Sheri Salata
The Cleanse
When Oprah gathered [The VCTs] together and said "Let's do Kathy Freston's Cleanse" I was ready to challenge myself. What Kathy says makes so much sense to me. You can't be spiritually conscious and still eat unconsciously. You just can't. You are completely out of alignment if you are producing the A New Earth webcasts on Oprah.com each week and snarfing down gobs of pizza and recharging your nervous system with an endless stream of Venti Lattes.

Growing up in the Midwest as I did, there was nary a meal when some sort of meat, cheese or other dairy item wasn't on the menu. I tried tofu once years ago without the proper knowledge of how to work with it. It tasted like a blob of white tasteless jello. Ick! No thank you. So three weeks without meat, animal products, dairy, gluten, sugar and caffeine was a radical departure from my normal fare.

In my case, the cleanse would also require completely giving up the quarts of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi I would drink throughout the day at my desk, and replacing them with water or some combo of water and sparkling water—I certainly wasn't too excited about that. Also, no coffee (I did drink decaf however),and—Egads!—no Splenda or other fake sugar. And the true test—no more nightcaps of crisp chardonnay after a long day. I agreed to do it though...mostly because I knew our little vegan group led by Oprah would have fun together walking this road. We would laugh a lot and support each other through it.

The lifesaver for our little cleanse gang turned out to be Tal, the vegan chef that Kathy Freston sent to our aid. Tal cooked for us for two weeks. I know, I know, sounds "La De Dah"; and much easier than you at home will have it. But, let me just say all of his great recipes are on Oprah.com for you—and we taste tested each one. Trust me—this food is good and if you follow his recipes you can have the same experience that we did. He can teach you how to make tofu taste like eggs and seitan (soy protein) taste like beef. For real. And let me say that it really helps to have some variety. You can't get through this eating lettuce, carrots and celery. And that really isn't the point.

In the end the 21 days were not difficult even though we were still in the thick of producing our daily shows. We even did it through the Cher and Tina Turner taping in Las Vegas (free buffet and cocktail capital of the country). We did it when we were tired and for the most part we embraced it and allowed the cleanse to do its work.

And here's what I know for sure now. Water with a little lemon is quite nice as the sipping liquid throughout the day. And meat is an accent food...not the whole feast. I can see now that a healthy and filling salad need not be piled high with three kinds of shredded cheese and chopped turkey to be really satisfying. And a little olive oil and some vinegar are perfectly lovely as a fresh and tasty salad dressing.

How did I feel during the cleanse? Lighter—with a bit more energy (less groggy in the morning sans the evening Chardonnay) and that good feeling of well-being you get when you take a little better care of yourself. So many of us are looking for more peace in our lives and I have to say it's amazing how removing caffeine and sugar from your life can get you moving in the right direction.

Kathy Freston says you can "lean into" these ideas. That's what I am going to take with me. A good solid "lean" to a more nurturing, loving way of treating myself day to day.

— Sheri

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