, ,

Ok, for those who are interested, here’s a little background on my cleanse..

As I mentioned, I’ve been doing Alejandro Junger’s Clean Program for the past week.

image source

This is my second go around with this cleanse. I completed it back in April for the first time shortly after my birthday. I was fresh off a trip to Miami and had been over-indulging a little too much and had found myself in somewhat of an exercise rut. I had seen an episode of E! News where they featured a story about a guy who gave up his career and fast food addiction to travel across the country eating only fresh, raw foods. I forget the full details of the story now but the end result was that he not only lost an enormous amount of weight but he also gained a lot of energy a new perspective on healthy living.

Having some background medical knowledge, I never really bought into the idea of a ‘cleanse’ before. I kind of always felt like your body takes care of what it needs to on it’s own. However, my curiosity started to get the best of me. I did a little research on cleanses and stumbled upon the Clean Program. This probably isn’t the most intelligent sounding reason but I’ll be honest, I chose it because it was backed by Gwenyth Paltrow and, from what I’ve read about her in magazine articles, I really admire her general outlook on living a healthy lifestyle.

(How can you not love GP?)

So I took a little bit of a leap of faith and bought the kit. I purchased the Renew Cleanse kit for $250 which provides everything you need (minus the fresh food ingredients) to complete the 21 day detox: 2 containers of Nourish (a brown rice protein powder), one container of Move (a fiber supplement), Clear 1 (probiotic), Balance (herbal supplement to regulate insulin levels) and Ease (plant digestive enzymes).

There are a few variations on the program but the one I followed recommended a shake for breakfast (protein powder and a fiber supplement plus nut milk, frozen fruit and other mix-ins such as almond or cashew butter or avocado), a *normal* lunch (made with ingredients from an elimination diet (details here) another shake in the afternoon and a light dinner (salad, veggies, soup). Snacks are not limited, but you’re encouraged to eat only when truly hungry and stop eating when about 80% full.

One of the first things that instantly appealed to me about the program (besides the GP seal of approval) was that it wasn’t all liquid and it wasn’t calorie restrictive. Not only do I have long work days but I like to exercise. I need real food to support my activity level and I knew couldn’t live on lemon juice and cayenne for more than one week a few days a couple of hours. (Besides my trainer Kenny would’ve slapped some sense into me if I’d even considered going that route).

I did end up reading Dr. Junger’s book as I cleansed (although it’s certainly not necessary) and I liked his overall approach to healthy eating (doing your best to be mindful and eat clean most of the time, allowing yourself ‘mess ups’ and, more importantly, not being hard on yourself when you do stray from a healthy eating regimen). I also liked that he denounced the idea of shedding years of built up toxins lining the gatrointestinal tract during a cleanse. Again, having some medical experience, I’d seen enough dog intestinal tracts to know I didn’t buy into that theory. Lastly I liked that the program is not so extreme that it’s somewhat adaptable into a lifestyle and that it provides an opportunity to discover some unknown food sensitivities. If followed as recommended, after the 21 day detox, formerly restricted foods are added in one at a time to see if a reaction occurs (headaches, nausea, tingly throat and mucus buildup, fatigue).

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all pleasant...

There were times that were rough:

The cravings at times were *intense* (cupcakes, brownies, you name it!) but they did come and go.

The first couple days I did experience headaches which I largely attributed to quitting my morning coffee ritual (up to 3 cups) cold turkey.

However, quite a few things pleasantly surprised me about the cleanse:

The online support forum. There is a whole community of people dedicated to following this program. Members were so supportive of one another and it was definitely a helpful source of information during the cleanse. There is also a Clean Team designated to answering inquiries and Dr. Junger himself frequently participates in forum discussions. (He even ‘friended’ me on the site :))

How (*ahem*) regular I became. Awkward to talk about, but true.

I experienced a tremendous improvement in my level of energy (no afternoon ‘slump’ at work) and overall mood. I kept a cleanse journal in the notepad of my phone the first time I completed the program and on day 7 wrote that I felt like every day was a party and I was always on the VIP list. 😉

One thing that surprised me the most was that I actually did experience a food sensitivity. My first week on the program I had lunch at PF Chang’s with my mom and I ordered the Buddha’s feast without tofu, no soy (so it was basically steamed brown rice and veggies). About 20 minutes after lunch I developed a headache. My mouth and throat became tingly and dry and my nose started watering. I was definitely reacting to something! (MSG perhaps?) I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it.

And probably the largest benefit and most welcome surprise was how well I slept during the cleanse. I used to never sleep through the night and during the first week especially I slept more soundly than I could remember in a long time.

So how am I doing this time around?

Week one update:

My belly feels flatter and work pants are fitting a little more loosely (I rarely weigh myself, I prefer to go by how my clothes feel).

I have experienced a few soars in my energy level and my mood has seemed improved. Last Saturday was the most chipper I can remember feeling at work on a Saturday in a long time. 😀

My cravings this time haven’t been nearly as intense. In fact, there have been several days I’ve nearly forgotten I’m cleansing entirely.

So there you have it. That’s how my cleanse is going so far. I’ll update you again after week 2! 🙂