Sunday, March 18, 2007

Spring Cleaning, Day 10 ...

The finish line is in sight.

This morning I drank my last ... whoa, wait a minute. I haven't shared all the cleanse details with you, have I?

Are we close enough? Can you take such an intimate revelation? Will it freak you out to no end to learn that every morning on the cleanse, I drink a quart of lukewarm saltwater?

Yeah, thought so.

To answer your questions - your questions are "Why the hell would you drink a quart of lukewarm saltwater?! Are you insane?!", am I right? - I'll say, well, it flushes out my system. You know, like a radiator.

Flushes out what?, you're asking. You haven't eaten for 10 days!

Ah, and therein lies the beauty - you know, metaphorically speaking - of the cleanse. The clease is kind of like Willy Wonka's factory: Nobody ever goes in, but wonderful Wonka creations keep coming out.

Not that I'm comparing my cleanse results to Wonka creations. Everlasting Gobstoppers would be a bitch to pass.

You come to realize, though, doing the cleanse, just how necessary cleanses are, because indeed, nothing is going in, but indeed, something is still coming out. Which means it's stuff that's just been hangin' out in my body for God knows how long.

I know: BLECH!, right?


That's the point.

Every day, we cram out bodies full of crap (no pun intended), crap which our bodies need many, many hours to process, and then, at the next meal, we cram in more crap. Now we have two meals of crap to digest and then along comes dinner, and we eat the biggest meal of the day and our bodies are like the pissy woman behind the counter at the DMV: She doesn't care if you want her to move any faster, she's a government employee, dammit, and she's only going to do what she's capable of doing. If the line is 50 people long, she could care less. They'll just have to wait.

But the DMV's air conditioning has just gone out, and it's August, and there are no windows. And someone just got in line who ate garlic for breakfast and is sweating like Albert Brooks in "Broadcast News." Getting kinda putrid in there, eh?

Welcome to your stomach.

Mmm, mmm!

So, with the cleanse, you give your body a chance to clear out the backlog and then give your organs a much-needed rest and the saltwater is a bath for your digestive tract.

Yes, that means what you think it means. That's why you don't leave the house for a couple hours after you drink it.

And so, for the remainder of the day, I'll drink my lemonade gunk and then tomorrow, I'll start weaning my system back onto food. First, juice. Then, simple vegetable soup. Then salad.

Though I really want peanut M&Ms.

The main motivation for doing the cleanse this year, aside from the general benefits, is to set the stage for more of a raw diet. Not entirely raw, but more raw.

Kelley gave me The Raw Food Detox Diet last month, and I've since given copies to my mom and Dave. I really like Natalia Rose's approach to food. She's not a raw nazi, she doesn't demand that everyone eat carrots for the rest of their lives, but she encourages people to consider how their bodies process different foods and how those foods nourish us, and eat them properly for maximum benefit.

For example, our bodies digest fruit faster than any other food, so fruit should be eaten by itself, lest it be stuck hanging around in our stomachs - rotting, essentially - while we process the other foods we might have eaten with it.

And some foods combine well with others and others don't, so it makes sense to avoid the combinations that are too taxing for our systems. She's not forbidding any food, just suggesting that we be mindful of how we eat them in combinations with other foods.

The most elegant principle, though, is eating light to heavy. Eating the lightest foods in the morning (freshly made juices and fruit), salads and such at midday, and the biggest meal in the evening. Which isn't to say she's suggesting eating a pound of pasta and a loaf of bread, but if you're going to eat foods that will take your body more time to digest (like meat, for example), you should give your body the most time to digest it (the rest of the evening and overnight). And then, in the morning, while your body is finishing its work on the food from the night before, you have juice and fruit so as not to pile on, as it were. You go easy on your body while it's finishing the previous day's cycle.

It all makes total sense, even if it flies in the face of what most of us have been told most of our lives: Eat a hearty breakfast!

Being on the cleanse makes you realize how little your body really needs to sustain itself. I haven't had a bite of food since March 8. And I feel fine. I've exercised every day, just like usual. I've worked every day, just like usual. I've run errands and done chores and everything else that comes with a day. The only real change is most of the time, I did it with a sweatshirt on because I was chilled. But otherwise, I've felt completely fine. All on a diet of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water.

And I'm thinner! Some of the weight will come back when I return to food, but the food I'll be returning to will be healthier than before (we won't count the peanut M&Ms! - hey, I've earned a few peanut M&Ms!) and I walk every day, so any return of weight will be quickly dispatched.

Most of all, though, there's the feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing something you didn't think you could do. I've done the cleanse before, but every time is a bit of a struggle. So much of our lives centers around food. When you remove food from the equation, even for 10 days, it gives you a lot of time to think about how food functions in your life. We use it to celebrate, we use it to console, we use it to comfort, we use it to combat boredom. Food is much more than fuel.

So, another year, another cleanse coming to a close.

I don't think I'll want a glass of lemonade for a long time.


Blogger Markbnj said...

Yecch. Sorry Beth, but even though I've been a vegetarian for almost 30 years, I've never done the fast/cleansing thing.
Glad you are able to do it. More power to you.

It's ifyki to me (my word verification response...)

I think it's a great concept, and if I can have my liquid iced coffee every day, and perhaps a soup that I blend into liquid I might be able to stomach it for a few days.

But life goes on.

The important question.
does it help your voice?

Markb in nj

8:42 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yep, the details ain't pretty.

But it's well worth doing. For me, anyway.

I'm sure it helped my voice. : o )

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Pat said...

I don't know, man, all the stuff I've seen/read says that you'd get the same results just by upping your intake of spinach or broccoli. That will do just as good of a job of flushing the system than a week of drinking saltwater (nasty).

7:25 AM  

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