As mentioned in my previous entry, I embarked on a four-week detox at the beginning of August. The program, called Clean, was designed by cardiologist Dr. Alejandro Junger and is detailed in his aptly-titled book “Clean.” The book itself is a good read and I recommend it even to those who have no intention of detoxing–it raises awareness about the many, many toxins people encounter in everyday life and provides simple suggestions for reducing that exposure.
The purpose of the detox is to restore health to the body’s digestive tract, which is often overloaded and rarely given the opportunity to do a full purge. Consequences of this can include bloating, weight gain, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression/anxiety, etc. While anyone doing this detox is certain to lose weight, the purpose of Clean is much bigger than that and, thus, the committment is, too.
The program is 21 days, but a suggested week of pre-detox brings the total to four weeks. For the first week, I eliminated all allergy-causing foods (dairy, wheat, peanuts, sugar, etc.) and ate from a list of approved food for all meals. Once the detox began, I used those same foods to make liquid breakfasts and dinners and ate solid meals for lunch (the book contains all the recipes needed for the detox). A variety of supplements complement the eating plan, along with some guidelines on maximizing the effects of the cleanse.
Today, I am starting my last week of Clean. The last three weeks have gone fairly smoothly, with one exception. The pre-detox week was actually the toughest because I broke my cravings and adjusted to the restricted menu. Fortunately, sugar is my main vice–I didn’t have to deal with caffeine or cocktail withdrawals. For the first few days of Clean, I was definitely hungry after my liquid dinner and wishing to snack, but that stopped by the middle of the first week. The biggest annoyance, honestly, was having to turn down lunch and dinner invites–lunch was too restrictive for most restaurants and my liquid dinner requirements made me a less than fun date.
Last Wednesday night, however, I temporarily lost my mind. I ate my dinner shake and was still absolutely starving afterward. I was consumed with thoughts of food and my efforts to fight it back failed. I sliced a cucumber and ate it in a fit of desperation, but it did nothing to appease me. I was also starting to feel very lethargic, which I chalked up to a calorie deficit. Finally, at about 9 p.m., I cracked. My husband and I raced to El Pollo Loco and we ended up splitting a combo meal. We each had a piece of grilled chicken (allowable in the restricted diet) and a side (a cheat–I had mac and cheese and my husband had Mexican rice). I felt so much better after eating that there was no guilt. Thursday I continued on as planned.
In the last three weeks, I’ve lost 20 lbs. I have no idea how much is water weight; that remains to be seen after I finish. I have experienced only minimal energy boosts, and though Dr. Junger suggests moderate exercise on Clean, I can’t imagine doing workouts with any regularity–I’m generally beat by the end of the day and have to drag myself out of bed in the morning. Maybe it would be a different story if I wasn’t working full-time, but walking my dogs is about all the exercise I’ve been able to handle. My allergies have not completely subsided, but that’s because I’m also allergic to my dogs and various plants.
So, I haven’t seen the drastic results described by some patients in the book, but I have seen some–enough that I would consider repeating this annually, as suggested by Dr. Junger. It certainly requires an extreme amount of will power: I sat in a corporate training event last week where pizza was ordered for lunch. It arrived a few minutes before the morning session ended, so I had to sit there with the smell of hot pizza wafting through the room for 10 minutes (it felt like an eternity!). When we finally broke, I literally sprinted from the room–had I stayed a moment longer, I would have eaten some.
One very nice thing about this detox is that I still get to eat regular food. So, while I may have to resist the temptation of pizza or cupcakes, I am still able to have a chicken breast and brown rice for lunch instead of a jar full of water and maple syrup (ala the Master Cleanse). That goes a long way to making the 21 days bearable. Another positive is that I’m never eating enough at one time to make myself completely full, and it’s really nice to be without that heavy feeling after eating, particularly after lunch.
I will post again about Clean once I’ve completed the program…and once I’ve had my first meal off the plan. I’m not yet sure what it will be, but it’s guaranteed to be good!