Category Archives: cleanse

It’s over

I scoffed at the Drynuary guy who granted himself an early dismissal hall pass from his alchohol-free January. But then last night, watching the Australian Open on Lucy’s couch, she offered me a glass of wine. And I accepted. So the cleanse is over, a little early and, I’m guessing, a lot shy on results. What did I accomplish? Twenty days of no drinking and mostly no gluten, processed foods and animal products. A break from unchecked consumptions; brakes on a diet gone bonkers. But weight loss? I don’t think so. This morning that wine — which didn’t taste as good as I thought it would — made my head fuzzy. Stepping out into the gray and bracing January morning, I felt slowed, bloated, desperate for coffee.

Bigger news: Obama’s administration is over, too. Washington is looking gray as well, with a wash of red over the Inauguration crowd — all those “Make America Great Again” hats casting a bloody glow. I’d post a photo, but I can’t bear looking at it.

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Cleanse, Day 18

If I am honest, this cleanse’s only real rigor is around alcohol. I’ve had coffee (and milk in it) every morning, a little couscous (gluten), some tortilla chips (processed food) and, last night, chicken tika with nan. Not a lot of any of this over the course of 18 days but not the strict adherence  I once thought was the magic behind the cleanse — the results being 5 pounds lost, better sleep, clarity of mind.

So, then, results for a relaxed (for me) exclusion diet? Abstaining from alcohol is the key to better sleep, better moods and clearer thinking. I eat more (and better) food, when I don’t have to accommodate the calories in wine, so I have better energy. Wine makes me sleepy, which means I struggle to stay awake in the evening, getting in bed at 9:30, only to wake up at 2 or 3. Poor sleep means fatigue during the day, which affects my moods — the week feels like a slog, I can’t find pleasure in it, I just want to crawl into bed with Netflix. Wine can also make for what I think of as matchstick moods — irritability, impatience, anger. Much more can be written about this (hello passive voice! I’m on to you!) but not right now.

The above sounds so logical and so self-evident that a reasonable person would skip the stupid cleanse and stop drinking wine on weeknights or most weeknights. More on this too: being a reasonable person. 

As for weight loss, I’ve been reading more about set-point weight and the body’s old survival-mode insistence on regaining lost pounds. From “Why You Can’t Lose Weight On A Diet” (May 6, 2016 by Sandra Aamodt, author of “Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession With Weight Loss.”)

Metabolic suppression is one of several powerful tools that the brain uses to keep the body within a certain weight range, called the set point. The range, which varies from person to person, is determined by genes and life experience. When dieters’ weight drops below it, they not only burn fewer calories but also produce more hunger-inducing hormones and find eating more rewarding.

The net-net is precisely what I’ve found: it’s easier to lose weight than it is to keep it off. Post weight loss, even extreme measures will be rewarded by regaining those pounds: exercising daily (me), counting calories with an app (me), cleansing (me). The only question is how quickly you’ll put it back on. I lost 20 pounds and, after two years, have regained 10. Can I be a reasonable person and just accept that?

 

 

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Cleanse, Day 6

What people say about me, the cleanse bore, at the office.

cleanse-cartoon

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Cleanse Day 2

Last night I felt a stir of temptation as I walked past a cabinet full of wine bottles, one of them gleaming redly at me. I’m open, it said, its cork tipped to one side. His name was Mark West and he stood shoulder to shoulder to another tempting-looking fellow, a Kendall Jackson. My heart beat, redly. My cheeks flushed, redly. But I kept going, into the kitchen, where I poured myself a glass of water.

stairs

Walk on by

I read a profile by the founder of Drynuary – not a fun name, either to say or spell, but it’s not such a fun concept either. John Ore has made a brand around not drinking in January. All 31 days, or so he intends, while freely admitting to a mid-month tipple one year and an “early dismissal” another, due to a dinner at Peter Luger’s (kind of a lame excuse, but who am I to judge?)

Ore sounds nicely non-evangelical, even ambivalent, about his brand. “Drynuary forces us to consider the the role alcohol plays in our everyday lives, especially when its absence is the most obvious or stark. My wife and I don’t hibernate for a month, sipping herbal teas and avoiding glances at the stemware…” he writes. But “by the fourth week,” he says, “I’m sick of whatever it is that used to be interesting about this.”

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Cleanse Day 1

lunch

Virtuous, right? Note the drink: not wine. The white linen napkin, white bowl, the burlap tablecloth, all matching the mood of abstention, if not sanctimony. Not pictured: coffee with half-and-half, the first cheat of the 21-day cleanse.

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Cleanse Day 17

What’s most revealing about this process is discovering the foods I really crave and those I never think about. Meat, for instance: Don’t need it, never crosses my mind. Cheese, pasta, bread and sweets (except for a brief infatuation with a slab of fudge last night): same.

Wine, though, a deep red on a winter’s night, or a fizzy Vinho Verde after work. I miss the way it alters my mood, mellows my jangliness. I imagine a Friday without a nice glass of something and it feels like a desert of virtue. Work, followed by more work, followed by finally folding myself into my covers, as sober as a vicar. I think I’m a wino.

 

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Cleanse Day 1

herbs in cheesecloth

herbs in cheesecloth

I start with the incalculable enthusiasm, untempted by coffee and, as the evening beckons, wine. Chai with soy milk for breakfast, a Kind bar for the plane. The rules, lest we’ve forgotten:

  • No alcohol
  • No dairy
  • No animal-based foods of any kind (vegan, that is)
  • No gluten
  • No processed foods
  • No caffeine (this one we can ignore)
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