So what makes the Conscious Cleanse different than other cleanses? According to co-founders Jo Schaalman and Jules Palaez, it’s about teaching yourself to make informed decisions and recognizing that every single action you take throughout the day is a choice, and that every choice has an outcome. If you simply revert to your old habits, you’ll just as simply revert to your old way of feeling.

The cleanse is not about starving yourself and just drinking lemon water for days on end, it’s about opening your mind (and your mouth) to incorporating fresh, healthy, mostly raw foods into your diet and treating your body to all of the nutrients and goodness that they provide. And after the cleanse, the lesson is to find balance and fulfillment to live your best life and stay conscious of your choices.

My 14 days of following the Conscious Cleanse have wrapped up and I have come away with a number of experiences and observations. The biggest eye-opener has been re-introducing foods that were not part of the cleanse, things like sugar, dairy, gluten and alcohol. According to Jo and Jules, the re-introduction phase is the “crux” of the cleanse where participants work to maintain what they achieved and more closely observe the affects of different foods on our bodies. By taking certain foods and ingredients out and then slowly re-introducing, participants like me are starting from a “clean slate” and observing if any of the re-introduced foods affect us in any kind of negative way. If they do, there is a chance we may have an allergy or sensitivity.

According to Jo, 90 percent of Americans suffer from some kind of allergy that they don’t even know about. So the Conscious Cleanse is a way to narrow those down and find healthy substitutions where possible. And how do we know if we have an allergy or sensitivity? Signs include stomach discomfort, diarrhea, anxiety, mood swings, a stuffy nose, even depression.

I personally have experienced semi-negative reactions to dairy, mostly with my stomach telling me to eat less. Too much gluten might not be my friend, either. I’m guessing it’s that delicious veggie pizza I ate as soon as the cleanse ended, which was too much, too soon. I was just craving it so badly! So I’m backing off a bit and following Jo and Jules’ advice to take it slow and simple with food re-introduction.

Other positive results from the cleanse: I have an increased appreciation of fruits and green veggies combined in smoothies, and the worth of taking time to make yummy, healthy salads for lunch versus too much grab-and-go. The end result is that after I drink a smoothie or eat a salad, I’m smiling and feeling energetic. Now that’s positive!

As a follow-up to the cleanse, Jo and Jules are offering the 80:20 Plan for people like me to continue our healthy journey. I’ve signed up and am excited to be a part of the entire Conscious Cleanse community and to continue this journey.

The next 14-day cleanses are coming up September 7 and November 2. Learn more at consciouscleanse.com.