Thawing winter habits so you can jump into spring

Join my 7th Annual Spring Cleanse April 17-May 7, 2016

A niggling, growing urge to bust out of winter


“Is it spring yet?”. (A snow-covered bear resting in her den.)

My daughter and I were just sitting in a sunny warm spot on our couch listening to a lovely story about crocuses blooming (Sparkle Stories are the best!). When, alas, as the story ended our eyes rested on the piles of icy snow that still blanket our yard. With forecasts in the zeros and another big storm on the way our moods are not feeling very springy. The cozy, tucked-in feeling of winter is no longer comforting or nourishing – instead it’s starting to feel pretty claustrophobic and stagnant about now . . .

Emerging from the den

There is a funny paradox during this Spring-on-the-way time of year. One foot firmly rooted in the dark bear-den of winter with the other tentatively reaching out for the soft tickle of green grass.  We long for spring but we are reluctant to give up our winter comforts. Maybe it’s the primeval drive to insulate ourselves that keeps us from wanting to swap out the ice cream, meat loaf, lattes and waffles or in my house the fresh out the oven cashew butter cookies and coconut milk cocoa. We long for the promise of bright-green-goodness only to get sucked back into the stale, bland heaviness of winter. We are like grumpy late winter bears roaming the bleak blackbearawakelandscape, raiding bird feeder and returning to our dens worse then when we left.

Like bears, humans are creatures of habit and winter is just long enough for us to form some very tenacious habits. For the last 14 years I have done one form or another of a Spring Cleanse and I want to share with you the strategies that have helped me effectively change my habits over the years. How do I break up the winter ice and jump into what can feel like very chilly water!?

Four strategies to help you change your habits

1)   Pick a plan and commit to it.

You can juice kale until you pee green, eat brown rice until it comes out your nose or feast on watermelon until you are pre-diabetic but basically any effective cleanse routine is a cleverly disguised way of getting you to give up your beloved processed, packaged, refined flours, sugars, fats and chemical crap. Just by giving up the crap your liver will begin to heal and your gut biota will blossom. Though hotly debated among modern-health-freaks, I would argue that the specifics of what you ingest instead of the crap is less important than committing to not eating the crap.

2)   Pick a start and end date and commit to them.

There really is never a perfect time to do a cleanse. Trying to ride the natural momentum during the change of seasons is super helpful but not necessary. No matter which month you pick I guarantee there will be a holiday, birthday, wedding, anniversary, family vacation or race right in the middle of your supposed cleanse time. Pick a start date. Since you are committed to completing the cleanse, you’re also going to commit to navigating those events in a way that they become part of your cleanse success.

3)   Have no doubt that you will be able to do what you need to do to succeed.

Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to complete a task or reach a goal. When it comes to seasonal cleansing I have both failed and succeeded. I’ve failed in the sense than I have been miserable enough to quit and fall back (hard) into bad habits. Those experiences significantly lowered my sense of self-efficacy heading into my next round of seasonal cleansing. Instead of skipping out, I simply set the bar lower. I picked a regime that eliminated some but not all crap or I made sure I would have enough calories to keep me calm and out of binge mode. Over the years I’ve succeeded more often than  failed. This is because the great thing about cleansing is that you get to set your own rules. Remember, the goal is to eat less crap. There are a lot of plans to help you do this but the best one is the one you will actually do. When I lead my group cleanses I provide a very clear set of rules, but I also encourage participants to add their own rules such that they can start the cleanse with a strong sense of self-efficacy.

4)   Set yourself up for success.

Believing you are going to succeed means planning for success. Effectively changing a habit requires actual effort. You’ll need to stop wishing for change and actually get up out of your barka-lounger, take that tub of margarine out of your fridge and throw it out. Along with the chips, popcorn and peanut oil hiding in your cupboard. I pack a box of foods I want to avoid during my cleanse but know I will come back to later (i.e. maple syrup) and put it in storage for the duration. It makes it so much easier to stick to the plan when the only food in your house is the food you’ve committed


to eating during the cleanse. Which also means you’ve planned ahead and stocked your fridge and cupboards with this food. The quickest way to fail a cleanse is to starve yourself the first day because of poor planning and then find yourself mysteriously in front of a plate of cookies or chips.

That’s it. Four strategies that will help you successfully transition from the dark, sucking weight of winter into the bright, lightness of spring. Register now for my April 17-May 7 Spring Cleanse if you are ready to commit to a start and end date.

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