As I mentioned in my New Year’s post on S.M.A.R.T. goals, I decided to start out the year by doing a cleanse. I like to do cleanses a few times a year to flush my system of the bad, set aside unhealthy eating habits I may have fallen into and to fill my body with nothing but good plain healthy and nutritious food. This go around I decided to nick alcohol (a must for me after the holidays!), sugar, white flour, caffeine and processed food.
It takes about a week for my body to get used to the changes, but after that point it is usually an extremely positive experience. My energy soars, my sleep improves, my acne fades. I feel lighter, leaner, stronger and much more positive. By the end of the cleanse I am pretty much convinced that this is how I should always eat.
Of course eating healthy, real food grown from the soil that is minimally processed should be the cornerstone of anyone’s diet, but is eating like you are constantly on a cleanse completely realistic? I admit that I have a bit of a sweet tooth and like a treat every once in awhile. Is that a bad thing? I also enjoy a good cocktail or a glass or two of wine. I like my green tea.
As I finished this most recent cleanse, these thoughts crossed my mind. I was feeling fantastic and wanted to keep that going as long as possible. I felt ready to take on a new job and the new year. But I enjoy these other things as well and feel like they can, and maybe should, be part of a healthy, well balanced diet.
So how do I keep the momentum from my cleanse going while also allowing myself these little luxuries in my diet? I certainly don’t want to lapse into old, unhealthy habits (I worked too hard to let it all go to waste!). But (let’s be honest), I cannot realistically expect to maintain a cleanse-like diet and still be a happy person to be around.
So how do we go from diet (cleanse, fast, whatever you want to call it), to real life? How do we take what we’ve learned and the strides that we’ve made and keep them going in a sustainable way? How do we continue to enjoy life, have fun and not feel deprived?
Well that certainly is the million dollar question…
Really. People who have successfully marketed and sold their supposed answers to these questions have made millions. They tout their diets or regimens as the next best thing and people fall akin to their promises and jump on the bandwagon, hoping that they have finally found their answer. The problem is, we are all different. Like snowflakes or fingerprints; no two of us is the same. So how can a cookie cutter diet fit into your lifestyle? Chances are it won’t. And, in the long-term, you will end up right back where you started.
So is it all for naught? I don’t think so. Instead of fitting a cookie cutter diet into your life over top of any problems or issues that caused your current concerns to begin with (be it weight gain or something else), you need to address the original issue. It’s like downing coffee to wake yourself up and hide the fatigue. Well, why were you tired in the first place? Chances are you probably aren’t sleeping enough.
The answer may not be so cut and dry when it comes to diet concerns, but you may be able to pinpoint a few unhealthy habits that can be contributing to your concern. If weight is your issue, maybe you aren’t exercising and need to get up and move a little bit. Or maybe you are drinking too much juice and soda. Or maybe you are eating healthy but your portions or snacking in between meals are out of control.
Whatever the reason, you need to spend some time reflecting and being honest with yourself about your food and exercise habits and how they are affecting your health and wellness. Once you have a better idea of the cause, perhaps you really can find a diet that fits exactly what you need. Or maybe you can combine aspects of a few of them to create one that fits you better. Or you can just start to slowly change your lifestyle, one bad habit at a time (see my previous post on baby steps to big changes for inspiration on doing this!).
When you go through this healthier process of change, you may find that the dreaded transition of “diet to life” is a lot easier or may even just come naturally. When that happens, you have found your balance. Your way of eating that works best for you. Your nutritional Holy Grail.
I haven’t quite gotten there yet, and it may take many more years for me to find this optimum balance, but I know I am on the right track and committed to the process. I know from this experience that finding the right diet for you can be extremely fulfilling, maybe even life changing. With every little cleanse I do, I learn more about my body and what is best for it. And I know what little luxuries in my life I cannot live without.
So I keep on trekking on, searching for that balance. Because in the end, it is completely worth it.
Peace, love and balance,