Finding a Plan: The Cleanse

I hate the word “diet.” To me, the connotation is a quick fix, where the only goal is to get skinny. Skinny is the least of my concerns at this point. I am more focused on healthy. So, my goal right now (and always) is to change my general way of living. I don’t want a temporary fix.

I started this lifestyle change about three months ago: cutting out fried foods, cheese and saturated fats in general, plus sweets, limiting starches and trying to make sure vegetables and fruits were my major food groups. It was going pretty well. I wasn’t even monitoring weight loss, I just wanted to get into a groove where eating really healthy seemed normal.

Last year I was really dependent on take out food for most of my meals. Turns out, when you let restaurants make your food for you, there is no way to regulate what’s in it. So even if I was eating tofu with vegetables (which I was…some of the time), there’s still the (strong) possibility that it’s tofu, vegetables and like 2 cups of vegetable oil and a pound of salt. And let’s not kid ourselves, for every night 0f tofu and vegetables there was a night of half a cheese pizza and a small pile of breadsticks.

So somewhere in December I finally decided to get my act together. I am not adverse to cooking and eating vegetables, I just needed to start getting used to it again. I started using an online/phone app program for calorie counting (, because I did it once before and was very successful. I like calorie counting because it helps me set limits for myself. I like the simple arithmetic of it: figure out how many calories your body needs to stay nourished but lose its excess, then only eat things up to that particular stopping point. I like how cut and dry that system is–it is easy to understand and thus easy to follow. So things were going great for a while. But then, in February I took the bar exam.

If you’ve never taken a bar exam, be happy about that. It is a terrible, long and grueling process: study for twelve-fifteen hours a day for six weeks, and then take a two day intensive standardized exam, on which your entire future relies. It’s a little bit stressful. Thus, calorie counting was not nearly as a high a priority as avoiding a mental breakdown, so I replaced salads and roasted vegetables with whatever the hell I wanted. After the exam was over I told myself I could have a week where I could indulge in doing eating as I pleased: cupcakes, pizza, noodles in cream sauce, breaded chicken, cookies, nachos and more than a couple 7 & 7’s.

When this whirlwind of gluttony settled down, I felt gross. Instead of feeling like I had finally gotten over the post-bar exhaustion, I felt worse. So, I decided I needed to rejuvenate. That brings us almost to present day.

I’ve done cleanses before, but mass-marketed ones that didn’t really work. This time, I wantit to be different, because again, I’m concerned with healthiness more than getting skinny. I can only assume weight loss is a natural side effect of treating my body better. Since I’m just looking for a quick fix, I did some research.

I’ve wavered a lot over whether my cleanse should incorporate detox supplements or should be just based on foods and liquids. Ultimately I have decided on cleansing through diet, and if it doesn’t seem to be working, maybe I will reevaluate.

A cleanse means exactly what it implies. It cleans out disgusting things that have built up inside our bodies due to things like junk food, alcohol or smoke. It mostly focuses on the colon and the liver, which are the major organs for filtering things, and so that’s where a lot of build up occurs. But, I don’t want to get too gross about stuff.

So I’ve spent a lot of time searching around the Internet for a good cleanse that would make me feel refreshed and less run down, and to rid my body of the bad mojo left behind by the bar exam.

I found one online that I really like: The Whole Living 2012 Action Plan. Whole Living is a site apparently owned by Martha Stewart’s media regime, which kind of explains why the site’s recipes involve a lot of time and money. Sadly, I do not own a media conglomerate and do not really want to buy an entire bunch of fennel so I can use a half cup. But still, I really like the holistic approach of this cleanse. It incorporates simple exercises and meditation into the cleansing process. Plus, the fact that it starts out super intense and then gradually gets easier, will hopefully make it easier to be able to keep up the lifestyle when the actual cleansing is over.

But, like I said a lot of the recipes sound either expensive or inedible, so I have been looking for other options too. There is a lot of information available about what foods are good for cleansing/detoxing. I’ve decided I am going to use the basic setup of the Whole Living program, but incorporate different recipes using only detoxing/cleansing foods.

The gist of everything I read is that this is basically a raw foods diet. A cleanse diet should be almost entirely made up of fresh produce, maybe some oils and a legume here and there, but no sugar, starch or animal products. This is like choosing the hardest level on a video game. Exciting, challenging but there’s a good chance I will die*! (*not resulting in actual death.)

I am really excited to get started on this. I think it will be a great experience and a really good way to get both my body and brain accustomed to healthy living.

ps here are some resources for cleansing foods:


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Healthy recipes and all my thoughts about physical and mental health.

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