A few people have asked me to write about my experience with Missy Costello’s 30 day cleanse and even though I am not technically done with the cleanse until Feb 2nd, I thought I would share my thoughts now. I am pretty much on autopilot and short of someone tackling me and shoving a Snickers bar in my mouth, I will finish the next 5 days with no cheats. (Brian don’t get any ideas, I am pretty sure I can out run you since doing Insanity).
One of the first questions people asked me is why? Why would I subject myself to 30 days with no alcohol, sugar, caffeine, animal products (including, fish, eggs, dairy) and gluten. Well contrary to what some believe, I didn’t do it to lose weight. Actually, I remained very cognizant of my daily food intake to prevent weight loss since I am on the lean side right now. There were however, others in our group, which consisted of about 20 people, who wanted to and have lost weight. I chose to do this for a few reasons. First of all, I have wanted to get off coffee for a while. I have been been a two, sometimes three cupper a day for the past 20 years and have tried to eliminate it before. With the exception of my 3 pregnancies, I have been unsuccessful. Second of all, I also was getting a little too attached to my Clif bars. Since I spend a lot of time taxiing my kids around town, I had gotten into this rut of grabbing a bar (or two) on my way out the door. Add a protein shake in there, and I realized that I was eating 2 bars and a shake a day and not enough whole foods. When I did eat “real food”, I made good choices (or so I thought) but I was getting lazy and turning to more convenience foods that weren’t the best choices.
So when my good friend Kit told me she was doing this cleanse, I figured this was my chance to try to be successful. I had someone to suffer through this process with. I spend a lot of time working on the outside of my body, it was time to take care of the inside. Oh, another big reason I decided to do this was really to see if I could – I love a good challenge!!
I won’t lie to you, the first 5-6 days were HORRIBLE! Because I also used Splenda in my coffee, when I gave up both cold turkey, I had a splitting headache for 6 days and was very lethargic. Around 4 pm every day I would start counting the hours until I could go to bed. In the past, that would have been enough for me to throw in the towel but I approached it like I approached my first round of P90X – one day at a time. One day turned into two, then three and FINALLY by day seven, I started to feel like myself again. Not only that, I was starting to get more energy in the morning. I was waking up before my alarm and by the time I put my feet on the floor, I was wide awake and ready to hit the ground running. No more standing in front of the coffee maker, patiently drumming my fingers saying……”hurry up already”.
As for the food, this was a challenge mainly because I am a remedial cook at best. I don’t really enjoy cooking either but I knew I had to cook because otherwise I would not eat. We weren’t allowed ANY processed food with the exception of an occasional Larabar but they had 18 grams of sugar (from dates) and we were trying to keep the sugar intake below 5 grams. I saved them for my big big cravings and when I traveled to Philly.
So once again, I approached it like I approach my fitness. I planned out all my meals for the entire week and made big batches of food that I could easily heat up or grab and eat in the car. After about 10 days, any cravings for sugar completely disappeared and for me, getting off of sugar was much easier than coffee. I made and tried a lot of foods I had only heard about before and spent time in aisles at Whole Foods I had never ventured into. It was quite an experience watching me shop there. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure I was pronouncing the food correctly and a couple of times, when the very helpful associates pointed me in the right direction, I actually looked at the food and said “really?”. I think the big test for me was day 11 when my daughter asked if I would make her chocolate chip cookies, which are my biggest downfall. In the past, I would easily pop a few spoonfuls of cookie dough in my mouth while baking but I wasn’t even remotely tempted.
The key to my success here was support. I got it from many angles. My husband and children fully supported my efforts. There were also 19 others doing this with me. We had an email thread and everyone was sharing successes, struggles and recipes galore. I always tell people the reason I was so successful with P90X was due to the message boards. This felt very much the same. I especially am thankful for the support of my friend Kit Horton Caldicott. There were days at the beginning where we were emailing each other 5 times a day and I know that a few times both of us may have slipped had it not been for a two sentence encouraging text or email from each other.
I feel amazing on this cleanse. I have more energy, sleep better, I have less bloating (and all things relating to that), clearer sinuses and skin. I usually get bad eczema on my arms in the winter but so far nothing. Someone in my spin class told me my eyes seemed brighter. Not sure what that means, but heck I’ll take it!!!
One of the best lessons I have learned is that when you are out to eat and want your food cooked a certain way, you simply need to ask. When we were in Philly, I was with 4 of the healthiest eaters I know and we hardly ever ordered something directly off the menu (and it only took California Pizza Kitchen two tries to get Mark Brigg’s lunch correct – lol!). Sunday night I went to a 40th birthday dinner at a Country Club and I knew they had a pre-ordered meal so I called the host and asked if they could just give me a salad loaded with grilled veggies. The chef got on the phone with my friend and he was so accommodating. I won’t be “afraid” to ask for what I want again.
Another question I often get is what about your family. Even though, my family didn’t eat what I was eating, they definitely ate more veggies and fruits over the last month. I tried to incorporate my diet with theirs as much as I could. My daughter actually said my cooking has gotten better which isn’t saying much but it’s a start. I am hoping to incorporate more of the many awesome recipes we got into the family meals. I will not force it on them but plan on taking baby steps to get them to eat more whole foods as well.
So what happens on day 31. Well I know I will not go back to coffee, except maybe an occasional decaf. I just don’t need it anymore and don’t want to go through that detox ever again. I also will not go back to dairy. I now use Almond milk in my shakes and oatmeal and really love the taste. Add a little Agave Nectar and you don’t even realize what your missing. I will probably add back fish and chicken as I do miss them but probably not red meat. I am not a drinker so alcohol is not really an issue but I will probably have an occasional drink when the need arises – 😉 That leaves gluten and sugar. I am going to do my best to keep those to a minimum. My cravings have all but disappeared and I feel so much better having not eaten them for the past month.
Is this or any cleanse for you? Well that’s a decision only you can make. I liked it because there were no pills or potions – just good clean food. I can’t tell you how many people say to me “I COULD NEVER EVER DO THAT”. I initially thought that as welll but once I committed to doing this, I surrounded myself with like-minded people, made a plan, used a journal to write down my food and just took it one day at a time. If you are struggling with your nutrition or feel like you need a jump start, I highly recommend cutting out some or all of the aforementioned foods and see how you feel.
I wasn’t striving for perfection, just progress. I walk away from this mentally stronger. I am really proud of myself for succeeding here. It wasn’t easy but it was so worth it. I am so glad I have created new eating habits and have gotten a great education on what eating healthy REALLY means. Thanks so much Missy! Your guidance through this month has kept us all motivated and focused. You ROCK!!
February 1st is in a few days – I can’t think of a better time to take on a new challenge. I teach a boot camp and am starting a 30 day nutritional and fitness challenge with them on that date. I know that this was a radical change in my diet but I needed that kind of shakeup, again sort of like starting P90X. I do think that even making some of these changes will drastically improve how you feel. If you want to make real change, you got to get into that uncomfortable zone. These past 30 days have definitely been that. My adviceis to find a buddy, make a plan, and get started. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
For me, my next challenge will be to put on 10 lbs of muscle. I have the fitness programs and now the nutritional knowledge to make that happen. Game on people!!
In health and happiness,