Cleansing

This is my third day of the Master Cleanse. I’ve done this one other time… about 5 months ago, for only three days. The goal is ten days.

For those unfamiliar, this is the cleanse that involves lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper – I’m sure you’ve heard of it. You eat nothing other than a lemonade concoction and a salt water flush every morning, natural laxative tea every night and mint tea occasionally… for ten days.

Frankly, I did this the first time because:

  1. I have been overweight to varying degrees all my life (sometimes fat, other times obese, never anything else)
  2. I have been dieting with varying degrees of success all my life (I have lost as much as 60 pounds three or four times in my life and have always gained most of that weight back)
  3. I have picked up some nasty habits over the years, including a deafening dependency on coffee and a nightly alcohol intake (sometimes just one glass of wine, sometimes a great IPA and a glass of Makers Mark neat – my favorite)

I looked forward to the nightly drink and morning coffee A LOT.  I’m not positive I was an alcoholic, but I was definitely a coffeeholic.  I was also noticing that I sometimes didn’t know when to stop either of them.  The first cup/drink was always the best and all following were just an attempt to return to that feeling, which of course, never happens.

I’d also noticed that I often didn’t feel 100% “together.”  I’d feel jittery or sluggish, drowsy or anxious.  I know I’m not 20 years old anymore, but I actually wondered if my mind was aging and this is what I had to look forward to for the rest of my life.  That frightened me.

And let’s not forget that both coffee and alcohol can take the place of food – that is to say, they both can eliminate the urge to eat.

Now let’s be clear that I’m a successful career woman with great friends and family and a pretty damn fantastic life.  That said, I was frustrated that I was over-eating and drinking in the day-to-day course of my life.  Any my brain and body were paying the usual price.

As all of this was swimming around in my system, I heard about the Master Cleanse from several different sources.  It kept coming up in conversation, or on the television show I was watching or radio program I heard on my way to work.  Yes, I thought this was a sign.

I had done cleanses before, but nothing nearly as dramatic as this one – I had never gone more than 24 hours without any solid food.  When I initially heard about this particular cleanse, I thought it was ridiculous.  When I googled it, I was in the middle the perfect storm of “a sign,” along with emotional angst, physical discomfort and ever tightening clothing.  I gave it a shot.

The first time I did the cleanse I journaled everyday and cleansed other aspects of my life as well: I didn’t watch television or listen to anything but peaceful music.  I worked, which requires that I participate in social media, but I tried to keep it to a minimum.  I allowed myself to think and feel everything I thought and felt.  That is to say, I didn’t make excuses or label anything right or wrong, good or bad.  I said to myself, I don’t like that thought/feeling, but I’m having it, so it’s a part of me.  What is it; why is it.  Sometimes I didn’t question or examine, I just thought and felt.  And I slept A LOT.  All of this happened in three days.

During that time I was suffering acute caffeine withdrawal symptoms.  I was irritable and uncomfortable as hell.  I didn’t realize how bad it would be, and had made the mistake of beginning on a Wednesday, meaning that I had to work all three days of my cleanse.  That wasn’t smart; however, by the fourth day, I felt so good, I considered staying on the cleanse, though I had already made plans to end it.  The last night I barely slept – I just laid there and thought CLEARLY through some problems and issues and comfortably made some big decisions, including a relationship change and move.  It was very, very good.

I didn’t go back to my coffee habit, but did eventually start drinking decaf, which I know contains traces of caffeine, and the occasional diet coke… with rum.  It took awhile for me to start drinking any type of alcohol again and I didn’t go back to the quantity I once enjoyed, but I did go back to a nearly nightly habit.  DAMN!

So… I am doing it again.  I figure I’ll just continue to get a little better at taking care of myself every time I do it.  I’ll also work my way up to the full ten days eventually.  This is a five day cleanse, chosen because I had to squeeze it between a fundraiser at work and a vacation.  The last time I did this I was soooo tired, I didn’t dare try it again during such a busy time at work, and of course, this is difficult to do when traveling (which requires nearly 24 hours straight between airports and shuttles, as I live in Hawaii and am traveling to visit family in Chicagoland).

I began the cleanse on Friday morning (though I did only fruit and vegetables on Thursday).  Today is Sunday.  Last time I only surfed around for information.  This time I got Peter Glickman’s book on the subject – I am MUCH better informed this time.

Here is what I’m experiencing:

  • Thus far, I’ve only had minor fatigue issues.  In fact, I feel pretty damn good
  • I have been a busy bee, completing several projects over the weekend.
  • Part of the reason I’ve gotten so much done is that I seem to have ADD; it’s easier to do things than not
  • I now recognize that the act of cooking and eating, drinking and watching television all do the same thing – they occupy me.  I like to be occupied.
  • Because I’ve spent the majority of my life either racing from work to rehearsal, running several offices, dealing with home (cooking, cleaning, decorating, mowing, weeding, shoveling, etc.), eating and drinking to excess… I don’t really know what to do without some sort of flourish of activity or mind-numbery.

That’s my story thus far.  Pretty good realizations, eh?  I should add that there is a biological nastiness to this cleansing business.  The quart of salt water you have to drink every morning causes about two hours of intermittent “flushing.”  Which is to say, the salt water goes right through you – with gusto – and carries with it all sorts of detritus.  It’s not pleasant, it’s not pretty and it’s not easy.  You must awake and drink the giant nasty beverage two hours before you have to be anywhere.  You cannot skip the step and you cannot trust your sphincter more than ten paces away from a bathroom.

Did I mention that I feel awesome?  I do – it’s totally worth it.