Spring Cleaning: Cleansing from the Inside Out


cashew cardamom smoothieWelcome to Fit Mama Monday on the blog!

It’s Time for Spring Cleaning!
Today I embark a month-long nutritional cleanse called Clean Up! with Green Mountain Crossfit. With all the cleanses out there to choose from, finding one that suits you can be confusing: some are extreme, some are simply expensive powdered diets, and some would have you believe you’ll look airbrushed in a bikini by Memorial Day. I don’t buy into any of that and neither should you.  Cleansing, especially juice fasting or packaged food cleansing, is not the healthiest route to long-term vitality or permanent weight loss, and any extreme cleanse should be thoroughly vetted before starting. Who wants to go without food for days on end or reconstitute meals from a powder? You certainly won’t ever see me sign up for that! I like food way to much to go without it. But this Clean Up!, designed to help reestablish good bacteria in the intestines and eliminate allergens and inflammation, I can get behind. It is based on Dr. Alejandro Junger’s book Clean.

Last January, I decided to try this nutritional cleanse because of some skin issues I had been having related to rosacea. I thought perhaps there was a link between the redness and breakouts on my skin and the foods I was choosing to eat. So I started cleansing and stuck with it for the 21 recommended days, feeling so fantastic that I continued for another 40. I was sleeping through the night (a welcome change after 10 years of interrupted sleep and insomnia), had energy at 3pm each day, and felt phenomenal. I found little change in my skin during the cleanse, but inadvertently learned as I reintroduced foods that I had sensitivity to both wheat and sugar, both of which exacerbated pain in my joints where arthritis and bursitis had been flaring up. I hadn’t connected either food to the incessant, low-grade low back pain I had been having for ten years. And never did I think of giving up bread, chocolate, or pasta. That was crazy talk. I simply thought I would have to live with that pain forever. But because I had cleansed and eliminated foods that cause inflammation, I had eliminated the pain, too. An unexpected bonus!

Why Am I Cleansing Now?
I’m about 5 weeks away from running my very first half marathon. As the training runs get longer, I can feel my joints taking the impact of my feet against the road, especially in my hips. Recently hydration hasn’t been enough of a priority (yikes! more tea than water each day!), and neither has watching my intake of chocolate (why does pudding have to be so freaking delicious?). Both have a direct correlation with how my joints feel: the lack of water, of course, fails to absorb shock and the sugar causes inflammation and aches in my spine and hips.

So to properly fuel my body for and protect my joints from these long training sessions, it’s important that I refine my food intake to simple, whole foods. And get rid of the crap. And amp up the water intake. That’s where cleansing comes in. What will I eliminate? Gluten grains, sweeteners, alcohol (sorry, Mojito, you’ll have to wait until Cinco de Mayo), red meat, dairy (bye-bye cheddar, I’ll miss you the most), eggs, soy, processed oils, and any processed foods. What will I eat? Whole foods, lots of vegetables, most fruits, non-gluten grains, healthy meats (lots of poultry and game), fish, healthy oils, and almost all of it will be made at home. I’ll make protein packed smoothies and delicious, savory soups. I’ll be drinking TONS of water (I love mine with chia seeds) and some herbal tea to help eliminate toxins. My largest meal will be in the middle of the day, and my other meals will be blended, to help aid digestion.

To be clear, I will not be on a diet. This nutritional cleanse is not meant for weight loss, nor is it my goal to drop lots of weight. There is no caloric restriction here. Since I’m training for a race, I will eat what I need to properly fuel my runs and supplemental workouts. And as wonderful as cleansing will make me feel, I’ll be glad to reintroduce other foods after the race. I don’t believe following such strict guidelines all the time is a realistic way to eat forever. But for this training period, it will really rev up my engine and help me train optimally.  And making the commitment out loud to you will help me not deviate from the path.

What Did I Eat Today?

Breakfast was a delicious smoothie made of coconut milk, dates, an apple, cinnamon, vanilla, spinach, avocado, sunflower seed butter and ice.  It tastes like a caramel apple in a glass with extra vitamins from the spinach, seed butter, and avocado.  And is a thousand times better for you than an actual caramel apple.  Lunch was brown rice topped with sautéed chicken with caramelized onions and kale, followed by a pear and a handful of cashews.  Dinner will be spinach and spring pea soup, which is filled with bright, spring flavors.  Tomorrow’s soup, with chicken, white beans and greens, smells amazing and looks like this:

White Bean Soup

Are You Ready For A Spring Clean Up?
Are you curious, inspired, frightened, or invigorated by the idea of a cleanse?  How do you feel about the food choices you make on a regular basis? The amount and the quality of your sleep? The energy level that you have throughout the day? Do you wonder how a cleanse would affect your body and mind? How do you feel after you eat the foods that you are choosing? If you’d like to do this cleanse together, let me know! I’d love to have company on this journey and to coach you as you go, especially if this is your first time trying a cleanse.  If you join me, I’ll provide daily recipes, via e-mail I’ll discuss relevant topics like caffeine withdrawal, and give you all the support you need. You can leave a comment to start the conversation, or contact me via e-mail.  If you know you’re ready, you can join a group of folks starting to cleanse this month by clicking this link.  What do you have to lose?