Spring Cleaning! Drink Clean + Live Clean.

It happens every year. I get busy, and taking care of myself becomes secondary. I begin slacking in the nutrition department, become annoyed with winter running and lack the motivation to get on my yoga mat. Healthy foods seem boring among all of the heavy winter foods and baked goods.  I get sick of the winter fruits and vegetables and miss the variety of produce available in the summer months. I begin to crave comfort foods and gravitate towards the same recipes.  My foods slowly begin to lose their colors as I eliminate seasonal fruits and veggies. Usually, this occurs during the busy holiday season. By January 1, I’ve gained a few pounds and begin to get back on track.

But not this year. I made it through the holidays without skipping a beat. January arrived and I began running again (I took a three week hiatus to recover from my fall marathons) and continued my yoga practice. Everything was great until about halfway through February, when chaos ensued. I missed a few runs, and I skipped a few practices. I wasn’t cooking quite as much as I liked and ate out a little too frequently. I was feeling exhausted and unable to get out of bed in the morning, my complexion looked dull and there were dark circles under my eyes. My body finally decided that it had enough and revolted by catching possibly the worst cold I’ve ever had.  I’m pretty sure it was my body’s way of saying, WTF?

Lots of rest and relaxation did the trick for recovery, and I was feeling better in time for my 30th birthday. Yep, 30! Hitting a nice round number made me stop and think of where I was at different milestones in my life, and how I came to be where I am now. To be honest, I’ve never felt better at any other point in time. I am grateful for my health and the ability to be active, and I don’t want to lose that. So, to kick off my 30th birthday and start this new decade off the right way, I’m going to start by cleaning up my act. I’m going to do a three day juice fast. A good friend of mine turned 30 a few days before me, and she is also going to do it. I’m excited.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done a juice cleanse, and I actually really enjoy them. Surprisingly, I’m never actually hungry when I’m cleansing (and trust me, I am ALWAYS hungry), but I crave the act of eating. I’ve also found that it boosts my energy levels, promotes mental clarity, and makes me much more alert. However, fasting takes some preparation – especially given the current state of my diet. For example, I didn’t just wake up yesterday, throw some fruits and veggies in my juicer and declare that I’m cleansing. I did, however, purchase lots of colorful produce so I could incorporate a fresh juice into my diet daily until I officially begin my fast.

Although I own a juicer, it’s winter. Buying produce for my juice cleanse is not necessarily the most cost effective route, and I work all day long. Let’s be real: I can’t just whip out my juicer at work every time I’m ready to “eat”. If you choose to make your own juice, you should drink it soon after preparing it. Household juicers don’t have the same capabilities as commercial juicers. The juice begins to oxidize, causing it lose it’s nutritional value. So unless I can sit home and make juice all day long, it isn’t really practical right now. Enter option number two: the Catalyst Cleanse.

In the past, I’ve done the BluePrintCleanse (BPC) several times. I enjoy the juices and the philosophy behind their cleanse. I even have a book written by the BPC founders that contains some excellent juice and food recipes. I highly recommend it and loved the experience each time I’ve completed that cleanse. However, there are other cleanses out there that use the same philosophy and are more convenient for me. So this time around, I’m going to give the Catalyst Cleanse a shot.

The juices from the Catalyst Cleanse are similar to those found with the BPC. They are prepared the same way – with a hydraulic press. How is that different from the juices flowing from the Breville in my kitchen? Hydraulic-pressed juice comes from five thousand pounds of pressure being applied to vegetables and fruits. This allows juicers to extract juice without sacrificing powerful vitamins, trace minerals and enzymes. They introduce very little air as they’re extracting juice, so oxidation and nutrient degradation are minimized. As a result, juice from a hydraulic press juice extractor will stay fresh, delicious and nutritious longer than the juice produced by other types of juicers.

Another benefit to choosing the Catalyst Cleanse is it’s proximity to my home. I’m choosing to have it shipped to me this time around, but the company is located in Philadelphia. If I like it, I can save a few bucks next time by swinging by their juice bar and picking it up when I’m in Philly. In my research, I read some negative reviews about their customer service, but I’ve already had a very positive experience in that department. I’ve been communicating via email with one of their representatives. They’ve been extremely helpful and quick to respond to my questions, and even honored a promotion from last year to make trying out this cleanse more cost effective. So far, I give them two thumbs up and I’m looking forward to tasting their juices.

Our cleanses are being delivered on March 15, and the cleansing will begin on March 16. We chose their Signature Cleanse, which is six juices per day that you drink in order:

Juice 1 & 4 — Signature Green Juice: cucumber, celery, apple, parsley, spinach, lemon, lime, and ginger
Juice 2 — Spicy Lemonade: lemon, agave, and cayanne
Juice 3 — Sweet Carrot Juice: carrot, apple, celery, lemon, and lime
Juice 5 — Better Beet Juice: beet, apple, lemon, and lime
Juice 6 — Creamy Vanilla Cashew: cashew, agave, and cinnamon

To prepare, I’m starting to eliminate any processed foods that are infiltrating my diet. I’m not in super strict mode just yet because I started far enough in advance that I can gradually phase everything out. As it gets closer to the start date of the actual cleanse, I’ll mainly be eating fruits and veggies to prepare my body.  In the past, I never actually eliminated caffeine. This time around, I’m going to do it. I drink way too much coffee, and I’d like to cut back. This is the perfect way to kick that off, too.

To make the transition go a little more smoothly, I also began incorporating some cleansing items into my diet. Earlier this week, I began starting my day with hot lemon water, and making a green juice as my breakfast (recipe follows). The spicy lemonade in most cleanses is something I actually enjoy, so I’ve been sipping on my version of this drink daily. Last night, I tossed some fruits and veggies in my juicer and made a beet juice for dinner. Yum.

Interestingly enough, any feelings of fatigue and bloating I had prior to starting this are pretty much gone. Any traces of my cold have magically disappeared. My energy levels are high and I’m feeling great, which is how I usually feel when my diet isn’t in a rut. It’s like a reminder of why I regularly make healthy choices and limit junk food. Sure, I enjoy the occasional treat (cupcakes, anyone?)  but I’m pretty good at balancing it all out in the grand scheme of things. However, I’m ready for a reset to celebrate hitting 30 and to kick off the spring season.

Green Juice

  • 2 Apples
  • Large handful of spinach
  • A few stalks of kale
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 lemon
  • Small handful of parsley
  • Small knob of ginger

I usually peel the lemon and use an apple corer to cut the apple into chunks, and then toss it all in my juicer. Skim off any foam, admire the pretty green color and enjoy!

Spicy Lemonade

  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Tablespoon of agave
  • Cayanne pepper (I usually throw in about 1/4 teaspoon because I love the kick, but feel free to adjust as necessary)
  • 16 oz. filtered water

Put all ingredients in a bottle (preferably a glass one) shake it up and sip.

Stay tuned for more posts with my thoughts on the Catalyst Cleanse as I give it a try next week!

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