog for months but now I have the opportunity to feel it and clear it.
We’re using the Clean program once again to give our bodies a bit of a break. No fancy tricks or supplements, just a smoothie or juice for breakfast, a lunch from the approved list of foods and a soup or smoothie for dinner. That felt like I was quoting a commercial but what I continue to appreciate about this program is it’s not about counting calories or being hungry. You can take this concept to many different levels depending on your goals and needs for detoxing. Ok, now I really do sound like a commercial, I give up, I’m off to grab my PJ’s.
Our Clean cleanse has come to a close, and as I wrote earlier, I’ve been a bit concerned about our next steps. During the last week of the cleanse I had two dinners out and wasn’t able, nor did I make myself follow the rules of the cleanse to the “T”. I felt immediate differences after ingesting the “contraband” foods – bloating, gas, indigestion, irritability, even a nightmare. So, I continued marinating on how great I’ve been feeling while eating the foods prescribed on the cleanse and while thinking these thoughts, I mindlessly start typing to check out some of my blog regulars and here’s what they had to offer me:
Zen Habits – “A Guide to Eating a Plant Based Diet”
D Moms Blog- “Achieving Work Life Balance (Sort Of) with The Gem’s Kale and Quinoa Salad“, an article about how one lunch filled with green goodness made a marked beneficial change in this woman’s day.
I am not kidding, three seemingly unrelated blogs/websites ALL expounding on the benefits of eating a “clean diet”. Pffff. I get it universe, I get it, I don’t need any more messages from the Internet telling me that this way of eating can be more than an experiment.
After much discussion, my husband and I have decided not to live by any rules or standards or labels other than our own. Our daily meals may look vegan or raw but that doesn’t mean you’ll never see grilled fish on our table again. We are leading with health first and foremost but there will certainly be sprinkles of alcohol, sugary sweets, potato chips, etc. during the long and healthy life we are setting ourselves up for!
The details on the cleanse results:
1. Weight loss – I’m not a scale girl but going by my clothes, I dropped at least a dress size, possibly a dress size an a half. And remember weight loss was NOT a goal, I was packing in the calories.
2. Energy surge – The energy I experienced from day 3 through the end to day 21 was incredible! No afternoon dips, no groggy mornings, a steady flow all day that thankfully released me in time for bed. I did notice a decrease in the amount of sleep needed the last week (about 6-7 hours, vs. my typical 8-9)
3. Glow-y soft skin and bright eyes – “Did you change your make-up?”, “Did you get a facial?”, “You look so shiny and happy”, these are actual comments directed my way from unpaid individuals.
4. Clarity of mind and overall feeling of lightness – Life seemed easier, removing some of the distractions that I now know food causes in my life was a completely unexpected insight and benefit.
We will certainly be repeating this experience, maybe in 6 months, maybe a year….I’ll let you know!
P.S. Here’s the recipe for the “Beeting Beauty” pictured at top:
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 lemon (peel removed)
Feed everything through a juicer.
P.P.S. I only name my FAVORITE drink creations….. just thought you should know.
We are finishing up week 2 of our Clean Cleanse (woo hoo) and it just keeps getting better. I could extol the benefits of this experience for paragraphs but you can go to the website and read through hundreds of stories like mine and my husband’s going on about bright eyes, clear minds, boundless energy, slimmer hips and a peaceful heart. So, here a couple of details, tips maybe, to acknowledge that like most good things, this experience also has it’s challenges.
1. Just want to clarify my husband and I are not doing “Clean” through the pre-packaged program they sell on the website. We are following the whole program based on the book, so $5.98 from the used book store makes this information accessible to most people. That said, having a juicer and a high-powered blender (my choices are Breville and Vita-Mix) do make this process a whole lot easier!
2. Defining your hunger and confronting the ugly truth – People have different goals when doing a cleanse, loosing weight wasn’t on my list so when I make my morning shake it is anything but low-calorie. I’m talking half an avocado, almond butter, walnuts, cashews….and sometimes that’s all together in one shake. SO, a few hours after ingesting said shake I know I’m not “hungry” but my body is craving something and sending signals that seem a lot like hunger. Identifying that I’d been using food as a distraction or a comfort has made me face the truth that I need some additional stimulation in my life. I need to “grow my garden” as a wise friend once told me. This is easier said than done of course when parenting and lack of “free” time are the facts of my foreseeable future.
3. Eating raw garlic and taking tablespoons of olive oil is hard and unpleasant. ‘Nough said there.
4. What goes in must come out…..right? I, but not my husband, have experienced some traffic jams with the end of the digestion process – please don’t make me spell it out, I’m not that brave. But my whole reason for doing this is to get the bad stuff out and that fact that that wasn’t happening as smoothly and effortlessly as I expected has been a challenge.
5. Fast-forwarding to the finish line – We still have a week to go with this cleanse and I already find myself thinking, “I don’t want to loose this good feeling, what are we going to do when we are eating ‘normally’ again”. Have I learned nothing?! My job right now is to stay present in the process and to focus on getting the most out of this for my body to heal and restore itself……this too, I find difficult.
For more Do’s and Don’ts this is the Clean Food list: