The Cleanse From A Skeptics Perspective-Part 2

Post by Natalie Clements, Pilates, Boot Camp, and TRX Instructor at Nourish Northwest

In our last post, my fiancé, Drew, and I shared a bit of our experience doing Nourish Northwest’s 12-day cleanse.  It’s been about two weeks since the cleanse wrapped up, and we’ve had a bit more time to let the experience sink in.  Despite our very different experiences, we both are so glad we did it, and walked away with some important lessons that might just actually stick! They’re lessons that can apply to anyone, any time of year…


Caffeine has a huge effect on your body, whether you realize it or not.

Drew used to drink a TON of caffeine so we expected quitting cold turkey to be tough for him, but even my 2 or 3 cups-a-day habit left me with a pounding headache the first few days of the cleanse.  Our bodies’ reactions were a huge eye opener for both of us, and we couldn’t help but admit that this obvious dependency made us a bit uncomfortable.

Since the cleanse, neither Drew nor I have had any caffeine, and we feel great! I still can’t believe it, but both of us are sleeping better, feel more alert during the day, and I feel a lot less shaky!


What we realized is we both drink a lot of our coffee and soda out of habit.  We both get it for free at work, it’s convenient, and it gives our mouths something to do!  Maybe your mouth has less A.D.D than mine (I would have killed for some gum the first few days), but regardless, here are some non-caffeinated, natural options to try if you want to limit your caffeine:


–       Warm water with lemon

–       Sparkling water with lemon and/or lime

–       Still or sparkling water with muddled berries, cucumber, or other fruit.

–       Herbal teas (Starbucks unsweetened Passion Iced Tea is my personal favorite!)

–       100% fruit or vegetable juices


Your body is trying to tell you what it needs…you’re just not listening.


For as long as I can remember, Drew and I have debated not only how much caffeine he drinks, but the amount of fast food he ate, and his sleeping habits.  I always said, “You don’t know how bad you feel, because you don’t know what good feels like.”  I’m not trying to say I was right, but I wasn’t wrong 🙂


No, our eating habits aren’t perfect, but cutting out all the processed gunk and chemicals has  given him a newfound energy; he’s sleeping better, and for the first time in years, has been waking up feeling refreshed.


What it really comes down to is giving yourself permission to listen to your body. This is easier on a short term cleanse, but it’s something we all should work on doing a better job of.


Are you hungry? Eat.

There’s so much “noise” today about what you should eat and what you shouldn’t, how many calories you should take in, how you should eat…With the cleanse meal-plan, all of that was laid out for us. During those 12 days we were able to quite the noise, and just eat when we were hungry.   Are you a bored or “emotional eater” like me? Eat enough raw fruits and vegetables and not only will you get sick of snacking, but you’ll realize that you don’t need all that extra stuff to feel full.


Are you tired? Sleep!

There were three nights on this cleanse that Drew and I were in bed before 8:00.  Do you have any idea how long it’s been since that happened!? Since we went to bed even before 10:00!?

For some reason knowing we were doing this cleanse, again, was that opportunity to give ourselves permission to slow down and relax.  We were able to get everything done we normally would, we just didn’t keep making excuses to stay up.  My body was tired, so I went to bed instead of snacking and plopping on the couch to watch Dexter. …I’m going to keep working on this one!

To eat healthy meals all day long, you HAVE to plan ahead

You’ve probably heard this one a million times but it really is true, and it pertains just as much to this cleanse as it does any healthy food plan.  I wish I could sugar coat it for you, but I’d be lying if I said eating healthy was easier than going through a drive-thru, or grabbing a meal out of the New Seasons freezer; it takes time and a little forethought.


One of the best parts of the Nourish cleanse was that we had an entire 12-day meal plan made out for us! It took any of the stress and guess work out of what we could or could not eat for the day, and forced us to try some new, delicious recipes we wouldn’t have otherwise.


It might take more time, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming; eventually it will become habit.  Here are some simple tips to get you started:


–       When you’re making dinner, make enough for lunch tomorrow; in fact any meal you’re making, double or TRIPLE it! This will save a ton of time, and I promise, once it’s heated up, you won’t even know your oatmeal’s been sitting in the fridge for a week.


–       Before putting groceries and produce away, chop, chop, chop!  It’s a lot easier to throw together a recipe if your onions and vegetables are already cut.

–       Pack your meals the night before.  This was a huge one for Drew and I- you’d be amazed at how much stress it cuts out of your morning routine when you can grab a bag out of the fridge and go.


You’re stronger than you think. It’s okay to say, “No thank you, I’m on a cleanse.”

A lot like if you were avoiding foods on a diet, restraining from foods during a cleanse can be really difficult.  A cleanse is technically “optional,” so in social situations, or when the smell of an outdoor barbeque comes wafting by, it can be extra hard to resist and convince yourself to say “no.”


This can be hard with any healthy meal plan, or even fitness program, so being as open and upfront with other people is the best option.  I still have a hard time with this, but it never fails- somebody, somewhere will question why you can’t eat just one piece of cake, or why you don’t want a beer.  This doesn’t mean you have to hide at home and avoid social situations, or constantly jump on a soap box and defend this week’s eating habits, but letting people know beforehand and preparing them makes for the best situation for everyone!


Drew and I went to a friends’ barbeque on one of the most restrictive days of the cleanse, where we were only allowed vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans.  In the past I might have avoided going or eaten a ton beforehand in hopes that it would hold me away from the snack table, but instead we just volunteered to take some dishes we could eat!


Food and drinks aren’t the only option to catch up with friends

This seems so easy, but how often have you complained that all there is to do with friends is eat out or drink?  I know I have, but after all, we live in Portland!? The options for good food or fun new restaurants to try are endless, but believe it or not, so are your other options!


For example, instead of going out to brunch with friends one of the days, we went for a double-date hike on Mount Tabor.  It was so much fun, and such a great excuse to get outside and moving! Whether it’s bowling, batting cages, a game night, or just going for a walk, finding different things to do with friends can be a incredibly fun, and welcomed change.


Your wallet and waistline will thank you.

Hard things in life are better done together


There is no way I could have done this cleanse without Drew and everyone at Nourish.  Having a support group that understands where you’re coming from and how you’re feeling is so important.  Whether you chose to join the next Nourish challenge and do the cleanse, or are tackling another goal, find people you can vent to, get advice and inspiration from, and who will hold you accountable.


Drew has put up with a lot from me and my allergies, and has adjusted his lifestyle in more ways than I can count. The cleanse wasn’t easy, but ended up being so worth it and was a great lesson in what we’re capable of together. And whether we do this cleanse once a year, or never again, what’s ultimately important is finding that happy balance, and a healthy lifestyle we can maintain.


After all, we’re signing up for “better or for worse” – he just happened to see me at my worst 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *