that time i tried a cleanse

gouterFor the past 3 days, I’ve been doing a gouter cleanse. I was not originally planning on writing about it. But then again, this is what I’ve been up to, so why not? This was my first time doing a liquid cleanse. I’ve done fruit cleanses in the past, but juice cleanses always brought up some anxiety for me. As someone who struggled with a somewhat disorderly approach to eating for years, I am proud of the fact that, on my own (with much help from yoga practice), I have gotten to a place where I don’t feel guilty about what I eat. If I choose to treat myself and have a couple bites of ice cream, I no longer beat myself up or feel “gross”. It was not easy for me to get here; eating mindfully is a constant practice. So the idea of intentionally not eating solid food for 3 days made me nervous – I was scared of once again facing the light-headed, dizzy feeling that used to be my norm, as well as the old reminders that feeling might bring up.

This is not something I ever anticipated writing about, or necessarily even want out in the open. I just realized I want to shine light on my struggles, as well as the process of facing whatever shows up for me. If my words help just one other person who may be experiencing something similar, well then it’s more than worth it in my opinion.

Monday as I considered why juice cleansing might seem so nerve-wracking for me personally, I realized the importance of understanding why I’m doing it. This isn’t about cutting out any particular type of food because it’s “bad”. Food is just food – some foods may make me feel great on some days while on others I feel awful eating the exact same thing. What I’m putting in my body does not need to run my life. For me the key has been learning to notice how I feel when I eat certain foods, and then to seek out food that makes me feel awesome.

If it’s not about elimination, well then why am I cleansing? It’s about giving my body the opportunity to heal on its own terms. I went on vacation with my family last week – a much needed break for my mind and spirit. This week, I’m giving my body the vacation it deserves, allowing my internal organs and digestive system to rejuvenate.

This turned out way longer than I anticipated. I’m always surprised by how much I have to share once I get the ball rolling. In case you want to follow me on this cleansing journey, I took notes:

Day 1:

-Morning: didn’t realize how nervous I am to start this thing, until I woke up in the middle of the night with more than a couple nightmares. You know, the usual forgetting-to-do-my-job-mares, and the classic snakes-crawling-in-my-bed-till-I-wake-up-kicking-dreams. Am I the only one that has those?

-Wake up, decide to go for herbal tea, per cleanse recommendation. This is huge for me. Normally I consider drinking green tea in place of coffee as basically the same thing as total caffeine-rehab.

-Before I have tonic #1, I drink 2 mason jars full of water with lemon. Surprised how filling it is.

-Throughout the day, I actually don’t feel hungry or want food. About an hour after each drink, I feel nauseous. Not sure if this is a normal part of the detox (was expecting potential headaches, dizziness, but not this)…so I text my friend, who did this cleanse a couple weeks ago. She tells me she never felt sick, but she did eat fruit sometimes in place of the tonic. This reminds me to have my own experience, and let go of expectations. I am relieved for the reminder that it’s okay to eat (raw fruits & veggies) if I feel like I really need to. The cleanse won’t look exactly the same for everyone, the important thing is to tune in to what feels right for me.

-Like a roller coaster – highs & lows all day. I feel sick to my stomach, then 10 minutes later I feel 150% awesome.

-During my 2pm meeting, I am so lightheaded that I decide I’m not going to make it. I cave and eat a quarter of an avocado. Way better.

-Go to yoga, and my teacher speaks to staying committed to the practice even when uncomfortable sensations come up – just what I need to hear. Frog pose.

-After yoga my friend tells me he is grilling chicken for dinner. I’m torn between punching him in the face and joining him grill-side. Instead I go home.

-All I want is to cook up some spinach and call it a day. Instead I sip my melk and feel grateful that this one is a little bit of a change of pace from the other tonics (if you’ve never tried it, it’s delicious, highly recommend!)

-Exhausted from my roller-coaster whirlwind of a day, I hit the sack and sleep hard.The kind of night where I close my eyes and with a blink it’s over – such a deep slumber I don’t even move (no snakes this time). I wish I gave myself more hours for this kind of sleep.

Day 2

-Wake up with a raging headache. Dehydration? I drink 2 mason jars of water and meditate, headache doesn’t go away.

-Drive to work, sipping first tonic and feeling like I just might fall over if someone taps me on the shoulder. Okay, dramatization. But you get the idea.

-Decide to eat half an avocado. Making a point to notice why I’m doing it. From what little I’ve learned about Ayurveda, my dosha, or body type, needs healthy fat and foods with oil to find balance. I still wanted to experience this cleanse for myself, but I’m open to minor tweaking to make it work for me individually.

-Still pretty lightheaded/weak. Someone sees me grabbing my 3rd drink of the day in the pantry. He asks if I’m drinking baby food. I say yes.

-Superrr tired mid-morning. Like can’t-stop-yawning-exhausted. I’ve been going so strong with no caffeine! I just may need to break it with a green tea. Instead I decide to drink tonic #3, herbal tea, and then see if I need caffeine.

-Something shifts. I feel alert (in a calm way). Decide I don’t need caffeine. This whole cleanse business just might work out. I can totally do this.

-I get an email with some kind of lemony-kale lentil rice bowl recipe. I make the mistake of clicking. It looks so good; I jot it down and decide this will be the first thing I make when I’m done cleansing. I am literally sitting at my desk, picturing myself walking down the aisles of whole foods, and then cooking up these delicious lentils. I used to equate lentils with prison food. I need to cut this out. Thursday cannot come fast enough.

-My coworker sits down next to me while eating her lunch. I’ve never been so jealous of cafeteria ground turkey before. It smells like thanksgiving mixed with a little slice of heaven.

-Afternoon, instead of a roller-coaster, is more like a looooong, slow slide. I feel awesome and then it trickles until 5pm hits and I am a zombie. Late afternoon I do some google research on Ayurveda. I can’t find anything recommending a cleanse in the summer. I also can’t find anything on cleansing being good for Vata-types. I think maybe this cleanse just wasn’t for me after all.

-As I’m on my way out the door, a coworker stops by to ask how it’s going. I tell her the truth. She seems concerned, tells me I should eat something tomorrow, and that she “doesn’t think I need to do a cleanse because I’m already healthy.” I leave work all sorts of confused. Torn between sticking through day 3 (I’ve made it this far, hoping it’ll get better), and giving up on juice cleanses.

-Driving home, I realize I’m overthinking this. Online research and seeking other people’s perspectives pulls me in a lot of different directions. What if instead I tune into my present experience? I’m very much other-people driven. There’s a reason I choose to practice yoga in a room full of sweaty bodies rather than solo. While it’s great that I have awareness of this, it’s also important that I remember to listen to myself and trust my intuition. My body is a whole lot stronger and smarter than I give it credit for. If this cleanse really was not right for me, I would feel it. As soon as my perspective shifts, physically I feel instantly better.

-I head to yoga, focus on giving myself rest during practice. This is usually a challenge for me – finding balance between effort and ease. After class, energetically I am spent. I head home feeling completely done-zo but decide to stay committed to giving it a shot.

-I am in bed by 9:30, asleep by 9:45.

Day 3 (&benefits):

-I wake up on my own at 4:37am, feeling like a rockstar. In addition to my normal morning routine, I shave my legs, clean my bathtub, change my Brita filter, and take out the trash, all before leaving for work at 6:30. I usually struggle to get one of those in, regardless of the time. Who is this person? I am shocked.

-Something I realized last night after being stuck in my willow-wallowing of thinking about how the cleanse was going, was that so much thinking left me closed off to noticing the benefits. Namely:

Caffeine.I cannot remember the last time I went 3 consecutive days without any caffeine. Even during past fruit cleanses, I decided green tea was okay, and at one moment of desperation, told myself that coffee just might be a fruit. This time I actually (miraculously) gave up caffeine, and I’m so glad that I did. My energetic swings (esp during days 1-2) may be largely due to the fact that I simply have no clue how my energy naturally waxes and wanes throughout the course of a day. I think I might keep up this no-drinking-caffeine thing for a bit, just to find out.

My brain slowed down.I so appreciate giving myself space to take things in a little more slowly. Doing so enables me to be more present. I am a great multi-tasker, but the constant jumping around can leave me scattered and stressed. It was nice to consciously make an effort this week to slow down.

Hydration.Sometimes when I am focused at work, I notice that I forget to drink water. During the cleanse, the effects of this tendency were more enhanced – even when only slightly dehydrated, I really felt it. Consequently, I had greater awareness of how much water and herbal tea I consumed, a practice I definitely plan on continuing post-cleanse.

-The rest of day 3, for the most part I feel great energetically, focused, calm, and relaxed. A little hungry, but no big deal. I’m glad I stuck it out – right now I’m cheersing to you with my last melk!

-Despite all the benefits, to be 100% honest I’m looking forward to solid food tomorrow. If you have any experience with cleanses or anything else that you want to share with me, please feel free to reach out – I would love to hear about it!

2 thoughts on “that time i tried a cleanse

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