Spring is in the air right now....dewdrops twinkle among the cherry blossoms, and the air is redolent with fragrant florals and freshness. There is just something about the spicy smell of hyacinth blooms and spring breezes always makes me want to torture myself in new and inventive ways. Last year, it was the Tracy Anderson Method, and this year, it's a month-long spring detox - body, mind, and home. I'm talking dry brushing, mega green smoothies, cleansing yoga, meditation, and a daunting closet organization that I'm hoping will be more freeing than spirit-crushing. I like to think of it as shedding my sludgy winter skin and revealing a new self that is way more awesome. Truth is, I started it a little over a week ago, and although it has been trying at times, it is a far cry from torture. In fact, I feel pretty amazing: I've been in an unabating good mood that has made my typical snark all but disappear, and I have a ton of energy that helps keep me motivated.
I have embarked on a few detoxes over the years, from an all-juice 3 day cleanse to a two week complete elimination diet (CLEAN by Alejandro Junger) that was mostly protein shakes and moodiness. The juice cleanse was particularly challenging, as by day three I wasn't even hungry, I just wanted to be able to chew something. But I think I have finally found the trick: moderation. Basically, when you cut out EVERYTHING, all you will want is what you can't have. Which is everything except kale. I've never found those detoxes to work for me, because it quickly becomes an obsession with truffle mac & cheese and at one point I even DREAMT I was eating mac & cheese, like ALL NIGHT, and I am not wasting my dream time on food again, not when I could be flying over Narnia on a fire-breathing pegasus*. Anyways, the whole point is to make healthy changes that will last, not create an unhealthy obsession. My advice is - pick one thing you want to focus on, and try to eat as much whole, unprocessed foods as you can. I am focusing on cutting out sugar, with the exception of citrus fruits and berries, and I don't really have any other foods that are taboo (it turns out that I have the opposite of a gluten intolerance. I turn into a complete monster without gluten. And I pass out. I'll still eat dairy too - but I'm going to get really high quality, organic dairy and eat it in moderation.)
My other advice? Don't buy a cleanse**. I will admit to falling victim to the lure of a prepackaged kit - it sounds so easy! And exciting! Just drink your shakes or take your pills or pound your juice and everything will be great and you won't hate it at all by day three! Except you will. I promise. And whatever you do, don't buy that laxative tea. I have heard some horror stories about people becoming dependent and they can't "function" without it. And the thing is, you don't need it. Just...don't buy doughnuts. Buy vegetables. When you go out to eat, get grilled fish. Don't eat candy. Blah blah blah. Your money is put to better use by buying high quality foods, and eating actual meals helps to keep it from feeling like deprivation. It's basically like following the 80/20 rule, but right now I'm bumping it up to about a 95/5.
The interesting thing abut this approach is that I am now 8 days into the month, and I haven't touched white bread or fries, and have not even been craving it. Because it isn't "off limits". I mostly eat fish, quinoa, green smoothies, salad, hummus, and nuts. I am trying to steer clear of alcohol, but if I have a glass of wine out with friends, no biggie. So far I haven't. I'm not gonna beat myself up if I wind up eating a piece of pizza - I'm trying to make this as close to a lifestyle as possible, and there's no way I'm living the rest of my life without delicious pizza. Now, sugar cravings, on the other hand, are a different beast and absolutely the worst, but I have been expecting that and have stocked up on things like peppermint tea and crunchy veggies to help overcome it. The thing is, after you get past day 3 or 4 of no sugar, the cravings are significantly diminished, and I started to feel so much better that it's just not even worth it to go near sugar. My skin is clear, my eyes are even brighter, my stomach doesn't bother me, and I just feel...happier. I honestly didn't expect it to affect me this much, and I'm hoping this drastic change will make it easier to keep up with in the long run.
But as I said before, I want to eliminate the crap from ALL areas of my life. I'll be doing clay facials to detoxify my skin, will do scalp rubs with coconut and essential oils to refresh those follicles, plan on doing some form of activity every day, whether it is a hard-core workout or just a walk along the river, and am systematically working through a long list of household and other to-do's that have gone undone over the past few months. My goal is to cross something off every day - even a small task like cleaning my makeup brushes, or making that homemade laundry detergent that I've pinned at least 6 times and have yet to look at again. The big projects might be a weekly or bi-weekly event - like a giant basement cleanout (seriously, no one should look down there - the only thing organized is our Halloween skeletons and they are overrun with spiders) or a full-scale Goodwill scavenge (I swear, there is nothing more cleansing than dropping off a huge donation there.)
I'm all stocked up on natural cleaning supplies, fun cleansing spices, air-purifying plants (I'm also starting a small spinach and kale garden outside), and fruits and veggies, and after the success of week one, I am so very excited for the rest of the month. Okay, maybe not the the basement cleanout, it is super creepy down there and seriously, the spider. SO MANY. But keep coming back, I'll be posting all month on fun adventures like oil pulling and ginger baths. Feel free to join in and let me know your experiences in the comments!
*Not my typical dream. They are usually way weirder.
**Yes, technically, I have a detoxification bentonite clay in the header photo. But technically, that is an ingredient, not a kit, and also it supposedly pulls out heavy metals and I have a mercury filling that worries me way more than it should and I just wanted to try it, OK?