July 18, 2011 § 3 Comments
Week one of the Clean cleanse was a pretty good week all in all. Overall, I feel like I’m just a little lighter. I don’t know that I feel a major, drastic change at this point. I think part of it might be that I wasn’t really run down or stressed when I started. I was basically just doing some serious Summer eating and drinking. I think I’m also lucky I live in Boulder because it’s hard not to be even somewhat healthy here; you’re surrounded by healthy people. I imagine working 80 hour weeks in NYC or LA could make the cleanse a bit more difficult.
Weight loss: Overall I lost 4 lbs in a week. I’m pretty happy with that. I don’t know that I want to lose more weight at this point. The indicator I am interested in though is body fat %. I lost a little bit there as well due to how much exercise I was getting this week. I am right at 23% which falls in the fitness level. Not sure I will be making it in the athletes category, but I’ll take fitness!
Exercise: Another benefit of the cleanse is that you’re not weighing your body down with digestion, so you actually feel lighter to go and get exercise. I was worried that I would be getting too hungry to exercise but after a couple of days I was really pretty full. I even stopped doing the snacks in the afternoon because I wasn’t hungry. I felt myself wanting to get out and burn off some energy instead of eating. This is a big deal for me. I rarely ever feel that way. It is always more fun to want to do something than to feel obligated to do it. The cleanse has helped me get pretty close to my goal from a couple weeks ago of swimming a mile. I expect to hit it this week or next.
Social life: I still have the same amount of friends. No losses there. I do think the cleanse puts a damper on hanging out on the weekends, at least in the evenings. I ended up doing things during the day with people instead. It’s easy to just hit the default of going out to dinner and drinking some wine on the weekends. I think a good thing about the cleanse is it gets you to mix it up. Miniature golf & go-karts, camping, movies…there are lots of other things to do.
I do think you have to be smart about when you decide to do the cleanse. It can be hard to fit 21 consecutive days in anytime of year without missing out on some important occasion. In my case I didn’t calculate that our anniversary is falling in the 21 days. It’s 2 days before I finish. I’m going to cut the cleanse short that weekend and pick up more days the following week to compensate.
For people who really don’t like dieting because they can see their life stretch on into “can’t have this” or “can’t have that”, I think a cleanse is a really good thing. You know you only have to make it for 3 weeks. More than losing pounds or anything else, it gets you to just look at what you’re eating and why. To me, this is much more valuable than a diet. It gives you more of a choice that involves your total health rather than just trimming your waistline.
Ready for week 2…
July 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Energy is one of those words that can quickly go from a utilitarian turns-the-lights-on context to New Age eye rolling territory. I don’t know what it is but when people start talking about their energy in a more spiritual sense that way, I usually feel myself turning away. I just want some of the stuff that gets you going. Today, Day 5, I woke up with energy and lots of it.
Normally I spend Saturday mornings lounging around with a cup of coffee and a good book, or from time to time, sleeping off a hangover. This morning I woke up without an alarm at 7:30 and instead of the normal routine I got up, made a delicious green smoothie and went on a hike near my house. It was a beautiful morning to be out & I especially enjoyed all the wildflowers in bloom.
I know I haven’t always been the healthiest person based on what I eat and drink. I’ve never wanted to live by depriving myself of good food and drink. What the cleanse is showing me first-hand is the effect of my habits on my day-to-day energy level. When I was working all the time in LA I would often blame the stress of the job for never feeling like I had any energy. It wasn’t the 2 cups of coffee that was my breakfast or the free sandwiches (meant to keep everyone working) and brownies I’d eat or the wine I would consume to unwind at the end of the day. Ok, I still blame the work environment a good bit, but to be fair I contributed as well.
The thing you learn in the cleanse is that when you eat and drink that way your body spends a good amount of time and energy trying to manage what you’re putting in vs giving you energy to do other things with. It needs the energy for itself at that point. It’s like when you’re running the vacuum or some other appliance that sucks energy and you notice it dims the lights because the energy is going towards the one appliance. In the case of my body it’s like I’m running the vacuum all the time and never giving my body a break to put energy elsewhere.
After 5 days on the cleanse (no caffeine, sugar, alcohol) I feel less dim. Before it wasn’t just that I mentally didn’t feel like getting out and doing anything, my body didn’t really either because it was always in recovery mode. After 5 days of giving my body a break, I woke up with an almost child-like feeling of being ready to go and get some energy out.
Does this mean I will no longer have coffee or sugar or alcohol? Um, not a chance. I am, however, seeing even after 5 days how good it can be to give your body a break, turn off the vacuum, and get your energy going again.
July 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
I think yesterday my body knew something was up and I woke up in a bit of a bad mood knowing another day of Clean was in store. I was expecting a little rebellion despite my best attempts at a positive attitude. Funny enough I felt a little like a 2 year old where I was grumpy but I couldn’t really say why. I wasn’t really hungry surprisingly so it wasn’t that. I think my body just sensed something was afoot and might not be too happy about going off the gluttonous lifestyle it had become accustomed to. Where is my fresh roasted coffee in the morning? What happened to the homemade ice cream? Where did the refreshing glass of wine in the evening run off to?
I did the only thing I could do with a 2 year old version of myself on my hands. I distracted myself. First I went on a walk with a friend at lunch time and then in the late afternoon I went and swam my laps as I continue to work up to a mile. In the same way a child is appeased with a treat or toy, my body seemed to get in line with this whole thing by the end of the day. I felt pretty good!
Today I got my first taste of how I can still eat out with a friend and have a great meal. We went to Arabesque in Boulder which my friend Alicia turned me onto. They have an amazing chicken shawarma plate that minus bread and yogurt still fits with the Clean diet. I also had a delicious green iced tea. Who is this person eating so healthy?
I will be eating that chicken shawarma at least once a week from this point on. If not twice during the cleanse. Let’s hope my self-parenting tactics also hold up.
July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Expectations: I’m always skeptical of dieting and quick cleanses, so I was a little skeptical going into this as well but I’ve been reading Junger’s book, Clean, and he presents a pretty strong case. He often bases it on his own personal experience that I can relate to. Beaten down by bad eating habits, stress and just not having time to take care of himself, his health eventually led to prescriptions for depression and chest pain. He didn’t want to live life on medication vs exploring what else could change.
I’m impressed with how much he’s done to glean insights from all different cultures, both modern and traditional. The 21 day cleanse he landed on is all about giving the body a break so it can restore its natural ability to “defend, repair, heal, and even rejuvenate itself.”
There are a few benefits described in the book that I’m most interested in.
1 – He claims you will have significantly more energy because your body won’t be spending so much time managing its toxicity level.
2 – Your skin will dramatically improve. He cites case after case of people being told they look significantly younger and that their skin looks healthier. I’m not vain, but sounds pretty compelling to me!
3 – I’d like to drop 5 lbs. Since moving to Boulder I’ve already shed a few pounds I gained in LA (most likely from Mexican food and a stressful job), but I’d like to lose a few more to just feel lighter. In reading about body fat %, I actually fall in the range of fitness (surprising to me), so I’m ok there but hope to lose a few % points as well.
So far so good: I had a good start to the day. I think the smoothies are the easy part. You can either keep it simple or you can make something more interesting with one of the many smoothie & juice recipes they give you. In addition you take supplements that aid in digestion. I was a little nervous about this since I’ve never even been able to take multivitamins without having getting nauseated. So far so good. I didn’t feel any shock to my system.
Danger! : They tell you to have food on hand to make it as easy as possible and this was the one thing I wasn’t prepared for. My meeting inevitably went way over and I found myself close to 1:00 with no food to come home to in the fridge. I was “starving” at that point and rather than deal with Whole Foods I picked up a salad from Wendy’s. I’ve been working on a fast food job, so I was kind of interested to see if their fresh salad option was worthy of cleanse food. It doesn’t fall into the organic category and I couldn’t eat a few things on it but overall it was ok. Not a strong way to start though.
I’m realizing I need to take it seriously having food on hand. After lunch I made my way over to the store and am covered for the next few days.
July 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
When I did yoga week one of the things I learned is that for every stretch it’s good to have a counter stretch to keep your stretching in balance. I am going to look at starting a cleanse as a counter stretch to all of the great bread, home roasted coffee, wine, booze and most recently homemade ice cream I’ve been enjoying over the last 6 months of this project.
I’ve never been that into dieting and I remember when my friend Wendy recently did the Clean cleanse (the Paltrow cleanse if you will) I was teasing her that cleanses are the re-branding of dieting. I’ve never been one to give up the food & drink I enjoy. Life without chocolate, coffee, wine, cheese and bacon is really not worth living.
New York cardiologist Alejandro Junger’s Clean cleanse keeps popping up and beckoning me to give it a try. My sister and her husband were its most recent victims, I mean converts. They swear by it and besides the pounds dropped, they talk more about the amount of energy they have. That’s what got me listening. As I read more about it how good people felt seemed to be a common trend. Rather than the crash diet approach to many cleanses this one seeks to eliminate bad eating and the resulting toxins that have built up. You still get to eat quite a lot for a cleanse. The best part is that it is heavily smoothie based (one for breakfast, one for dinner) and especially in the Summer I love me some smoothies. The side benefit of Clean I’m excited about is that my kitchen will require a lot less attention.
I read an article from Outdoor magazine that sums up what I expect to get out of this. Christopher Keyes, the writer, was a pretty skeptical guy to say the least going in. I like how he documented how the weeks went by and I can see myself having similar experiences. He describes at one point sprinting up the stairs to his house like he was back in high school.
My cleanse will officially start tomorrow as I’m expecting my cleanse package to arrive today. I’m savoring my last sips of caffeine for the next 3 weeks as I write this. Technically you’re supposed to do a pre-cleanse elimination, but 21 days is about the most I’m willing to commit to right now.
Wish me luck.