Day 21 (Feb 28)
- Cheated ALL OVER THE PLACE today. Well, it truly started last night, date night with Dave. We went to a Greek restaurant, where they brought us pita bread and hummus without us ordering it – when in Rome, you MUST try the pita and hummus! Aside from this small transgression, however, I did no more to break the cleanse and we had a wonderful rest of the night walking the streets of Golden (ok ok I had a SIP of his beer at a brewery, where I also bought a glass with the logo “Why Not?” – which I took home and used to drink my Perrier with delight!) ❤
- Today, however, I started the late Sunday morning with a cup of pumpkin spice tea, thinking the “herbal” label made it safe – but only a few sips and I could feel a slight headachey sensation, alas! I ended up not finishing the cup. Later we went to Whole Foods for lunch, and on a quick lap around the store I indulged in all the free samples (a few bits of cheese, chocolate Teddy grahams) – FREE samples people! No noticeable effects of such small dosages of probably all parts of the cleanse…
- Still, I ended the day strong. Had leftover falafel, rice, and quinoa salad, and relaxed the night away with my grapefruit Perrier and later a blended banana treat 😛
- Also keeping up with new exercise regimen: swam nearly 45 minutes this morning, 20 laps in the longer-laned pool (it’s hard!). Hopefully the novelty of biking and swimming doesn’t wear off into monotony before my knee is fully healed!
Day 22 (Feb 29)
- So today begins the “easing” of the cleanse. Introducing caffeine and some sweeteners (mainly honey and maple syrup) back into my life and body – woot!
- Mixed a half-caf coffee with soy milk this morning, but wasn’t enjoying it (that slight headachey feeling arrived very soon, plus I just didn’t really want it – may enjoy it later in the afternoon if my energy dips then). I also made granola yesterday with xylitol and honey – it’s too sweet! Ugh, I’ll leave out the xylitol next time.
- Knee much achier this morning, may do easier biking and abs today – was going to try a cycle class at the gym, but maybe not yet… soon!
- Oh red wine and dark chocolate… how I’ve missed thee.
Day 23 (Mar 1)
- Feeling good, FINALLY made me some tofu. It turned out all right (mainly because I mixed it up with some delicious sweet potatoes, spinach, beans, and coconut-buttered-up-white-rice. Still, win for a vegan, gluten-free, nutrient-packed dinner!
- Skipped out on the coffee this morning, opted for black tea with steamed coconut milk instead. No headache and I enjoyed it more, but still finished probably only a third of it. Will most likely start saving those yummy hot drinks for late mornings when I can actually enjoy them 🙂
- Did my 5-mile on the stationary bike today, followed by ab work. Maybe next week some yoga? Here’s crossing my fingers.
Day 24 (Mar 2)
- Today was strange. Had a lack of appetite that lasted pretty much all day – ate the leftover tofu concoction from yesterday for dinner, but only because I felt like I had to eat something with substance. Had been planning on wine and chocolate for dessert after doing some yoga, but didn’t feel like it, so had a cashew-ice-cream with frozen banana instead.
- Was it the cashew ice cream that made me feel so weird at the end of the night? It’s the first processed sugary thing I’ve had in a long time. However, I’ve been chronically lower-energy from the start of cutting out gluten and animal products, this might just be what it’s all lead up to. For example, I meditated this morning and could feel the weary, depressed sensation in my body, of missing some sort of vital nourishment. Adding some animal products back in tomorrow, enough is enough.
- On an upside, did yoga today! Already feel weaker in my wrists and in the power of my breathing, but made it through Sun A and Sun B, and played around with a Sun C for classes. Still won’t be able to flow like I had been doing for a while yet, but felt good to at least do something 😀
Day 25 (Mar 3)
- Adding back some animal products today – mainly my plain Greek yogurt and maybe some eggs later tonight! Last night was feeling really down (from doing yoga again? Sugar again? Not enough protein or other nutrients from the cleanse?). Either way, also drinking some Emergen-C water with lemon today, and still not feeling that great.
- Ate EGGS and TOAST for an early dinner before teaching my Astanga class. Took a while to catch up to me, but by the end of the class I felt SO MUCH BETTER. Cleanse OVER.
Ok, so I made it 25 days instead of 30 (still an accomplishment, I’d say!). I have no regrets ending five days early, because in the end I had to do what was best for my body and overall well-being. I knew that I wasn’t getting the necessary nutrients into my body, the second week in when I went skiing and felt weak (might have been able to avoid a knee injury!), and subsequent to that when it was hard to get through the days even with a lightened exercise routine. Meditation this last week especially helped me tune into the deep fatigue I’d been feeling, and realize that something had to change.
Despite ending early, if you’ve been following my journey through the cleanse thus far, you’ll know that I’ve also experienced a great number of benefits. I don’t need caffeine in the morning (heck, I don’t even want/like it nowadays!), and I think those lazy weekend mornings with a cup of GOOD coffee will taste all the richer for cutting back on the rest. The same goes for alcohol – instead of feeling a need or deep desire to drink a glass of wine as soon as I start making dinner or settle in for the evening, I’ve found this past week a general non-interest in having to drink at all, opting instead for a blended frozen banana treat or a sparkling water (served in a fancy glass of course!). I find myself looking forward to the weekend where a glass of wine is both a) more than enough to satisfy, and b) all the more enjoyable for being an occasional treat.
As for sugar, ah. The least necessary, I think, of the food groups cut out during the cleanse. I thought I understood how sugar sneaks into a lot of things, but didn’t really grasp before HOW MUCH it sneaks in to nearly EVERYTHING (go find a -yummy- cereal without added sugar – and when you do, please post it here so I can share in your joy). I also missed my daily treats throughout the entire cleanse (as evidenced by my clinging to frozen bananas, peanut butter, and other foods naturally high in sugar content), so that I feel a lingering challenge to address that sweet-seeking habit, as opposed to the relative ease with which I adapted my relationship to alcohol or caffeine.
I don’t feel like I benefited much from cutting back on animal products – for one, I had already been following a mostly vegetarian diet before the cleanse, and had been consuming very little dairy except for cheese, Greek yogurt, and eggs. I can’t believe how much I (and by “I” I mean my physical more so than my mental self) missed the eggs and yogurt (cheese I don’t think I’d have missed as much, except in a more sentimental way because CHEESE IS DELICIOUS). But seriously, yesterday I had yogurt for lunch and eggs for dinner and by the end of the day felt a million bajillion times better and more energetic than I’d felt the previous week. Maybe the whole grain toast also added some pep back in to my step – because I’m not sure giving up gluten did too much for me either, except make me tired and sad because BREAD IS ALSO FREAKIN DELICIOUS.
I have another beef with the whole vegan, gluten-free diet as well (get it, beef?), other than the fact that maybe I was too unprepared/lazy/daunted to find and consume alternative sources of protein and nutrients. A lot of these “alternatives” don’t seem like good ones. As in, products like gluten-free bread and nondairy yogurt are not only less satisfying/enjoyable to eat (not to mention higher priced), but they are also filled with arguably UNhealthy ingredients like sugar and fructose, and other things I’d list except that they are difficult to spell and incomprehensible to me without Google searching (never a good sign when, generally, the shorter and more understandable the list of ingredients, the BETTER for your body). Could I have put more time and energy (and most likely money) into finding gluten-free and vegan options with REAL ingredients and sufficient nutrients for my lifestyle? I’m sure I could have. At this moment, however, I remain unconvinced by the supposed benefits I might gain at such a cost.
I may try to cut out gluten again in the future, just to gauge those effects separately from the other experiences of this cleanse (my legs get itchy and I want to know why gosh-darn-it!). Even then (say, for instance, I were to find that gluten DOES make my legs itch), I wouldn’t want to give up the wondrous pleasures of all the different breads, baked goods, pastas, etc. out there for such a small reaction (when I know there are truly gluten-sensitive people that cannot partake in such delicious delights, and would if they could). I just want to know.
I do sit on a moral fence when it comes to the treatment of animals raised for consumption. If labels could be trusted, if mass production of meat didn’t only compound the precarious state of our warming world, if I could afford to buy only local, home-grown produce, if if if… I feel like I might fall forever down the rabbit hole if I delve too deep into these issues. Still, I cannot ignore them (and feel strongly that none of us should!).
I don’t have all the answers yet, but I feel better knowing that I’ve taken steps to know and own what works for me in terms of the food I choose to buy, prepare, and finally put into my body. It starts with me, but it’s also bigger than me – as all great challenges should be. Now, where’s the next one?