Well, the Conscious Cleanse program is a complete 180 of this experience and not some short-term reset. It's about living and eating more mindfully while instilling healthy habits into your daily rituals. It's about working your way to your optimal health and focusing on how you FEEL.
It's about being gentle on yourself, loving on yourself and knowing that there's no such thing as a quick fix or a wagon to fall off of. The Conscious Cleanse is not about perfection. It's about commitment.
On this cleanse, there are no calorie limits. You can actually eat meat if you want. There's an optional two-day purification weekend of soups and smoothies, but again, it's optional. And the BEST and most crucial part of this journey? THE COMMUNITY. Oh my WOW. It's just too good.
But first? The back story.
Jo Schaalman, co-founder of the Conscious Cleanse, is a walking success story...a comeback queen, if you will. A state champion gymnast and nationally ranked diver and diving coach, Jo has always been focused on a healthy, active lifestyle. But in 2004, just as she was prepping for medical school and leading a 3,000-mile cross-country bike trip, she was t-boned by a semi truck. The laundry list of injuries, including a shattered spine, left doctors feeling helpless and Jo in a funk. She was handed pain killers and antidepressants and told her life would never be the same.
Through her grueling recovery, Jo was determined to feel better and lose the 30 pounds she gained while healing her spine. She knew there was more in store for her. Through experimenting with whole foods, mindfulness, committing to clean eating and working with yoga and nutrition mentors, she healed herself with food. It's this incredible process that inspired the foundation of the Conscious Cleanse.
During these realizations, little did Jo know that she and her now partner in cleansing crime, Julie (Jules) Peláez, were independently beginning to look at food as medicine. Sharing their mutual love for yoga and whole food nutrition, this duo created and tested the Conscious Cleanse in 2010. Twenty people tried it out with a yoga detox program at Yoga Pod, and participants experienced life-changing results. Jo lost 15 pounds and her pain dramatically decreased. They were on to something.
Four years later, Jo and Jules are leading a health revolution, and I had to try it out myself. From the very start, I was so impressed with the content, support and community.
Daily encouraging emails, an extensive guide packed with recipes, tips and personal exercises, a private Facebook group to turn to (made up of go-to health coaches and current cleansers) and even a coach to call at any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the week.
So, I admitted to every last detail, worry, and fear about where I was at, and not even minutes after I posted, there was an outpouring of support from fellow cleansers admitting their own struggles and serving up advice. Then, there was this AMAZING comment from one of the coaches:
Brit, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Remember this is not about perfection, but picking yourself up with so much love and learning from your experiences. It sounds like it was a busy day and you did the very best you could! Learning to plan ahead takes time. You can start by making huge smoothies in the morning, packing baggies of carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, cut up zucchini, nuts or seeds, or even a cut up chicken breast.
The foods that are made in our society today are made to be addictive. This has nothing to do with willpower. Gluten, cheese, wine are all naturally addictive to the body. Remember to drink plenty of water today to flush out your system and be super gentle with yourself. You did absolutely nothing "wrong". I like to view every situation I have with food as a learning experience and so it sounds like you learned a lot about yourself from this experience. Give yourself a huge hug and remember we are still only in transition week!
The first three days were strong. They consisted of:
- drinking a quart of lemon water in the mornings (which is such a great habit to get into for eight amazing reasons), experimenting with delicious smoothies and introducing new fruits into the mix like mangoes
- replacing oatmeal with quinoa, avoiding caffeine, gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol
- drinking TONS of water (my weight in ounces and then some)
- appreciating protein intake as a true source of energy and eating lots of chicken, salmon and beans
- eating when I felt hungry and savoring all the flavors of the whole foods I was nourishing my body with
- eating slowly and mindfully
- discovering new, delicious things like lemon cinnamon chicken (It was an accident...a delicious one, that is!) and toasted coconut flakes (so DANG good)
Brit thanks so much for showing up so vulnerably here. Sending you a big virtual hug. First off, remember that there is no such thing as perfectionism and no wagon to fall off of here. You are always doing the best you can at every moment to take the very best care of you. Each experience we have with food is just an opportunity to connect back with ourselves and learn more about who we are and it sounds like you are learning a lot!
I hear that today sounds like it is going to be another busy day so what are the things you can set in place now of how you can take care of yourself throughout the day? Perhaps making sure you get in whole food nourishment throughout the day, journaling, drinking plenty of water, perhaps even taking a walk or sweating to move some of the toxins through. It can definitely be nerve wracking to be around that many people. I totally understand! How can you lean on family or friends for support for tonight? Maybe even taking a moment in your car before the event and taking a few deep breaths and telling yourself you got this. You're doing great so far, keep it up and reach out to us any time if you are needing more support today!
CONFESSION: I only FULLY followed the cleanse for 3 of the 14 days. *bites fist* *hides*
- REALIZATION: In those three days, I learned more about my body, mindset and relationship with food, booze and caffeine than I have in the last five years. Everyone sets their own intention at the beginning, and mine was to instill healthier habits into my morning and weekend routines. Well, I immediately fell in love with drinking lemon water in the morning and tons of water throughout the day. How GREAT it feels to be TRULY hydrated. I discovered a tasty smoothie combo of spinach, banana, parsley, nectarine, and of course, cinnamon.
This cleanse was not about deprivation or cutting things 100% out for the 14 days. For me, it was a jump-start to a ripple effect of routines that I will nail down over time. I wasn't in this for a quick fix. I was in this to learn small changes that will become long-term habits. The moment I was told there's no such thing as perfectionism, that I couldn't fall off the wagon and to pick myself up with love, boy, I latched on HARD to that. And it's made SUCH an impact on me from the inside out.
- REALIZATION: Wine is my weakness. (OK, that's not the realization. It's a well-known fact.) It's an indulgence and a ritual that my husband and I share that's too good to give up right now. PLUS, I was on vacation at one point of the cleanse, too. ;) But I will tell you this: I've since learned to SAVOR more and drink LESS. It's made a HUGE difference. It's a start!
- REALIZATION: Just because I didn't do it THEN, doesn't mean I can't do it ever again. I wasn't at a point in time that I could take the entire weekend to truly rest, reflect and get the most out of purification. I was nervous about running my system down and getting sick before leaving town. I love what Jo told me on one of the teleconference calls. She drove home not to force myself into anything but rather try to find a half of a day or corner of a week to do purification when I'm ready to fully commit and reap the benefits.
CONFESSION: I miss my little community of cleansers and coaches.
- REALIZATION: This journey is not over, and I can do this again...and again if I please! There are tons of people who are doing this cleanse for the second and third time and experiencing profound things. Part of me is a little irked by the possibilities, and that's a whole other explanation for why I pooped out on the fourth day, but, hey. We are ALL different and work at different speeds, right?
While my confessions may have you thinking I didn't take this seriously whatsoever, that's by far the opposite. This experience has sparked a new way of thinking (that I could chat about for hours, apparently) and an inspiring path to live vibrantly.
I'm SO blessed to have crossed paths with these ladies and truly hope you give this cleanse, ahem, lifestyle a shot. What's your take on cleansing? Have you done Conscious Cleanse? Spill in the comments below!