Day 6. I've been cleansing for six days now, and I'm pretty proud of myself. I've attempted many cleanses in the past, and the best I've done has been around four days. This time is different in a lot of ways though, and I think I owe my success to the differences.
1. I'm eating. Normally cleanses involve drastic calorie reduction, almost by necessity. Some eschew solids altogether, and with those my success rate hasn't broken the 24-hr mark. I'm not that guy. Others allow more reasonable amounts of food, but are so specific in their ingredients and timing that make sticking to it completely is unrealistic. And you know what that means. "Oh, I didn't get home in time to have my 2 tbsp of almonds…guess I'm going to have to settle for this chocolate croissant. Can't be helped." With this I'm eating whenever I'm hungry, I'm just making sure that I'm selecting from a narrow range of foods. Whatever fruits and vegetables I want, fish, chicken, tofu, chick peas, nuts and seeds. That's pretty much it. So sure, my insides might not be clean enough to eat off of when I'm done, but that's pretty gross goal to have.
2. I'm winging it. I usually start these things after hearing about some great new program that all the cool people are doing. I read all about it, I make all kinds of lists, and hop on the bandwagon with great enthusiasm. But again, the second I find a piece of the pie that doesn't fit (Why can't I find white miso? Is juicing really necessary? Really, NO caffeine?!), then it's only a matter of time before I abandon ship. This time, there's no menu, no required ingredients. I have a smoothies with the produce I have, I make some kind of vegetable soup every couple of days, I eat poached chicken and fish with salads or steamed vegetables, and handfuls of nuts here and there, along with lots of herbal tea after my one precious coffee of the day. Easy peasy! Did you know that peas are good in smoothies? Fact.
3. I'm prepared. What generally happens after the reading and the list making, is the going off half-cocked before even making it to the grocery store. I decide that I'll start right…NOW!…without much in the way of planning or preparation. So I get about 12 hours into it on adrenaline, and if I can get to the grocery store within 24 hours I might last another day or two. But then #1 and #2 catch up to me and once again I'm eating a loaf of bread slathered with butter with an ice cream chaser. This time, I went shopping BEFORE I started. Genius, right? And when I woke up on Day 1, a fridge full of cleanse-friendly food winked at me conspiratorially. Like a wise woman once said, it's about setting yourself up for success instead of failure*.
*Now, it's quite a clever coincidence that this quote was referring to marriage, and how partners should treat one another. It should be noted that my husband, though not one to hop on board with all of my hare-brained schemes or even smother me with praise, is kind of relatively supportive in a "this idea of yours is crazy", "better you than me" kind of way. But he's not an outright saboteur. Which is why I'm having such a difficult time understanding why he would see fit to buy me a cookie on Day 1, bring me home another cookie from work on Day 2, followed by an entire large pizza on Day 4. Not to mention eating ice cream from the carton beside me on the couch. ICE CREAM. I'm not sure where his head is at, but he had better pull it out of its hiding place quick-ish to avoid having it permanently embedded, if you know what I mean. But I digress.
How am I feeling?
Pretty good, thanks. Mostly proud of myself and a little dull around the edges. Surprisingly, the first two days were the easiest, owing I'm sure to the massive amounts of surplus calories leftover from the weekend. Day 3 had me pitted against an unopened box of Girl Guide cookies in my purse and a tantrum-throwing daughter making us late for dinner. I prevailed. Day 5 was the first day that I was away from home all day and had to prepare breakfast, lunch and snacks in advance. No problem. And this is the first weekend. Weekends are harder, mostly because everybody gets that hey, it's a special day - let's eat like farm animals mentality. But I'm pressing on. I'm going to be really happy with myself when I'm through with one week, and I'm thinking of trying to make it to two weeks.
The real challenge will come when the "cleanse" is done and the "maintenance" begins. I want to continue to eat all the fruits and vegetables that I'm eating now. I want to drastically limit starchy/bready things, and keep sweets/desserty things down to perhaps one batch of homemade something on the weekends (that doesn't get consumed in one sitting). I'm hoping that by the end of the cleanse I will feel so fantastic that it will serve as my motivation to continue. Right now I feel sleepy. So I'm going to take it one day at a time. And when that's too much, we'll go with one meal at a time. And as much lying on the couch and sighing as my family will allow.