A Note About Hump Day

The beginning of a cleanse usually goes something like this:

Day 1 – Your intellectual voice is calm and in control. You say to yourself, “I feel pumped about doing something positive for my body, mind and spirit.” Halfway through the day it’s, “This lemonade is interesting. I can get used to it.” And by nightfall, “OK I can see how this is going to take some effort but I’m in it to win it. Let’s go!”

Day 2 – The spaz in you temporarily takes over as you shout, to anyone who will listen, how totally fucking awesome you are for even attempting such a monumental task. “Wahoo!” you say. “I’m the king of the world! I can do anything! Uuuunstoppable! Yeow! Suck it naysayers, look at me now!”

Then comes Day 3. For anyone out there who is considering a cleanse, you really need to prepare yourself for Day 3. Day 3 is when you collapse. Your head hurts because you haven’t been drinking enough lemonade. You realize you hate the lemonade because it’s completely disgusting and find it impossible to take even one more sip. You argue with your partner or your best friend or the bus driver and feel fully justified because you’ve gone two whole days without food.

In a nutshell, your ego starts talking louder than your resolve. Much louder.

Right then, when you’re at your lowest, something like this will happen: your sister, who never has spare cash, will appear with spare cash and say, “Oh darn, you’re fasting? I wanted to take you to our favorite Thai restaurant on 23rd for dinner.” That bitch!

This will happen to you, I swear. But don’t hate her for this is not your real sister! This is an alien being come down to Earth to knock you off your path. This is your ego slipping in to remind you how much you suck at life and can’t finish anything you commit to. It’s your unconscious self pulling you back to your negative comfort zone. It’s the universe, it’s God, it’s Gaia, it’s anything you want to say it is testing your resolve.

Don’t let that stupid little voice win. Drink some lemonade and move on. Humans have been fasting since the dawn of time. Our bodies are capable of it and that’s all you need to know. What’s waiting for you on the other side is immeasurable growth and knowledge combined to equal freedom. You are strong enough. You can get there because you are enough.

Smoothies Are Out, But I’m Keeping The Juice

It usually takes me about 45 seconds to suck down a 16 ounce smoothie. I hardly even appreciate its flavor as it slides past my taste buds. Considering I own a smoothie cart and have been drinking one every day for years, it makes sense that I no longer pay much attention to them. Sad though since they’re so tasty! (The PSC is open in downtown Portland M-F from 10am-3pm – Ha ha! Just kidding!)

Well the one I had on Saturday took me about 3 hours to consume. And it wasn’t about savoring tastiness, there just wasn’t any room for it. Plus I felt guilty, like I was cheating myself, because that’s exactly what was happening. As my friend Travis put it, it just got in the way. It was a crutch in the way of my freedom.

How funny to think that after just a few days on a new path a fruit smoothie can feel like junk food, but it did. So they’re out. Smoothies are officially cut from the diet plan and I made it through yesterday and today without any issues. That means I am no longer consuming any solid food, only liquids from here on out.

So why exactly am I doing this?

The Physical

To look at me I seem to be an average healthy person and in a lot of ways I am. I’m at an average height and weight for my age. I like to exercise, do a lot of yoga, often commute to work by bike. I eat a decent vegetarian diet, meaning I don’t regularly gorge on junk food and I rarely drink alcohol or caffeine. I also sleep really well and meditate.

And yet, in the past few years I have had a flu that sent me to the emergency room with my throat swelling shut, a DVT blood clot in my calf, occupational allergic asthma that forced me to leave my job and be transferred to a different building, Lyme disease, epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, plantar fasciitis, pneumonia, various other inexplicable allergy attacks and, most recently, over two months of intense sciatica from a bulging disc and pinched nerve.

So I started to wonder, what gives?

I have a million theories: family health history, stress, environmental toxins from six years in New York City, too much soy, general inability to deal with emotions and who knows, maybe I’m just unlucky. I’m working on them all. In the meantime it seemed like a good idea to do a 10-day cleanse. Having completed two true Master Cleanses in the past I knew it to be a good way to release toxins and sort of set the clock back to zero or wipe the slate clean.

Abstaining from eating solid food allows the digestive system to take a few days off. That in turn frees up boat loads of energy for the body to use in healing itself. I’m doing this to allow my body to clear itself out and begin to heal from the inside.

Days 1 and 2 were OK; three was tough. Three was Hump Day (more on that later) but my resolve was strong enough to get me through and by Day 4 I was starting to feel better. The tides turned on Day 5. I woke up feeling fantastic. The sciatic pain was still in full force but my energy and drive were really amped up. It was on that day that I decided to go for it with a full forty days.

I have forever been skeptical of doctors and conventional medicines so I’m excited to take this journey and see what I can accomplish on my own with just the natural, instinctual ability of my body.

The Mental

This kind of process is all about mind over matter. Challenges remind me that I’m alive and capable. I’m the kind of person who thrives on responsibility and I look forward to checking this off as something I’ve accomplished.

The Emotional

This part is much harder for me to pin down. I’m a Pisces, my heart is constantly glowing on my sleeve no matter what emotion happens to be passing through. More often than not the emotions seem stuck and I resort to gloom and doom, always expecting the worst. Obviously it’s not just my astrological sign. It’s a combination of lessons I learned as a kid, mistakes I’ve made and the normal human tendency to be ruled by ego and guilt. It’s a real bummer of a way to live. At least it was for the first three decades.

At the dawn of my first Saturn Return at age 28 (yes, I’m totally into astrology) I started to actually pay attention to all the things that had been in my periphery for years, things I was drawn to but didn’t know why. I began voraciously reading the books on my shelf like The Tao Te Ching and Buddhism Without Beliefs. I joined a philosophy study group, tried to get serious about yoga, attended my first kirtan. I found Pronoia Is The Antidote For Paranoia, an entire book about how the universe is conspiring in our favor to shower us all with blessings, and I actually started to believe it.

Most importantly I confronted the negative roles alcohol and anger played in my life and began a long process of changing my relationship with them. It’s life-changing to wake up one day and realize you’ve spent your whole life being angry and you don’t want to do it anymore. I left a city I didn’t like, a relationship I wasn’t happy in, a job that made me crazy and moved my entire life to the opposite coast.

All of these things have led me to a pretty great time in my life. This present moment is a good one. While I’ve certainly made progress, it’s not enough. I still get really hung up on ideas and expectations of how I should be and everything that’s wrong with me and how I’m running out of time to accomplish the things I hold closest to my heart. What about marriage? What about motherhood? What about writing a novel and opening that bed & breakfast in the woods? These thoughts should be my hopes and dreams but instead they manifest as my worries and anxieties. I’m never going to be enough. I’m never going to wear all the hats I see at the store.

Peace and happiness can be elusive or tangible. We get to choose. This cleanse is the next step on my journey to tangibility.

The Stats

I bought my first scale today. I’ve never owned one as I think they promote paranoia. It’s bad enough I check my iPhone every 4 minutes for an incoming email, I don’t need to be thinking about my weight every day as well. But I am interested to see how big of a change I accomplish with this experience, keeping in mind that much of the initial loss is water weight and much of it will come back after I start eating again. Weight loss is not on my list of motivations for this cleanse but it’s inevitable and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is curious.

My scale is fancy. Somehow it calculates body fat and water percentages through my bare feet. I don’t know how that info will help me, but at the onset I’m within healthy range for my age (according to Weight Watchers who made the scale).

Since I’m already 6 days in I’m taking measurements with all my clothes on and padding them a bit to make up for what I’ve already lost.

So here are the approximate stats for Day 1:

Age – 32

Height – 5′ 6″

Weight – 140 lbs (I weighed in today at 135.6 lbs)

Body fat percentage – 24.3%

Body water percentage – 55.2%

Bust – 35 1/2″

Waist – 28″

Hips – 39″

Thigh – 21 1/2″

Calf – 15″

Bicep – 11″

Wrist – 5 1/2″

Finger – just kidding

I’ll update these at the halfway point and again at the end.

The Plan

First and foremost let me be clear up front: this is not a true Master Cleanse. (I don’t want any purists hatin’ up in here.) But it will resemble one.

My diet plan is as such:

– Lemonade (water, lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper) all day whenever I want it

– One Carrot/Apple/Ginger/Lime juice mid-day at work

– Jasmine Green tea in the evenings if I want it (It’s my fave)

– Red clover and vitex tea every now and then to gently deepen the detox effect (My sister recommended it)

– Laxative tea every now and then (I can’t bear it every day, I’m in enough pain as it is)

– Salt water flushes – undecided (They are gross!)

Forty days and forty nights. Start date was Monday September 20, 2010. I will start to come off of it on Saturday October 30, 2010 and be eating solid food again on Halloween.

**UPDATED 9/27**

I drank one all fruit smoothie a day for the first 6 days then decided to cut them from the plan

In the words of my dear friend Ericka, Are you nucking futs?!

The Beasties had no sleep ’til Brooklyn, and now I’ve got no food ’til Halloween.

Today is Friday September 24, 2010, aka Day 5 of my cleanse. A lot of things happened today, chief among them my decision to embark on a full forty day cleanse and blog about it for any interested parties.

More to come soon!