I recently did a 21-day reset of clean eating and personal development. It felt great.
Full disclosure, I ended a bit early. I made it nearly 20 days into the reset (dang you, PMS!). But, hey, that felt great, too.
Taking (nearly) three weeks to eat cleanly and consciously, to meditate and study, soothed my stomach, skin, energy, and emotional issues.
Don’t Call It A Cleanse
This 21-day exercise is not a cleanse. It’s a reset.
A reset is meant to reinforce healthy food habits and spiritual/self-exploration and development.
Because I have a fully functioning kidney and liver, a cleanse is of no use to me. And I suspect the same is true for you.
Why a 21-Day Reset?
I desperately needed some kind of forced stop after the winter of 2020/21. And this reset did just that.
Riding a wave of Second Quarantine Slump and Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’d taken to eating copious amounts of gummy candy.
And I was starting to feel the effects. My skin was breaking out, my stomach roiling, and my verve lagging.
Moderation has always been a difficult concept for me. I had definitely gone too far in one direction. My solution was to bank hard the opposite way.
Foods to Cut Out
For the next 21 days (or 19.5, whatever) I cut out:
- Meat (uh, easy for me)
- Most animals products (I ate some eggs)
- Dairy (I very sparingly ate cheese)
- Processed foods
- Caffeine (I would add a flavor packet with caffeine to one water bottle in the mornings)
- Drinks that aren’t water
Eliminating Decision Fatigue
I only had a handful of choices exist for meals and snacks. This reset involves eating a whole bunch of the same, y’all. Look, this 21-day reset isn’t entertaining. Food. Isn’t. Entertainment.
Entertainment is entertainment.
In my opinion, a large component of healthy living involves eliminating decision fatigue surrounding food.
This is the opposite effect that Big Food and Diet are going for. They’re looking to overwhelm you with choices and information until you grab that frozen meal out of defeat, continuing the cycle of eating crap that makes you sick.
What I Ate
- Non-animal protein sources (I ate eggs and cheese a couple of times, though)
- Whole grains (whole wheat/no sugar/homemade bread is ok)
- Nuts (including nut spreads)
- Fruit and veggie smoothie with chia seeds and protein powder
- Oatmeal with chia seeds, sweetened with jam, honey, or raisins
- Homemade veggie soup, full of pasta and beans
- Huge salad with cold quinoa, hemp seeds, beans, and olives
- Charcuterie board: homemade bread dipped in hummus, fruits and veggies, seeds, and nuts
- Sheet pan dinner: baked tofu and various vegetables, roasted on sheet pans in the oven
- Cauliflower mac and “cheese”
- Veggie quiches/omelets and fake sausage
- White bean and spinach quesadillas
- Whole wheat pasta and veggie dishes
- Bean burritos
- Veggie stir fry
- Rice and beans
- Veggie pot pie
- Broccoli and “cheese” casserole
- Potato carrot bake
- Grapes and almonds (any combo of fruit and nut you like)
- Apples and almond butter
- Homemade crackers and hummus
- Veggies and hummus
- Homemade bread and hummus
- “Trail mix” (not pre-packaged, just a mix of nuts, seeds, and dried berries)
Let’s Talk About Cutting Calories
Or how about not? My reset isn’t about that.
Eliminating processed foods will slash calorie consumption, regardless. We don’t want to push it. So I aim to add more calories to clean foods.
I do this by consuming whole fats (avocado toast on homemade bread, adding olive oil, olives, and avocados to salads), calorie-dense foods (adding hemp seeds to said avocado toasts and salads, whole wheat pasta to soups, chia seeds to, well, everything), and non-animal protein sources (beans and tofu).
Our bodies fight to maintain homeostasis. Losing weight quickly disrupts homeostasis, and our bodies will strike back. By hoarding every single calorie the second we start to eat more “normally.”
Don’t Neglect Morning Routines
This isn’t solely about healthy food and bodily composition change.
It’s just as much about a mental and spiritual reset.
Reserve at least an hour each morning for personal development. Look, I’m not here to tell you what to do, but, it should probably be something calm and enriching. Some suggestions:
- Journal/free write/gratitude list
- Deep breathing exercises
- Reading personal/spiritual development materials
- Mindfully preparing a healthy breakfast, washing face, applying skincare, etc.
- Goal writing
- Setting things out that make mornings go more smoothly
Again, I don’t care what you do. One of these things, all of them, none of them.
But take an hour and do something aimed purely at your own development.
My Free 21-Day Reset Experience
The first ten days were tough. The first 48 hours were uncomfortable, then it was hard for a week, and then it was really hard for a couple of days. After cresting that last hill, it was a walk in the park. Truly.
I still feel amazing and sleep like a baby. My skin is glowing and my clothes aren’t tight.
I’ll plan my next reset around my cycle, so as not to be sucker-punched by PMS cravings.
That’s right. My next reset.
Quarterly 21-Day Resets
I’m going to incorporate a 21-day reset quarterly. I’ll take 21 days to reset my eating, health, and mental cultivation habits near the tail end of each season.
Would you like to join me?
There are companies (*coughcough* BeachBody) literally out here charging hundreds of dollars for this advice, with eating plans, supplements, etc. I find that utterly ridiculous.
We all know what we need to do to lose weight: eat healthily and move. Together, we can parent and encourage ourselves to stick to a three-week eating and personal development habit plan.
Maybe I’ll create an online group with free resources. What would you like to see? What materials would you find most helpful? Let’s figure this out.
It won’t cost us a penny.