Before I go any further with this Master Cleanse talk, I just want to say this.
I have a teenage sister (and an older sister, but whatever, she's 30 and knows better), and I know that there are a lot of women out there, young and old, who are not the triple threat of self-control, positive body image and medical knowledge that I am.*
So, before you follow me down the Halls of "Don't Try This Dumb Shit at Home" Medicine, I decided to make you this helpful XOJane Health image macro, with apologies to James L. Brooks:
My fellow XO Editors: Feel free to scrape and use at will for all your booze-tampon, formaldehyde-shampoo, insect-eating needs. Do we have that out of the way? Yes? OK. Let's proceed.
A few weeks back, I started the Master Cleanse. I lasted for about a solid week.
I would have cleansed longer, but I ended up going to LA for meetings (more on that later) and to visit some friends, and there is really nothing worse than going to a party where people have thoughtfully assembled a tray of raw vegetables and being like, "Oh, no thank you, no celery sticks for delicate little me." Besides, you try consuming nothing but liquids and sitting in a window seat for a five-hour flight. It's just impolite.
By that point, I'd lost about six pounds (probably mostly water, despite the fact that I was constantly chugging it) and was only slightly loopy when I vlogged this awards show for VH1 (fittingly enough, in a pizza shop T-shirt):
However, the good part about being in LA is, as I mentioned before, that it is not a town that fronts about the effort required to maintain hydration/colon health/weight/spherical calves/frosted tips/bleachy teeth. Half of its thinner denizens will gladly admit that they're powered by sugar-free Redbull and the kale chips New Yorkers pretend are delicious. I mean, I love leafy greens and all, but stop acting like you love kale. Nobody "loves" kale. It's a necessary evil, like furnishing your first apartment with particle board furniture. Kale is the shitty Target shelf of foods. Let's move on.
My friend and I always go to the same fancy place for our first dinner when we're in LA, and the server there did not bat an eye when I dragged in a suitcase and ordered a cocktail, six raw oysters, and a tiny salad (I know -- I've been a waitress and I know that's an asshole thing to order -- I overcompensate wildly on tip in these times, both as a former server and somebody who needs very badly to be liked). It was my first full meal after the spinach and veggies I brought on the plane.
Here's the funny part about cleansing: It makes you into a super cheap date. I got ASTONISHINGLY DRUNK on next to nothing. I'm not kidding. My ex boyfriend picked me up from LAX, we got a round of vodka sodas at the world's best Jewish dive bar, then he dropped me off to meet my friend for dinner. By cocktail two, I was SMAYYYSHED. Off of two, highly-spaced apart drinks! We're talking spongy constonants, impotent eyelids, texting-incoherent-things-to-the-hot-British-Angeleno-I-swore-I-would-never-send-incoherent-texts-to trizzolated.
This is highly unusual for me, but I'd been living off of lemon tinkle water all week, so my brain went "Dark City" on me. Oh, nothing for days? And now, vodka? Shut it downnnnnnn.
This was a helpful lesson! I didn't really want to shock my system any further, so I kept it to lean proteins and produce (and, OK, some booze) for the rest of the trip. Again, not eating any bread or starch would be kind of a pain in the ass anywhere but in LA, where this was a sample breakfast meeting:
Adorable Tiny Breakfast Companion: I'm celiac, so it's a pain to order in restaurants.
Me: Well, but didn't you lose a bunch of weight when you stopped eating bread?
ATBC: That's what everybody thinks, but you can still have potatoes and rice.
Me: Oh! I'm not eating any starch, and that's like the only way I can lose weight.
Server: Oh, I can give you extra kale instead of toast and potatoes with your kale and eggs.
Me: How is the kale today? Is it fucking great?
Server: The kale is fucking great.
Me: Great! I fucking love kale.
But, then I encountered the problem that I always do about 20 days without so much as a dinner roll's worth of sugars: I get crazy dizzy.
As screwy as it is, I know that feeling of weakness is supposed to be a good sign as far as Atkins/South Beach like plans go (I think one of the low carb books I bought in high school said something like, "You may experience light headedness and headaches in this 'induction' phase. POWER THROUGH IT, you pie-loving pussy."). I think it's supposed to signal that your body is switching over to burning stored fat instead of whatever Nutty Bars your weak, snack-cake loving ass has been feeding into it. But again, as this whole cleanse/raw food thing was supposed to be about me getting the zucchini bread and fondue out of my arteries from the holidays, this is probably the highway to the danger zone.
After lugging a relatively light suitcase full of clothes up three flights of stairs, I had an "Oh, for the love of Nancy," moment and had to take a knee and drink a Vitamin Water Zero (which I know does nothing, but I'm a sucker for bright colors and fruit-flavored snake oil).
I'd been drinking tons of water, eating lots of greens vegetables and trying to take vitamins, so I'm never sure whether that kind of exhaustion signals ketosis or dehydration or anemia or what. It is, sadly, when I drop weight the fastest, but it's also the time when I'm totally non-functional, physically or cerebrally.
As I've started a new (third? fourth?) job and am moving lots of heavy furniture into a new house (one that needs a lot of work), I've begun slooooooowly, begrudgingly incorporating bready, starchy foods back into my diet.
I spent all of yesterday working and painting my house, so I rewarded myself with two slices of veggie pizza for dinner. It wasn't even that good of a pizza, but I might as well have been fingerblasted in the brain by Dionysus for the dopamine log flume ride it took me on. Ever gone a month without eating pizza? Don't do it. It's horrible.
I'm done cleansing for now, but I'm still going to watch what I eat. All told, I'm down about 15 pounds, which I realize is not recommended to do in 25 days, but there you have it. My face is smaller (I can see my chin and cheekbones again!) and my skinny jeans fit. I also got some sunlight so I'm not reflective anymore. Please ignore last night's mascara under my eyes, I'm experimenting with a new brand and it's like pine tar to get off.
Physically, I feel much better, just because I made such a concerted effort not to put anything fried or sugary in my fried-sugary things hole. I'm going to try to make this the year that I kick my takeout habit and replace it with fruits, vegetables and lean proteins that I cook at home. (I bought a compression grill, so we'll see how that goes.)
I'm never going to have an easy time maintaining my weight -- it's just not in my genes. I'm never going to be bony or not be an F cup (Apparently! These jugs don't go away no matter how many pushups or stupid fads I try.)
So the goal is going to choose healthy foods, lay off the pad thai/diet soda/candy and keep my blood sugar/iron/vitamin levels where they need to be in order for me to function at work and assemble furniture with a hex wrench.
Again, I know cleanses are not for everybody and may be total hoo hoo. But, that said, I feel pretty good about having toughed it out.
I'll probably do one again some day, because I don't think this is ever going to be a rollercoaster I get off for good. I work weird hours, I have the occasional hangover that necessitates eggrolls, and if I ever get a boyfriend ever again, he's probably going to want to buy me chocolates constantly (that happens, right?).
In the mean time, I'm going to go eat the vegetables off of a piece of pizza, because that seems like a good compromise.
*I have none of these things.