Short version: I’m glad I did it. Parts of it really sucked. I definitely felt better. That kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable, but I think parts of it are. Sherlock sums up my feelings about it pretty adequately.
Fair warning, I have a lot of feelings about this experience.
I’ll admit, when I first agreed to do this thing, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I even went to the seminar, and all that Anna talked about was the different tenets of ayurveda and the “forbidden foods.” There wasn’t anything mentioned about teas, or ghee, or castor oil. So I signed up. To say I was a little bit shocked/scared when I got my instructions is an understatement.
I was committed though. If I’m anything, I’m stubborn, and I knew I could do anything for 10 days. Hell, people hang by their thumbs for ten days. As I mentioned in my Lent post yesterday, I had gotten lazy about eating and drinking at the beginning of the year, and I could definitely tell. After steadily losing weight for a year, I had pretty much stalled out at 39 pounds beginning in late January. I know that part of this was due to a lack of hard cardio, but a big part of it was what I was eating. I figured this would be a nice “jump start” to get my off my plateau and reset my eating habits.
I was right about that. I lost about 5 pounds on the cleanse, and I’ve kept them off in the week since it ended, leading me to believe that its real weight, not just water weight. I think part of this was due to the fact that I ate “real food” on it, not just drinking juice* or doing the Beyonce cleanse. On average, I ate about 1400 – 1500 calories a day, which is pretty average for me during this whole weight loss thing. I never felt hungry or deprived.
When I say I wasn’t deprived, I don’t mean to imply that it was easy to come up with things to eat. When you cut out a lot of staples, its obviously not going to be easy to plan food. I basically ate the same thing every day, as you can see from my daily diaries. Lots of roasted veggies, baked chicken, and eggs. Not that there is anything wrong with that — and to be fair, it is similar to how I eat by choice — but there was something about having to eat it, as opposed to choosing to eat it. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but that’s how I feel. Its way easier to choose to do something than to be required to do something.
One of the other things that happened was my social life basically was put on pause. Intellectually, I knew that I could find things to eat in restaurants — and I even did one day — but it was hard. It wasn’t fun to go and have to order side dishes or ask about all the ingredients or explain just why I was eating with all these restrictions. Similarly, it isn’t fun to go out and be the only sober person. Yes, I can have fun without drinking, and drinking isn’t all that I do with my friends; it just isn’t fun to be the only one that isn’t.
There were other unpleasant parts of the cleanse — the clarified butter cocktail on Saturday and vomming castor oil come to mind immediately. I also didn’t really understand why I did some of the hippie stuff, like the oil pulling and the oil before the shower. I mean, I did it (when I remembered), but I don’t think it made a difference. I could be wrong, though.
I really liked the way I felt on the cleanse, however. My GI system was way happier with me, which makes sense. It was free of most allergens. Amazing that my body felt better when I wasn’t putting anything “harmful” in it.
I have known for a long time that I have issues with lactose, and so I try to eat dairy sparingly. I drink my coffee black, and I’m not a fan of milk in general; the only dairy I really have is cheese and Greek yogurt. Subbing coconut milk for Greek yogurt in my breakfast frittata didn’t make a change in the taste (if anything, it made it fluffier); one of my big takeaways from this whole thing is that coconut milk is a revelation. Cheese is a big issue for me. I love cheese, but cheese doesn’t love me. I try to limit my intake, but its hard because its on everything that tastes good. However, not eating it for ten days just really reinforced how much better I feel without it. I’m going to try to continue to eat it sparingly and mindfully. If I’m going to eat it, I want to taste it. This means (at least for me) not on a sandwich or on a chipotle salad, but a fancy cheese plate at a restaurant or on pizza.
One of the big “diet trends” right now is gluten intolerance. I have friends that have full-blown celiac disease, and I have friends that use “going gluten free” as an excuse to avoid carbs and lose weight. I try not to eat a lot of refined carbs to begin with, but I sometimes like toast with PB and bananas (all of those weren’t allowed though) or pizza crust or waffles. Again, its like lactose — something I eat in moderation and try to “save” for special occasions. So, here’s my issue with gluten – I don’t know if I felt better because I wasn’t eating gluten, I wasn’t eating gluten and lactose, or if I wasn’t eating lactose. I’d be interested to try a “gluten-only” trial — not eating it for a week or so, and then gradually reintroducing it, just to see how I feel. I don’t plan on giving up gluten completely, but I know a lot of people have an intolerance, and since my gut is unhappy with me a fair amount of the time, I could, too. Its something that I think I’ll do in the next few weeks, before wedding season starts, and I lose all control of what I eat several days a week.
The last big thing that I didn’t eat was sugar. I say all the time that I’m not a sweets person, but I think I was lying to myself. I don’t eat a ton of sugar on a daily basis, but I had gotten into the habit of picking up a cookie at the end of a long day or having a Hershey’s miniature one or two times a day. My mother is actually not a sweets person, and she says that chocolate makes her break out; I think that I’m the same. I’ve had some chocolate — and a few moon pies, duh — and my skin isn’t nearly as clear as it was before when I wasn’t eating sugar. Again, who would have thought? I’d like to make sugar “count” — I think that’s the theme of what I learned — and not eat it mindlessly.
Nightshades, I’m completely fine with reintegrating. Same with caffeine. I wasn’t as tired as I thought I’d be without coffee, but since I drink it black and it has some pretty awesome health benefits, I’m going to continue that. I’m down to one cup a day, and I’m going to try and stick to that for a while.
So, if you’ve made it down this far, congratulations. The big lesson that I’m taking from this is that I need to be more mindful in my eating, and I need to listen to my body when it lets me know it doesn’t tolerate something well. There is nothing wrong with eating cheese, or gluten, or sugar, but I need to be conscious of what I’m eating. I know this is fairly obvious, but it was something that had fallen by the wayside in the last few months. I’m really close to hitting that big weight goal (well, not that close, but its definitely within reach), and the cleanse got me excited about working towards that again.
*I’m curious about juice cleanses, and I have friends that do them, but I think I’d lose my mind if I couldn’t chew something for three days.