The Cleanse From a Skeptics Perspective- Part 1
Hello again, Nourish family! I feel the need to apologize for going so long without stopping by, but this year seems to be absolutely flying. There have been a lot of big and exciting changes going on in my life and, as I’m sure it does for many of you, it feels like I’m burning the candle at both ends quite often. I thought the 12-day Nourish Cleanse would be the perfect excuse for a reboot; an excuse to slow down a bit, recharge, reevaluate, and get ready for a crazy summer! I’ve never done a cleanse before and wasn’t sure what to expect, but with the way I was feeling, I figured anything was worth a shot!
I’m going to be completely honest and tell you, I didn’t feel great on this cleanse. I believe that this was mostly to do with my body and food intolerances. This was one more step on my long journey of determining the root causes of my health issues. While there were ups and downs, I did learn a lot more about myself and my body. Regardless, it was really hard for me.
This past year and a half has been a long road for me in terms of food; I’ve been on a roller coaster of food allergies and different elimination diets, so I’m still processing what some of the obstacles in this cleanse were. I’m going to be entering the “challenge phase” of the cleanse, reintroducing different foods one at a time, so the work isn’t over for me yet.
But while I was struggling, my fiancé, Drew, was having a very different experience:
12 Days without a burger!? That doesn’t sound good…
I went into this cleanse a pure skeptic. I’m a reasonably fit guy, and I didn’t see a real need to change what had been working for me for a long time. So what if I drink a ton of coffee, diet coke, and energy drinks… I’m tired. So what if I eat Jack in the Box, Carls Jr. and Panda Express every day… I like it, it tastes good, and it’s easy. It was easy for me to dismiss all this talk of healthy eating because, when it came down to it, I could still go out and run for 5 miles. I didn’t see any need to change what I was doing.
My recent engagement to Natalie changed this attitude somewhat. I’ve always heard that it is good for a relationship to try to participate with your partner in their interests, and I knew that healthy food was a big interest of Natalie’s. So, when I saw the email from Nourish about the cleanse, I suggested to Natalie that we do it together (she seemed mildly shocked). I thought that if I gave it a go, I could complain that when it was over I didn’t feel any different, and could resume my previous habits unmolested by complaints of trans-fats, caffeine, and MSG.
Over the first few days of the cleanse, it was as though all of my worst fears were coming true. I had a constant headache, I was lethargic, and it was a ton of work making all of this food for each day. I missed red meat, and milk, and cheese. I might have killed someone for a breakfast burrito. I get free coffee and free soda at work, and I had gone from drinking 8 cups of coffee and 3 or 4 large (movie theater large) diet cokes every day to having no caffeine at all. I was miserable.
But, I stuck with it. After the headache broke on day five, I was starting to feel better. I enjoyed snacking on all the fruits and veggies (and nuts!). I still wasn’t drinking enough water; I just didn’t seem to enjoy it nearly as much as diet coke. But, I was waking up with energy. For the first time since I was a young teenager I felt refreshed and energized after a night’s sleep, instead of feeling like I was just managing to get by. By day six or seven I didn’t even miss the coffee in the morning and was looking forward to my smoothies!
Things really clicked for me when we re-introduced grains on day 7. I’ve never been a huge fan of quinoa, but for the first time in my life I found myself looking forward to it. Eating this diet of grains, fruits, and veggies was making me feel good. I had more energy than I could ever remember, and each day didn’t feel insurmountable anymore. I felt like I had an energy surplus (which makes it much easier to convince yourself to work out).
When all is said and done, I’ll probably reintroduce all types of foods back into my diet. I miss red meat, bread, and alcohol. My goal is to cut way back on the caffeine; I believe it was significantly inhibiting for my body to communicate what it was feeling, and it was definitely affecting my sleep. The cleanse has really changed the way I view food, and how much food impacts my life. I’d never put much stock in food affecting my mood, energy, and sleep so significantly, and I’m glad I took the risk to find out what I was missing.
I plan on coming back to this cleanse whenever I feel my energy waning, my sleep suffering, or my body rebelling. It’s a great way to ‘reset’ yourself, and it’s given me a big smile to carry around every day.
As you can see, the cleanse is going to be different for everybody! As much as I may have wanted to sulk on the couch with some comfort food and be done with it, I’m so glad I didn’t. I never felt that “skip down the street” energy that Drew did, but we both learned some important lessons that can translate to anyone, any time of year.
Look for our post next week on the lessons we learned!