These entries were originally published online from 12 May 2008 – 23 May 2008. They appear here republished in their entirety, unaltered and unedited.
As the final step in the process of quitting smoking, I have decided to attempt a cleansing fast. I am doing this 1) to remove all the toxins that have built up in my organs, blood, and cells from the decade of pumping them in via cigarettes, and 2) to remove all the crap toxins I’ve been ingesting via junkety junk food since I quit cigarettes. Sometimes I wonder which is worse . . .
I settled on the ‘Master Cleanse’, developed by Stanley Burroughs in 1941 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_Cleanse), because of it’s longevity and popularity, and the wealth of associated (both pro and con) information relating directly to this specific regimen.
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp organic 100% grade B (dark) maple syrup
cayenne pepper to taste (as much as possible)
1 cup water
*mix ingredients fresh, and drink 6-12 portions (cups) per day. drink as much water and herbal tea as you like. drink senna herbal laxative tea at night. flush with top-down saltwater ‘rinse’ each morning*
And that’s that. It is recommended that you cleanse for a minimum of ten days, but because I have never done anything like this before, and because I’m on the low body mass index side already, and because my job is pretty high impact energy-wise, I might not do the whole 10 days. We’ll see. I’m determined to do at least three, but from what I’ve read you really don’t start reaping the full benefits until day seven or eight. I’d love to do the whole run. All in all, I am quit confident that this cleanse is safe, and I look forward to experiencing what it has to offer. So, here we go . . .
Day 1 – No entry (see below)
Day 2 – I started the cleanse yesterday morning, Mother’s Day, and sipped my new all-purpose food/drink whilst Damian and his parents dined on Belgian waffles and bacon. Yar! But really, it wasn’t so bad. I’m not so much of a breakfast person anyways (that’s what I’m telling myself . . . ). After lunch we went on a long walk at this freshwater marsh reserve, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, energy-wise. By the time it was over I was definitely feeling low blood sugared, but another cup of The Drink and I was good to go. Unfortunately around midmorning I developed a mild headache, probably a result of caffeine withdrawal, which lasted the rest of the day. But in terms of energy, I was all good – MUCH better than I would have thought – all the way until around 3 pm on the drive home, when I became so fatigued I ended up napping the rest of the way home. I was pretty tired for the rest of the evening and ended up bedding down before I had even finished all my alloted Drink for the day. Around 9 my minor headache became a major splitter, and I got nauseous on top of it. The bright computer screen was hell on my headache, which is why I didn’t write in this journal. I called it a day and went to sleep around 10:30.
Today (day 2) I opened at work so I was up very early, and I was worried about how I would perform at work. But really, this is a lot easier than I expected. I’m certainly a little withdrawn, a little aloof, and a little less quick on the uptake. But, I can totally hold my end of a conversation just fine, and I have WAY more energy than I thought I would. This doesn’t feel anything like ‘not eating’. This is different. For one thing, I haven’t been hungry, not once. I haven’t eaten solids in two days, and I’m not hungry. How weird is that? There is definitely stuff happening, though. My tongue is all effed up, for one. Yeah, I guess I’m already purging waste, because my tongue is all fuzzy and white and yellow, kind of like when you get sick (a lot of people get sick at the beginning of the cleanse, but it’s usually gone by day four or five). I had a really, really bad headache for most of the day today. Apparently caffeine addicts get these for the first three days. It’s crazy, but I think I miss caffeine more than food, and I’m realizing how truly dependent my body is on that drug. Luckily the headache cleared around 2 pm and has stayed gone since then. What else . . . my fillings periodically hurt. I have no idea what that means. And I feel like if I close my eyes, I’ll fall asleep. When they’re open I’m fine, but if I close them I’m instantly gone. I almost fell asleep in the sun on my ten minute break today, which would have been very bad. =)
It’s 7:15 pm and I just finished my sixth cup of The Drink. All in all, I feel great. Really great, actually. I feel very in-tune with my body and observing/experiencing this process is kind of fun. We shall see how it all plays out.
Day 3 – They say the third day is the most difficult, but that if you can get through it, you’re cruising. It has definitely been harder today.
I had the day off work, which I did on purpose to coincide with the third day. So this morning, first thing upon waking and instead of blessed glorious coffee, I drank my first saline flush. This is what they call a ‘top-down enema’, designed to shoot straight through you and pull everything out along with it. You have to drink 2 tsp of sea salt dissolved in 32 ounces of warm water, which is as awful yucky as it sounds. So you pound that, and then about an hour or so later, it’s makin’ a break for it out the back. It worked.
I thought that by the third day of NOT EATING I would be mad with hunger, unable to focus, weak, etc. It’s crazy how normal I feel, considering. I spent all morning grading papers, which takes *a lot* of mental energy and focus, but I was able to do it just fine. Then I did some laundry and puttered about the house (this is a three story house, mind you, so ‘puttering’ can get one winded), and I even felt good enough to do my homemade yoga-pilates-stretching-toning hybrid routine (we call is ‘Saywardrobics’ here at HQ). So yeah, I quasi-exercised even. Made some important phone calls, then I cleaned the toilet and took a shower, and cleaned the shower and tub while I was in there. Afterwards I graded more papers. I don’t tell you all this because I think you are particularly interested in the minutia of my day, but only to illustrate my ability to do both physically and mentally taxing projects. And of course I’m taking it slow, and exercising was half-speed, and grading each paper took a bit longer than normal, but the point is, I’m doing it. I’m doing all the things I need to get done, on the third day of NOT EATING. That still just blows my mind . . .
The side affects today: So yeah, it is harder today. I wouldn’t say that I’m hungry per say – at least not in the way we think of hunger to be experienced. No tummy pangs or salivation at smells or wanting wanting wanting taking over my mind. But, I keep having these weird cravings. Where I’ll be doing something and then all of a sudden this picture of food pops into my head, just for a second, and I imagine the associated taste, and . . . yummmm. It’s mostly spicy saucy vegetable dishes of the Asian variety, for some reason. Also I wanted teriyaki chicken for most of the midmorning – I think because of the sugar+protein combo. My teeth are all fuzzy like yesterday, and Damian suggested it could be simply because they’re not being used at all, so they’re not being ‘rubbed’ clean. Could that be true? It kind of makes logical sense . . . hee hee, this is so trippy. I was definitely more sensitive to blood sugar today than the last two days, where if I didn’t drink the BLD (that’s what Damian calls The Drink, for Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner) I would get super spacey. But I think that’s more just me not taking good enough care to pay attention to my body, thinking ‘I’ll get up after one more exam’, stuff like that. But that is not the way to be doing things right now. When I listen to my body and put in BLD when it wants BLD, then I’m totally fine and my 8 cups are enough (more than enough, actually) to get me through the day. As of right now, I’m feeling good about keeping this going past my original goal of three days. Barring some horrible meltdown at work tomorrow, of course . . .
Tomorrow I don’t work until 2p so I’m going to saline flush again first thing in the way-m. I wonder how many days before nothing comes out???
Day 4 – Okay, today was definitely the most difficult, and now it’s very late and I am very tired, so I’m afraid this will have to be short. I woke up this morning with full body aches, for the second day in a row. It feels like the day after a crazy super hike or something. Every muscle is stiff and sore. I’m sure it’s just because my body is working on less fuel, so I fatigue so much easier. Anyways, it wears off after an hour or so. Right about the time the saline is getting ready to make it’s great escape, heehee. Speaking of which, I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow I’ll get the answer to my question regarding ‘how long before nothing comes out’. *ahem*
I spent my morning same as yesterday, grading papers followed by Saywardrobics and puttering. I had to be at work at 2p, though, and I am working exclusively in the demo station now. It’s great and I’m really loving it, but during this particular experiment, serving up mouth-watering grilled cheese sandwiches all day was certainly trying. I still haven’t felt actual hunger, but damn if it wasn’t all I could do to keep from popping that delectable cheesy goodness into my mouth, just to taste it. I drank mint tea all day instead. About halfway through my shift I got pretty tired and hypoglycemic, and the last couple of hours were just plain hard. I was cranky and irritable and customers can be SO damn lazy and helpless. Ah well, that’s customer service I suppose. I busted ass and closed down the kitchen with lightening speed, and was out the door by 9:30p.
I have the day off again tomorrow. I hope it will be better than today.
My teeth are still fuzzy, but my tongue has cleared up.
Day 5 – Today is a good day! =)
Last night was really hard. I felt like I was crawling out of my skin and my relationship with my body was all off, and I couldn’t sleep tossing and turning all night. It felt a lot like when you stay up for too too too many hours and crash after too too too much coffee – that oilslick hollow-eyed jerky breathing sort of feeling, you know the one? Like the morning after you’ve done perhaps mind-expanding, illegal sorts of things, the sorts of things that if you’re my grandma reading this, of course I’ve never done. *ahem*
But today! Today I woke up bright and early, my eyes literally *popped* open and would not close again. And I had the most lovely, most productive day off. Following the saline rinse, I graded papers until noon, which was maddening because it was gorgeous 85º sunnybright day outside. So a few hours grading, then Saywardrobics and shower, and then bizniss was over and it was play time! I had an appointment at the cleaner/taylor at 2p, for my final wedding dress fitting. OMG MY DRESS IS SO GORGEOUS! I love it sooooo much! Excitement! Okay enough of that. I spent the afternoon in the garage with the door wide open, blasting music (thank you Kate!) and constructing and then priming giant planter boxes for the backyard. My energy was up all day, and I had a pretty physical day! When Damian got home we took the Two on a looooong walk to my marsh, which was really beautiful and good for the boys, but might have been pushing myself a little hard. I think it was more the heat than the physical exertion, but by the end I was toast. Whatev’s, nothing a little BLD couldn’t fix.
I’ve had a heat headache since then but otherwise, no physical ailments to report today.
My tooths are still fuzzy.
I always feel thirsty, even though I am constantly drinking water, tea, or BLD. I pee pretty much octo-hourly.
I open at work tomorrow which is a great shift for the cleanse – mellow and over before I know it. Saturday I’m off, it’s supposed to be 90º, and I’m spending the entire day planting my organic herb garden. Maybe I’ll post a picture when I’m done. Yay!
Day 6 – Today was an absolutely-start-to-finish-awesome day. The only thing worth mentioning is this:
Day 7 – It’s 9 am (ish), but I have been up since 6:45, very unusual for me. My eyes just popped open and wouldn’t close, like they have the last couple of days. It’s wild, because I went to bed at nearly 1 am. But each morning I’m waking naturally, very early, and feeling energized and awesome in a way I haven’t felt since I was a child. I’m considering caffeine these days, if and how to reintroduce it and in what form. I just may switch to morning tea instead of morning coffee. Obviously, my natural state and rhythm does not require it (does not require so many things . . . )
I feel so incredibly good on this cleanse. I have been so internally jubilant these last few days, it’s almost unnerving, haha. Seriously though, I’ve been downright cheerful. Odd. And physically, I feel great as well. My headaches are gone, my body aches are gone, my teethfuzz is [almost] gone.
Damian just woke up, rolled over and looked at me. He said “Wow, you look great this morning. Your skin is all glowing and your eyes are sparkling.” I LOVE THIS CLEANSE!
Today was really pleasant and peaceful, for most of the day. Damian worked and I spent the whole late morning/afternoon on the deck off the kitchen, clad in naught but a sports bra and teeny tiny sleeper shorts (it was over 90º and I thought the neighbors could use a show, haha) blasting Tom Waits and working on my organic herb ‘garden’ (they’re all individually potted, so it’s not a true garden per say). It was really relaxing to work with the dirt and plant life, to smell the potting soil, and feel the sun beating into me, and to sing . . . loudly. I think I was actually meditating all afternoon.
But, like yesterday, it’s hard to take the heat without any food. I was zapped by the time Damian got home. And again a little cranky, which I do not like to be. But still overall, my good spirits persist. I feel more optimistic than I have felt in a long time, and it must be related to this cleanse. The simplest things, like all of the rhododendrons blooming in everyone’s yard when we walk the dogs, just bring me so much joy. Women are rhododendron CRAZY here – they take that shit way seriously. And it’s infective. I totally want to be a rhododendron bitch!
Day 8 – Today was HARD. I’ll have to write about it tomorrow, though. Too . . . tired.
Day 9 – Boy Howdy, the past two days have been tough. I’m definitely going through a second round of major detox, and it’s akin to days 2, 3 and 4. I’m waking up totally sore and aching all over, which only mildly clears up as the day wears on. My mid to lower back is killing me on the right side – I’m not sure where my kidneys are, but they may be the ones hurting. I’m lethargic and spacey throughout the day, and irritable and emotional as well. My tongue is COATED with the white gunk, which is the biggest indicator of all that my body is in poison-purge mode. Also, my bi (tri . . . quad) -daily visits to the bathroom have finally borne ‘the mysterious dark solids’, as they are referred to in Master Cleanser inner circles. Yes, I have not put anything in for 9 days, and there are mysterious dark solids coming out. I have a headache.
But don’t worry. I have become sort of obsessed with reading other people’s cleanse journals – I’ve probably read close to twenty so far – and all that I’m going through is perfectly normal. Haha, and I was just starting to think how great and easy this was, and even worrying that it was going *too* smoothly for me. But no, then day 8 came. So the plan is this: Tomorrow is the tenth day, and that is supposed to be my last. But I don’t want to finish before I complete this second bout of release. So, I’ll see how tomorrow goes and then when I wake on the morning of the eleventh day, I’ll make my decision. If I feel like I’m still mid detox – if my tongue is gooey – I’ll stay on. If my tongue is back to pink, I’ll break the fast. The first round lasted for days 2, 3, and 4 – three days. So I expect that this may last days 8, 9, and 10, and then I’ll be able to break my fast as scheduled on the eleventh day. But we’ll see.
I feel ready to eat. There are things that I miss. Mostly though, I miss the act of eating and the ritual of it. What I miss : A nice glass of wine at the end of a long workday, not a crap glass of 2-buck chuck like I usually drink, but a good glass of organic syrah. I also desperately, desperately miss big fat crunchy sweet un-peeled carrots, whole (like the delicious big bags that we sell at work, but I can’t have those anymore, because they’re not organic! Waaaa!). Teriyaki chicken. I’ve been investigating homemade, sugar-free teriyaki recipes. I want to do teriyaki veggie shish-kabobs. I really missed ice cold beer these last few scorching days. Hmm . . . but that’s about it. In all honesty, I don’t miss food nearly as much as I expected to. This distance has really given me the opportunity to examine my relationship to it, though. More on that when I don’t feel so icky.
Day 10 – Day 10!!! I can’t believe it’s here already, and I can’t believe I did it. Today will definitely be my last day. My aches were much less today and I expect they’ll be all better by tomorrow. My tongue is only white gooey in the center, but healthy pink around the edges. That will probably be all cleared up by tomorrow as well. But most importantly, my body is telling me it’s time. Today was the first time in this whole 10 days that I felt ‘like I hadn’t eaten’ (you know the feeling), and the first time thus far that I have felt actual hunger. Strange. So, tomorrow I begin the process of breaking my fast (a three day adventure – no sammiches for me just yet). I’m feeling very settled with this decision. It definitely feels like the correct thing to do.
I am having some anxiety about eating again, though. I am very afraid of slipping into my old patterns of comfort eating, emotional eating, and boredom eating. When I slip (always unconsciously) into this ‘mode’ of eating, is when I eat the most destructive things. It’s a compulsion I have been fulfilling for as long as I can remember. And now it has become, or I should say it always has been but has now been reaffirmed, very important to me to eat only nourishing, healthy and ‘feeding’ (body, mind, soul) (god when did I become such a fracking hippie) foods. So I thought I’d take a moment here, on the last night of this experience, to state my intentions as I re-enter the world of variable consumption. These are of course only guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. I hate rules and tend to just break them, anyways. I’m going to eat cupcakes at my wedding, and I’m going to eat surf n’ turf in Cancun, and if I have a bad day I might curl up with a piece of chocolate. BUT, in my day-to-day life when there’s no cause for celebration and no excuse for self destructive habits, these are my intentions:
I need to cut salt! Anyone who knows me knows this about me – my favorite food is SALT. I’m hoping that 10 days without will be enough to cleanse my palate. Perhaps everything will taste more clear to me now, and I won’t need salt’s delicious enhancements. Even if that’s not the case, too bad. I’m off it for good. Goodbye, old friend. It’s been fun.
I’m going to buy organic whenever possible, and local too if I can. Organic is something I have toggled with for years – the mindful side of me insists on it, the miser inside me says ‘no way, too pricey!’. Well, now the mindful wins. I’ll pay extra. It’s so worth it.
I no longer feel comfortable mindlessly, unnecessarily, supporting the animal-abuse industry and the horribly-wasteful-allocation-of-land-and-resources industry (that would be the meat industry, folks). I strongly believe that people are meant to eat meat because we have teeth evolutionarily crafted to do so. I have no moral qualms about ingesting flesh. But I no longer wish to contribute to the problems fostered by this industry. I’m not buying meat for the house anymore. I’ll try to avoid it when eating out. Again, this is not a rule and I am not calling myself a vegetarian. I’ll still happily eat Petunia’s eggs, if that damn clucker ever starts laying them. This is just about being mindful.
For pretty much all the reasons listed above, and also because it’s just SO bad for you, I’m also cutting out dairy. I’ll be much more hardcore about this one. I mean come on, it’s the stinky nipple secretions of large mammals! It’s mucous-y grossness! No thanks . . .
Sugar. Totally unnecessary in day-to-day life. So bad for you, horrible for regulating your metabolism and energy levels. Often comes in conjunction with dairy or other high-fat, low nutrient cohorts. Sugar is for special occasions and I’ll sure enjoy it then, but not regularly. As a note, this includes honey, whose superiority, according to my research, is the biggest myth ever sold to the health food community. I’ll be drinking [very small amounts of] Organic Blue Agave Sweetener or Organic Maple Syrup in my tea. (I can send links on why these are healthier alternatives, if anyone is interested)
Finally, I’m going to cut way back on coffee and alcohol. Like, waaaaay back. Like before this fast I drank maybe 4 cups of coffee every morning, and now I plan to drink black tea in the mornings most days. We’ll see how that goes. I’m not totally opposed to coffee, in moderation, it’s just that it brings with it sweeteners, and lighteners, and then you’re getting into the whole debate over real milk? (no! : dairy bad!), soy milk? (no! : soy bad, causes cancer! – no! : soy good, non-animal protein and better than dairy! – no! : soy bad, too much estrogen!), rice milk? (no! no nutrients, just sugar water) and on and on. Too much to think about – I’ll drink tea. =)
Those are my intentions. Not so difficult, really. I’ve been doing tons of nutrition research, and also browsing vegan recipe blogs. I can’t wait to start cooking again! My biggest goal is to make it through next winter, making vegan, healthy alternatives for all our necessary comfort foods like enchiladas, lasagna, pizza, etc. But that’s getting ahead of myself.
For now, for these next few days and weeks, it’s retraining my palate to enjoy simple, natural flavors. It’s about being mindful of what I’m putting into my body, and why, and the impact of that action beyond my immediate understanding. Hunger is perception. Nourish your body and it will, in turn, nourish your mind. That is what I have learned from the Master Cleanse.
Until tomorrow (OJ day!),
~the unlikely little hippie (well fuckit, punk is dead, eh?)
Post-cleanse Day 1 – And you thought I would be finished talking about things like poo . . . HA! This morning I drank what I thought was to be my final salt water flush, and patiently waited for it to run it’s course. My tongue was still a little white-gooey, so I was obviously still detoxing. But throughout this whole experience, one thing I never experienced, was the mucous. Stanley Burroughs speaks of the mucous that clogs our bodies, and that it will be released during the cleanse. This was confirmed by reading the blogs of other cleanse participants; you do release mucous – through your nose, through your throat, and . . . out the back, *ahem*. Well that hadn’t happened to me, not any mucous at all, and I just figured it was because I eat relatively little meat and virtually no dairy. But once again, no I’m not that special. My salt water flush brought forth with it, not mysterious dark solids, but . . . yes well you see where I’m going with that. Very, very strange. Also my nose was running all day. So, just to be on the safe side, I’m doing one more salt water flush tomorrow morning. bleh . . .
But, today I broke my fast! I was really excited, but also nervous. Some people get sick. I had to work at 2p, so I went in ~45 minutes early, bought a jug of organic, fresh squeezed OJ (omg $$$!!!), and settled down in the break room. I made a solution (as recommended) of 1/2 OJ and 1/2 water, and drank it up. And . . . it was pretty anti-climactic. It wasn’t ‘omg-the-most-delicious-OJ-I’ve-ever-tasted’, the way you’d think it’d be after not tasting anything for 10 days. It didn’t make me sick. It didn’t do much of anything at all. I just read the Willamette Weekly, drank my juice, and then clocked on.
Orange Juice is pretty boring. It was, basically, just another day of not eating.
I drank 5 BLD’s, 5 cups of herbal tea, 3 glasses of OJ cut with water, and then another glass of OJ un-cut. I spent my entire workday serving up deliciously smelling juicy tender carnitas over tortilla chips, and even though I didn’t mindfully want it, I mindlessly WANTED IT. Maybe, it was a good test – a reminder of what I’m in for and how I must always be attuned to my intentions. Instead of giving in to temptation, I shopped for ingredients to make my veggie soup tomorrow. I’m so excited to get back into the kitchen and cook a big, nourishing pot of soup. That will be fun. But for now, more juice . . .
Post-cleanse Day 2 – Honestly, not much to report today. Just yet another day of not eating, and I’m pretty over it by now. I want food! I want my vegan pho, but I won’t get that until Saturday. Grrr.
I branched out to carrot juice today. So yummy! And tangerine juice, too. All fresh squeezed, all organic. (all $$$!)
I did my final saline rinse this am, and happily bade that practice adieu. I’m taking probiotics to replenish my flushed-away intestinal fauna, and I started that today as well.
And this evening, I made my soup. I made it slowly, over hours, savoring the process. Tom Waits kept me company. The Two kept the floor clean. It’s still simmering downstairs now, filling the house with it’s mouthwatering aroma. Tomorrow I can eat fruit for lunch (first time chewing in 13 days!!), and then I can have my soup’s broth, with a few veggies if my tummy permits. I. Can’t. Wait.
Post-cleanse Day 3 – Today I ate! For lunch, I sat down in the break room like a normal person and ate 1 organic apple, 1 organic orange, and 1 organic banana. And man! That’s a lot of food, HA! I could barely make it through the plate – I guess my tummy has really shrunk. But, it was deeeeeeelicious, especially the banana. And it stayed in my belly alright. Just a little heady afterwards, I think because all the blood rushed to my stomach to investigate the strange goings-on.
I tried to re-introduce caffeine today as well. Early early when I opened, I made some green tea. I thought that would be the best way – start easy with mild tea. But when I drank a sip, it tasted awful to me – super bitter. I ended up pouring it down the sink. Ah! ME! – I refused caffeine! So strange.
We had my delicious homemade organic 17-bean and veggie stew for dinner. I had mostly broth with just a few tender veggies. It was all I could do to keep from salting it. It was like a compulsion – jeez! I recognized that I liked the flavor, it did not need salt, and yet I could not stop thinking about salting it up. I wonder if one can be addicted to salt, or if it’s purely a really really ingrained habit. Either way, it will take diligence to break and time to retrain my palate. It will come, with time. I’m sure of that. Patience.
My tummy is a little uncertain right now, just a bit unsettled. Gassy. Re-acclimation to variable consumption. It’s all good. =)