March Cleanse – Week One Check In

You might recall from my last post: 2019: What Now? that I am kicking off some resolutions this year with a full cleanse for the month of March.

The idea is to cleanse all areas of my life:

  1. Belongings
  2. Body
  3. Bank Account
  4. Brain

Here’s how it’s going so far:

  1. Belongings

I would give myself a solid B on this part of the challenge. I am following the Konmari method of cleansing my home. My hope is that by creating more physical space, I will also create more mental space for ideas and energy.

The first stage is Clothing. I followed her method exactly – piling all the clothing I own in the middle of my room, sifting through each item at a time, asking myself, “Does this bring me joy?” and moving things into piles accordingly. Anything that didn’t bring me joy, I folded gently into bags to be donated with an appreciative “thank you.” I then re-organized all the clothing I am keeping, either hanging them or folding items in a way that everything is visible when I open a drawer. This took a long time. Keeping in mind that I work and dance during the week, this took me a full week to accomplish – and it included some late nights! But I will say, I love how almost everything looks now. It’s WAY easier to find everything and has taken some stress out of my morning routine.

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There were a few stressful moments of this process, though. For one, I own a lot of clothing that doesn’t exactly bring me joy, but that I can’t afford to replace or get rid of right now – jeans that don’t quite fit or aren’t in style anymore, black blazers and pencil skirts that I don’t use in my current life but definitely could see myself needing (and not wanting to buy again!) in the future.

I was also limited in my organizational techniques. Because I’m renting my space, I can’t very easily create the type of storage I’d prefer. I also can’t afford to buy all-new storage (thanks to March rule #3), so there were a few things I had to organize in ways that weren’t exactly in line with Marie’s methods, or just weren’t what I’d prefer. We’ll see how long these last!

This week, I’m onto Stage: Books and Papers. This is going to be a time-consuming challenge for me.

I own a LOT of books. And I’m happy about it. I love being surrounded by them – they all bring me joy. I can certainly update my organizational methods, but otherwise, not much will change there.

The challenge will be with papers. I’ve always saved all the cards I receive, notes I’ve taken, journals, poems and stories I’ve started, magazine articles I find interesting… I love collecting information and words that energize me and inspire me. They bring me joy. So, for all the things I truly can’t part with, I have to find a new way to honor and display them. This means arts and craft projects. Love those! But I really don’t have the time for them at the moment.

If anyone has thoughts on how to organize cards or paper travel mementos (tickets, maps, brochures, etc.), please reach out to me!

2. Body

This, I am giving myself a D on. Not so great. Here’s what’s happening:

I went into this month thinking I would do a strict Whole30ish diet (ish because as a vegetarian I was going to allow myself peanuts and beans on occasion to get some protein). I’ve done Whole30 before. Unfortunately, I did it while marathon training and, admittedly, I didn’t feel great. I ended up just eating a LOT of potatoes with homemade mayo and being really miserable.

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So this time, to try to avoid the misery, I was going to allow myself occasional peanuts, black beans, and chickpeas (both of which are some staples in my regular diet), as well as a very infrequent glass of red wine.

But here’s how it went down: For the first 6 days, I followed this diet perfectly. However. I also spent over $200 on food that would only last me around 8 days maximum, I spent probably 18 hours meal prepping over the course of 4 days, and, again, I ended up mostly eating potatoes with homemade mayo, which honestly doesn’t make me feel that healthy! I eat more salads in a normal week than I did in those 6 days – I think just because I was trying so hard to eat foods that felt filling and substantial to eat.

This didn’t feel healthy. I wasn’t happy (I was exhausted from cleaning and meal-prepping). And it was really impairing my ability to focus on the Bank Account Cleanse portion of my month!

(Aside: It’s absolutely absurd that in the US it is more expensive to eat healthfully than it is to fill up on junk food. Healthy food should be much more accessible to everyone – regardless of socioeconomic class – and sustainable, organic farms shouldn’t be struggling to maintain business and quality against corporate farming and foods produced with GMOs and hormones. Anyway…)

Needless to say, I gave up pretty quickly on that particularly strict cleanse. It’s frustrating. I want to focus on it, but it impacts so many other aspects of my cleanse and general happiness.

So here’s where I’m at now: I am also someone who enjoys working out, so that hasn’t changed. I am still attending most of my normal classes, dance rehearsals, and it’s been nice outside, so running is back on the table as an option! I am still trying to make everything homemade that I can: mayo, cashew milk, sauces and dressings – so I avoid any additives. I’m back to eating some dairy (although I always do this sparingly) as well as limited amounts of rice and pasta. I’m still avoiding processed food and sugars (aside from honey, dates, or pure maple syrup), and I’m trying to make all my meals instead of going out to eat (also helping with #3). This is basically how I normally eat, so it’s not much of a cleanse anymore.

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Oat milk latte, avocado toast with tomato and arugula

3. Bank Account

Alright my friends, this is a hard one for me! I am not great at saving and worse at planning. This month I created my first financial planning spreadsheet! I know, some of you are probably cringing. I am envious of you if you are!

I worked out, based on my regular costs (rent, utilities, student loans, etc.) and what I was hoping to pay off on my credit card, that I shouldn’t be spending more than around $180 a week. Ah! That is definitely a blow to my lifestyle. I LOVE meeting friends out for dinner or dance classes, planning weekends out of town, going to see shows. $180 is not a lot when all is said and done – especially when groceries alone were costing me $200!

At the start of this week, I was feeling pretty good. Now that I had opened up my eating options, I didn’t need to spend a lot of groceries. I didn’t have any big events to plan for. Things seemed ok!

But then, my only pair of work jeans ripped and my running sneakers finally met their end (these were the ones I wore for the marathon, so they really gave it their all!). So, within a day, another almost $200 gone on two items. This is going to be harder than I thought!

I’m spending less than I normally would. I have been taking public transit more than Ubers, and am definitely being more conscious of my food choices, but this is still tough. I’ve gone over my goal both weeks now!

4. Brain

There are two ways I’m working on cleansing my mind: through daily meditation and by decreasing my technology time. This has been going pretty well actually. I think it will only get easier as the weather continues to improve.

I’ve been using Headspace on my phone to guide my morning meditation. (I know this seems ironic, given that I’m trying to reduce technology…) Sometimes I really feel like I’m figuring it out. Other times, I fall asleep on my bedroom floor. Not kidding. Mornings are tough for me! Unless I’m going right into a workout, I am very very sleepy.

What I have found I like, though, is using the walking meditations they have on the app. My mom thinks this doesn’t really count – and, yeah, probably I should become more comfortable with stillness that isn’t sleep, but in the meantime, I like taking these walks and being guided through noticing more about my body and my surroundings. I do always feel more relaxed afterward.

My phone screen time is down 25%! I’ve been trying to focus more on reading and writing and working on puzzles with my roommate – all of which are typically more productive than scrolling through Instagram! I don’t watch very much TV as it is, but I’ve been trying to do it strategically when I do – not too late at night, and not when I could be doing something more productive (like organizing my books or going for a meditative walk!)

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Week One Summary:

There’s still a lot to do with my physical organization and my eating routines, but I’m making changes consistently. I’ll be continuing to work on this with the next few weeks and will keep sharing updates as I go!

 

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