why i hate cleanses… but did one

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This week I did something I never thought I’d do: a cleanse.

Sure, they are quite popular lately along with “juicing” and “detoxing” and all that jazz.

But after 10 years of battling with my ego about my weight, I have adopted Geneen Roth’s philosophy and haven’t looked back.

Miraculously, I lost the weight I had struggled to lose for so long by getting to the root of the emotional eating. So now I eat whatever I want, until I am satisfied.

However, my stomach has developed its own personality over the last two years. His name is Hank.

Hank is a husky little seven-year-old that likes to eat burgers, mac and cheese, popcorn, sweet potato fries, and beer (not that seven-year-olds drink beer, but we’ll stick with the visual).

Anyways, Hank has been happy eating what he likes and generally splits his meals with Sophie.* Which means I have been able to eat whatever I like without gaining weight by eating smaller portions, running a few days a week, and consuming some foods not listed on Hank’s Top 10 List.

Be that as it may, over the past few months I have noticed that I have looked good but didn’t necessarily feel amazing. Chop it up to the En Fuego burger I had on Sunday.

Either way, when I saw Jill’s recap of her recent Dr. Oz cleanse, something about it made me ponder whether I should give it a try.

So after promising myself a million times over that I wasn’t doing this so that my ego could “lose weight,” I talked Mr. Lively into doing it with me.

If nothing else I thought it would be an interesting adventure for us and would snap Hank out of his burger coma.

Just hours later we went to the Trader Joe’s and stocked up. We knew we needed to do this thing before Sophie* and Hank had any real clue as to what we were planning.

We bought the 17 pounds (okay, I exaggerate) of fruits and veggies and also swung by Bed, Bath, & Beyond for a blender. Because despite all the wedding gift cliches, we didn’t get a blender.

Bright and early on Monday morning I got into smoothie mode and made myself and Mr. Lively our breakfast and lunch smoothies. Unfortunately, we did not escape the blender cliche. It did indeed explode on me after two smoothies.

We had read enough terrible things about the lunch smoothie online to know that we should ditch the celery in the lunch drink. Which meant the drinks weren’t gross.

Not quite Hank’s “jam,” but not too bad.

Sophie on the other hand was loving the smoothies. Since Mr. Lively got his wisdom teeth out last week he enjoyed the chance to continue to eat blended foods as he recovered.

As the first day went on we were both really satisfied and rather energized (I’ll also admit that neither of us was avoiding caffeine, which was recommended). Instead of the suggested afternoon snack smoothie, I ate the banana and almond butter listed in the breakfast shake on their own in solid form. This hit the spot and I felt great the rest of the day.

By the time Mr. Lively got home for work we were blending our dinner smoothie and espousing the wonders of cleanses. Things were great! 

We were that annoyingly cute couple in the kitchen scene during <any rom-com title here>.

Then came day two.

Day two started off pretty well. We pre-blended our first two drinks of the day the night before. So it was all about chugging it down.

For me, the breakfast one had lost a bit of it’s charm the second time around. I only drank 75% of it.

Then as I sipped tea at a coffee shop during a meeting, I found myself avoiding the walk home. Not because of the cold temperature, but because I really didn’t want to drink that lunch smoothie.

This is where things started to go awry.

Quickly the “cleanse” turned into an unintended “fast.”

Instead of eating the lunch smoothie I scarfed down another banana and almond butter.

Hours later, I started to get hungry. Very hungry.

The idea of eating anything fibrous in a semi-solid form remained horrifying.

So I continued to not eat. Instead, I dreamed about the leftover En Fuego burger and fries frozen in the freezer. The pesto and pasta we had on Sunday, again frozen in the freezer. The pumpkin cheesecake that lay chilled in that da*n freezer.

Heck, I woulda settled happily for pretzel chips and spinach, kale, and Greek yogurt dip. That’s close enough to a smoothie, right?

Meanwhile Mr. Lively was going on six days of soft food since the surgery. By the second afternoon he started to feel lightheaded at work from the hunger and jaw pain still present after the procedure. He came home from work and ate clam chowder to revive himself.

So then it was just me. On the cleanse alone. Jonesing for some mac and cheese.

Anyways, long story short I finally did eat a bit of the lunch smoothie and decided that for dinner I was going to go solid state with the suggested food list.

The winning ingredients turned out to be an avocado, homemade salt-less kale chips, and spoonfuls of almond butter.

But even this strange dinner was no substitute for “real food” (read: cheese and bread).

I seriously considered throwing in the towel at that point. I was hungry, nay, lightheaded and I wasn’t about to eat another blended drink.

To ease my pain I decided to complain to Facebook.

Jill, my cleanse inspiration friend, chimed in right away.


Oooo, snap. 

Jill called out my ego pronto. And even though my hungry, carb-craved mind ego disagreed with her, it made me pull away from that freezer full of awesome food.

Instead, I spent some time reading up on the effects of the cleanse. (And yes, I googled for negative reviews about the cleanse. Hey, misery loves company.)

Once I had a broader understanding as to why this might be a good thing to do beyond just a fruit and veggie boot camp for Hank, my resolve strengthened enough to get me through the night.

I’ll also mention that I discovered full episodes of Sarah’s House last night as well which made this whole thing a million times easier to handle. Well, apart from the DiGiorno’s pizza commercials every four minutes.

After four hours of Sarah Richardson, I was ready to go to bed. Hungry? Yes. But I was also proud that I hadn’t caved.

Miraculously, true to all the reports, I did wake up feeling really good this morning.

The worst of it was over.

Still wary of smoothies, I decided to make my own variation on the breakfast drink and added blueberries and extra almond butter in place of the banana (since we ran out). Much better tasting, in my opinion.

For lunch I wasn’t about to drink the green concoction so I settled on a bowl of blueberries and almond butter.

Which brings me to this moment.

I haven’t honestly decided what I’m doing for dinner yet. I may go with more solid versions of the suggested foods since I’ve stayed true to the list so far. Or, I might let myself off the hook.

Either way, I thought I’d share what this experience has been like for me, for Hank, and for Sophie (who is loving herself some chocolate protein powder in her smoothies).

Will this experience help me to con Hank into eating more plants and fulfill my ultimate intention all along?

Quite possibly.

Though Day Two was far from easy, I do feel “cleansed” enough that the idea of returning back to my old habits completely does not sound appealing. My body is liking this more fruitful approach to eating.

Even if Hank is still skeptical.



* We call Mr. Lively’s stomach Sophie. She is a little seven-year-old French girl that likes to eat dark chocolate, baguettes, cheese, and red wine (again, not sure why she’s drinking at seven years old).


This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Meghan Elizabeth

    I agree, it’s pretty darn hard to choke down that many smoothies, even if they are all delicious (hardly…)

  2. Jillian Withee

    I don’t like to tell people what to do about their eating, but I thought I would chime in here because cleanses have always sounded pretty miserable to me, and I think you’ve confirmed my suspicions. If you want to curb cravings and reset your body, maybe look into the Whole 9 website and the book It Start’s With Food and then do a Whole 30. I feel like this systematic, well researched approach might be something you would enjoy. Good luck!

    1. Jess Lively

      Very nice! I’m happy to say for myself I’m heading back to normal eating as planned… this time with more fruits and veggies. Because despite day two being tough, I really did feel great by day three and today. Success!

  3. Jess Lively

    Very nice! I’m excited that I now actually want to eat more fruits and veggies. And I might even throw in a few smoothies every now and then : ).

  4. Sage Grayson

    Oh, I totally get what you’re going through. My husband and I are doing the juice fast from the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” One unpleasant side effect: I’m insanely angry all the time. Good luck!

    1. Jess Lively

      Lol! I’m sorry to hear about the anger. I went through a huge bout of that with a poorly fit birth control prescription… *not* fun.

  5. I’m not sure I could ever do a juice-only or smoothie-only cleanse, although I’ve definitely considered it. Last year though I did a detox that incorporated a lot of yummy meals that weren’t pureed, and it was delicious and totally something I could envision doing again: Whole Living Magazine’s 2012 Action Plan: http://www.wholeliving.com/152870/2012-whole-living-action-plan (I think they publish a new plan every year, but I can speak from experience that last year’s was full of yummy, satisfying, healthy meals!)

    1. Jess Lively

      Very nice! The idea of mixing in real foods not just smoothies definitely sounds great.

  6. Paulene Cruse

    You are a brave soul, Jess. I don’t know how I would do with a cleanse but I totally understand the feeling of looking great, yet not feeling great. I definitely need to work on eating cleaner. I love how you and Mr. Lively have nicknames for your stomaches – too cute!

    1. Jess Lively

      Thanks! I have to say, despite my rather wry description, I have really felt great since the third day and I’m now really eating better since the cleanse (with a bit of those leftovers thrown in). It’s hard on the second day, but was worth it in my book for this great feeling now!

  7. Jane Bruner

    Your stomach names crack me up! Thanks for sharing your experience – I’ve been thinking about trying a cleanse myself. Like you, I don’t want to lose weight, but I’d just like to clean up my diet a bit.

  8. Angie

    Hi! First, I just found this blog and think you’re absolutely fantastic! I wish we were bff! My Mom convinced me to do this exact cleanse this year and I had the same thoughts as you… I have a similar background to you as well (eating wise), and am finding your blog very helpful. I’ve never felt brave enough to give up my obsession and actually never thought of it as a solution, but I’m going to write and pray about it today and find strength daily to remind myself not to listen to the ego voice. Gosh, I don’t know how you do it! Anyways, getting back to the cleanse. I’m not so sure it’s a good cleanse. I followed it to a T the first two days and developed SEVERE leg cramps the third night. I’m a runner, too, and I think the lack of protein was tough on my muscles. My Mom called me the third day and, without me telling her what happened to me the night prior, told me that she was up all night with leg cramps. So, I abandoned it on the third day… I don’t think our bodies need to be “cleansed”. I think they are pretty good at cleaning themselves. So, anyways, thanks for starting this blog and for being awesome. Here goes my try at overcoming my ego’s control of my eating and thinking… 🙂

  9. Eileen Mulloy

    i recently finished a 14 day vegan food cleanse which is less about fasting and juicing and more about detoxing off caffeine, sugar, processed foods, and eating as much whole fresh produce as your heart desires.

    i had a ROUGH, and i mean ROUGH time during the first week. i was crabby, emotional, and dealing with a three day long headache per the detox. but; after the first few days i couldn’t believe the change in my body and mind. i think the hardest part mentally for me was learning to switch my mind over to thinking about what new foods i had to prepare and plan my meals around. it’s so easy to get comfortable with the idea of take-out or something quick from the freezer as a means to a dinner after a long day. planning to make a root vegetable stew on a tuesday night is a little harder.

    thanks for sharing your experiences here! it’s always wonderful to read someone’s reaction to a similar situation. i’ve been writing about the cleanse i did over on my blog, as well. in fact, it helps inspire the start of a new series focused on discussing health with other bloggers. check it out if you’re so inclined: http://leanerbythelake.com/tag/mindful-health/

  10. Suzanne Martis

    After reading your and Jill’s review of the cleanse, I decided to give it a shot. Plus a bunch of my friends just completed the Blueprint cleanse and I figured smoothies were better than straight juice Today, I am actually at the end of day 2 on this and today wasn’t so bad. I did have a terrible time last night where I might have craved bread, and bagels, and pretzels, and more bread, and cupcakes, and Dots so bad I could have screamed. But instead I complained about it for about 20 minutes, then sucked it up for about 20 minutes, and then decided to go to bed. This morning I woke up about an hour before my alarm feeling like a champ. I didn’t have the snack smoothie today and I am feeling a tad hungry. I might eat some celery to curb that feeling. I hope that tomorrow goes as well as today. Thanks for your honest review of how it went for you!

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