I’ve been officially done with my Lenten “cleanse” for 10 days now, and, not to exaggerate, I feel like a brand-new person. Since I’ve been fielding lots of IRL questions on what I did and how it worked, I figured I’d do a quick follow-up to this. In sum…
What did I do? Eliminated meat, dairy and processed foods from my diet, exercised consistently (cardio 3-4 times, yoga 1-2 times), quit drinking, wrote daily in a food journal and committed to spending less time in front of a screen and more time writing, creating or reading a book. (Here’s a link to the cleanse I followed!)
Was it hard? Yep.
Did I cheat? You know it! I drank drinks at two birthday parties, my friend’s wedding (hi Crystal!) and a random Wednesday when a frustrating day at work had me weeping while I worked my way through a sizable amount of Chenin blanc. Food-wise, there was hormone-fueled breakdown of Pizza Lucé (vegan!) delivery and an unseasonably warm evening we stopped at Dairy Queen for chocolate-dipped crunch cones, because hello, I am only human.
Over the course of Lent, I learned a lot, both about myself and my eating habits. Here’s an un-preachy, honest take on the 10 of the top lessons learned.
♥ I was not drinking nearly enough water. True story: Before this cleanse, I felt pretty good if I drank three glasses of water a day. When I started drinking 20 OUNCES before every meal, and more in between, I soon realized I’d been dehydrated for like five years. Now, you can’t find me more than two feet from this water bottle.
♥ Eating a plant-based diet makes me feel like a million bucks. My Mom has a hand-written note on her fridge that says “Salad is the main course,” and as usual, she is 100-percent right. Making veggies (and fruit, unprocessed grains and beans) the focal point of my meals had me feeling alert, happy and satisfied. Who knew? (Every vegetarian and vegan on the planet, that’s who!)
♥ Splurging on the freshest possible produce I could afford was so totally worth it. I shopped a lot over the course of Lent, and it didn’t take me long to realize that The Wedge is hands-down the best place to buy produce. It’s not the cheapest place to shop, but if you want the best of anything, until farmers market season starts, it’s the only place to go.
♥ It is actually possible to unwind without wine. Little after-work rituals like lighting my favorite incense or candle worked wonders when it came to orienting myself at home after a stressful day. La Croix mocktails, lemon water and countless cups of tea also helped me feel like I was sipping on something special (even when I wasn’t).
♥ I’m OK with eating the same meal over and over (as long as they are delicious). These are the recipes I made multiple times and never got sick of: Green smoothie bowls from Mise En Place e-guide (recipe is similar to this); Gourmande in the Kitchen’s Raw Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Chopped Salad with Maple Sesame Vinaigrette, which I ate with baked tofu, wrapped in brown rice paper rolls; Isa’s Roasty Soba Bowl with Miso Tahini, with brown rice and green lentils instead of soba. All are so. flipping. good.
♥ I missed pizza the most. And wine. And Jucy Lucys. And 99-cent cones from the McDonald’s drive-thru. And while it sucked to go without them for so many weeks, now that I’m more aware of my tip-top favorite foods, I find myself making wiser decisions about what it is I want to splurge on (nachos and margs at Pepito’s) and what I don’t necessarily need to (candy at work).
♥ Fruit salad makes for a delicious dessert. In my line of work, it’s natural to want to bake multiple times a week. (Not that I’m complaining!) I’ve decided it’s probably reasonable though, as a household of two, to make treats just once a week. (Forgive me Betty!)
♥ Make the un-fun parts as fun as you can. Even though I know it’s important, writing down what I eat, drink and how much I move is not an appealing use of my time. To keep me motivated, I incorporate things I love (ephemera, collage, color, etc.) into my log, making it feel less like a chore and more like a relaxing, creative outlet.
♥ There’s nothing better than finding a yoga studio you absolutely love. From day one, Yess Yoga has felt nothing but right. The owner, Lucia, goes above and beyond to make the space feel cozy and welcoming, and the classes are that perfect blend of butt-kicking and soul-soothing. Plus, it’s super affordable (10 days for $10, I mean, really?). If you live in the Twin Cities and are looking for a chill, accessible place for yoga instruction, please give Yess a try.
♥ I could not have done it without my awesomely supportive boyfriend. He told me to keep going when I thought I couldn’t, took me on dates to the bingo hall instead of the bar and didn’t complain about having to fend for himself food-wise for 40-plus days. I didn’t need more evidence that he’s one of the kindest men on the planet, but now I have it.
How do I feel now? So great! Dresses and skirts that were a little too snug before March 5th fit again (or they’re a little too loose!), but most importantly, I’m happier and more energetic than I’ve been in ages. In the last 10 days, I’ve had a little meat here and there, but for the most part, am sticking to mostly plant-based, whole-food foods, and I don’t see myself stopping.
***We will now return to our regularly scheduled, thrifting-related programming.***