image Spring Cleaning. It’s not just for Your Closet.

Ah, spring has officially sprung across the country, the birds are singing, the days are getting longer and we’ve all had our fill of mimosa’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs after the Easter holiday. Much like January first – although let’s be honest, whose New Year’s resolution actually starts off well when you spend the day in bed nursing a hangover? Make it to the gym today…nope. How about day one of that diet? Uh…well how could you when what your body needed a day after epic partying was the perfect greasy cheeseburger and crisp French fries? New Year: 1, you: 0. I digress, but you get the picture – spring brings with it the promise of something new, something better…a fresh start.

Growing up on the east coast, it was long ingrained in me that spring = cleaning. Time to go through the closet, toss what didn’t fit, or what you don’t wear and put away the winter wear until October. Let’s break out those tank tops and flip-flops, but still no white before Memorial Day and you best put that white away come Labor Day.

Fifteen years later I still think this way, despite living in Phoenix, Arizona where there aren’t really seasons, per say, more like varying degrees of summer year round. So, after a thorough cleansing of the house (yes, this is what excites me in my thirties, shut-up) with all the wardrobe rejects re-purposed at Good Will, I consider, what else needs a new beginning? As I contemplate the matter, I open the fridge.

The offerings are sparse and sad. A few cans of soda, water bottles, some random fruits and vegetables in differing stages of rot, a good bottle of Chardonnay…at least I have my priorities straight people. *Side Note – I once had an argument with a friend of mine who was earning her degree in nutrition. Try as I might, she would not acquiesce to the fact that wine is a fruit and it is derived from a grape. She pig-headedly refused to align with my way of thinking. Since she’s the expert…well, I tried. So, nothing substantial or even marginally healthy to speak of in said fridge.

My “diet” consists largely of take-out and fast food, honestly whatever is convenient and therefore deemed “little effort” will do. Now before you start to pass judgment, know this. I am a single, thirty-something female, living alone, with not one but three different jobs. NO, I’m not a fat sloth, or even remotely overweight or out-of-shape. I know the world we live in and I am as health conscience as the next girl…as long as it doesn’t put me out much.

But sincerely, I am aware of the dangers that lurk in our food and if you’ve ever Google search even some of the ingredients listed on most well-known brands, then you know the crap “they’ve” been feeding us over the years is just that. C-R-A-P. It is truly frightening the chemicals and pesticides that go into and are used to grow the fuel we put in our bodies.

Some may say that clean eating, with its non-GMO, all organic, home-grown movement is a fad much like any other (no-fat/low-fat anyone? How about counting those carbs?), but it is one that I happily will go along with since it means I’ll likely live to see my 80th birthday…there’s just one little catch. It’s so hard. Seriously, and not like in a, “that’s what she said,” kind of way.

As a singleton – and I’m sure there are those of you out there who are couples or divorcees who either don’t have children or share custody so I’m sure you can commiserate with me here – I find it rather difficult to maintain the Clean Eating lifestyle for two reasons:

1.) Expense vs. leftover lifespan (I mean c’mon, I am single. Everything comes with a minimum serving portion of two and the fresh ingredients = it went bad yesterday.)

2.) Actually preparing and cooking the meals. The do-it-yourself-from-scratch thing? Not. For. Me.

I do my best and get totally geeked about some of these, “Detox for Fourteen Days with this simple meal plan,” articles and “How to,” blogs. I go out, buy all the ingredients, and do the weekly prep (to make it easy, ha! As if.) And I am totally stoked to get started. You know what? I have never completed one. Not one. Ever.

Again, let me reiterate this is not because I don’t have the will-power, I’m a former professional dancer (read ballet people) and still maintain by teaching and performing from time-to-time. So, if they gave out grades for will-power and stick-to-it-ness, I’d get an A. Hands down. I started calorie counting before I could walk. But I will admit to this…I can’t cook, and what’s more, I don’t have the time or the inclination to.

So, on day one when the first meal reads: Avocado toast with poached egg and fresh seasonal berries in Greek yogurt. Um, I might be able to accomplish cutting up a few strawberries and grabbing a yogurt cup…to go. Who has the time to sit around and actually eat breakfast at the table? Not a single person. Fortunately for us, we aren’t worried about setting a good example for the kids. I know that I, for one, prefer the extra 20 minutes of sleep I derive from the snooze button, thank-you-very-much. And, just how do you poach an egg? Should this be a life skill I need to know? I mean, I’ve made it this far so obviously not.

Still on day one, what’s this? Lunch: Quinoa salad with legumes and blah, blah, blah. Do you know how long it takes to cook Quinoa? Seriously? Buzzfeed, I love you but… let’s be a little less ambitious, shall we?

Since I have yet to find the “diet” plan that best fits my life I have decided, after much research, to create my own. Welcome to Spring Cleaning, It’s not just for your closet. Here is my own, jump-start to clean eating! Starting April 1, 2016 (and no, this isn’t an April fool’s joke. What are you? Five? Stop it.) I will embark upon my own 15-day plan that is designed to cleanse the organs, reset the metabolism and lose those last five pounds. Losing that unwanted weight will lead to a reasonable and sustainable clean eating lifestyle.

After the initial Jumpstart, I will continue to share with you my tips,” how to’s” and recommendations to maintain a healthy clean way of eating all with as much mobility and ease as riding a bicycle. Unless you fell off the bike a bunch when you were learning to ride, in which case I chose a bad example. In which case, you’re screwed and should stop reading now.

Here’s the plan: its basis is in the same vein as some of these, well I don’t want to name names, but cult-like groups that try to get you to join their program by selling you a product and then, you in-turn, sell it to someone else and so on and so forth. You know what I’m talking about. Anyhow, the idea is similar, two shakes and a well-rounded meal per day. Dependent upon your specific caloric needs, you may require a snack or two throughout the day. Here is what I propose:

Breakfast: Shake

Find one you like, as this is like looking for a needle in a haystack because they mostly all taste like chalk, I recommend the Arbonne brand. My doctor first turned me onto this to ensure I was getting all the required nutrients, vitamins and minerals each day. The chocolate flavor is my fave but vanilla isn’t bad either. Conveniently available with one-click shopping at Amazon and is vegan friendly.

Lunch: Smoothie

Choose one of four; mix it up each day so you don’t get bored. *Side Note – obviously this requires a blender. Oyster has one for $20 that you can keep at your office/place of business if you’re not at home for lunch. The mixing container is designed as a sport bottle so you simply blend and drink. Just throw the ingredients in before you leave home and toss in the work fridge. Put it on the blender at lunch, hit the button, and voila!

1.) Peanut Butter and Banana:

1 cup almond milk

1 medium banana

1 tbsp. (organic/natural) peanut butter

8 -10 ice cubes

½ serving of chocolate shake powder if desired

2.) Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie

1 cup (preferably frozen) blueberries

½ cup Greek yogurt

1 cup almond milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon honey

3.) Kale and Banana Smoothie

3 cups kale leaves (ribs removed, preferably frozen)

1 large Banana

1 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon (organic/natural) almond butter

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

4.) Skin Glowing Smoothie

2/3 cup almond milk

1 cup Greek yogurt

½ of an avocado

Handful of spinach or kale (ribs removed)

1 tsp. cinnamon

Generous drizzle of organic (local) honey

1 small banana

8-10 ice cubes (the fewer the creamier)

Dinner: Sensible Meal about 600-800 calories.

May I suggest you get cozy with one of the restaurants in your area that is known for healthy food? Then call, order, and pick up on your way home. I am planning to stick mostly to dinner salads. These are large and I typically eat half and save the other half for the next evening so it’s cost effective too. If you’re so inclined, you can always make dinner at home. Salads that top my list (and most are available at Whole Foods, Wegman’s or other higher end grocers that offer a fresh salad bar with deli sandwiches, etc.;) are:

Falafel Salad

Salmon Caesar

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Chopped Salad (with Salmon or Chicken)

Greek Salad

Strawberry Pecan Spinach Salad

Pear Gorgonzola Salad

In the Phoenix area I frequent Pita Jungle, Wildflower Bread Co., Whole Foods and AJ’s (or any local grocery store in your area.) Snacks: Kind granola or Kind Nut and Spices bars are to die for, healthy, and only 150-200 calories. You can never go wrong with an apple, or other piece of fruit, or sliced fresh veggies and hummus.

That’s all I have for now friends! Check back and we will keep each other on track. Full disclosure…you will get hungry, at least the first couple days, especially if you’ve been eating like a meat and potatoes lumberjack. But it will subside. I just didn’t want you to think that you’ll be fully satisfied like most plans claim. Guess what, you’re not, you won’t be and they lie.

That’s the point of a diet. After this though, we will be ready to rock-n-roll with our new, clean, healthy selves and find a healthy way to eat clean and maintain weight and lifestyle at our convenience. We still have to talk about that other little thing that keeps us in check from being total sloths…working out. I’ll be back. Stay tuned. Dun, dun, dun…

Author: Shauna Lynn Reiser

Image: Daniel Lee-flickr


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