After a summer of eating everything in sight, eternal snacking and endless rounds of “okaaaay….just one last bite” I began to feel a bit… well, bloated around Labor Day. I had just returned from Las Vegas the weekend before, and had actually shamelessly consumed (rather inhaled) nachos by the pool for breakfast one day. Yes, this was my rock bottom. It was time to take a break.
I usually eat a pretty healthy diet. I am not a huge meat-eater, (although I can put down a rare steak with the best of them) and I can easily sustain on a diet of fresh veggies, fruits, fish and brown rice. However I do have a weakness for french fries…and cheese…and pho…and ramen…and food trucks. So many times I get off track.
I had heard positive things about the book Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger two years ago, and like many other books I genuinely wanted to read but didn’t make a priority, it just languished in my Amazon queue, next to the Ebelskiver cookbook and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Mineral. After meeting with a friend who also had done the cleanse and hearing the positive things she had to say, and with the Vegas-nachos-for-breakfast-by-the-pool incident still very fresh in my mind, I resolved to start the very next morning.
The cleanse is recommended for 21 days, but I am choosing to do it for only 15. Why? Because this is my first cleanse ever, so I think I can give myself a break, and more importantly, during days 16-21 I am going to Hawaii for a wedding and I’m not going to deny myself fruity alcoholic drinks with umbrellas, macadamia nuts, shaved ice, pork on a spit and possibly some spamtastic treats for a trip I’ve been looking forward to all year.
The essence of this cleanse is to naturally and gently allow your body’s digestive system to rest so that it can fight against and eliminate toxins in your body. The key words are naturally and gently. Which means no blackout-inducing crazy cayenne pepper, lemon juice and water concoction for a week straight, which is what people immediately assumed I was doing when I mentioned I was doing a cleanse. This cleanse is actually quite reasonable and, in my opinion, not too difficult to do.
Before I start, let me describe myself. I believe I am a smidgen above average on the healthy person barometer. I work out about 3 to 4 times per week if I’m lucky, eat regular meals, buy organic more than half the time, cook dinner about 3 to 4 times a week (a lot of fish and vegetables), but my one weakness is, of course, eating out. I absolutely love it. Korean, Indian, Mexican, Japanese , you name it and the possibilities are wonderfully endless in Los Angeles. I love trying new restaurants, and I could honestly eat out many, many times a week before getting tired of it.
I consider myself to have the diet of the average, 30-something health-conscious female living in LA. Before the cleanse, here were a sampling of my meals: Breakfast — usually Trader Joe’s Steel Cut Oatmeal with some added cinnamon. Weekends can be a wheat bagel or multi-grain pancakes with a possible bacon and hash brown appearance (did I mention that I love brunching?) Lunch — usually a salad, quinoa/pasta concoction or a tuna sandwich on wheat bread. Snack: Granola and yogurt, a banana, cherry tomatoes, edamame or veggie chips. Dinners at home would usually be brown rice bowls with salmon and avocados (my fav), or something thrown on the grill and then some veggies on the side. But that’s me cooking. Which doesn’t happen everyday. What happens in between can only be described as ugly. Fries, cheese plates, pastas, cheesesteaks (yes), oodles of noodles and lots of thin crust pizza. Oh and Jewish deli action (Langers to be exact). So, there is good. And then there is bad. And then there is the occasional really bad which this summer I just kept running into.
I’m definitely not overweight and am probably described as skinny or petite (size 2-4) but what many people don’t immediately realize is that hiding underneath my skinny jeans and leggings I honestly do have the gut of a fat man (or moderately pregnant woman). Partly hereditary I’m sure, but whatever the reason, I was never able to get rid of it. So the gut, the horrid-nachos-by-the-pool-incident, and the general feeling of heaviness and bloating were the collective catalyst for this call to action.
So here are the ground rules:
-exclusively eating foods from a prescribed list (which is actually quite long and probably encompasses a lot of what you actually eat already)
-liquids only for breakfast (smoothies and/or juice) and for dinner (soup and/or juice). Lunch is your only solid meal (food from the prescribed list)
-caffeine or alcohol is prohibited
-allowing 12 hours to lapse between dinner and breakfast without any snacking (water is okay)
-drinking enough water so that you are going to the bathroom hourly
-ensuring there is at least one BM (bowel movement) a day, which means a fiber rich diet (enter supplements) or (herbal laxatives should the need arise and you need to bring the big guns out)
-snacking is okay during the day but not after dinner
-specific supplements are recommended, but I decided to not buy the pricey ones suggested and just use/purchase my own regimen.
The supposed result? A better, rejuvenated version of you. The cleanse, which is not centered around weight loss, is more about ridding the body of toxins which in addition to contributing to you feeling rejuvenated, younger and healthier, also should help with headaches, acne, depression, insomnia, and allergies should those be a problem. The book is very good about explaining why the digestive system needs a break in today’s society, and the amazing things it can achieve in your body once it has the opportunity. Not to mention that it’s an interesting read as well. I highly recommend.
Next, an exciting account of Week 1.
Oh, and I have no idea what to expect, so help me God. Something tells me that the next two weeks will be a definite nacho-free existence though.