I got a bit trigger-happy this morning and published TWO posts, so be sure to also check out What I Learned at the Holiday Bazaar and we’ll hopefully back to our regular posting schedule on Monday! 🙂
Every January, after the holiday treat-eating, Mr. T and I go on a two-week food cleanse. Don’t worry, we’re not crazy. Let me explain what that means for us. We don’t juice. We don’t starve. Mainly, we focus on eating just fruits and vegetables. We condense Whole Living’s 28-day cleanses (there are several years available online, so we use all those resources for recipes) into just two weeks. We mainly do it to jumpstart our bodies. We eat so much wheat and so many carbs (cracked 7-grain oatmeal for breakfast, sandwich with homemade whole wheat bread for lunch, rice or pasta for dinner, etc.), so we take two weeks to give our body a break from processing the usual stuff. We cut out all meat, dairy, grains, eggs etc. After the first five days, we add back eggs and gluten-free grains. Also in January, we go on a spending cleanse. We pay for our cleanse produce and other food for the month and nothing more at the grocery store.
The point of the food cleanse is to re-think eating. Although it’s as close to dieting as I have ever come, there is no limit on our cleanse. I can eat fruits and vegetables all day long. We even allow ourselves delicacies we don’t often buy (kiwis! pineapples!). But because the cleanse has strict rules as to what we can eat, for two weeks we have to think about it before we open the cabinet to grab a snack in the afternoon or during a movie. The cleanse reveals our negative eating habits. Our spending cleanse does the same thing. Knowing that we can’t spend money, we see where we are about to pull out our credit cards and have to stop ourselves. These habits are re-examined when they are “not allowed” for a period of time.
Two weeks for us is just the right amount of time on the food cleanse. (Honestly, even that is quite difficult for a non-dieter like myself that really, thoroughly enjoys her carbs… with peanut butter, thankyouverymuch!) The spending cleanse lasts for the month. Nicola tracks No Spend Days. How many per month do you have? In January, other than our average bills, we try to get this as close to 31 as possible. Setting a specific, short time limit stops us from cheating but is enough to jump-start our year with conscious thinking about what we eat and how we spend.
December is often a month of excess in both spend and food. I love a fresh start and starting every year with a cleanse turns January even more into a month of re-examination, goal-setting, and future-planning. Doing something different makes us get creative. Instead of finding a treat to eat during our movie nights, Mr. T and I pick two differently-shaped kiwis, slice each in half, and critique its flavor. In just two weeks, we have become kiwi connoisseurs. We also have to get creative with finances. We do spend money. But we have to go through rigorous review before the spending is allowed and even then, we get as creative as possible.
One example: Lui has been sleeping in a pack-n-play because Florin is in the toddler bed (which also turns into the crib). Just before Hawaii, Lui figured out how to get out of the pack-n-play (luckily I heard his bedroom doorknob jiggling!). This meant as soon as we got back, the crib had to be assembled and Florin needed a new bed (a simple one just enough to get her mattress off the heating vent and allow small storage boxes underneath). We examined the wood we had in the garage and used what we could there. For the extra wood and screws we would need, we used a Lowes gift card on which we had a few dollars. For the mattress, we picked up a thick foam pad from Fred Meyer’s for $20 with another gift card we got for Christmas. We looked at the resources (and gift cards) we already had and planned our project with those in mind. Though the project would have passed our review for money spending, we spent no actual money because we were in the mindset of thinking creatively. Starting the year with the spending cleanse helps us think creatively the rest of the year to reduce our spending. At the end of the cleanse, we are able to assess what we didn’t actually miss and the things we did (peanut butter on bread! waffles!) and plan our menu and our budget around those things.
One drastic move at the beginning of the year sets up our health and finances for the year ahead. We know how we feel after eating wholesome foods and ignoring junk and we know how we feel when we see more of our money going to our savings goals. Forcing ourselves to experience that again at the beginning of each year reminds us how much better it feels to eat right and save money. Here’s to a healthy, wealthy year for all of us!