I’m one hour into my 3-day cleanse. I say to myself, “I think it’s working?” I do that little dance where you turn to the side and see if your belly has magically inverted. “I mean my jeans are definitely not cutting off my circulation today.”
Fast forward a couple of hours to my first FIBER SWEEP drink. It’s somehow slimy and gritty all at once. I make the mistake of drinking this concoction slowly, which allows time for the fiber to coagulate right there at my desk. The last quarter literally requires chewing.
Later, I drink my first vanilla fresh shake, a beverage that I am required to drink with both lunch and dinner. Despite the “DELICIOUS” claims printed on the flyer, this shake is barely swallowable. I quickly learn that chugging is the only option. Fortunately, a sprinkle of cinnamon helps ease my gag reflex. Unfortunately, the cinnamon does not alleviate the gas. Vanilla “fresh” … the irony.
Before I fall asleep that first night, I declare to the world (via a solitary text to my boyfriend) that I am quitting the cleanse. Though quitting is not in my nature, I am certain this cleanse is worthy of a quit. I am done.
Seven hours later, I awake with renewed gumption. I tell myself I’ll do it for science. FOR SCIENCE, I say.
Going into this cleanse, I was mostly worried about going hungry for three solid days. Interestingly, this was not the case. Though I ate about 1,200 calories per day each of the three days (the bulk of which came from shakes), my stomach felt unnaturally full. I did not feel COMPLETELY REFRESHED as the box implied I would. Honestly, I felt angry (or was it just hangry?). As sad as this is to mention out loud, I felt like my days had lost their color. In my world, an injection of interesting food is akin to bumping up the contrast on a picture being edited for Instagram. Everything looks so much brighter, so much fuller that way.
So why did I sign up for this stinking cleanse in the first place? Likewise, why I am constantly signing up for challenges, period? Whether it’s Whole30, a half-marathon, or a 12-week, summer-long fitness extravaganza, it seems I’m always throwing myself at some sort of fitness or healthy living challenge. But why? As a food blogger, I get asked this question often, especially when I show up at a free-food event and can’t eat a dang thing. Why, Mary? WHY? Perhaps it’s because I have a tendency to eat my feelings in times of stress. And, actually, in all other times. And a healthy living challenge helps balance this out? Perhaps. However, deep down, I think the real reason is that I like to challenge myself. I am a goal-oriented person, and I thrive on short-term achievable goals. ESPECIALLY in times when I’m working toward a larger, much more challenging and emotionally taxing goal (ahem, grad school).
This cleanse brought to light just how much food impacts and influences my life. Food is my THING, you know? In my early days of blogging, I took a bit of pride in the admission that food was my primary passion in life. Seven years later, I’m wondering if this is more of a problem than a passion. Shouldn’t there be more joy in your days than just the food on your plate? I think so. I think food should be the icing, and a sweeping, passion-filled life the cake. (I’m working my way through various flavor combinations as we speak…)
You know what? I’m glad I did this cleanse. Yeah, I said it. And this is the truth. I’m glad I did the cleanse because I believe it’s good to push yourself outside your comfort zone. I believe that if you aren’t failing at something, you aren’t living to your potential, and that uncomfortable feelings help you to appreciate what you have and/or make you realize you need to make a change. If this type of self-reflection isn’t worth three days of raw vegetables, fiber cleanses, and vanilla farts, I don’t know what is.