Monday, April 30, 2012

The Summer Slim-Down Part I: To Cleanse or Not To Cleanse...

Boozing in Madrid
After a few weeks of boozing, Easter chocolate, and what felt like a marathon of fabulous dinner parties with friends, I have begun to dread the inevitable wardrobe switch from flattering pants and blazers to skimpy summer threads that leave little room for error. Like many women, May marks the beginning of my Summer Slim-Down. As you might have guessed, this ain't my first rodeo. Yes, I've done a SSD every year for as long as I can remember... some more successful than others. I've worked out with trainers, undergone strange ultra-sonic procedures, and even stuck it out through bizzare diets (once I ate only roast beef, peanuts and shrimp for an entire week) all in the name of a flat stomach. Over the years, I've become fitter and wiser and I've settled on a fool proof plan that gets me in fabulous shape for bikini season, which I will be posting over the next few weeks.

Yummy Lunch
I am starting off on the topic of cleansing because I usually include a cleanse at some point during my slim down. Cleansing has sort of gone out of fashion after being a controversial diet buzz word for the past few years. I've done store-bought two week cleanses that included disgusting health shakes and horse shaped pills, juice fasts and even the master cleanse (which lasted only 3 grueling days). And while I don't think you need a cleanse to be a healthier person, I think there is a lot of benifit from giving your body a bit of a rest for a few days. Even after two weeks of the most disgusting shakes, I truly began to feel better and upon completion I found it much easier to make healthy food choices. Would I choke down those smoothies ever again? No. But,  I regularly complete a much shorter, simpler version with similar results.

Before: 2 apples, 1 carrot, 1 slice celery
1 beetroot, 1 slice lemon, 1 slice lime
1 slice cucumber

After: Delicious raw smoothie
I believe that a Raw Foods Diet is the healthiest way to live. Since I love burgers, pasta and fish, I don't live that lifestyle, but I do 'go raw' from time to time when I feel like my diet is getting unbalanced. During this time I don't eat anything that hasn't come directly from the ground; that means uncooked, unprocessed fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and roots. I don't drink any coffee, soda, juice (unless I have squeezed it from the fruit myself)... nothing except water and tea.

For me, 'going raw' provides a similar effect to cleansing. It gives my body a break from processed foods and I always feel better at the end of it. The number of days I cleanse is dependent on how bad my diet has gotten. For example if it's been a month since I got off track, I'll go raw for 4 days. If it's been a week I'll go raw for one day... etc. I don't take any medication during this time (in fact, going raw for a week allowed me to stop taking allergy medicine completely.) with an exception for a multivitamin and .5g of Aloe Vera. Taking Aloe Vera orally is a natural way to regulate your digestion, especially during a cleanse when you are probably eating less. I take it in pill form, but there are juices and gels you can get as well.

When I cleanse, I typically stick to simple dishes like salads and fruit smoothies (without dairy). Since I don't normally cleanse for longer than 4 days, having the same thing every day isn't much of an issue. For longer cleanses or general raw foods recipes, I often look at We Like It Raw and Gone Raw for inspiration and recipes.

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