Does the Beauty Detox Solution Work?

I’ve been getting a lot of search terms and hits to do with Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Solution lately. People want to see before and after shots of others who have undertaken Kimberly’s diet recommendations, and even more people just want to know, plain and simple, if the program works. Should they buy the book? Should they make the Probiotic and Enzyme Salad (aka Countertop Sauerkraut) recipe? Are Glowing Green Smoothies delicious or gross-tasting? Do they really need a Vita-Mix blender?

I started the Beauty Detox Solution program last April (2011), and I even set up a separate page on my blog so I could document my progress and keep all of my posts on that topic in one, easy-to-access hub. I gradually started incorporating Kimberly’s principles into my lifestyle and noticed both subtle and significant changes in my health almost immediately. Weight was lost. Skin was cleared up. Energy levels were boosted. Sleep was sound and restful. Digestion and elimination became efficient to super-heroine levels.

And then I got sidetracked– seriously— when my work took over my existence last summer. (Excuses, excuses– I know.) I abandoned most of the specific principles of the Beauty Detox Solution and many of the foundational tenets of Basic, Commonsense Nutrition as well. Take-out food was consumed every day. Not surprisingly, weight was gained– a lot of it, too: 20-odd pounds! Sleep was sacrificed. Energy levels were in the dumps. Skin still looked okay (because I maintained my no-dairy stance), but everything else related to my body was terrible.

Well. Heroic journeys are all about redemption after descending into darkness, right?

I have ever so slowly started back on my Personal Beauty Detox journey; however, I’m not the most dedicated pupil and still retain a lot of flexibility (cheating?) regarding what I eat. (Diet Vigilantes would call it cheating– I’m calling it “moderation”.)

When we first moved to the cabin in December, I felt very chilly every day, so the thought of consuming Green Smoothies and raw salads was incredibly unappealing. (In the spirit of listening to my body, homemade soups and steamed vegetables over grains became my go-to meals of choice.) Besides, I was still weaning myself off of copious amounts of sugar, salt, and fats from those wretched summer months, so unfortunately, whole foods seemed kind of bland for a while. I needed a serious Palate Cleansing/Overhaul. But lo! Things are getting better and I am feeling much peppier these days, health-wise and energy-wise.

What Principles of the Beauty Detox Solution Am I Following?

1. Zero dairy in my diet.

I started this process a year before the BDS book was released and have reaped incredible rewards (significant weight loss, complete elimination of my acne, better digestion, and way less congestion) because of it. I’m not going to lie– taking dairy out of the diet completely is hard, especially if you buy any pre-packaged foods or restaurant meals whatsoever. (Of if you love cheese, which I did x 1000.) Dairy is in everything! However, it’s not impossible to do and I am a firm believer that the benefits are well worth the challenge. Seriously.

2. Slim-to-none amounts of caffeine and zero meat in my diet.

I have some green tea that I got as a gift, so I drink a cup of it every now and then. Also, I’m still eating local, free-range, organic eggs on occasion. I could take them out of my diet if I really wanted to, but I happen to like eating eggs every once in a while. So there! 🙂

3. Soaking grains, nuts, and seeds before consuming them.

I confess that I never used to soak anything before eating or cooking it. Now, I’ve gotten into the habit of soaking things overnight (or for 24 hours) before I need them in recipes. Do I notice a difference? In texture, yes, but in terms of digestion, not really. Maybe it’s just me?

4. Taking out as much soy as possible.

I’m not a soy person in general. However, this summer involved a whirlwind rebound relationship with soy milk, facilitated by our matchmaker, Starbucks. The truth is that soy milk makes me feel *almost* as gross as cow milk does– I get super phlegmy, bloated, and congested when I drink it. (Alas, Starbucks was only a skip away from our harbour booth, and I had a summer filled with the sickening convenience of Soy Coffee Fraps. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope that this never happens again!) Soy is mostly out again, save for some dashes of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and miso.

5. Glowing Green Smoothies/Probiotic and Enzyme Salad consumption.

After recovering from the initial shock of the fresh mountain air up here, I’ve started drinking between 3 and 5 Green Smoothies a week, and I also have a 1/2 cup of Probiotic and Enzyme Salad (aka raw sauerkraut) every few days. Both of these recipes make me feel incredibly clean and healthy; however, I still haven’t worked up to consuming either of them on a daily basis. Confession: as much as I love the green smoothies in particular, I find it challenging to drink them and still have enough time left over to eat all of the other meals I want to on a given day! (I’ve been sleeping in like a sloth every day, so by the time I eat breakfast, most people are just about ready for lunch. That doesn’t leave a girl a lot of time to down her soups, salads, and other delectable food items before dark! So much delicious, homemade food– so little time!)

6. Focusing on the process vs. on the end result.

The Beauty Detox Solution isn’t a race or a competition. I don’t feel pressure to incorporate all of Kimberly’s principles right away or even ever. I’m just doing what works for me and feeling thankful for the health I have because of it. I know that I could be “more successful” (read: thinner, toned, famous, and probably rich, too) if I were to stick very closely to the program. Certainly, I could lose more weight, feel super-human amounts of energy, and feel rested on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. I just don’t feel the need to get there just yet– for once, I’m actually fine with who I am, as I am right now. Go, me!

I'm OK, You're OK!

So Does It Work?

In a word: yes. I believe that any move toward a plant-based, whole foods diet will yield significant health benefits, and The Beauty Detox Solution is one way to get there. If people are just looking for an easy, quick-fix solution to weight issues alone, and are wondering if a diet of 100% Green Smoothies can do the trick, the BDS can still work, but undertaking it specifically to LOSE A MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF WEIGHT, RIGHT NOW! is really missing the point. This is a gradual (and hopefully permanent) shift in lifestyle. Yes, it works, but you do have to be invested in the principles that underpin it first. After reading this book, and now The China Study, I am really beginning to sense the urgency of maintaining a plant-based, whole foods diet for overall health and quality of life. It just makes sense on so many levels (but maybe I’m more receptive to this message, having been a vegetarian for most of my life and having already taken dairy out before the Beauty Detox Solution book came out).

Do You Have Any Before/After Photos?

Hmmm… I looked through our archives and noted with suspicion that I had “lost” or “accidentally deleted” most of the less-than-flattering pics of myself. (Either that, or I’m not exactly jumping in front of the camera when my clothes aren’t fitting properly. Look at my thighs! They’re gigantic!!)

That said, you can get a really good “before” shot of my acne-ridden complexion in this post. (My “after” skin shot is just up above in the current post– that shot was taken a few days ago.) I still consider myself to be in the early phases of the program, especially because I started and then stopped so spectacularly for half a year. Maybe I should take a current, full-length pic and use it as my “before” shot. Fabulous, fashionable “after” shots will come in a few months, then. 😉

I hope this information helps! As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments section or e-mail me privately. I’m happy to share my personal experiences and pitfalls in the spirit of making the journey that much easier for somebody else. 🙂

Crisis of Confidence

Typical Cancer-- hermiting myself away

I have been suffering through my Annual Existential Crisis for the past week or so.

At times, I feel completely consumed by feelings of confusion, panic, and helplessness. Who am I? Why am I here [i.e. on earth in general, not at the awesome lakeside cabin in particular, which I love]? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Why don’t I have more direction and drive? On those brooding, sulking, heavy days, I read through other people’s blogs and make the mistake of clicking “notify me of follow-up comments” when I respond to their posts. Then I feel washed in despair, bitterness, and that most ugly of emotions– jealousy– when my inbox is flooded with comments for other people’s posts, other people’s writing, other people’s experiences.  Other people have everything figured out, I whine to my bruised, tender spirit as I pillage through the contents of my inbox indiscriminately. Savagely. DELETE, DELETE, I DON’T CARE, DELETE!!!! Everyone else has tapped into life’s most abundant of arteries and are basking in the warmth of that rich, warm flow. [Insert sad and/or pitiful emoticon here.]

The next day (or sometimes even within an hour), I sneer at myself for being so shallow. Silly girl, I seethe to my paper-thin heart– the soul that feels like it has been burnt to ash and might blow clear away from me in the most gentle of breezes– Life does not boil down to stats, subscribers, or blogging at all. Get over yourself and focus on what truly matters.

Which is?, I wonder. What truly matters? What matters most to me?

Unfortunately, because I am mired in my Annual Existential Crisis, this brings me right back to questions of Who am I? and Why am I here? Back come those brooding, sulking, heavy days– days when even the most meaningless of circumstances render me utterly crestfallen. It’s a vicious, unfriendly, and exhausting cycle, but it seems to happen, well, annually now.

I believe it boils down to our crazy summers and the highly unstructured winters that follow. From April until October every year, I have a clear sense of what needs to get done and I am confident, positive, that I can do all of those things well. I am organized. I am great with people. I am approachable, genuine, and passionate about the art business that I share with my dearest partner. I am buoyed by the receptiveness of other people to our work and feel elated with the knowledge that what I do matters. People are taken care of– thrilled with their purchases. I am nurturing them, if only indirectly. Life is busy, hectic, sleepless, and often stressful, but I love what I do. Everything is great!

Then the winter months come along, those same months that I crave and yearn for from approximately April to October every year. Heh. In the summer, I say “I can’t wait to unwind!” or “We’re looking forward to some down time!” but when I finally get there, I crack into a hundred thousand little pieces and watch helplessly from beyond myself, a scattered pile of dust. In those months, the quiet months, I struggle to rebuild myself from the summer’s leftover shards of us, we, and ours. Who am I?, I demand to know. What is my purpose in life? Sometimes I even catch myself wondering what my junior high guidance counselors would think of my career path now– as though I even cared what they suggested to me when I was twelve. (For the record: I did not. I’d make a good truck driver, you say? SCREW YOU!!) Everything is external.

During the winter months– those slippery, ambiguous, crumbly months– I find myself turning outside of myself more often than usual. I search diligently for any confirmation, however slight, that who I am and what I do still matters. Am I a writer? Do people even like my writing? Like an oft-beaten puppy who needs love but is afraid to go looking for it, I crave Marty’s approval and the validation of other people. I know in my head that this is not right. I have no problems spouting off self-help proverbs to remind myself that real acceptance comes from within. But. As sweet as these little cliched nuggets are– Trust in the Universe! Believe in yourself!— they do not foster or sustain that prized, blessed calm in the heart, much like a diet of candy cannot promote impeccable digestive health. There must be something else.

Sorry, Yogi Tea bag. I love your pithy wisdom but I need something more.

For now, I’m just letting myself be. I’m having long, soulful conversations with Marty and lying protected in his embrace, breathing in his reassuring scent of acceptance, love, and safety. I’m chanting and meditating on a daily basis. In an effort to take and accept myself on my own terms and on those terms alone, I’ve hidden my modest blog stats into a dark corner and feel content to leave those stupid things there– totally untouched and unmonitored for however long it takes to not care about them anymore. Then I’m laughing at myself for having the audacity to put such a high value on the virtual equivalent of a popularity contest in the first place. Honestly. Who should even care about hits, comments, subscribers, pingbacks, etc.? The aliens would find that mighty ludicrous, I’m sure. (When I first started blogging– way back in 2006!– I only wanted to be able to keep in touch with my friends from Calgary online. It didn’t matter to me if any of them actually commented or even read my posts. Also, I didn’t even understand the whole concept of “subscribing” until this past March. Yes, March 2011. Oh, youth!)

Anyway.

These beautiful runes were handmade and given to us as a wedding present

My runes and tarot cards from the Winter Solstice reading basically suggested that I try living life for the process of it instead of the outcome. Of course, my surprisingly linear, forward-facing mind reels at the thought of not having a solid Five Year Plan in place, but seeing as my Plan lately has consisted only of ?????s and ums, it’s probably for the best. 😉 Sure. I can try doing things just because and not worry about how everything will turn out. At least I’ll try. That sounds good.

The one advantage of having an Existential Crisis every year is that I know it will pass. It always does. I will stumble around in the darkness of my psyche for a week or two– confused, timid, insecure, and shy as can be– but I will emerge again, confident and kicking ass (or humble and zen-like– or all of those things!) when the time is right. I know in my heart that I’m where I am “supposed” to be in life right now, but it seems I just need to go through the process of re-affirming that belief for myself… again and again and again. I can do it.

Thanks for listening and for being here. xoxo

Refurnishing Our Furnished Kitchen

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have certain… kitchen issues. For some reason or another, although I never scrutinize the cutlery in restaurants or at other people’s houses, when it comes to my own kitchen– the kitchen I am expected to cook in and eat out of on a daily basis– I prefer to use my own dishes. The special ones. And although I could care less about the bread pans used in local bakeries or whether the cupcake shop uses metal, glass, or plastic mixing bowls to whip up their confections, I’d be hard pressed to bake anything of my own using mixing bowls or baking trays that weren’t mine. You know… the special ones. (Thankfully, this peculiarity of mine extends only to the culinary domain. I am remarkably easy to please when it comes to bathrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms. Is it logical of me to protest drinking out of somebody else’s crockery mug but happily sleep in their bed? Obviously not, but they don’t call it an obsessive compulsive disorder for nothing.)

Anyway.

It goes without saying that, when we moved into our furnished cabin a month ago, I insisted on bringing our own “kitchen things” along. Both the landlords and the previous tenant here raved about how wonderfully stocked the kitchen already was, but I wasn’t convinced. Sure, there was a blender in the cupboard, but was it a Vita-Mix blender? Probably not. And yes, there were pots, pans, baking trays, and even a crock pot at our disposal, but were they dreaded aluminum pots? Were there remnants of other people’s food still crusted onto the baking trays and on the sides of the crock pot? Probably. Hence, I packed up our kitchen “essentials” and assessed the situation for myself upon moving in.

Sorry. Can't do it.

Inefficient use of cupboard space. Sorry. Can't do it.

Obviously, this wonderfully stocked kitchen did not live up to my impossibly stringent standards. (Greasy plates and suspiciously-spotted cups, as a rule, do not make the grade, even in a summer cottage.) I ended up photographing all of the cupboards and drawers as though I were fully documenting a crime scene, carefully removing all of the items from the shelves, lovingly (and thoroughly) cleaning the insides of everything with my special all-natural cleanser… and then putting my own dishes back in. All of the pre-supplied items– piles of plates, bowls, and saucers; extra lightbulbs; enough forks and spoons to last a whole year before washing; a popcorn machine; pyrex measuring cups; ice cube trays; plastic wine goblets; plastic-feeling dish towels; a lifetime’s supply of aluminum foil; aluminum-laden pots; scarily-encrusted baking tins; a sad little blender; barbecue tongs; and way more cheaply made fly swatters than I deemed necessary for the winter, fly-free months– were packed into boxes and tucked away in the deep recesses of the loft. (By the way? LOVE THE LOFT. We have turned one side of it into a gigantic storage area where things go to be forgotten until April. The other, secluded side of the loft has been transformed into a tranquil meditation corner.) When the time comes to move out again, I’ll use my photos as reference and arrange everything in the kitchen as though nothing had ever been moved, used, or even touched. I’m diligent like that.

I made one exception during the purge. Progress is progress, people.

For better or worse, I *MUST* have a hand blender, food processer, and a Vita-Mix blender in the kitchen, but a rice cooker has never appealed to me.

It took me a whole day of scrubbing, packing, cursing, arranging, and generally toiling to get the kitchen into its new order. (To put things in perspective, Marty managed to clean the entire rest of the cabin in the time it took me to get the kitchen up to (my) (ridiculous) par.) Everything was worth it, though. Sure, I don’t enjoy cleaning other people’s stoves and ovens, but it sure feels great cooking on a mostly spotless stove top or pulling a delicious Berry Oat Cake from the now-impeccable oven. Both Marty and I have remarked on a number of occasions how nice it is to be eating off our own plates and spooning soup out of our own bowls. (Perhaps these kitchen issues are contagious? If so, I fear for Marty’s sanity.) Making almond milk every week in our own Vita-Mix blender feels like a blessing. Everything feels right.

The figurative “icing on top” came on the day when I simultaneously discovered a small farm down the street selling free-range eggs (yes!) and a local kitchen scraps composting service (double geeky YES!). Once I get going in the kitchen– which is now– most of the “garbage” we produce is organic waste, so it feels awesome to have the kitchen scraps composted for a ridiculously modest fee ($6 for 48 Litres of kitchen scraps. Cheap!)

It feels like home.

Perhaps I should take some more "after" shots of the kitchen, no?

Lucky Sevens

I’m taking this opportunity to highlight some of my favourite posts, including ones that might have been missed or overlooked by newer readers:

1. Most Beautiful

“Beautiful” isn’t usually a word I would use to describe my own writing, but if I had to choose my most beautiful-ish post, it would probably be Are You There, Margaret? It’s Me: God. A post about love should never be ugly, right?

2. Most Popular

One would think that my Freshly Pressed Post, Crying (and Cursing) Over Spilled Milk— in which I outlined the trials and tribulations of making almond milk for the first time– would be my most popular. Surprisingly, it is not. Rather, an otherwise nondescript post about ugly Christmas sweaters crushes the entire competition. In Search of the World’s Worst Christmas Sweater has nearly 4 times as many hits as any other post on my blog, including my Freshly Pressed post. Most of the search engine terms that lead people to my blog also have to do with ugly and horrific Christmas sweaters. Go figure.

A bit of sparkle from a gigantic Ugly Christmas Sweater I borrowed from a colleague. Unfortunately, it reeked of Bounce sheets and gave both Marty and I allergies. We couldn’t even wear it as a joke. 😦

3. Most Controversial

I have two categories of controversial posts– the first category deals with issues of censorship and the boundaries around what we choose to share online. A Visit from the Overshare Fairy chronicles the fallout of posting a little bit too much information about myself on the internet.

The second category of controversy is controversial only because it contains graphic details about a circumstance which many women face, but few women talk about openly: miscarriage. My This Day In History series– parts One, Two, and Three— address the messy range of emotions that Marty and I faced when we lost a pregnancy back in 2006.

Not me– this is my sis when she was pregnant with our niece, Lily

4. Most Helpful

In case you haven’t noticed, my primary objective on this blog is not necessarily to be helpful. I write mostly to entertain (or be entertained), but one of my posts inadvertently became helpful to others and continues to generate a lot of ‘thank you’ e-mails. Chlorella: Superfood, My Ass! was originally written as a flippant, eff-you homage to the nutritional supplement that renders me paralyzed with projectile vomit. It’s not an especially well-written post by any means, but lots of people have since discovered it and written me privately to say thank you– either for naming the substance that was causing them severe GI distress or for simply acknowledging that not everyone does well on so-called superfoods. (So in case you were wondering, helpful posts can have the word “Ass” in the title. Who knew?)

5. Most Surprisingly Successful

The post that continues to garner many surprising hits (although not new comments) was written way back in 2008. Talk to the Hand recounts my experience visiting a palm reader at our local mall. If my site stats and search engine terms are any indication, lots and lots of people take to the internet to learn more about mysterious beauty marks on their palms. Hence, if you need to boost traffic to your blog, might I suggest writing about finding the ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ line on your palms? And vomit– lots and lots of projectile vomit. 🙂

6. Most Underrated

It must be a Universal Blogging Experience: you write a new post, congratulate yourself for your expert use of prose and scintillating adjectives, and then hit ‘Publish’– fully expecting a tsunami of Online Fandom to come crashing down in your comments section. But it doesn’t. To make matters worse, not only are you not ravaged by a destructive gale-force wind of admiration, but you also don’t even seem to make a ripple in the blogosphere. Maybe one person comments on your post… out of pity. The rest of your readers are already on to the next blogging sensation, and your Fantastic Post dies a quiet death in a lonely corner, all by itself.

The post I would like to offer up for your resurrection consideration is The Most Important Evening of Our Lives, in which I fail miserably as a wife, hairdresser, and a general human being.

At least *my* hair looked good on The Most Important Evening of Our Lives

7. Most Worthy of Pride

It probably seems a little strange, but I’m really proud of a post I wrote about eggs. The Dirty Dozen: My Initiation Into A Life of Crime came together effortlessly and incorporated all three of the essential ingredients in any winning post: hippies, Hollywood, and the Russian mafia. Every time I see this title in my “Your Recent Favourites” sidebar, I foolishly beam with the pride of a mother who has just watched her little Johnny hit a home run in a T-ball game. Other moms might not think my Johnny is a big deal, but I’m proud all the same. 🙂