I consider myself a fairly well-balanced individual - though, this trait definitely did not come naturally.
Growing up, my best friend and I had nicknames for one another. In typical pre-adolescent creativity, her's was "Quick Chek Chick" and mine was "Mccy D's Mama." We were class acts and we still are.
I obtained my title by eating McDonald's upwards of 4x a week in middle school. A typical order would include not one but TWO double cheeseburgers, a 4-piece chicken mcnugget, fries and a coke. Tell me you're not impressed. Then, that whole puberty thing happened and I packed on, like, 15 pounds my freshman year of high school.
This completely, entirely, 100% normal 15 pounds of weight was quite a blow to my relatively shallow existence. So, to compensate, I then lost about twice as much weight. I became obsessed with eating healthfully, counting calories and weighing myself. I'll admit: becoming well-educated on health and diet was a definite plus in the long-term because I really had zero respect for my body or health previously. Other than that, though, it was a miserable and toxic phase of my life. In fact, what inevitably drove me to snap out of it was the moment I realized how incredibly BORING my thoughts had become. If all you're doing is thinking about appearances and surface-level things, you become fucking lame. Fact.
So, off I went to college where I gradually learned to live a more balanced lifestyle, save for the occasional two-semester bender that was my senior year. Whatever, I had a damn good time. Everything in moderation including partying like a wild woman, amiright? Something like that.
Anyway, now as a working, living A-dult in NYC, I continue to live fairly healthfully. A few years back, I tested out the extremist route and did a 3-day juice cleanse (which we've discussed) and while I can appreciate certain benefits of juicing, it really just brought me back to my old "boring thoughts" days. Right about now, you're probably silently asking me: "then why do a cleanse again, you idiot?"
Well, I did it a bit differently this time. Instead of consuming an all-liquid diet or going super extremist, I tried to focus it on my health and happiness. See, while I love this time of year, it's also a little much in terms of all the drinking and eating, and most of all, the social plans. As outgoing as I appear, and generally am, I'm actually more of an introvert, or at least an "ambivert." I need my downtime. I live by myself and can genuinely enjoy spending an entire 24 hours alone in my apartment just reading, writing or cooking. So, while I love a good happy hour out with friends, I also need to limit myself. As a "yes person" who doesn't always know her limits, this is sometimes really difficult because I too often concede to other people's requests and don't even realize that I should have said no until the moment the event arrives and I'm totally wiped out.
So, I figured going on a purposeful 7-day cleanse was also the best way possible to force myself to not have plans for an entire week.
Six straight nights comprised of at least 2 hours of reading, writing or relaxing sans any distractions. Think about it: no alcohol, no meat, no dairy. And no processed foods. It's hard to go out to dinner or drinks with those limitations. Not impossible, but difficult enough that it makes it easy to say no to plans. I scheduled a vacation day for myself on Friday which allowed me to really kick back and relax. As mentioned, it isn't often that I have an entire day to myself, but every time I do, I feel significantly better afterward. Overall, it was one of the more relaxing and enjoyable weeks I've had in a long time.
Additionally, I'm positive that my substitute evening tea combined with multiple nights of solid sleep helped me squash a cold I had been fighting off.
Emotionally, I made sure to expand on my morning routine of counting 3 things I am grateful for by actually writing them down. While I admittedly rushed out and forgot to do this twice during the week, the practice of writing each thing down definitely served as a nice reminder later when I happened across my notebook. This is something I'm going to try to implement every day going forward.
In terms of physical improvements, while I didn't count or limit my calorie intake at all, simply cutting out non-processed foods made a noticeable difference in my waistline. By the fourth day, I was feeling great and could see and feel a difference. My energy levels felt great and I definitely tightened up around my middle, which is always a nice feeling.
Breakfast (choose 1):
- Maple Oatmeal with vanilla almond milk, 1 hard-boiled egg, a banana
- Sauteed kale, brown rice, two eggs over-easy
- + Coffee w/ 1 packet real sugar and almond milk
Lunch (Choose 1):
- Brown rice and black beans with sautéed broccoli or kale/mushrooms + hot sauce
- 1 salmon avocado roll with miso soup
- Green apple or Pink Lady apple
- Carrots and hummus
- Homemade guac w/ tomatoes
- Pumpkin seeds
Dinner (choose 1):
- Mapotofu with brown rice (made w/o meat)
- Spaghetti Squash w/ marinara, sauteed mushrooms & kale
- Zatarain's dirty rice with blackbeans and broccoli
- 2 pcs each of Salmon, Yellowtail, Tuna sashimi + a rainbow roll
THE "OTHER" & FAQs
Did I cheat? Well, yes. I made it 6 days and 5 nights. Then, on the final night of my cleanse, I ended up going out for a cocktail. One of my closest friends just moved into my building and an old high school friend I hadn't seen in years was up in the city. So, a bunch of us went out to Dakota Bar and grabbed a round. It was a complete and outright cheat, but I still managed to say goodnight after the second round and make it into bed by 11:30. Still a relative success!
Did I workout? Yes. One thing I really liked about this "cleanse" is that it was pretty much just clean, healthy eating. It didn't require drastic changes to my daily routine. For comparison, on the 3-day juice cleanse, I couldn't work out because I WASN'T EATING. That was really boring. In risk of sounding like a meathead, I have to say: I don't just like my workouts, I need them. As someone who has been physically active her entire life, getting into the 9-5 grind has only made the habit more important. Working out, for me, is the best way to relieve stress, regulate my sleep and stay healthy. So, I aim to fit it into my schedule 3-4 times a week.
- Monday: 25 minutes on the stepper
- Tuesday: 3-2-1 high-intensity interval class
- Wednesday: Tabata Cross-fit class, sprints
- Thursday: Day off
- Friday: 25 minute jog
Are you interested in a cleanse or have you completed one before? Feel free to comment below with anything from tips to questions!