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I survived a 7-day cleanse- part 2 (the results)

Wow! Huge response to cleanse post part one! Many of you are fascinated by the idea and/or have your own experiences to share.

Now for the results….(drumroll please)……

Did I enjoy it?   I would say I appreciated the experience. It gave me the kickstart I needed to eat and feel better, and it reeducated me on healthy food and portion control.

Would I do it again?  As I said, the chocolate-flavored shakes smelled like baby formula and tasted like cement, no matter how many different ingredients I tried in them. BUT, I know my blender was not up to the task, and I tackled the cleanse with my friend Hope and she loved the shakes, and several of you commented saying you enjoyed the shakes too so it’s really personal preference. But no, I would not do this cleanse again, and probably wouldn’t do a liquid based cleanse for 7 days again. I missed solid food! But I might try a 3-day cleanse at some point, if I needed a restart. Or I would definitely do a no sugar/dairy/gluten/alcohol/caffeine cleanse that was food based.

Can you exercise while cleansing?   My nutrition and health coach friend, Pam, advised me not to do my regular exercise routines– especially cardio–which was horrifying news for a committed yogi like me who also runs and does other activities. But your body is exerting so much energy cleansing, and you don’t have enough food to give you the necessary energy to exercise at your regular intensity, so it’s best not to overdo it. By day 3, I was getting a dull headache and a bit nauseous if I overexerted myself, so I took a break until the cleanse ended.

Clean cleanse box on

Did I lose weight?   I lost four pounds during that week. BUT I WASN’T EATING! So although I continued to eat a gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol and caffeine free diet for the next two weeks, I was eating more and gained back two pounds right away. BUT, I was able to lose some more weight once I started exercising again and continued eating cleanly. I’d say I kept off about 5 pounds. Then I went on vacation and had some wine and indulged in sweets and all bets were off. But I know if I went back to clean eating and was conscientious about it, I could lose extra pounds. It’s all about choices.

How much does it cost?   The CLEAN cleanse cost about $195. Starving yourself aint cheap! But what I learned and the recipes in the materials they give you, plus Pam’s great advice made it worth the price for me. There was also extra money I spent on food that week. Hope and I went to Whole Foods and loaded up on vegetables, nuts, various non-dairy milk products, almond butter, and other healthy snack food, so that was probably another $150. I looked at it as an investment in healthy eating and weeks later I still have a lot of the stuff.

What were the other challenges?   For one thing, I was a total beotch to my family for the last 5 days of the cleanse (they would say I should NEVER do it again!) I didn’t feel great on days 3-5: physically weak, tired, and very cranky, but also mentally resentful of everyone who was freely eating food around me. I took it as a personal affront when my sons scarfed down a bagel for breakfast and tried to suppress evil thoughts while making them pasta for dinner.

cleanse cartoonI would also say the time it takes to plan and prepare for every meal took a toll. I had to get up earlier in the morning to make the shake, and shop for the food I needed for lunch to bring to work or wherever I was going. I had to have the right, clean ingredients for meals and be prepared to make substitutions. I know– cleanse or not– that I should be thinking about what I’ll eat at the beginning of every week and each day, but I found it mentally exhausting and a time suck. But when I don’t plan ahead, I can make poor decisions.  

At meals, I rarely felt deprived and was actually happy with my clean choices. Clean eating can be delicious. I discovered chia and flax seed, ezekiel bread, and coconut milk. I rediscovered spinach salad, hard-boiled eggs, rice cakes, nuts, and brown rice pasta. Salmon has become a once-a week meal for us., with just olive oil and dill.

Shopping at Whole Foods for a 7-day cleanse  on

Hope shopping for veggies at Whole Foods.

–What did I learn?   I’m not always hungry when I think I am and drinking a glass of water can satiate me during the day when I’m antsy and/or bored. It’s hard to drink 64 ounces a day, but I find ice and a straw helps a lot, and pouring the 64 ounces into a pitcher that sits on your desk or counter all day is motivating.

I like an iced coffee now and then but it’s a treat I don’t need and I barely missed it. I missed caffeine as a pick-me-up in my tea at work, but I survived. No alcohol during the week was easy, and while it was a sacrifice on the weekends, it’s doable for a few weeks at a time. I started drinking more vodka and tequila, which have less sugar and carbs than wine. I’ve found some great substitutes for carbs like pasta, bread and bagels and I feel better when I avoid them. And they taste amazing when I indulge.

The most difficult for me to give up was dairy and sugar. I eat non-fat organic yogurt a few times a week with fresh fruit or in a smoothie. I love eggs and often eat them as a source of protein. I love cheese, but I’ve basically given it up for several months now and lived to tell the tale.

Shopping at Whole Foods for a 7-day cleanse  on

–The exceptions/Food I won’t give up  Pizza! But I don’t have 2-3 slices, I try to have one and a salad now. Cookies! I’ll give up bread and pasta, but don’t take away my cookies. Chocolate! Need I explain?

Life is too short to give up eating my favorite things. It’s all in moderation, so better that I enjoy eating what I love, than feeling completely deprived and binge down the road.

I actually liked reading the cleanse pamphlet about the efficiency of clean food in our digestive system, instead of all the crap I put in there. The process forced me to examine my intake and I realized I was eating way too many carbs. I thought I was being a conscientious eater by only consuming whole wheat bread, bagels, and crackers. But I was eating too much.

I needed to look at the whole day of eating and make choices by day– not by meal — to promote better digestion. I started making substitutions for traditional carbs.. I’m not going to say it tastes the same, but I found combinations that I can live with, like sun butter on a brown rice cake and turkey meat sauce on brown rice pasta.

And I didn’t feel like I had rocks in my belly after meals. I felt lighter. While I wanted to lose wight, my goal was really to make better choices to feel better. The cleanse definitely helped me do that.

I also was reminded that although I think I’m craving food, I often need something else. It’s usually sleep, but sometimes can be something to drink or a walk around the block to get the brain juices flowing. My go-to was always to have a snack , but now I’m trying to pay attention to why I’m reaching for that cracker. Mindful eating is key.

If you’re interested in trying a cleanse, I highly recommend you work with Pam from Wholefully Aware. Not only is she knowledgable and supportive, but during the cleanse, she was practically on-call 24-7 for questions about how I was feeling, what food choices to make, and what my personal blocks were in the process.

Would you do a cleanse? Tell me why or why not in the comments.