Week 2 of the cleanse continues. I’m totally feeling this. I have developed a rhythm, feel great and like a health-obsessed junkie, I want more.
Day 8: Since week 1 came and went without a hitch, I choose to now step out of my comfort zone and take it up a notch. I decide to pimp out my morning smoothie and add chia seeds, psyllium, spinach and coconut water (in addition to the almond milk, frozen blueberries, pineapple, flaxseed and almond butter). What? Chia pets and silly-um? I had no idea what these things were before I embarked on the cleanse, so here’s a little 411 on them if you’re curious.
Yep, the same seeds which produce the lovely ch-ch-ch-chia pets are also a superfood. Seeds rich in omega-3′s and dietary fiber, they also possess a ton of antioxidants (more than flaxseed) and calcium and are relatively tasteless. They are kosher, gluten-free, raw, and vegan. You can throw it in your oatmeal, bake with it, or put a few tablespoons in your morning smoothie like I do. This was a staple food for Aztecs and Mayans (“chia” means “strong” in the Mayan language) and was used in times of conquests and war and given to their messengers who would run around and give people their FedEx packages and such without ever getting tired. This part I love: I read somewhere that an Aztec could subside for 24 hours just on these seeds alone. I flirted with the notion of putting a bunch in my pocket one day, à la Napoleon Dynamite and his tater tots to see if that was really true, but quickly dismissed that idea. Good thinking.
Psyllium seed husks are indigestible and therefore often used when there’s trouble, uh…downstairs (herbal laxative). Psyllium is available in many forms (powder form shown here), is extremely rich in fiber (36% fiber per every 2 tablespoons in the Trader Joe’s brand) and is super cheap, (added bonus – $5.99 for a large tub). As mentioned, psyllium is not digested in the system, but rather absorbs water (which is why it is crucial you drink a ton of water if you are taking it) and basically scrapes your insides and flushes you out. That’s a nice little image there, right? Psyllium is usually taken mixed in a glass of water, but I just couldn’t bear that idea, so I just put a few tablespoons in my morning smoothie instead, and drank a glass of water afterwards.
Since both chia seeds and psyllium absorb liquids, they act as thickening agents. This was definitely the case with my smoothie which I found kind of gross. Ten minutes of unattended smoothie was like purple glue. The end result was me chugging my smoothie quickly before it would become a gummy mess. But I found it was a tasteless and easy way to add a ton more omega 3′s and fiber to my diet which I believe is crucial in a cleanse. (Side note: one should research both chia seeds and psyllium (as any dietary supplements) before using them, as there could be side effects, etc. for certain people).
In addition to chia seeds and psyllium, I also added spinach and coconut juice. When seeing that video where the annoying smiling guy added it to his smoothie, I thought for sure blueberry and spinach would result in vomit, but to my surprise I could not taste a trace of the spinach. Score. I never knew it would be so easy to get this many nutrients in my system before 10 a.m. I don’t really like the taste of coconut juice (does anyone else think it tastes like watered down Guinness?) but have been curious about its health benefits such as potassium, antioxidents and other benefits so I started throwing it in there.
Pimped out smoothie complete, I now turn to my supplements and my lowly multi-vitamin. I decide to also start taking garlic pills, flaxseed pills, fish oil pills twice daily, washed down once with my smoothie and again with dinner. Vitalized and fiber-ized, I have high hopes for this week.
Day 9: I am so thirsty. It’s like my body has gotten used to drinking water hourly and if I don’t hydrate, I start getting cotton mouth immediately. Or it could be the excessive liquid absorbing supplements I am pumping into my system. Hmmm. Whatever it is, the more water the better I suppose. I treat myself to some hydration accoutrement so I can better hydrate…in style.
Day 10: I meet up with my parents. They say they are starving and would it okay if we got some pho? Pho? My beloved Vietnamese soup noodles? Don’t they know that I’m cleansing? So cruel. I agree to sit with them and glumly whip out, yes my mini-cooler, and drink my smoothie so I could have mypreciousImeansolidfood for dinner later. The fragrant aroma of the beef broth wafts into my nose. I look around. Everyone in the place is slurping away, quite possibly louder than usual. This totally sucks.
To make up for it, I take my parents out to dinner to the new-ish Japanese vegan restaurant Shojin in my neighborhood (Arts District in Los Angeles). I have been curious about it for some time and what better time to try it than now? Once we arrive at the door, my father tries to escape to the restaurant next door, but after some serious coaxing from my mother, we are all now seated and ready to eat. We open the menu in unison, my stomach growling. Vegan sushi. My parents are silent. I order a kale salad and mushroom soup and start to dig in, excited. It’s not bad at all. The Japanese menu is a bit prohibitive for me with the soy and tofu but I manage to find a few dishes I can eat and am totally enjoying my meal. I glance over at my parents who ordered an “eel and avocado roll” and a “rainbow roll” which is really un-delicate, un-buttery tempeh (or tofu, depending on which roll) over rice instead of delicate, buttery raw fish over rice. My mother has her polite face on and my dad refuses to talk to me during the meal. Oh well, I tried.
Day 11: The clock is ticking. Only four more days left! I am actually sad, wishing I could do the entire 21 days to see how radically different I feel…and to see if I can lose some damn weight. Though I am feeling uber-clean, I haven’t really lost any poundage and am starting to wonder why. I read some of the Clean discussion boards and stop short when it says “if you want to lose some weight, perhaps ease up on the nuts as they are extremely high in fat.” Wait. I have literally been throwing handfuls of almonds down my throat daily, instead of just a handful. Oops.
Day 12: I have made some interesting discoveries (and recipes) along the way that I shall carry with me all the days of my life. Brown rice pasta? Delicious. Brown rice cereal? Disgusting. Gluten-free soy sauce (tamari) is pretty tasty and will always be in my cupboard. You can make a delicious soap base with just sautéed garlic, onions, herbs, salt and water. Lemon and/or lime add an amazing amount of flavor to everything. Feel like going to a spa? Just add some cucumber, ginger, lemon and lime to your water bottle and be transported away. Also, I can’t get enough of black bean soup, which is super filling and the equivalent of a liquid “Double-Double” which I would reserve for nights when I would feel especially hungry. I marvel at how easily these foods are to clean from the dishes, they literally just slide off with minimal effort and soap. I envision the same thing happening internally with my digestive system.
Day 13-15: Sensing the end is near, I grow contemplative about the cleanse. I step on the scale as I have been doing daily (even though this is not recommended) and am pretty happy to see it reads four pounds lighter. Regardless of weight loss or not, I resolve to do this every 6 months or so, as general internal housecleaning. It has a been a greatly rewarding experience – one where I have learned so much about my body, my surroundings and about nutrition in general. I start to make some lifestyle changes to lessen the amount of toxins in my daily life which include buying detergent, soap, lotions and even toothpaste without harsh chemicals and greatly evaluating every single thing I put into my body. I resolve to still drink those daily breakfast smoothies, continue taking the daily supplements, observe the 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast at least half of the week (can’t promise anything on the weekends guys), remember to never leave the house without a bottle of water, and hell why not, even continue wearing this damn retainer. I am not swearing off junk food, nor will I be sticking to a diet free of gluten, dairy, wheat, caffeine and refined sugars (I would seriously have no friends left). Every so often though I will remember to clean out the cupboards before choosing to stock up again.
Hey, Trusty Blender that I Knew We Put on our Wedding Registry for a Reason and Super Cool as in Temperature Only Mini-Cooler — it’s been a wild ride and I will always be reminded of these last 15 days and what a memorable experience it was whenever we’re together. So long. See you in six months!