Dear Diary

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So I know the new year is technically just another day, and I also know that day is now long past, but as much as I have a good head on my shoulders (most of the time) I can’t help but get into the whole “new year, new me” routine.

Everyone (and I really mean everyone) can always be a bit better, whether it’s financially, health-related, environmental or interpersonal. There’s always room for improvement, and though you can change your life any day of the week, sometimes it takes a made up shift to get your ass in gear. Personally I really love my bad habits, I take ownership of them like they’re a special part of me, and this year I collected bad habits like Pokemon cards (or whatever is relevant these days). Every day I woke up knowing there was an endless list of things I wanted to shift, change and improve, yet every night I went to bed disappointed in myself and the pile of bad decisions weighing on my shoulders.

I started my goals for this new year with a simple list of what I want more and less of in my life, than built out my goals from there. In the end, it turned out something like this:

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MORE >>

Movement
Vegetables
Live music
Time with friends
Sweating
Outdoors
Adventure
Cooking
Dancing
Energy

LESS <<

Thinking about boys
Drinking
Shopping
Animal Products
Sleeping
Parties and Events
Small Talk
Smoking
Complaining
Toxic humans

Action Plan //

None of these less and more ideas make much sense without actions behind them, so after I had established the things that build me up and break me down, I started working out how to implement the changes I wanted (correction: needed) to see. If I was to sum up my 2017, I’d have to call it “The Year of Least Caring” because I really lost sight of so many of the values that make me, well, me. Here’s how I got started spinning a better story for myself:

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Start Fresh //

I really treated my body like a garbage dump last year, worse than I ever have before (even in University when I lived on Pop Tarts, Pizza Pops and Ben & Jerry’s!) I smoked more than I care to admit, even early in the morning (EW) and got into a pattern of having at LEAST two drinks a day. I felt puffy and slow and don’t even get me started on the mood swings. When I decided to start 2018 off on a better foot I knew I needed to do a real Spring Cleaning for my body.

In an effort to reset my body, I signed up for a juice cleanse with Daily Press Juicery a couple weeks after quitting smoking cold turkey on Christmas Eve. I know what you’re thinking – “Didn’t she try this last year?” Yes, I did, but sometimes quitting smoking takes a long time with a lot of tries, and this year I really fully feel like it will stick. It’s been over a month!

I really loved doing the cleanse, though I did continue to eat a small amount of healthy, warm food throughout to sustain my body for the winter. I especially love the lemony activated charcoal juice, and the night time nut mylk!

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I’ve also been upping my antioxidants by drinking Matcha, the purest way to get all the health benefits of green tea! This stuff is supercharged with health benefits and doesn’t come with the same crash coffee does when you wake up with it. I can’t get enough of Matcha Ninja – it’s super easy to use and really high quality (you can tell by how green it is!) and the gorgeous Matcha Book I seem to see EVERYWHERE is filled with amazing new ways to use it in recipes too! Hello vegan matcha and cashew soup!

Cleansing doesn’t end on the inside – I’ve also been refreshing my space with new essential oil blends in my diffuser each day. Oui Fresh has the prettiest line on the market, and I’ve been loving their “Bergamot Mint” and “Rose Geranium” for cold winter mornings.

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Food for Thought //

When I say I treated my body like a garbage dump, I in part really mean I was putting constant garbage into my body. Think Uber Eats takeout almost every night, basically delivered to my bedside in between naps – yeah, not a cute look. I am a super extreme person by nature, so when I stop caring in one capacity it tends to spread like a rot into every piece of my life. Food was a huge part of what my 2017 so difficult, which is crazy considering I LOVE cooking, grocery shopping, and even doing dishes!

In taking back control of my fridge, I set a few really straightforward goals. I was super inspired by A Beautiful Mess’ Weekday/Weekend Challenge, a somewhat more “digestible” take on the Whole 30. Basically you skip sugar and refined sweeteners, refined white flour and rice, alcohol and dairy, plus you’re encouraged to eat a variety of different foods. It’s a really easy way to push yourself to get creative in the kitchen, and to be healthier in a sustainable pattern. Side note – their Oui Fresh meal planning notepads make getting organized simple and CUTE.

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Speaking of getting creative, I also want to cook through a number of cookbooks this year, with the added challenge of making recipes vegetarian that aren’t written that way. I’m starting out with Cherry Bombe’s Pink Spaghetti and Beet Ricotta Dumplings!

Last but not least, I’ve been seriously upping my vitamin intake. My friend Dana gave me some of her Ritual Vitamins while I was visiting in LA and I’m totally hooked! They’re vegetarian, made for women specifically, and taste minty when you swallow them. I also introduced Ouai Thinning Hair Supplements to offset some of my bleaching damage, and adding Moon Juice’s Pearl Powder to my smoothies for skin clarity.

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Heart Over Head //

I spent far too much time last year out, making empty connections and running from event to event every single night. Constantly sleep-deprived, my soul was drained from all the small talk and my body was tired of processing too much champagne. This year I’m making sure I cherish my time, investing in people, places and things that make me happy, like the dog park and my weekly Soul Cycle classes. I’ve also been reading “Light is the New Black” and it’s been super helpful when it comes to figuring out what really fills you up, and what brings you down. I highly recommend getting a copy and marking it up with notes like I have!

Back to Basics //

I’ve tried using natural products off and on over the years but I always end up giving up because it’s too hard to find products that actually work. This year I decided to try one last time and I was super pleasantly surprised by both my toothpaste and deodorant discoveries. Davids toothpaste is natural, vegan, made in the USA and comes with a handy metal took that helps squeeze every last drop out of the tube (SO GOOD!) I really love the subtle minty flavour and my teeth are looking just as white – in fact last time I went to the dentist I had not a single cavity!

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Deodorant was a bit more daunting – we’ve all struggled with the bad smell moments associated with making the switch. This time around I tried the Kaia Naturals Takesumi Detox Charcoal Detox Deodorant, which promises you’ll be BO-free by 30 days after your body detoxes from chemical deodorant. They sent me a booster soap to try along with it, which accelerates the process, and honestly it it worked SO well, SO fast, I will never ever go back! You can read all about the five steps here, but for me I saw results immediately and haven’t had a smell problem even after the most intense workouts.

I started working on this action plan a few days before Christmas Eve, so I’ve been at it almost a month. I don’t want to sound like a phoney, but I actually feel better than I’ve felt in YEARS and for the first time, all that happiness is accredited to me, on my own – there’s no prince in sight, but I’m no longer a damsel in distress anyway. Let 2018 be known as the year I stop waiting for someone to save me and just save myself!

What are you doing to get your New year in gear?  Share with me in the comments below!

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Dear DiarySips, Sweets & Snacks

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There were moments when I doubted this post would ever come, but here we are: I did it! Well, sort of. I admit, I snuck a tiny bit of super healthy food during the 48 hours when I wasn’t supposed to ingest any solids, and I may or may not have baked up some vegan chocolate chip cookies late at night on the very last day…

Alright, so maybe I didn’t do everything exactly right, but I ended up with so many great takeaways that it honestly doesn’t matter all that much at this point how I got here. I’ve never been the type to play by the rules- I find I do best when I do things my own way. That said, I really did do my best to stick to the schedule, and though it was a struggle at the time the improvements that I’ve seen in my life since have already been so worth it.

Some of the benefits I’ve noticed, to name a few:

// I haven’t touched a cigarette in over a week and don’t really feel the desire to smoke anymore! Yay!

// So far I’ve stuck to a 100% plant-based diet and I’m eating way more veggies on the daily. I’ve rediscovered the joy of trying new recipes and putting together healthy homemade meals. I plan to move forward eating as clean, cruelty-free, and plant based as possible, and I’m actually paying attention to what I put into my body for the first time in ages.

// I have so much energy! I’m working out again! I actually feel nourished! Possibilities are endless!

// Cleansing real toxins out of my body inspired me to clean other toxins out of my life too, from people to activities, and everything in between. I made some hard decisions, and said goodbye to some parts of my life that I loved dearly but needed to let go- much like smoking I suppose.

On the third day of the cleanse Marcelina (aka my amazing Village Juicery nutritionist) wrote “embrace lightness” into my schedule, and that really sums up how I feel this week. I recently read a quote “If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down”, and I couldn’t agree more- I feel so ready to take off into 2016 at full speed, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the jumpstart that Village Juicery gave me!

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Dear DiarySips, Sweets & Snacks

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Well, as expected living on just juice was a challenge- in fact, for me it was pretty much impossible. I’m a super active person, and I always have about 100 things on the go, so attempting to go so many days without any carbs and then survive two days drinking only liquids honestly just didn’t really work.

Though I did my best to relax, I ended up working and running errands like crazy before collapsing into bed and sleeping almost all day both days. I felt like I was missing out on a bunch of important time, and by the end of day one I just got SO hungry. What can I say? I truly love to eat, and though a cleanse might work if I was laying poolside in the sun all week reading books and taking long naps, a few days without food in the middle of cold Toronto winter and a crazy busy work week started to feel almost unhealthy.

And so, At the end of day one I ate a few bites of kale salad, and on day two I couldn’t help but snag a few pieces of the vegan sushi we made with Juniper Wood Kitchen.

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After my indiscretion, I ended up consulting Marcelina, curious why not eating even made sense in the first place. She explained that because our digestive system is always working hard to, well, digest, it never gets a break to heal and regenerate. By ingesting only liquid foods, we give it that break to cleanse and gather energy instead of continually loading it with solid food to process. This makes a ton of sense, but in the end I couldn’t ignore what my body was telling me- I really needed to eat, so I did.

Though I’m sure cleanse experts will shake their heads, I still feel really good about how I’ve done so far. It’s been a whole week since I’ve touched a cigarette, and six days without any animal products or junk food, which for me is VERY big. I didn’t crack and order a pizza, I didn’t go out drinking with my friends (despite their insistence vodka is basically just a potato), and most importantly I’m feeling so inspired to make all sorts of healthy vegan recipes this week!

But not so fast… I’ve still got one last day to go! I’ll report back later this week with the full review.

Dear DiarySips, Sweets & Snacks

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So here we are, almost halfway through January- oh how times flies! I was a little slow to get started on my resolutions this year, and you may have noticed I’ve been a lot more quiet than usual. what can I say? I needed a bit of me time! Anyway, here I am, back and better than ever.

In an effort to fast track some of my 2016 goals, I decided to try something I’ve failed at multiple times in the past: a cleanse! Now I know what you’re thinking- “Alyssa, you’ve mentioned time and time again that you don’t like cleanses and you’d rather eat? Who even are you!” Trust me, I’m definitely not attempting to survive on lemon water and cayenne for a week. Instead of trying to jump into a pre-set juice program or create on my own cleanse schedule based on the internet as I have in the past, I decided to turn to my favourite local juicery for help.

Village Juicery, to be precise.

I’ve had a pretty serious addiction to Village ever since they opened a couple years ago, and every time I visited to stock up on chocolate nut milk (you MUST try it) I became more curious about their Reset programs (aka custom juice cleanses). I loved the idea of a reset this month, especially with all of my 2015 bad habits and recent emotional baggage that I’d like to leave in the past, so I set up an appointment with Marcelina, one of Village’s in-house nutritionists, and dove right in.

Lesson one: you cannot just “dive in” to a juice cleanse! Marcelina and I talked through all of my eating habits, my energy levels, how I sleep, how much alcohol I drink (insert face palm) and more before she carefully drafted up a schedule of juices tailored to me. Because I’m so deeply attached to eating, she planned out two “Prepare” days, two “Eliminate” days, and one “Reset” day, which in English means I only had to make it through two days of just juice. During the other three days I’d be able to eat nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies (specifically greens!)

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And so here I am, reporting from the end of day 2. In an effort to prep and make my cleanse as successful as possible I started eating only veggies and a tiny bit of whole grains (brown rice mostly) right after my appointment at Village Monday, which means I’ve had no processed sugar, caffeine, white bread products, or alcohol for four days! It’s been a massive change for me considering I basically live on pizza and donuts, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been dreaming of burritos and slices of cake nonstop for the past 48 hours.

Anyway, moving on!

I picked up my first 2 boxes of juice magic yesterday morning and got started right away. On top of the juices and little health shots Marcelina included chia breakfast bowls for the first two days, and some really tasty kale pulp crackers. She also included a calendar with timing for when to drink everything, and cute little tips for what to focus on each day (because she’s the sweetest ever), which made me feel a lot more motivated right away. That said, I somehow missed a memo, and for the most of yesterday I didn’t eat any veggies, just the breakfast bowl. That’s right, I put myself through hours of juice-only life by accident. MY BAD.

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Once I figured out I could eat veggies, nuts and seeds for these first official two days everything got a lot less dismal. I made a super tasty salad for dinner night one with tahini dressing, kale, cucumber, peppers, and an entire avocado (can you tell I miss my fats?), and snacked on my kale crackers with hummus all day yesterday. I feel sleepy much earlier than usual (Marcelina recommended sleeping before 10!) and have been battling a few headache attacks, but overall I feel really good about day one and two. My body actually feels nourished, which is an altogether new feeling, and as I start to shed my bad habits (I haven’t smoked since Sunday!) I can feel some of the bad vibes and sad feelings evaporating out of my life as well.

Starting this morning, it’s the big Kahuna- two days of just juice. Wish me luck? I’ll report back soon…

Dear Diary

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When CEDAR Juice initially reached out to ask me if I was interested in trying a juice cleanse a few weeks back, my first instinct was to immediately say no, the same way I immediately scoff at the suggestion I order a salad when dining out. “I’m not a juice cleanse girl”, I thought to myself, “why would I ever put myself and my body through that?”

But then doubt crept in. What if I was really missing out? I mean, I do love fresh juice, so what’s to say I wouldn’t love a juice cleanse? Plus, CEDAR seemed like a really great local, all-organic company, and I couldn’t help but feel tempted by their product descriptions and ingredient lists (especially Pineapple Head, a blend of pineapple, pear, and mint!)

So, I decided to try out the three-day plan, but not without making a few alterations to the program first. I decided I would continue to eat, but only the cleanest food I could find (mostly raw vegetables… and sushi). For someone who likes to eat as much as I do, it didn’t really make much sense to ingest nothing but liquids, and as soon as I gave myself permission to bend the juice cleanse rules I instantly felt less intimidated by the whole thing.

Though I can’t say I in any way excelled at cleansing, here are some of my favourite takeaways from the whole experience:

1 // I’m REALLY addicted to sugar. Within the first few hours I was having insane cravings for cookies, ice cream, Easter cream eggs… basically if it was awful for me, I wanted it. While I’m totally happy to indulge once and awhile, I definitely think my sweets habit has gotten a bit out of hand, and the cleanse really helped me see just how much I needed to work on it.

2 // I don’t get nearly enough nutrients in my daily diet. This is something I’ve worried about for awhile now, but it was actually shocking to feel the difference when I was throwing back juices packed with healthy nutritional ingredients all day every day. Though I wasn’t consuming any caffeine or sugar I felt more energetic than I have in months, and it was a really nice.

3 // I really don’t like beet juice. At all. But I’m working on it!

4 // Drinking more liquids is never a bad thing. I used to drink a ton of water everyday, and my skin was always so clear, but lately I’ve been majorly slacking. The cleanse really helped me remember how great it felt to be hyper-hydrated.

5 // I need to give my body a lot more care and attention. When I was fully vegan, I was so careful about everything I ate, always checking labels and googling ingredients, but these days all of my old tricks have been slipping thanks so a combination of being way too busy all the time, and not prioritizing my health. Moving forward, I’m going to give my body and mind what it needs: more sleep. less sugar, daily vitamins, early morning dog walks, and extra doses of fun whenever possible!

What do you think about juice cleansing? Let me know in the comments!

Interested in trying your own CEDAR juice cleanse? Enter the promo code “randomactsofpastel” at the checkout to receive 10% off on 3 or 5-day cleanses until March 14th (after which it will drop to 5%)

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*Note: Some or all of the items featured in this post were given to me as a gift from the maker, but I only write about products I genuinely adore, I promise!*