Today marks the last day of my seven-day cleanse. That’s right, in my zest and zeal for the New Year, my friend Michelle and I undertook cleansing our bodies of impurities and kick-starting our weight loss.
How did this begin? Quite simply, really. I’m a rampant skeptic by nature and have never gone for these sort of “fasts” or “detox diets” (Skeptic…or I like food too much). But as we were sitting around post-Christmas, my dear friend Michelle brought up this idea and I suggested I could do it with her. I wasn’t sure I was serious or not until my mother rolled her eyes and my own boyfriend laughed at me.
I left it to Michelle’s expertise and she came back with “Cleanse-pocaplse” – fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning with whey protein, brown rice and veg with protein for lunch, fruit and veg for snacks, then brown rice and veg for dinner. And the kicker – “No: sugar, alcohol, gluten, unnecessary starch (potatoes), added salt, added fat, food after 8pm or anything remotely fun. Oh and no caffeine.” And workout of course, sweating is important.
Painful. But honestly, food has always been my greatest weakness. Now, it’s my greatest test of will.
Day One – I already want to punch brown rice in the face, sad to see it’s not possible.
Day Two – My whole body hurts. I yearn for caffeine and salt. Try having stir fry for four straight meals with no soy sauce – no sauce at all. The blandness!
Day Three – My sadistic editor brings in delicious chocolates to share with the office. Jerk. I am dismayed that after two whole days of diet and exercise I haven’t lost a single pound. Imagine that.
Day Four – It’s the weekend, and I realize how limited my life is without eating out or drinking. Living large New York style, it’s a night in with my good pal Netflix. I am just constantly exhausted at this point. I dream of burgers.
Day Five – Now every time I see food on TV or a billboard, I insist on having it Wednesday no matter how gross. That has so far consisted of a 7-11 donut, a White Castle burger, Starbucks coffee, a Taco Bell burrito and Hooters hot wings. Should make for an interesting meal.
Day Six – Home stretch and things are looking up. Out of nowhere, I feel amazing. I’m not tired or cranky, just full of good feelings. Except toward brown rice – it can go straight to hell for all I care.
Day Seven – Good feelings persist and I have a productive day of job-searching and finally take down the Christmas decorations. I celebrate the last day of fascist eating by ordering out to our favorite gluten-free restaurant for more of – you guessed it – brown rice and vegetables. Good feelings growing knowing I’ll get to eat disgusting food in less than 24 hours.
With just a few hours left, I call this a win.
My reflections on all this? It’s kind of crap. Sure, I feel pretty good, and my clothes fit better (David was kind enough to say I look less “wobbly”). Apparently that’s what happens when you eat healthy food and exercise.
As for the whole “cleanse” idea? Celebrities seem pretty keen on it, and they seem to know what’s what. The whole idea is to detox or cleanse the body of toxins and harmful things through restrictive diet and sweating it out (you don’t have to even exercise, you can just steam). There is a very successful industry based around this very notion.
However, doctors are not sold on the idea (I’m sorry Oprah!). As Dr. Paul Illing, chartered scientist and registered toxicologist, wrote in Sense About Science: Detox Diets:
“Detox diets and products may not do harm, except, perhaps, to your wallet, but neither do they do you much good. Your natural bodily functions are effective at clearing out harmful substances and there is little you can do to enhance these.”
While what I did was much more sensible than most cleanse or detox diets out there, the whole underlying idea is still no good. You can’t really cleanse your body, just eat well enough, exercise and drink plenty of water, the only real cleanser for your body. It’s lovely to think you can purify your system, but at the end of the day, it’s really just a marketing gimmick.
Still, I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve started off the year right and got my resolution going, even if it was based on crap science. I accomplished something that seemed impossible. Told you I could, mom.
What have I learned from this? If I really wanted to lose weight, I would drive myself crazy with total denial and it would lead to ultimate failure.
Eating healthy is great, but chocolate is better.