Hey all,

Thanks for the kind words about my little tree!

I’m excited to share early news of a special New Year’s initiative I’m participating in along with two fellow health counselors. One is my friend Hadley, a Holistic Health Consultant whom I was fortunate enough to meet over a year ago, as I was just beginning to set up my own practice. Hadley is a fellow blogger (at Hadley’s Holistics), and she’s a founding member of Spark! Wellness, a collective of health practitioners (two holistic health consultants, one acupuncturist, and one massage therapist) who emphasize whole body wellness, self-empowerment and positive, lifelong change. I’ve watched proudly as Hadley and her partner, Andrea Moss (who also writes a blog), expand Spark! into a uniquely supportive and collaborative resource for men and women here and around the country.

While Hadley and Andrea and I each have different approaches to our work, we all focus on helping our clients to achieve self-empowerment, renewed energy, freedom from emotional eating, and vibrant health through clean, plant-focused diets. And so I was thrilled when Hadley and Andrea asked me to be a part of their 2010 New Year’s cleanse.

Now, you all know by now that I have very, very ambivalent feelings about words like “detox” and “cleanse.” Certainly, I believing in cleansing, and in detoxification – these are processes to which I devote a great deal of my energy as a counselor. But I believe that they’re processes that take a long time, and a lot of patience, and consistency. They aren’t processes that can be completed over the course of days or weeks. I also cringe when I see the exact protocol that’s recommended in so many “cleanses” or “detoxes.” Grapefruit diets, cookie diets, master cleanses, poorly supervised juice fasts, cabbage soup: these sorts of radical protocols are not the way to internalize and jump start healthy eating patterns. Why? Because they don’t show you how to eat!! They show you how to take extreme measures that aren’t ultimately sustainable. And it’s learning how to eat healthily, day in and day out, how to plan and organize, how to recover from missteps, and how to maintain consistency that helps people achieve permanent change.

My final issue with terms like detox and cleanse is that they often emphasize short term goals, rather than long term change. Each New Year’s, we’re bombarded with immense pressure to set resolutions. I have always been of the mind that each new day is the time to set goals, and to achieve them: hold yourself to a high standard all the time, rather than seesawing between three week spates of perfectionism and then alternate periods of indulgence.

In spite of these many cautionary words and reservations, I do also understand that short-term goal setting can be an important part of effecting change and improvement. Many of my clients have told me that they find the siphoning off of a discreet time period (four weeks, three months, six months, whatever) a helpful means of self-motivation. Setting a goal (such as, “I’ll be eating mostly vegetarian by February”) can be a really useful way to initiate change. And the idea of a “challenge” is very, very heartening to many people.


Hadley Seward and Andrea Moss

With that in mind, I am so, so pleased to be a part of the Spark! Wellness and Choosing Raw January 2010 Cleanse. We–Hadley, Andrea and I–all hope that this will be the anti-fad cleanse. We’re not offering gimmicks, powders, products, or fasts. We’re offering three nourishing, reasonable, ten-day dietary programs (each developed with a particular audience in mind) that will help instill new and improved eating habits for 2010 and beyond. All three levels will exclude coffee, alcohol, nicotine, soda, and processed food. All levels will minimize or eliminate most common food allergens (dairy, gluten, soy, corn, wheat). And all will emphasize the restoration of bodily alkalinity through an increase in the consumption of plant-based, cleansing foods: think veggies, veggies, and more veggies! The result? Increased energy, the re-examination of un-ideal habits, and a sense of consistency and balance that will follow our participants into the new year.

The key to this program will be its immense flexibility. For those who have been eating more mainstream diets, Hadley has constructed a gentle, entry-level meal plan that excludes all major allergens and addictives. It’s primarily vegetarian, but a few animal protein options are offered, with the hopes that participants will get to experience the ease and fun of a mostly vegetarian diet! Andrea’s plan will go a bit further, emphasizing a filling, yet easy to digest morning meal (smoothie lovers, get ready!), and support in the form of a few recommended supplements. My level—level 3—will be an introduction to the world of plant-based eating. It’s an all-vegan, semi-raw plan that’s customizable to one’s own level of experience and comfort zone. I’ll offer three breakfast options (ranging from very light to more filling), a raw lunch, and either raw or cooked meals at night (again, participants can choose what to eat based on their comfort levels). It will not necessitate a juicer, dehydrator, or food processor, though a blender will come in handy.

All levels will include instructions on how to wean oneself off of addictives and allergens in the days prior to the cleanse, detailed meal plans and recipes, a shopping list, and general tips for troubleshooting. Upon signing up, each participant will receive instructions on how to begin slowly eliminating addictive foods, such as sugar and caffeine, from their diets before the cleanse.

Best of all, we’re offering our participants the chance to embark on these changes in a warm, supportive group setting. There will be two thirty minute conference calls over the course of the cleanse, as well as an introductory call for all those who are thinking about participating on January 6th at 8 PM. At that time, Hadley and Andrea and I will answer individual questions about the program and what to expect from each level. During the cleanse, we’ll have an online forum where participants can chat and share tips and recipes—as well as meet new friends who share similar health goals.

The cleanse will last from January 18-27. Regular cost is $60; people who sign up before 12/31 get $10 off; people who sign up with a friend each get $5 off. Bloggers who participate in the cleanse and mention it on their blog receive $10 off. Holistic Health practitioners receive $10 off. To sign up, all you have to do is email [email protected] specifying the level you’re interested (Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3). You can also wait for the free teleclass on January 6th to learn more details of the program.

You may be wondering: which level is for me? Again, I encourage you to check in on January 6th to determine this for certain. But in general:

Level 1 is designed for people who have never done a cleanse before or who currently eat a diet high in meat, dairy, sugar, processed foods, and/or caffeine.

Level 2 is a great cleanse for those who already eat moderately healthy and are ready to take their wellness, energy levels, and metabolism to the next level.

Level 3 is for those who have some familiarity with a plant-based diet, but who are seeking to enhance digestive health and break lingering addictions to processed foods and animal products.

leafy-greens1So, is Level 3 for you? Well, I realize that my readers have a very wide array of diets and lifestyles. If you’re already rocking a high-raw lifestyle with ease, and if you’ve already found true comfort with a mostly or all vegan diet, then the cleanse may not be the best investment for you. But if you’re curious about a vegan diet, and need guidance and support to get over some of your lingering fears, then I think it’s a great program to try. It will be the gift of ten days of structured, sensible vegan eating, and it may be the motivation you’ve needed to make a lasting switch to veganism. Yay!

I’ve already talked your ear off, guys, but if you have further questions, please email [email protected], or feel free to ask me in the comments section of this post.

For some of us (and this includes me), setting goals within limited time frames doesn’t work. For others, having a particular goal or challenge to look forward to can serve as a much needed catalyst. No matter who you are, and no matter what works for you, I hope you plan to treat your bodies and healthy well in the new year—with good judgment, integrity, forgiveness, and care.