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[Guest Blogger] Helpful Holiday Cleanse

Holiday Cleanse by Manya Williams

Holiday3The holidays may be a time for foodies to live out their own version of a food lover’s dream,  but perhaps Shakespeare was right; it is possible to “desire too much of a good thing.” All that holiday cheer often translates to remorse in the 6 weeks of parties that ensue.  For many years my story went like this:  each holiday season, I let myself “unwind” from the self discipline and care I adhered to the rest of the year. I gave myself carte blanche to any and all holiday foods and libations including, but not limited to, lots of cupcakes and wine through the end of December.  

This behavior inevitably catapulted me into a cold turkey and guilt riddled detox cleanse on January 1.  I had fallen hostage to the notion that sugar, caffeine, alcohol, shopping and overeating were part of the way I “let loose” over the holidays.  Without consciously knowing it, I was riding high on the chemical dopamine, the one in our brain that allows us to push pause on our lives and numb out.  The fault in this way of “letting loose” is that the effect is short lived and it keeps us perpetually in the detox to re-tox cycle.

When I finally had enough of feeling like crap after the self inflicted good time that was no longer serving me, I set out to create a better way to undo the damage, or better yet avoid it altogether.  Rather than another New Year’s resolution, now I start my post holiday detox before the holidays even begin.

Why Wait for New Years to Start Your Cleanse?

The pre-holiday cleanse, as it’s called, is about building healthy habits and being proactive instead of punishing yourself unfairly later.   In our daily decisions, especially around holidays, the compulsion to over-schedule and go-go-go can be powerful and overwhelming.  The first step in the pre-holiday cleanse is to acknowledge if there is any part of you that falls into this unconscious behavior.  If so, give yourself permission to pause and take several deep breaths.  It is much more difficult, essentially impossible, to be in a fight or flight state when you are breathing deeply.   

After a few deep breaths ask yourself if buying one more thing, while drinking yet another latte followed by a cupcake, will fill you in a way that will benefit your highest self.  Will this really fill up your vitality well? Is this in line with your highest goals, with what you really need in your life, or are you looking for a quick fix to get out of feeling uncomfortable.

In this way, you begin to prime your brain so that by the time Christmas comes around, a healthy meal,  a great yoga class, an outdoor hike or one less glass of wine are easy choices to make.  When you’ve established a new pattern of ways to take care of your body it’s much easier to say, ‘No, I’m going to enjoy one dessert—not five.’  

The beauty of this shift is that it takes just seven days to see results.  Each year, I put this theory to the test—could the pre-holiday cleanse change the way I eat and exercise this holiday?  Here’s what works for me – and it’s not as hard as it may seem!  I skip the dairy, gluten, and sugar and eat a diet that’s 75 percent plants, 25 percent protein – think lemon sole with arugula salad and pink grapefruit with coconut sugar.  I enjoy some caffeine in moderation, and two glasses of alcohol per week.

Many Small Steps Lead to Big Changes!

If you find that old habits are hard to break, especially around family, don’t give up! THIS IS NOT AN ALL OR NOTHING ROUTINE!  Consistency is key and slowly but surely, with enough of the right choices under your belt, you will find yourself refusing the 2nd cupcake, and choosing a kombucha over a soda for your afternoon pick-me-up. Truthfully, if you just drink more water (for most people) this will curb many of the unhealthy cravings that sneak up on you.

Holiday1Holiday2I love adding cold-pressed juices to help curb my cravings—not a juice cleanse, but a more balanced, nutrient dense, supplementary approach. Adding nutrient-rich items like cold-pressed juices to your daily routine in the days leading up to Christmas, especially drinking one before a party, can help you stay on track during the holidays.  Green juices help alkalize the body and making you less inclined to reach for acidic foods (heavy meats, cheese and red wine.)  

Check out Bend’s Juice Counter here!

Moving your body is a non-negotiable too.  Make sure to move your lymphatic system (your blood) by dry skin brushing and get your sweat on with a Bikram Yoga or a powerful vinyasa class.

The take away is; don’t wait for the dreaded New Year’s resolution to try something new only to drop off in a couple weeks or even days.  Give yourself the opportunity to explore before holidays foods that make your belly happy, not bloated, and that keep your head feeling clear, and your energy soaring.  The statistics on New Year’s resolutions are so abysmal, why not start now and make it a life resolution?

These days things are way easier; I reach more readily for veggies, eat fewer sweets, and feel better all around. Sure, there are slip-ups, but I don’t stew in that dreaded guilty feeling anymore, and the recovery time is quick! Learn to forgive yourself.  Too many times we sit in a feeling of shame and say, ‘Oh, I’ve blown it, so I’m going to keep eating and drinking.’  Don’t worry about it!  Just start back on the plan; you don’t need to do anything more than that.

Guest Blogger Manya Williams


To find out more about Manya, click here.