My health had drastically changed over the past year and I was beginning to worry about what was happening and not happening to my body. I’ve made some remarks here and there if you have been following my site for a while but I haven’t been as forthright with the whole picture. I started noticing that my lower belly was beginning to stick out more than normal, which initially didn’t concern me because I just brushed it off to getting a little older and my body shifting. I tend to vacillate between 5-7 lbs. depending on the time of month but I’ve been very good at being able to maintain and not go too crazy. When I stepped on the scale and realized that I had gained a good 15 lbs., I knew what I needed to do. I wasn’t overly concerned because I also always know what I need to do to start feeling better. So I ate a little more potato chips then I should have, big deal. I put the bag down, began to make sure that I wasn’t eating out as much and hit the gym 3-4 times a week. Nothing drastic, just healthier choices.
My first indication that something wasn’t right was the fact that I hadn’t lost 1 lb. in over a month, in fact I was still gaining weight, slowly but I was gaining. None of it made sense to me but I thought maybe it was just because the age factor was slowing down my progress. I pressed on though while also beginning to monitor my stomach pains, which were increasing by the day. I would go to bed with this terribly bloating belly and shooting pains and then wake up to start my day just the same. I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes anymore because the bloating was getting so bad and I was so uncomfortable in anything that wasn’t loose. I found an increase of gas in my system, lethargy was more frequent as I needed coffee mid-day to get me through, and I battled between constipation and diarrhea. I also began to accept that my menstrual cycle was no longer normal despite the fact that I was on the pill and I have never not been consistent. After two months of nothing (and everything) happening, I knew something wasn’t right.
It was at this point that Julie and Jo contacted me from Conscious Cleanse to give it a try. The cleanse itself resembles more like an elimination diet. For 2 weeks you eliminate all of the top allergen and inflammatory foods (gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, nightshades, yeast, peanuts, red meat, and most processed foods) from your diet, having the choice afterward to slowly introduce them back into your diet. The timing could not have been better because I was beginning to believe that something I was eating was making me sick and I thought, “I will give this a try and if after the 2 weeks I still feel poorly, then I will go see a doctor.”
I have heard of other “gimmicky” programs trying to convince me that if I paid x amount then I will receive the secrets to weight loss and cleansing. I just never bought into this idea that our bodies store toxins and possibly need a cleanse in order to dispose of them because I thought our bodies just naturally do that. I also don’t like the idea of deprivation–I’m an advocate for a balanced diet. But I was at a point where moderate healthy eating and exercise wasn’t doing much for me I needed to understand what was happening in my body.
*Please note that I am not a medical professional and neither condone nor condemn the practice of cleansing for every person. This is merely MY experience. Each body behaves and reacts differently and it is possible that there might be something else wrong aside from food intolerances so please consult your doctor before changing your diet.
The picture above says it all. I post this picture solely for the purpose of seeing how bloated I was. I went from very bloated to back to normal by Week 1, I was eliminating correctly within 2 days, my gas issues went away almost immediately, I lost 5 lbs. in 2 weeks, and what struck me in awe was when my cycle came the exact day it was supposed to and lasted as it should. I couldn’t believe it.
What I loved about this cleanse:
- I’m weary about any diet that limits my food significantly but what Julie and Jo do so well is avoid focusing on what you can’t eat for the 2 weeks and focus on the good foods you are eating. They also do not spotlight weight loss, calorie count, or encourage unhealthy food behaviors. This cleanse is about listening to your body and finding a solution to what is making your body function improperly.
- Julie and Jo are some of the most positive, encouraging women. Not only are their stories inspiring but so is their kindness and support to each of the cleansers in the program. You will never hear them punish or be punitive to anyone for not following the cleanse “perfectly” in fact they drive home over and over again that the cleanse really isn’t about the food and they encourage you to get in touch with your emotions through journaling and taking time for yourself.
- You get the support from incredible health coaches who exude the same qualities as the creators of the cleanse. If I had a question or problem, I could email or Facebook any of the coaches and would hear back from them immediately in a nurturing and helpful way.
- The program was easy to follow, especially when within a few days I started to feel like me again. I never felt deprived of food because I was eating every 2 hours and rarely did I have cravings to stray and eat something I knew wasn’t good for me. I did however experience headaches for a good 12 days but that was my own personal experience (I had a lot of detoxing to do apparently). Other bodies react differently and this was just my way of getting rid of the toxins.
- The Conscious Cleanse gave me my health back.
*Please note that I am not getting paid for this review–these are completely my own opinions.
Not only has my body changed back to normal, but my cravings for food has drastically changed. I have even lost another 3 lbs since ending the cleanse 2 weeks ago. Remember how I used to tell you that I would eat potato chips like no other? Well, that is no longer (for now, at least–ha). My taste for food has transitioned to the what is listed below. Please know that I crave these foods not only for their nutrition but because of how my body reacts to them.
Breakfast is either a smoothie, quinoa flake hot cereal with hemp seeds and fresh fruit, or chia seed pudding with fresh fruit and chopped nuts. I haven’t given up coffee though. I still drink a cup in the morning (black, which I have been doing for a couple of years now).
I still eat every 2 hours so I find myself snacking 2-3 times a day. I go for hummus with carrots, a freshly pressed juice, nut butter and celery, fresh fruit (I am loving watermelon and cantaloupe this summer), freshly made guacamole with veggies and rice crackers to dip in, or even I’m a bit in love with rice cakes with nut butter and a drizzle of agave. I know…rice cakes. I swear though, I have ALWAYS loved those things though.
Lunch is a salad, some fresh cooked beans with tons of veggies, collard wraps or spring rolls, or my newest favorite is quinoa pasta (just a little) with tons of vegetables, a drizzle of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and fresh herbs and sea salt. I favor anything easy to assemble, filling, and fresh. I used to eat nachos almost on a daily basis for lunch but have found that it weighs me down and sits in my gut without giving me a lot of energy. I need vegetables now to rev up my digestion.
Dinner is a stuffed veggie of some sort that is filled with beans, cauliflower “rice” and herbs, quinoa cakes, or typically anything that is just a protein mixed with a ton of vegetables. I usually serve a small salad with dinner as well.
If I’m still hungry after dinner and want dessert, I will grab for a Medjool date with nut butter, more fresh fruit, nut butter with dark chocolate, or I might indulge in something decadent–life is too short to say no to dessert!
I actually feel like I kick-started my health back up. I learned that certain food combinations keep my body from functioning properly and now adhere to a diet that looks very similar to the cleanse but more moderate and balanced. If you are interested at all in doing the next cleanse, it begins August 2nd, the last one of the summer. You can sign up here. Have any questions? You can check out their FAQ section here or leave me a comment and I can help in any way.
Here’s to a healthier, happier YOU!
*I was not paid for this review of the Conscious Cleanse. Everything stated in this post is completely my own opinion. I am not a medical professional and highly recommend that if you are to participate in the cleanse, to ask your doctor first.
Aya @ Healthy Appetite
I actually understand exactly what you were going through in this article. And honestly, age is not even a significant factor considering I’m 23 (and it kills me when people tell me nothing is wrong just because I’m still young).
I’ve learned to avoid gluten and dairy as much as I can (there is the occasional consumption, followed by a wow-I-should-not-have-done-that). I guess the hardest part has been watching my boyfriend eat all the foods I crave in front of me, and me having to say no. He tries of course so there’s no use playing the blame game, but sometimes I find life to be so cruel that I’m surrounded by folks that can function well on a diet that is considered “normal” while mine is considered “strange and unique” and therefore hard to accommodate.
I do recommend looking into the blood type diet though. It’s the diet I mostly follow and I find it quite effective. Mainly because it also explains how your body reacts to other things, such as environment and exercise and so forth, which really helps me to better understand how to handle things. 🙂
Hi Cara — Thanks for this info. I hope you’re also thinking about getting your thyroid levels checked! What you experienced could be textbook thyroid crash. There are natural ways to treat it, if so, but better to know!
Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen
Thank you for sharing your experience with cleansing so candidly. It is something I have been strongly considering for awhile after experiencing similar symptoms as you’ve described here. I am happy to hear that your body has bounced back and you are feeling much better! This inspires me to try something similar! Thanks!
so glad you are feeling better. I tried to lose some weight desperately just before the wedding (which was long long time back) and the lbs started coming of only later in the second month. It was all the universe trying to mess with me i tell you 🙂
Where did you get quinoa pasta? Can I buy that at Whole Foods?
Hi Sean! Yes, you can find quinoa pasta at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s even has a quinoa and brown rice pasta. The brand I got (I can’t think of at the moment–it was a new one to me) I found at a health food store chain that is known on the west coast that has some of the coolest finds that I cannot find elsewhere. If I remember what it’s called I will let you know.
Thank you! We don’t have a Trader Joe’s yet but we have a Whole Foods (Okc). Thanks for the info.
WF will definitely have what you are looking for! 🙂
Cara, I’m so glad you wrote this. There is something so grand in just knowing that you are not alone in your struggles. I continue to be a huge fan, and my mom, sister, and I are embarking on the cleanse together starting on Monday – long distance support group. Thanks for sharing your cleanse here and on instagram. I’m really looking forward to getting rid of the bloat! Hugs,
Yay Megan! I am so happy to hear that you have a great support system to guide you through this. Let me know how you feel post-cleanse! xo
I highly recommend that you get your doctor to test you for celiac disease because your symptoms sound exactly like the ones I had before I was diagnosed with celiac disease.
Thank you Ruth for the guidance. This is definitely something I am considering… xo
Cara, thank you SO much for sharing your experience. The symptoms and difficulties you were experiencing are so in line with those I’ve had, and it’s really encouraging to both see someone going through the same thing, but then see them able to resolve it healthily and in an easy-to-follow way. This has definitely inspired me! Thank you again!
I’m so happy to hear that, Lauren! I really hope that you figure out what is going on with your body and find something that works for you so you aren’t experiencing those miserable symptoms! xo
This is very interesting, and I’m so glad you found what works for you. I had been dealing with the same issues for years, while eating an extremely clean diet, before I started working with an RD, and found out I have a ton of food sensitivities. But the symptoms didn’t really improve, so I saw a functional medicine specialist, who told me I have celiac disease and leaky gut, which has made me so sensitive to so many foods. With the right supplements, I hope to heal so I am not constantly in pain and discomfort. I hope to find the same feeling of wellness you have!
Wow, that is incredible Beth. I am so glad that you figured out the root of the problem and wish you tons of health and healing. The pain and discomfort can be terrible. Thank YOU for the well wishes! Much appreciated! xo
I am on day 5 of the Conscious Cleanse, just following it by myself from the book. I have found it really easy, I’m not hungry at all. I do divert from the meal plan to make use of leftovers but I’ve stuck to all the principles of the cleanse. Aside from headaches I have a lot more energy, sleeping really well and I’m sure my mood is enhanced. looking forward to the end results and permanent changes in eating habits.
Get it girl! I am so happy to hear this. Let me know how you feel by the end of you, will you?! xo
Beth @ Eat Within Your Means
I was so curious how this would turn out for you! I’m really interested in doing this myself, but it’s hard to shell out the cash. Did you find it to be worth the money?
Beth @ Eat Within Your Means
Thanks, Cara! I’m signed up for the next cleanse on August 2! I’m excited to see positive results. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experience, Cara! I am definitely inspired, and so happy for you to achieve your best in health & happiness. 🙂
Do you think it would be possible to be successful doing the Conscious Cleanse solo, using only the book/online resources instead of the full support packages? I have been wanting to try an elimination diet for a while but don’t have the funds for the full packages. What are your thoughts? Any tips for going solo?
Hey Kat! You know, I think it depends on your personality. I loved the support, encouragement, and ideas I got from the FB support group and the health coaches. I also really enjoyed the conference calls from Julie and Jo; I found them to be inspiring. There’s something to be said about that keeping you going strong and feeling like you are a part of a group. Having said that, if the cost is too high for you and you work well on your own, I think you could do it. Stick close to the book and possibly get guidance from friends who might be into nutritional and/or are health coaches. Let me know if you do it and I can help you out with recipe ideas! xo
Thanks for the support, Cara! I appreciate it 🙂
Just reading through the comments here gives me inspiration and encouragement too!
Cara, thanks for this. I feel the same way, always bloated but I’m not overweight. I go to the gym about 4-5 times a week but haven’t lost any fat!!! Kudos to you! You look amazing!
Thank you Jane for the comment! It’s a very frustrating thing when you feel like you lead a rather healthy lifestyle and still find yourself in a state of “sickness.” Best of luck to you! I hope you figure out what is causing the bloat…xo
Nicole @ Fitful Focus
I’ve been going through very similar things. I gained 10 pounds and had constant bloat and stomach pain – so bad I almost went to the emergency room. After a million doctor visits and tests, I found out I have mild allergies to peanuts, wheat, soy, and corn and was also consuming WAY too much fiber. Once I cut out all the allergens and scaled back my fiber intake, I felt much better! Starting to lose the weight and feel like myself again!
Sounds awfully familiar! So happy to hear that you figured out what was wrong and that you are now feeling better Nicole 🙂 xo
did you figure out which foods were giving you trouble?
The things that I realized:
1. I don’t drink enough water during the day, which is why I was getting bad upper abdominal pains.
2. I have to combine my foods in a new way (ie: I have a really difficult time digesting foods when it’s a protein AND grain combined). I am learning that is part of my gas and bloating issue. When I eat a grain and veggie or protein and veggie, I am lighter and able to clear it through my tract with ease.
3. Wine makes me nauseous and dizzy so I have stopped drinking it.
4. Dairy is still a big problem for me. I thought I could get over my food allergies because my doctor told me that it is possible to do so as an adult but…nope. Dairy = damage to my body.
5. I have to monitor my yeast and refined sugar intake, which means baked goods are something I have to really decrease in my diet.
Hope that helps!
Thanks Cara- I was diagnosed with IBS last year after having every diagnostic test preformed. But they don’t know exactly which foods set it off so I’ve been trying to figure it out on my own. I have similar symptoms, extreme bloating, abdominal pains etc. Following the FODMAPS guidelines has helped tremendously. Unfortunately it looks like I have the most trouble with beans and lentils (something I was eating quite a lot of up until recently). Maybe I will try your tip of eating them separate from grains
I could have written this. I’m 10 Pds overweight and haven’t ever had a problem dropping weight – until now. Recently I’ve been having a burning sensation in my upper abdomen and now, diarrhea. I’m a pretty healthy eater, I can’t tolerate grains or dairy but I do have some bad habits like chocolate, snacking on too many nuts and wine. I think it’s time for this cleanse.
I definitely say give it a try Michele! Those symptoms sound miserable to live with (don’t I know it). Consult with your doctor too to make sure it’s nothing serious either–gotta cover your bases 🙂 Good luck and let me know if you do the cleanse! xo
i’m so happy for you, lady. thank you for sharing your story with us. you are always so inspiring <3
You are always the sweetest to me Caitlin–thank you for your love and support! xo
This is so awesome, Cara! I am very happy that this cleanse has made you feel better and happier about your future food choices. I am looking for a restart on my own diet. Being vegan is all fine and dandy, but not if popcorn counts as dinner. You have inspired me to start the Conscious Cleanse on August 2!
For realsies???? Eeeeeeeeee, I cannot wait to hear how you like it and how good you will feel afterwards!! Hit me up any time you need moral support or anything while you are doing the cleanse 🙂 xo
Beth @ Eat Within Your Means
Sarah, I’ll be doing the August 2 cleanse along with you! 🙂
Yay, Beth! I’m so glad my path will cross with another awesome cleanser. Cara, we’ll make you proud (I hope)!
so amazing! a great reminder we need to listen better to our bodies.
It is rather amazing what can happen when we start listening and trusting our bodies. I learned that from YOU!
The Vegan Cookie Fairy
I’m glad you’re feeling better 🙂
Ugh, me too–thanks! xo
Thanks for sharing your experience. I followed your progress on instagram and am so pleased for you.:)
How cool Kimberly–thank you for the support! xo