I believe the 80/20 rule applies to most things in life. Eg, if you eat healthily 80% of the time, then it's okay to "sin" 20% of the time. Although I eat pretty cleanly, my hedonistic love of acidic foodstuffs – sugar, coffee, and wine – had my daily diet teetering uncomfortably past 79%. Plus I was feeling stressed – like there wasn't enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needed to be done. It was time to cleanse.
About once a year, I do a 21-day cleanse, loosely based on the cleanse in Kris Carr's Crazy, Sexy, Diet The cleanse does not involve deprivation: you eat all you want. Your daily diet consists of vegan (aka plant-based), gluten-free, mainly alkaline foods (60-80%) and some healthy acidic foods (20-40%). The cleanse is not just about nutrition; it also involves self care, like daily mediation, dry brushing, news fasting, exercising, etc.
This cleanse is a ritualistic return to clean eating and radical self care. It counters the manner in which we are socialized to attend to everything and everyone but ourselves. Fact is, taking care of yourself is not selfish. It's necessary.
Luckily, 70 of you decided to join me in our closed group on Facebook. Cleansing is more fun – and much easier – when done in the company of like-minded people. We shared recipes, tips, successes, funny stories – and even transgressions. (Yes, we are human. Perfection is a dangerous myth.) On April 22, I officially finished my 21-Day Badass Adventure Cleanse. Hello, morning soy latte! Here's the recap.
The human body is naturally alkaline, about 7.4 on the pH scale. (If you're interested, you can measure your own pH using these strips.)
The cleanse hypothesis maintains that eating more alkaline foods helps fight disease and helps the body get to or maintain its natural state of alkalinity. It makes sense. Think back to high school science class, and look to the basics of medicine:
- Inflammation causes disease.
- Acidic foods, substances and stress cause inflammation.
- Most unhealthy foods and substances (coffee, black tea, drugs, alcohol, sugar, white carbs, meat, milk, dairy) are highly acidic.
- Conversely, most healthy foods (veggies, fruits, most plant protein) are alkaline.
Today, I'm including random cleanse thoughts, tons of photo highlights, and a list of recipes and resources. If you'd like to see more recap photos, please check out my Instagram account. Next time I cleanse, I hope you will join me!
My cleanse experience
The general axiom is that you have to repeat a task 21 times before it becomes habit. In essence, the cleanse was like trying on healthy habits and seeing which ones would stick. I pretty much stayed on track, even while training hard, traveling and eating out in restaurants. The truth is, healthy options are all around us. I think we reach for unhealthy foods out of habit.
- Cleansing while running: This is a runner-friendly program. I'm 52 and trained very hard while cleansing – ranging from 38-46 quality miles per week, with a tempo run, long run and speed work each week. I also ran two races. I won my age group in the Hot Chocolate 15K and I won first place female, 6th runner overall in the Cherry Blossom 5K. So my energy level was fine - nothing beyond normal adaptive training fatigue. I do tend to eat more (plant) protein when I'm not cleansing, which I need given all the training I do. I must admit, by the end of the cleanse, I was starving for more protein, especially seitan which was off limits since it's pure gluten.
- Hardest part of the cleanse for me (subtraction): Giving up coffee. I thought giving up wine would be the most challenging because I enjoy wine with dinner and while cooking, But I didn't miss it past the first day. DItto, sugar. It's amazing how quickly abstinence can undo a sweet tooth. Coffee is another story. While I enjoyed my healthy morning matcha almond milk latte, I really missed my morning soy caffe latte.
- Hardest part of the cleanse for me (addition): Meditating. I tried to meditate for 5 minutes each day and when I took yoga classes. It is very hard for me to sit still and make my brain shut off – which only underscores how much I need to. I stuck to it except when I was in Boston. But it's honestly not something I feel compelled to continue, probably because it's so hard for me.
- Most enjoyable part of the cleanse for me (addition): Daily green juices or smoothies. There's something smugly satisfying about drinking in 6 servings of produce before 10am. I have a Breville juicer and I use it even while not cleansing, but usually only a few times per month. This cleanse had me juicing daily.
- My favorite, go-to juicing recipe:: 1 peeled cucumber, 1-2 cups fresh kale and or romaine lettuce. 1 peeled lemon or lime, 1 organic apple or pear, a 1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger or turmeric and a dash of cinnamon. Optional: handful of cilnatro or fresh mint
- Most noticeable differences post cleanse: My skin always looks better while cleansing. That weird "number 11" between my eyebrows softens, probably because I was taking in so much liquid and phytochemicals. Also, I do not need to lose weight but I dropped weight while eating like a linebacker: 4 pounds to be specific, which put me at the top edge of an underweight BMI. Underweight = no bueno. One week post-cleanse, I'm almost back to my normal weight (thank you, gluten!). The point is, if you do need to lose weight, this cleanse is worth a try; as you can see from the photos, this manner of eating is about delicious abundance, not deprivation.
- Cleansing habits I'd like to maintain: Drinking more lemon water (alkaline!) and herbal teas; juicing more often because I really do enjoy juices; dry brushing. Being more aware of eating mostly alkaline foods.
- My favorite cleanse recipes: Green juice, chia puddings, Sheet Pan Tofu and Green Beans, and banana whips for dessert.
- Crazy, Sexy, Diet by Kris Carr
- Crazy, Sexy, Juice by Kris Carr
- Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw
- Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily von Eu
- Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better by Julie Cove (I love the recipes, design and information in this book. But I do find some of it almost fanatical and bordering on orthorexic-- so take what you need from it.)
- Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Furhman - a classic, well-referenced and researched book on the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
- Banana Whips (Use non-dairy milk)
- Moxarella Cheese (Cashew-based, vegan)
- Sheet Pan Green Beans and Tofu
- Chia Pudding ideas
- Collard Wrap Tutorial
- Zoodle recipe ideas