March 24, 2013

Time for Spring Cleaning: My 21-Day Detox

Now that I'm at the end of a three-week cleanse of which has included the elimination of sugar, wheat, meat, dairy, and processed food, and the addition of a heavy dose of vegetables, fruit, and beans, nuts and seeds, I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in a very long time.  If I was an absolutist (which I’m not), I might even say I feel the best I’ve ever felt.  Aside from the bevy of physical benefits, including things like improved digestion, clearer skin, and increased energy, perhaps the most unexpected side effect has been an improvement in my mental state.

My cleanse was inspired by Kris Carr’s 21-day detox, with some components of Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live six-week plan.  Because I’m so active and didn’t have a goal of losing weight, Dr. Fuhrman’s plan felt too restrictive for me; however, I did borrow the premise of eating a large salad once a day from his approach.  Nearly two years ago I had tried Carr’s detox plan, but at the time I was eating a diet heavy in dairy (ice cream three times per week?  Yeah, that was me) and a moderate amount of meat, it felt so restrictive I lasted only three days before I gave up. 

Since watching Forks Over Knives about a year ago and learning about the implications of a diet heavy in animal products, I’ve cut back my intake of meat and dairy significantly, and so the detox, which included the elimination of dairy and meat, didn’t feel restrictive to me the second time around at all; in fact, I felt like there were so many great options to choose from that I very seldom felt hungry because I could eat as much as I wanted so long as I made the right choices.  Though I will say, however, that when your diet consists mainly of vegetables, fruit, green juices, and beans and nuts you get hungry quick.  And by "hungry quick" what I mean is that you run the risk of getting HANGRY,  which is why having the right food on hand at all times has been a must. 
There was a time during the first few days of the cleanse that I was caught at work late stranded without any food and my only choice was to jump in my car and drive to the grocery store to pick up some produce.  On another night I might be tempted to run to the convenience store a block down from my office and buy a bag of Doritos because hey, I’m working late and what else do you crave when you're starving and in a bind?

Perhaps the ironically wonderful thing about a cleanse is that it limits your choices, thereby enabling you a sense of freedom, because sometimes choosing and having to make decisions can wreak havoc on willpower and therefore be kind of stressful.  While I had to do lots of food preparation for the week, I was surprised to learn that I was left with energy to focus on other things beyond obsessing about food.  This was likely because the decision about what to eat was pretty much already made for me.

Before the cleanse, I hadn’t realized how many mornings I was waking up in a dreary fog until I began to rise feeling instantly happy and chipper, despite having a tall, dark sky as a companion during my AM workout.  While I am not by nature a grumpy or sad person, it hadn’t occurred to me the fog that I was in.  Whether due to a diet heavy in grains and sugar preceding the cleanse or letting go of the “food noise” during the cleanse, who knows, but I welcomed the mood boost as an unexpected surprise, which has benefitted me in ways I never imagined.

Now with the 21st day drawing near, I can’t say that I haven’t craved pizza and chocolate cake (of which I didn’t even have at my own birthday party last weekend!) in the past few weeks, but I do feel empowered by being able to undertake a challenge that I never thought was possible for me.  And while the detox was no more a cleanse than just eating extremely healthy, it is yet another phase in my wellness journey.  For example,  I never thought I could go a single day without a nighttime snack of dark chocolate or popcorn, and I've realized I could!  I will likely reintroduce them into my diet in moderation, but I’ve learned that a sweet potato is a much better nightcap than chocolate.  I swear to you, it really is! 

1 comment:

Cheri said...
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