Choosing Raw + Spark! Wellness January 2010 Cleanse


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 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, 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.


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  1. Gena….
    I’m so bummed that I missed this!! I just started this week ‘winging it’ trying to eat mostly raw…..5 days and while I am already noticing many improvements (mostly mental, focus, emotional…I do feel more lean as well)…..BUT….I have no idea what I’m doing. Want to make this a lifestyle change and could use a program like this. Any chance this is ongoing or offered again sometime…soon? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Krista!

      We plan on hosting another cleanse this spring. Given the volume of my clientele right now, I’ll have to confirm this soon, but as of right now it’s likely.


  2. Hi Gena,

    Sorry I asked my question in response to an email so I figured i would ask it again here.

    I am choosing between levels, I am a vegetarian… No eggs, drink milk (3-4 cups a day) cheese once in a while. I don’t eat processed foods and have tried raw diet in the past. I will be training for a 180 mile bike ride starting the 9th.

    Looking forward to it

  3. I grew up with a diet mostly vegan (cooked and raw). That’s why I had no difficulties to try eating about 80% raw, mostly fruit and vegatables, little grains and little animal products like feta cheese, and nuts. I had no problem and still have no problem with digesting in stomach level. But what happenned after about 2 weeks is that constipation. I feel that my intestine didn’t have a good value to push the waste out. Is this true? or what else could be the reason or what I can do? Un fortunatelly I am not in NY and can’t participate to the program in January.

    • Zelda,

      The likely culprit was that you went raw much too quickly. If constipation is bothering you, I recommend gravity-administered colonic hydrotherapy immediately.


  4. I really want to do it but I have a guest coming in town until the 22. Can I sign up, but start later, like on the 23rd?

  5. Hi Gena!

    Would it be possible to do a level 2 with a mixture of level 3 options?

  6. Question: do we get $10 off before Dec 31 and an additional $10 for mentioning it on our blog. I could use all the discounts I can get!

    Not sure how we do all this remotely but will you be giving us a week by week plan?

  7. Hi, Gena –
    I am considering participating in the level 3 cleanse. Do you have an estimate of how much the groceries, supplements (if any), etc will cost?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Karen,

      If you’re on a budget, I’d say shoot for levels 1 or 3, since level 2 involves a smoothie with a supplement. Level 3 involves no supplements at all, but lots of produce shopping. I can’t give an exact estimate, but we’ll be posting one sample day for each level soon — I’ll put the link up on my blog when it’s set.


  8. Hi,
    I recently converted from vegetariansim to veganism. Although I feel like I eat a little too much vegan junk food (soy burgers, etc) and sometimes I slip and eat something that might or might not have refined sugar. Would level 3 help me to achieve a more balanced level of veganism?
    I think this cleanse is absolutely fabulous though!

    • Hey Melissa,

      I think that level 1 or 3 totally could. Level 1 will be more disciplined in terms of sugar (almost none) and range of veggies eaten (no nightshades, beets). Level 3 will be more flexible in that some raw treats will be included, but it’s probably a bit less “filling,” in that there is no snacking (except for some “emergency snacks”) and less protein-dense options.

      Hope this helps! Please tune in on January 6th for details; we’ll also be posting 1-day samples of the plan soon. I’ll post that link when it’s up.


  9. Wow, this sound really awesome, and I’m really considering if it could be the thing for me. I’ll be sure to tune in the 6th to learn a little more, though!

  10. Gena~

    You have such a lovely way about you that comes through on your blog. I’m not sure I have ever commented but I DO read and enjoy the recipes. I can’t say I’m in a full fledged plant based world but I have been following the Paleo lifestyle for 30+ days which doesn’t allow sugar/fake sugar, gluten or dairy. I do wish to learn more about plant based diets and juices. I may not be able to sign up at this time but I can try to follow on my own…your blog certainly give good direction:)

    I have to wonder how much better I’d feel without caffeine in my world.

    In any case, thanks for sharing so many great recipes and ideas on your blog.


  11. I really need to try Level 1. I am overly dependent on processed foods and Diet Coke. This fits nicely into the routine after everyone goes back to college in January. I will be traveling immediately after this in February. Do you think I will be able to establish habits that I can even take on the road?

    • I think you will be able to, Sandy! Level one is great, and effective, but flexible. You should join the January 6th call for more details.

  12. Hi Gena,
    I am a vegetarian for the last 15 years, was vegan for 4 years until this past spring. I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to vegan and am very interested in a raw diet. I eat quite well most of the time, lots of fruit and veg. Not sure “how raw” I would be considered. Would Level 3 be for me? I am definitely in need of a cleanse program!
    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Wow Gena I will definitely be joining the Jan 6 call to learn more about this! I am wondering if it’s ok to blog about the cleanse while we’re doing it, or if that would defeat the purpose since it would be sharing all the details of your program?

  14. Thanks for this info, Gena. This sounds like just what I need to get back into good habits (and try to form a few more). I’ll be signing up for Level 3!

  15. Hey Gena!
    I love the idea of a cleanse and you are totally doing it for all the right reasons. I am definitely considering signing up for it… Is there any kind of a participant limit?

  16. This sounds fabulous, Gena! One of my friends who is newly addicted to your blog emailed me about this post, all excited about trying your cleanse. She’s been toying with veganism for a couple years but just hasn’t quite gotten there (yet). She’s also raw-curious, and I told her you’re the perfect person to talk to! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. this is awesome Gena…if I can rack up some extra cash, I will definitely join. unfortunately, the key word there is “if” – thanks for all you do!

  18. Looks like we’re all on the same wave length! Post about this is going up tonight or tomorrow morning so watch out for it ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to participate!

  19. This is an awesome opportunity! I’ll be sure to blog it and link on twitter and FB!

    I am not sure it is for me, though. When I am home, I eat an entirely vegan diet, and about 50% raw, on average. . . the problem is I eat out or at other people’s houses much too often, and then I end up compromising back to vegetarian just to be able to eat anything. Would the cleanse help me be more consistent in my eating habits, given what my problem is (and that I KNOW it’s my problem LOL)?

    • Hi Jess!

      I don’t think the cleanse would be for you, no, in that it seems you’re already eating exactly how I’d be coaching you to eat. I don’t want my readers to waste their pennies!

      If dining out and social eating is the problem, then that’s a separate issue to confront — this program is more about instilling a knowledge of plant based foods, consistent habits, kitchen skills, and know-how when it comes to eating within this lifestyle.

      If you need guidance with social eating, though, please know that you can always email me to inquire about my counseling rates, even for a few sessions.



  20. I think I’m going to do this. I’m taking a mini vacation on the weekend before, so this is perfect! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Very cool! Maybe those of us who have found a healthy routine but fall off here and there (holiday season?!) could sign up “in spirit” and commit to 10 days of really healthy eating?

    • Laura —

      Of course I would LOVE that! This cleanse is way more elementary than the level that many of my readers (including you) have reached, but it would be really awesome to have your following along at your own level in spirit. I’ll be sure to announce this prior to the cleanse, with thanks to you.


  22. Whoops! Looks like we had the same idea, posting about this today. Oh well, no such thing as too much PR (at least where this is concerned!). I hope you get a nice, big turnip. I mean, turnout. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Hi Gena! It’s a bit unrelated, but in my raw foods research I keep reading about Rebounding. What are your thoughts on this type of exercise? Happy holidays!!!!

    • Hey Kristen,

      I’m a little ambivalent about this one. I enjoy it and think it’s great fun, and it’s certainly good exercise. But I don’t believe, as some raw-ies do, that it’s going to save your life, or turn you into superwoman, or whatever.


  24. Sounds like an awesome and helpful program. I won’t be able to take part in it, as we are dumpster diving for our food, so meeting a planned menu wouldn’t work for me. But I will definitely post about it on my blog to let others know about the program. Great idea, ladies!

  25. I’m so excited for this! I’ve already signed up and will be linking up tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚ I too am waffling between levels… leaning toward level 2, I think…

  26. Gena, what level would you recommend for someone who eats meat but wants to transition into a vegetarian/vegan life style? I eat very clean, i.e. lots of fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat, sprouted bread, and feel that I am ready to try out a vegetarian or vegan diet.

    • Hey Sana!

      If you haven’t tried veganism (or vegetarianism) before, I wouldn’t recommend level 3 — levels 1 and 2 will offer more in the form of protein options (including beans and soy).

      Level 1 and 2 are quite similar (in that they’re both mostly plant-based but with the option of chicken or fish at dinner) but level 1 has more options for meals, where as 2 is more strict. So level 1 is better suited to a first-time cleanser. Also, level 2 can be pricier and slightly more involved — it recommends supplements, rice protein powder, and Andrea recommends making your own veggie broth. So if time and money are 2 big issues, then level 1 can also be a better choice.

      Hope this helps!


  27. Well, looks like I will be linking up tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

    And glad you got the card. And no worries on the emails, weekends can and SHOULD get away from you ๐Ÿ™‚ But 10-4, totally agreed on the weirdness that can surround everyone’s choices and their “Explanations” for said choices. Sigh. Sad, but true.

    And on lighter matters, I hope you’re having a great day, Gena!!!

  28. Yea! I’ll mention in my blog post tonight. I assume the embargo is off since you’ve posted this. I totally agree with you that those crazy, extreme one-day fasts are silly. I tried a three-day juice “cleanse” last January and made until 2 p.m. the first day before I felt like I was going to die of starvation. So I ate real food and said, screw it.

    As I mentioned in my email, I’m gearing up for the ACT cleanse, which is similar to level 3…I’m mostly doing it as a challenge for myself, and I’m curious as to how I’ll feel for a month off sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. It’s gonna be scary, but I know I can do it.

    • Thanks, B!

      You can definitely do it! Not drinking may be the toughest part, but I happen to think it’s a really worthy part!!! I’ll be cheering you on bigtime.


  29. What an awesome way to start the new year! I plan to mention this on my post tonight!!! You are a great person to lead such a wonderful transition.

  30. Wow this sounds amazing Gena!

    Does Level 3 require a juicer or a dehydrator? Those are the two “raw food equipment” pieces that I don’t have.

      • Great! Thanks for responding.

        I have another question: Unfortunately, our farmer’s market ended a couple weeks ago, but in the future, say, in August/Sept or even until November, is it possible to buy a bunch of produce and freeze it to last all winter? Obviously the size of my freezer is pathetic, but even so, can you freeze veggies i.e. tomatoes, berries, or greens?


  31. hey gena, i am DEFINITELY interested in participating. i may have to just go with level 2 though. don’t know if i’m ready for level 3. but the timing couldn’t be more perfect. my birthday party is on the 16th of jan! what is the main difference between these two levels?

    • Hey Molly!

      Level two will be mostly cooked dishes, as well the option of grains and some cooked animal proteins OR soy proteins. Mine will be all vegan, and at least 50% raw.


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