One line disclaimer: I’m not a doctor of any kind. Don’t do anything stupid. It is recommended that you do any cleanse or extreme diet under doctor supervision. Ok, there.
Today’s a good today. I just completed a 21-day cleanse! That’s 21 days of eating nothing but fruits, veggies, chicken, fish, brown rice and lentils. I’ve lost around 7 lbs, at least an inch from my middle (maybe more… all my pants feel looser and I even fit into some old jeans that were too tight) and I feel pretty great. Today I can eat whatever I want and the crazy thing is… I’ll probably keep eating that same way. Trust me, I’m more shocked than any of you.
The cleanse that I just completely is called the Standard Process and you can read about it here on their website. So many of you have asked me about this that I decided to write a blog about it to answer all of your questions (including the common “Are you crazy!?). The main question I get is why do a cleanse? Welp, when my friend Sheena mentioned on Easter Sunday that she was going to start this cleanse, I thought it sounded like a good idea. I knew it would be good for my body and help me shed a few of these marriage pounds, so that was enough for me. But when I started reading about it, the list of reasons to cleanse were pretty long. Here is what Standard Process has to say about it:
“Purification, also known as detoxification, can help you remove natural toxins from your body and help maintain a healthy weight. We are exposed to external toxins everyday, including pollutants, pesticides, and chemicals. Internally our bodies produce waste byproducts as a result of normal metabolic function. Although your body is designed to rid itself of these toxins naturally, it can become overburdened. Purification offers your body additional support to expel natural toxins and minimize your weight, which is important to maintaining your health and vitality.”
Being out in the world today DOES effect our body no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Things in the air, the ground, in our shampoos and soaps, the junk they spray on your fruits and veggies… all of that is in your body. The foods you eat — even the good foods — can be affecting your body. You might have intolerances to the foods you eat every day. How do you find out? By cutting everything out, cleaning your system and, later, adding them in one by one.
Basically, when you cleanse your body, it’s like pushing a re-start button for all your insides. If you get sleepy mid-day, have trouble catching your zzz’s at night, have infertility struggles or just want to have a healthy baby (do NOT cleanse if you are already prego or nursing… that baby needs all the nutrients it can get), can’t lose weight no matter how hard you try, have that constant foggy head, crave certain foods all the time (for me it was cheese and bread) or just want to do something good for your body, this is for you.
Still following? What you really wanna know is what does it mean to do a 21-day cleanse. What in the WORLD do you get to eat?
Fruits. Veggies. Lentils. Brown rice. Oils (selected like olive or coconut). Spices (the lifesavers). And later… chicken and fish. All organic. All fresh or frozen. That means nothing pre-made or pre-packaged with the one exception of canned tomatoes.
Honestly, before I started I wasn’t sure I was gonna be able to do this. I mean, we eat pretty healthy at home with a couple vegetarian dinners a week, but NEVER a full day of just veggies and fruit. I was gonna miss my cheese (I
have had a small addiction to cheese), I loved bread and ate as much as possible, and even some of the vegan recipes I looked up were off limits (they had things like beans, nuts and quinoa in them… no go for the cleanse). On top of that, I was going to be cleansing on Cinco De Mayo (no chips or ritas for me. *sigh*), at a baby shower (hello all the foods I love in one place!) and a mother’s day lunch where a chocolate fountain tested my willpower.
The first ten days you can only eat fruits and veggies with half a cup of brown rice OR 1 cup of lentils a day. After the ten days you can add in fish and chicken, which I happily did. The cleanse also includes supplements which you have to take in order for this whole thing to really do it’s job. That’s 21 cleanse pills a day for the first 8 days (if I can do it, you can do it. I have a pill swallowing phobia thanks to my cartoon sized tonsils) and then 10 green pills a day after that. You can buy them from Standard Process or save a little money and get them off of Amazon instead.
So how did I do it? I had a plan, I always had snacks on me and I made delicious recipes. Sounds easy? That’s cause it is! Don’t try to survive 21 days on just salads… you’ll go crazy. Instead, get creative!
Each day started our with a smoothie… that wasn’t anything totally new for me. The catch, though, was that I couldn’t add any fruit juice unless I squeezed it myself and I had to added a couple of scoops of their SP Complete Powder and a scoop of fiber power, both of which take away much of the sweetness of the smoothie. The first day was rough, but after that you get used to it. Strawberries, bananas and pineapple are your friends — they will keep your smoothies tasting less like dirt and more delish. You can add whatever fruit you want to your smoothies, and I ALWAYS add a large handful of spinach or kale to each smoothie. I promise you won’t taste it. You know when your mom said that and she was lying? This isn’t like that… you just won’t be able to taste it. Bonus points for getting some veggies in for breakfast!
Amazingly, the smoothies can hold you over until lunchtime! I swear there is something magical in that powder (aka protein and other good stuff that keeps you full). You have to have 2-3 smoothies a day so I typically had smoothie #2 either for lunch or an afternoon snack. A typical lunch would be something like sauteed veggies and a salad or roasted brussel sprouts and apples. The rule is to take in twice as many veggies as fruits and as little carbs as possible (avoid rice if weight loss is your goal). Oh, and no store-bought salad dressings! Learn how to make your own vinegarette! They taste so much better than homemade. My favorite recipe is here. If I needed a snack I had things like carrots and celery with homemade guacamole or baked sweet potato fries. If I craved something sweet, I ate a date (just eat one or two though… thoses little fruits are still packed with sugar!).
Dinnertime consisted of meals like lentil soup (this will become a household staple.), giant salads, wild rice and veggie stuffed mushrooms, homemade spaghetti sauce over zucchini and fajita veggies over brown mexican rice topped with avocado and salsa. Once I added in chicken and fish, I felt like I had a whole world of options! Eating roasting chicken with a salad is pretty normal at our home, but I was excited to make other things like spicy tilapia with a mango avocado salsa and grilled kabobs. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Ok, so the questions I get asked the most:
How did I feel on the cleanse?
I felt surprisingly good! Really good! I anticipated feeling hungry, grumpy and having crazy cravings. I didn’t experience any of that. If I was hungry, I ate something.
Did I have any of those cleanse side effects like headaches, flu-symptoms, etc.?
Thankfully, I didn’t drink much coffee before the cleanse so I didn’t have the awful caffeine withdraw headaches that many people get. I did, however, get a nasty migraine day 3, but it was short-lived and went away without my usual remedy of caffeine. After that I was totally fine! It is totally normal to feel some sort of sign of your body cleansing such a chills, headaches or just a plain sick feeling. It won’t last… it just means it’s working! Weird, huh?
Can you work out while on the cleanse?
For the first week, you are supposed to only be walking at least 4 days a week. Honestly, I got bored with walking after about 5 days and went to my favorite boxing class. My teacher told me not to sprint since I was cleansing, but everything else felt fine. Once I added animal proteins back in I felt like I could do any activity I wanted and feel strong and normal. I think I even had MORE energy!
How much weight can I expect to lose?
I had read that most people on this cleanse lose 10-15 lbs. I lost almost 7. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed by this, but I know that losing 1-2 lbs a week is a NORMAL weight loss. I anticipate I’ll lose the final few lbs over the next few weeks. I didn’t let myself step on the scale more than once a week… the weight will eventually fall off, but the main point is to clean your body.
What about the rest of my family? What if they aren’t cleansing?
J didn’t do this cleanse with me and it was fine. He’d just cook up a side of chicken with whatever veggies I was cooking up when I couldn’t have chicken yet or would make a grilled cheese sandwich to eat with the veggie soup. Thankfully, this meant I didn’t have to cook separate meals. Honestly, once I was eating chicken or fish we ate the same things for dinner at night. Everyone loves kabobs or turkey spaghetti (just eat yours over mushrooms or zucchini instead of pasta)!
What about cravings? I don’t think I can live without (fill in the blanks)
This is one of the things I was most worried about. I have little to no will-power when it comes to things like sweets and cheeses. Amazingly, the cleansing actually “cleanses” you of cravings! It’s SO weird. I didn’t crave sugar, carbs, cheese, caffine, chocolate or anything else I couldn’t have. That isn’t to say I didn’t WANT them. Sitting at a Mexican restaurant with chips in front on me was tempting. I WANTED the chips, but I didn’t crave them. It’s like my mind wants what it likes but my body doesn’t need it. Does that make any sense? I am still amazed at all the treats waved in front of my face that I didn’t eat… and didn’t have a hard time skipping out on.
So did you cheat?
Shockingly, only once. After the mother’s day chocolate fountain incident (incident in that I was near a chocolate fountain and didn’t even taste it) I allowed myself one dark chocolate square. That was it. I felt so strong and didn’t want to mess up the body cleaning process.
I’m supposed to slowly introduce foods back into my diet, one at a time. The purpose is to find out how my body reacts to foods. I could have a food intolerance and not even know it (like dairy making me feel sickly or grains making me feel bloated… things like that). I am now used to eating all these fruits and veggies so hopefully that won’t change too much. And while I am glad to not have to down 2 smoothies a day, I still started my day with a smoothie this morning, only this time with a piece of whole-wheat toast on the side. I don’t have any plans to cut out any specific foods, but I do hope I continue a mostly whole food (as in foods that aren’t processed and are living) diet.
Any other questions? Just ask! I’m really proud of myself for seeing this through. I really do feel SO good!