Earlier this fall, a friend approached me about joining her in a group cleanse with Dr. Jodi Larry. Yes, another cleanse. The difference with this one was, unlike Isagenix or the various juice cleanses out there, it was an eating cleanse. My initial response was absolutely not! I didn’t like groups. I didn’t want to “share” or, rather, I didn’t want to listen to other people sharing. I didn’t want to pay when I could do it on my own. And most of all, I didn’t want to cut out my coffee.
She confessed she’d been hesitant as well but after hearing another mutual friend singing the praises of Dr. Jodi’s “Cleanse for Life”, she had to try it. We’d both read all the Facebook updates from past participants and the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was killing her. I had to admit my curiosity, too, was piqued.
Still, I declined. For about 2 days. Then I read some testimonials and signed right up. I was ready to start immediately. I’d been cranky and anxious and suffering with back pain for months. Could this be the cure-all I was looking for?? And – icing on the cake – would I drop a few lbs?
I had to wait until we assembled a group. People joined. They dropped out. We all friended each other, as well as Dr. Jodi, on FB. We discussed what was allowed and what wasn’t. Some us (me) binged on spareribs and diet coke. Some of us (me) switched to decaf. And then, it was time.
What follows is my day-to-day account, written during the 11 days of Cleanse for Life…..
We met with Dr. Jodi. Down to earth, smart and relatable, she made me feel like I could conquer this cleanse with ease. She did, however, warn me that my seemingly innocuous penchant for chemical sweeteners would not be easy to get over. I was a diet-pop-a-day girl. I also had a coffee (with splenda) every morning, plus the other “half” (with another splenda) mid-morning. Most afternoons you’d find me with a cup of tea (with splenda). I guess I was more addicted than I’d thought.
We were given workbooks, and a checklist of “symptoms” to think about privately. Dr Jodi explained liver functionality, reasons to cut out certain foods and integrate others, and what we could expect over the next 11 days.
And then we went shopping.
Armed with cacao nibs, chia seeds, steel cut oats and organic foods we were off to cook and prep. And fret.
Day 1 (Monday): I awake to the daily email from Dr. Jodi. This cleanse is gonna be a piece of gluten-free, sugar-free cake. I’m excited. It seems to be all food, all the time. But no gum. Which is kinda freaking me out. I feel like I might be walking around in a garlic fog….Otherwise, the next ten days are gonna be a cinch, once I get my head around the concept of “good” fat. Coconut anything, nuts, avocado. I’ve been brainwashed and to me, fat is still fat. Luckily for me, salt is still salt. Sea salt is allowed and I’ve been grinding up a storm.
DAY 2 (Tuesday): Aaaaand, I spoke too soon. I wake up pissed. Mad at the group, the good Dr Jodi, the world. I’m jonesing for something. I need my stuff. Holy shit – is this my food rehab? I remind myself that Jodi warned us: those of us who may – or may not -be splenda addicts have it the worst. It’s a toxin parade here in Carolyn’s Body. The Dr. is out. Diet Dr. Pepper, that is. This chemical withdrawal is hell. I’m talking to you too, Splenda. Shaky, dizzy, hot ‘n cold, nauseous. Dr. Jodi emails me, reassures me that this too shall pass. All the tea and water in the world isn’t helping. Tho a double whammy of steel cut oats and a couple of tylenol sure did.
DAY 3 (Wednesday): Queasy. If I didn’t have my period I’d swear I was pregnant! Moving slowly, carefully. Dr Jodi checks in on me, tells me to remember this time as it will ensure I don’t return to the evil that is chemical sweetness. As the day goes on I start to feel a bit better. I drink a coconut water and find it almost unbearably sweet – almost. Still chugged back the entire can. By 4PM I’m feeling way better. Very calm. Maybe too calm? I like to be a little perkier.
DAY 4 (Thursday): Good morning sunshine! I feel great! Lemon water and cayenne have left me a little uneasy, but mostly because I didn’t follow up with breakfast. Went to my monthly Weight Watchers weigh in (old habits die hard) and it was all could do to not sweep aside all their products, decrying them as poison. Turns out I’ve lost 2 pounds already!! I stay for the meeting and listening to everyone talking about diet pop and splenda freaks me out. That evening we meet up as a group with Dr Jodi. We go around the room and discuss what’s happening to our bodies, ourselves. The learning curve is steep, but I get it. And I love it.
DAY 5 (Friday): Constipation. That’s my theme of today. Feeling better overall, but a bit…um…plugged. Also that feeling of calm? Gone with the wind (and speaking of wind…too many lentils perhaps??) I can’t seem to stay warm. Winter weather? Or something more? I take a bath with epsom salts and feel pukey afterwards. Could this be more toxin release? Now? Apparently not. I make chicken for dinner and my appetite returns with a vengeance. I eat with gusto – as always. And then I pass out at 9. When was the last time that happened??
DAY 6 (Saturday): I wake up after an 11-hour sleep. Wow. I skip my newly beloved steel cut oats with bananas, berries and almond milk. 2 minutes in the micro with a splash of maple syrup and some chia seeds. Divine. And instead I opt for buckwheat cereal this morning. Not for me….Grey and sludgey. What is for me, however, is the sauteed spinach with eggs I make for lunch. I kind of overcook the eggs but they’re still delicious. Saturday night I’m flying solo and I’m prowling the kitchen. I think of Dr Jodi reminding us that this is one weekend out of the entire year. And then I make quinoa cookies. And yeah, those two words don’t match on screen, on paper, or in my oven. Swing and a miss.
Day 7 (Sunday): It’s not looking good: 3 little boys. An out-of-town husband. And a lot of rain. Gross. The fact that I don’t eat my way through it is a miracle. This could be the longest day of my life. Let’s leave it at that.
Day 8, 9, 10 (Mon, Tues, Wed): As we head into the final stage of the cleanse, I start getting tense. I feel great, energized and happy. You know the kick you look for in a cup of coffee? I found it au naturel! But I’m panicking. What if it disappears? How can I maintain? I know there’s a post-cleanse equation (80% good, 20% free) but what does that actually mean? I do my own little equation: if we eat 21 meals a week, does that mean I can open the fatty floodgates for 4 of them? That’s 20%, right? Or is it a little bit of parmesan here, a little drop of ketchup there? I haven’t been hungry at all during this cleanse, but I am missing my accoutrements – the sprinkle of cheese, the soy sauce glaze, the tomato sauce. I need some zest – but how much is too much?
And dairy? I know we’re the only animals that drink another animal’s milk – but we’re also the only animals that are able to drive cars and that don’t eat our young! Plus we’ve all seen the too-cute pics of the rejected little zoo babies suckling on dogs and pigs: they’re drinking someone else’s milk and I bet they’d love to cruise around in a set of shiny wheels rather than trot.
As you can see, living in the moment is wreaking havoc on my imagination.
Day 11 (Thursday). It’s the last day of the cleanse. I’ve finally managed to reconcile the good fat in an avocado or a handful of almonds and I’m feeling fab with a spring in my step. We meet with Dr Jodi for the last time (or so she thinks!!). We pull out our checklists from Day 1. For me, every single “symptom” I checked off that first day has shifted. No joke.
I’m well aware that it’s only been 11 days. Out of 44 years. Everything may change back, of course. But for now I feel, cheesy as it may sound, free. Free from the morning pre-coffee fog, the late afternoon haze, the kids’ bedtime storm – and any other meteorological metaphor you can think of. I’m awake. Wide awake all day long and well into the night. I feel lighter. Healthier. Happier. Nervous about how I’ll be able to sit through a movie without a medium popcorn and diet coke, but trying to live in the moment and enjoy.
At least until spring comes and I cleanse again!!