You know those people who exercise with an insane amount of enthusiasm, crave things like kale and quinoa, and pack around jugs of water on the daily? I am not part of their squad. Forcing myself to go to the gym is a constant battle, my cravings almost always fall on the sweet side (see below), and I’m notorious for forgetting to drink water. If I have an insane amount of enthusiasm for anything, it’s probably food (and not always the healthiest types). I can attack a bread basket like nobody’s business, consider dessert a necessary reward after dinner, and will mindlessly snack well into the wee hours of the night (er morning).
But despite these shortcomings, I would still say my diet is somewhat balanced. I’ve always been an adventurous, well-rounded eater and while I don’t love the gym, I do make sure to get my exercise outdoors. Over the years, I’ve become more mindful of my not-so-good eating habits and have cut back here and there; however, I never considered going on a full-fleged diet to overcome them. Until now…
Last month, I decided to commit to a 30-day detox, which was gifted to me by my dear friend and Arbonne consultant Sophie Sakson. Having successfully completed the detox herself, Sophie motivated me to make a lifestyle change. Talk about a good friend! The goal of the company’s 30 Days to Healthy Living & Beyond program is to detoxify the body and eliminate possible allergens, namely dairy, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods in general. It’s sort of a riff on an anti-inflammatory diet and aims to set you up for healthy living beyond the 30 days. Sounds great in theory, right? But as the first day of my detox crept up, I admittedly began to think 30 days would feel like a lifetime.
You see, I’ve always prided myself on being the type of girl who isn’t afraid to indulge. I’ve never had any off-limit foods, except during Lent (I gave up soda one year and never looked back), so the idea of altogether avoiding the cheese counter at the store felt less like a victory and more like a betrayal to my former fun self.
However, my attitude shifted as my diet drastically changed. One thing I immediately noticed was the lack of bloating, which I’m guessing was from the elimination of dairy and gluten! I kept waiting to feel pangs of hunger when I stopped eating by 7 PM, but the detox kept me full and satisfied the entire four weeks. Of course, there were times I could feel my motivation waning. During Week Three, I wanted nothing more than to consume a cupcake and had legit dreams about cheese. But, I resisted temptation!
By the end, I shed a few pesky pounds and proved to myself that I actually can do without some of my formerly-favorite foods. Who knew cashew yogurt is just as good, if not better than, full-fat dairy? I also would have never imagined I could have a super productive day sans coffee. And the biggest surprise of all: when I treated myself to a jar of edible cookie dough after the detox, it wasn’t as amazing as I’d remembered. Cheese, however, was just as incredible as I’d recalled.
Over the years, I’ve perpetuated this idea that while my relationship with food is a healthy one, it borders on the emotional. I’ve always believed that food can dictate my mood. But while a glass of champagne does shake up an otherwise dull Wednesday night and mac ‘n cheese will almost always cheer me up after a shitty day, healthy food doesn’t have to taste like punishment. Food is nourishment and pleasure, and you cannot possibly live a happy, healthy life without both. This doesn’t mean every day is a free-for-all, but I’ve realized it’s okay to let yourself enjoy the foods you love, but (here’s the catch), in a thoughtful way. This detox has really given me the chance to put real time and thought into what my favorite, can’t-live-without foods really are, which has ultimately helped me indulge in the things that are worth it and pass on those that aren’t. For example, wine and cheese are two indulgences that will always be worth it for me.
Moving forward, my goal isn’t to consume a certain amount of spinach, look down at a specific number on the scale, or avoid food groups altogether. Instead, I’m more focused on making a conscious effort to listen to my body and feel my very best. This detox has given me a glimpse at a better me. A few small yet effective changes I will be making to my diet include: limiting my coffee intake significantly (do I really even need it?), making protein shakes/smoothies an everyday thing to decrease snacking, adding dairy back in, but only in select areas (I’m looking at you, cheese and ice cream), and exercising restraint when it comes to late-night hunger cravings.
Curious how I actually said goodbye (albeit temporarily) to nearly all the things I love? Read on!
- Meal plan. Finding program-approved recipes and planning out your meals is a surefire way to stick to the program – just be honest with yourself about what you’ll actually eat (leftovers and all) and how your schedule plays in to prep time.
- Don’t underestimate the power of protein powder. If you struggle with snacking, adding a few scoops to a morning smoothie/shake will banish those bad eating habits by keeping you fuller longer. Arbonne makes two flavors, chocolate and vanilla, both of which taste great and last a long time. They’re also vegan and allergen-free, which is even better!
- If you must snack, snack smartly and not too late in the evening. This means a green apple with some almond butter, bell pepper with hummus, or dairy-free yogurt (I found Forager Cashewgurt and So Delicious coconut milk yogurt to be the best tasting).
- Re-format your plate. 1/2 veggies, 1/4 lean protein, and 1/8 good fats – stick to this format and you’ll stay full!
- There’s no shame in the occasional indulgence. Although the diet recommends cutting out alcohol entirely, I decided upfront not to restrict myself from wine. I found that by giving myself the option of the occasional glass, I actually didn’t reach for it as much as I might have if wine was totally off-limits. When I did indulge, it was really only a few glasses (four at the most) over the entire 30 days, and I upheld every other aspect of the detox.
- If you’re doing the Arbonne detox, get the Energy Fizz Sticks. A few days into the detox, I found myself extremely tired. These sticks are a smart replacement for that morning coffee or as a fix for afternoon fatigue. You just stir a fizz stick into water whenever you feel yourself getting sleepy and you’ll quickly feel more alert.
- Don’t have false expectations. Obviously, any detox or diet will work differently for everyone. You may lose a ton of weight or you might lose closer to 6 (like me). Eliminating dairy may clear up your acne, but it may also have no effect on your skin whatsoever. Don’t compare your progress or end results to those of a friend’s because everyone’s body reacts to change differently. If anything, you’ll become more mindful of eating habits and discover new ways to incorporate healthy choices. That’s definitely a victory!
Whether you’re doing a detox or not, here are a few favorite recipes I discovered during the 30 days that you may also enjoy:
Thank you to Sophie Sakson and Arbonne for hooking me up with nutrition goodies for my 30 Day detox! As always, all opinions are my own.