What I learned from raw cleansing (and what I would do differently next time)

I spent this past week visiting a high school friend in North Carolina. We both chose to work in the schools, so summertime is our vacation time. Needless to say, the busy school life makes your summers feel a bit empty and void, especially since she’s making a big move abroad in a few weeks and I have no idea what my next year’s placement will be, so I can’t prepare any materials yet.

We decided that when I was visiting, we would both stick to a strict “cleanse” diet, where we ate only raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Herbs are allowed, but we didn’t use any dried spices or flavorings. I honestly didn’t know if I could handle this extremely strict regimen of eating only raw foods, but I learned a few things about myself along the way.

Prep Day: Monday

I spent this day traveling from Florida to North Carolina, so in the morning, I was less strict than I should have been. I decided to start my day with a coffee and a Lärabar, which I deemed acceptable because the variety I chose was gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher. Was it raw? I don’t know, but it sure beat the junk in those vending machines at the rest stops. I packed myself 2 bottles of coconut water, a few blocks of cheddar, and some fruit. I know it wasn’t the BEST way to kick off this raw cleanse, but I also needed to use up some expiring food, so I settled.

When I arrived in North Carolina, we made some sort of vegetable dip in the blender from avocados and other assorted vegetables, so this is officially when I kicked off my portion of the cleanse.

Verdict: I technically didn’t begin until the evening, so I didn’t count this day as a cleanse day.

 

Day 1: Tuesday

The cleanse officially begins. We start the day with a raw smoothie of assorted fruits. The natural sweetness of all the fruits wasn’t as overpowering as I assumed it would be, but I definitely was missing coffee. We sprinkled our snacking throughout the day with raw nuts and fresh fruits, which were doubling as poolside hydration. I found myself extremely thirsty, which I have begun equating with the hotter southern temperatures that my Pennsylvania blood is still acclimating to.

I normally wake up to a walk, run, yoga, or bike ride, do about a half hour of strength training, and then another half hour of cardio in the evening or strength training, if I didn’t complete it in the morning. I knew my muscles would begin to feel cramped and neglected, so I made sure to at least keep them minimally active.

Lunch and dinner were some sort of dips, which we “tricked” our bodies into thinking were crackers with the crunch of raw nuts. We also used carrots and cauliflower, but my favorite was using raw almonds. We didn’t restrict ourselves to portions, either. Whenever we felt hungry, we ate. I absolutely think this is why I never felt like “cheating” on the diet. I bought myself a blender!!!

I had fleeting thoughts all day about being a raw vegan. It was kind of fun and refreshing to not cook anything, and I felt like I was doing my body a world of good by eliminating all the processed, fatty garbage that is disgustingly everywhere these days. The other fleeting thought I was having was about the sheer cost of becoming a raw vegan on a teacher’s (SLP’s) salary.

Verdict: I didn’t feel hungry, and I wasn’t too far off from my day-to-day diet. I mostly eat fruits and vegetables, anyways, and try to cook as little as possible in the Florida heat.

 

Day 2: Wednesday

I was absolutely missing coffee when I woke up. I felt a bit sluggish and drowsy, but I expected this. We took a trip to Raleigh for the day, and brought along our raw nuts and some berries and grapes. I never knew I could crave water as much as I was this day. No matter what we did, I just wanted to be drinking ice cold water by the gallon. I loved eating berries and the raw nuts. I was learning that my body was loving the grapes and juicy foods more because of the higher water content.

One discomfort I felt on Wednesday was irregularity. I (of course) Google’d the crap out of “constipation + raw diet” (sorry if this is TMI…) and found that it’s not uncommon, but it’s not necessarily common, either. I attributed the discomfort to eating high levels of nuts, which supposedly dehydrate your intestines, and not getting enough protein from my usual protein powder add-ins and lack of meats. I also Google’d how to relieve this, and pretty much ate every raw food recommended. I also used my knowledge of peppermint tea as relief and brewed myself a cup of hot water with mint leaves.

One thing that surprised me was the sheer amounts of food we were eating were not adding enough calories to even reach my body’s Resting Metabolic Rate. I was very thankful that my energy levels were low so I didn’t feel compelled to bust out crazy workouts. We spent most of the day lounging around and shopping for produce.

Verdict: Energy levels were even lower. I felt like doing nothing that required any physical activity. I was missing hot foods and dairy. The tea definitely helped with my coffee cravings, but didn’t satiate my caffeine withdrawal. Foods that help with regularity, per my Google research: [ripe] bananas, mint tea, apples, and kiwi.

 

Day 3: Thursday

I woke up feeling clean on the inside, in a I-don’t-have-anything-processed-in-my-body-right-now kind of way. I’ve been trying to shift into an unprocessed diet, but it has taken a lot of research and baby steps. I was really happy to know that nothing with more than 1 ingredient was pulsing through my digestive system. We scheduled a trampoline fitness class for the evening, so we both thought another day of poolside laziness was in order. I made it a point to do yoga in the pool and stretch as much as possible. I was actually missing exercise. We both felt an odd sensation of either muscle pain or weakness in our calves and knees throughout the day. I assumed it was the lack of exercise. I couldn’t wait for the evening.

The trampoline dance class was SO MUCH FUN. I had a blast dancing like I was back in the college bars a few years ago. I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt to move and expel all my pent-up energy. I was exhausted and had an overwhelming feeling of tranqulity afterwards. It truly felt like my body was at its most pure state: using only raw foods for energy.

After the workout, we both still felt the sensation in our legs and knees. I looked up effects of raw cleansing, and deduced that it was the lack of certain nutrients that was causing our leg irritability. We vowed this was the last day of cleansing.

Verdict: We were both shocked that our once-a-month cravings of junk food and chocolate were gone, however, we both sorely missed cheese and coffee at this point.

Post-Cleanse: Friday

We woke up elated that we could eat hot foods. I started my day with a huge glass of water, and tried not to overload my system all at once. We ate pepper, onion, and cheese omelets for breakfast, and I drank 2 full cups of coffee. I should have monitored myself a little bit more, though, because my stomach was a bit sour for the next few hours. I supplemented with lots and lots of water.

For lunch, I eased myself back into my typical diet with a banana/kiwi/6 almond/coconut water/protein powder smoothie. Since I was driving home that day, I didn’t want any upset tummies during the 7 hour car ride. I took a banana, apple, and peach for car snacks.

For dinner, I had some mac ‘n cheese and a Riesling spritzer. I wasn’t necessarily craving alcohol, but I wanted a little something that was cleanse forbidden.

Verdict: The cleanse was intense, and I probably would have caved without a partner and a blender. I was amazed that my time-of-the-month cravings were null. I was beyond ready to eat something hot by the end, even if it was just hot fruits or veggies. I have noticed myself balancing my diet much more this weekend, though. I try to eat at least a cup of vegetables or fruits at mealtimes, with smaller portions of the “fatty” cheeses and meats. I’m trying to be more nutrient-conscious in my food choices, too. Everything I’ve been eating is mainly vegetables with small portions of meats, cheeses, or grains.

 

Would I do another raw cleanse? Yea, I probably would. I’m going to give myself some time to rebound, though. I lost a good 6 pounds in 4 days, and I want my body to regain muscle, too. I think this would be an excellent 1-2 day diet once-a-month to eliminate my junky cravings, however, I don’t think this would make a lifestyle.

 

Have you done a cleanse of any sort? Would you try it?

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Am I just contributing to the junk pile of blog posts in the vast garbage dump of the internet?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog lately. My posts range everywhere from work-related to health-related to Influenster-related to random. I started this blog a year ago with the intention of simply being an online journal. I have been slowly (and successfully) trying to limit the amount of paper I use in my life, save for the inevitable 20 pages of an IEP that I’m required to print for each child under my services. This blog has evolved from being a venting platform to promoting products to intending to inspire others, and I’ve read time and time-again that after about a year, bloggers typically hit their “where do I go from here?” negative thought-stream.

I never intended for this to be a viral blog, however, making a little money on the side would be nice from sponsors. I just feel that at this point in my blogging “career,” it’s not necessary or feasible. I simply don’t have a high-traffic blog. I don’t really blog for recognition or fame. I blog as a way to vent my feelings and frustrations, while simultaneously trying to inspire or help others like myself (or unlike myself! It doesn’t matter who you are.). I don’t want to save the world, but if I can give one piece of advice to one person, I feel I’ve done an ounce of good.

That’s kind of how I got the idea for the blog in the first place. By reading hundreds (okay, maybe not hundreds) of blogs about everything from crafting to motherhood to health and wellness to speech/language pathology, I wanted to provide a smorgasbord of tips and tricks that others could take with a grain of salt to better themselves, while discounting those tips that have been tried and failed, or that you, the reader, know are ineffective.

Another part of me I was seeking to improve was my writing. I remember the high school days of Creative Writing with Mr. Walsh (rest in peace), where I went from sub-par to semi-effective writer. I was able to comically, persuasively, or narratively write about damn-near any topic lain in front of me. I miss that. College absolutely diluted my creative writing techniques and skills. In lieu of rich, buttery words, I chose the robotic, yet effective, words which I would continue to select when writing my recommended “third-grade reading level” IEP documents. And when I tried to insert creatively, to-the-point narratives about my child’s progress, I’m scorned: How can you make assumptions like that? You need to be as redundant as possible. Spell everything out. Write like your reader is a third-grader…or younger. Yikes. No savory, fragrant words here.

So, here I am. Torn between abandoning this haphazard blog of mine and maintaining the unsystematic topic changes that accompany many of my thoughts. I’d hate to see this little baby of mine disappear into the internet-graveyard along with my Xanga and MySpace accounts, but is it inevitable?

Things I Never Do in the Bedroom

In the spirit of 2014: The Year of the Enumerated List, I’ve dedicated this post to bettering your sleep habits. Lately, I’ve been finding I have trouble sleeping. Summertime is here, and my schedule is about as flexible as it gets. If I want to wake up at 4 and bust out 7 rounds of cross-fit, I can. If I want to sleep until 4 in the afternoon, get up only to fuel myself and use the bathroom, I can. This kind of freedom is that I haven’t seen the likes of since…since…middle school?

I’ve noticed this lack-of-a-daily-routine is getting to me, and it’s only been 1 week of vacation. So, in my ever-vigilant mode of constant self improvement, I’ve devised a list of “no-no’s” for my bedroom.

1. Laptop/iPad

This rule can (and does) get frequently broken, however, I’ve noticed progress. Not bringing my electronics into my bedroom forces me to save the endless internet page-hopping in search of that one more list that will ultimately make me a better human, not when I should be sleeping.

2. Overhead lighting And for that matter, limited natural lighting.

No overhead lighting means my bedroom is a dark oasis reserved for my dim reading light only. I installed blackout curtains on my windows (which are, incidentally, wider than I am tall). I wasn’t able to install the curtains to completely block out 100% of the outside lighting, because like I said, the windows are massive…in a very quaint, I was built in the 20’s and I add so much more charm kind of a way. I noticed this keeps my bedroom so much cooler and also reduces some of the traffic noise (yet not the wailing sirens that fly by into the midnight hour…), which is an additional bonus. And the other other bonus? Save on electricity by never using those lights 😉

3. Beds are for naps and snooze-fests…and reading

I don’t “hang out” on my bed. I don’t use it as a couch/lounging area. I don’t flop down and check my phone. Flopping is for flips. My bed is where I rest and replenish myself, or where I use literature to get me there. If my eyes aren’t closed, I’m in the other room.

4. Use a traditional alarm

This might sound silly, and this is also going to be a slight promotion for one of my favorite inventions, but I don’t use an auditory alarm anymore. I use my FitBit Flex‘s silent alarm to wake me up. This is seriously the best thing I have discovered in my short 23 years thus-far. The alarm vibrates on your wrist in a pattern, while flashing the cute, little lights on it’s display. It kind of reminds me of a pet who wants to play and is licking your face excitedly, saying Mama! Mama! Mama! Wake up and pay attention to me!!! Okay, maybe it’s just the weirdo in me, but when your landlady charges $250 a month per pet, you have to make-do.

5. Eat

To most of the world, this is horrible and disgusting, but to me, it’s a leftover dorm room habit. When you live in the college dorms, your bed is your couch/lounging area/picnic table/desk. When I got to graduate school, this habit didn’t die. When I moved back home for externships, this habit was scornfully unacceptable to my mother. When I moved out on my own, my mother wasn’t with me. I have (thankfully) kicked this habit for good.

6. Cell phone

Okay, I’m still working on this one…but I just deleted the last barrier from keeping my phone out of my bed, the SleepTracker app, in favor of using my FitBit for 100% of my sleep-tracking. Now, I have no more excuses. We’ll see how this one works…

What helps you fall asleep?

Ambitions.

I think Pinterest is both the best and worst social media platform created. On one hand, it makes me believe I have the potential to create beautiful, inexpensive rooms in my apartment, do 30-day exercise challenges and somehow transform my body into that of a Victoria’s Secret model, and bake the most elaborate, calorie-drenched desserts bar-none.

That being said, the best laid plans will go awry in the midst of believing we will just find that “one more pin” to make us satiated of our need to have the perfect wardrobe, the perfect crafts for your kids (or classroom full of kids, in my case), or the perfect beauty products.

Needless to say, I have 1,761 pins and 228 likes spanning across 39 boards. (Even more shameful now that I’ve typed this, rather than just embarrassingly avoiding looking at the growing tally on the top-left hand side of my profile) That being said, I try to delete those pins that I’ve clicked on, tried, and ultimately have been deemed Pinterest fails.

This past year, I’ve been trying to achieve more of a work-life balance, and not dedicate 100% of myself to finishing graduate school/starting my job, leaving exactly 0% for my own sanity and mental health. I think as a new grad, it’s difficult to realize that all of the years you’ve busted your tailbone to finally making money (instead of shelling out thousands of your own dollars each semester to the higher-ups) can feel as if you have something to prove by finally achieving that graduation milestone. At least for me, it seemed like I had to give 500% until I was finally getting that debt into a little more manageable sum.

Slowly, but surely, I’ve made sure to balance my personal interests with my career. Now that summer’s here and school’s out until mid-August, I’m glad I did make some time for me. I’ve had 3 days off so far (not including Saturday and Sunday), and it feels like a month. I hate having nothing to do. It eats me away from the inside, and I feel worthless. Coming off of 4 years in undergrad, and a year and half racing through grad school to finish early, each year more testing than the last. Granted, racing through grad school put me $5,000 less in debt than the already impressive $75,000 I owe, which has started prodding at my scanty bank account.

In January, I resolved to read more this year, which I have been attempting to document through the hashtag #currentread on Instagram. I was a bit successful at first, but lately, I’ve been picking up books that just haven’t been clicking for me. I’ll make it through about a chapter or two, at which point I’ll set the book down, and patiently let its three week due date tick away, day by day. Now, I’m not sure whether I’ve made an unconscious pact with myself that if I let that book sit on my nightstand, maybe I’ll pick it back up and finish it before the three weeks are up or whether I think that by returning the books early, I’ll be somehow shamed onto the librarians’ scornful blacklist of “Those Who Abandon Books” (because, of course, each librarian cares if you finish, let alone like, each book you ever borrow).

Okay, let me bring this post full-circle so I’m not just rambling on-and-on-and-on into one of my thought-tangents: I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Books, which (as you’ve probably assumed) has been marinating away in my slice of the Pinterest world. For some reason, today was THE DAY! in which I decided to be overly ambitious (or to me, just average-ly ambitious 😉 ) and make a master list of the book lists I’ve pinned, and write it on paper, so as not to be sent back off to Pinterest oblivion. I’ve even created my system of checking the books off: highlight means I started it, X means I finished it (because I mean, really, what else am I going to do with those 5,000 highlighters I accumulated in graduate school??). Needless to say, I have about 15 handwritten pages and about 30 typed pages (which I have yet to whittle through for duplicates) of books that I’ve been wanting to read, many of which are being turned into films this year (Looking at you, The Fault in Our Stars), and I cannot wait to start! I’m also feeling panicked about the vast number of online “top 10 must-read” lists that have recently become en Vogue this year (I can name 10 things I’d rather be doing than stumbling upon another 20 lists right now…)

I’m currently reading Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs. I’m a fan of his memoirs, and one of my favorites was Running with Scissors. The books can be a bit graphic at times, but if you’re able to look beyond that, I recommend his work. I just finished Dry., which was equally compelling. He’s like the GBF I never had that is brutally honest about his life, and whom I feel like I would get along with swimmingly. I, too, favor the brutally honest over the sugar-laced version of the truth.

I’m hoping to take a few of the novels to the beach near me, and also when I visit Cape May in July to see my sister. I’m (ambitiously) going to try to make it through 20 novels this summer. Game face.

My top 3 4 after Magical Thinking are:

1. TFIOS – without spoiling anything, I want to warn you to bring an ENTIRE box of tissues to the theatre. Also, I’m equally glad I saw the movie and angry with myself for not holding out until I read it. Ahh, spilt milk.

2. Maze Runner trilogy – okay, I realize this would mean 3 books within my #2, but the trailer played during TFIOS, and MAN!, this one looks good…in a I-read-the-Percy-Jackson-series-as-an-adult-and-I’m-not-ashamed-to-admit-it-so-that-gives-me-rights-to-young-adult-fiction kind of way.

3-4. Infinite Jest / The Blood of the Lamb – okay, so maaaybe I carefully went onto John Green’s answers about pressing questions from TFIOS and avoided all info save that about An Imperial Affliction which I was greatly intrigued by, and maaaybe the book-nerd within me is going to pore through these two while I patiently wait on Jacksonville Public Library’s list for TFIOS at reservation spot #101 (which is still an improvement from spot #150 two weeks ago, but still — WHAT.)

What’s on your summer reading list? Any suggestions to expand my ever-growing list?

Homemade popcorn

Do you love popcorn but hate all the butter, salt, chemicals, and preservatives? I just discovered a great way to make your own air-popped popcorn without a popcorn popper here.

All you need is a brown paper bag and 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels. So easy, right?! Put your kernels in the brown bag, fold the top of the bag tightly 3-4 times, and put it in your microwave for 3 and a half minutes. I was in awe when I tried this. SO SIMPLE! And so much cheaper and healthier than the butter-coated, salty, store-bought variety.

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My favorite add-ins: a teaspoon of cinnamon or PB2 chocolate. I usually put it in the bag before popping, without any oil or butter, but feel free to add your own melted butter/popcorn oil if you’re not into the natural stuff.

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How fabulous! I love this new recipe, and I’ll never go back!

#GoVoxBox (Influenster reviews)

I have thoroughly enjoyed this latest VoxBox, because of my interest in activity and making a healthier lifestyle change. I try to review my products in individual posts, so each gets the just review and dedicated post for that product. I’ve linked up my reviews below:

Müller yogurt

Next Step Protein powder [and shaker bottle]

Playtex Sport (I promise that I tried to keep this post to an awkward-minimum!)

Blue Diamond blueberry-flavored almonds

Aqua Spa bath salts

Profoot Orthopedics

Profoot Pedi-Rock

Disclaimer: Influenster provided me with a copy of these products for review. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed are solely mine.