Throughout my college experience, my roommates, one by one, did a 30 day cleanse called Advocare. They would finish this cleanse with glowing skin, a pant size smaller, and a new outlook on what health meant. I was always encouraged to join into this health nut party, but opted out for fear of starving. I completely survived those years off of food encased by a box, wrapper, or tin, and this cleanse required a clean break from processed foods. No gluten, no dairy, no bread, no starches, no alcohol, no caffiene, no sweets, no red meat, no (insert anything enjoyable in life here). I would applaud them in their efforts as I continued to eat my macaroni and cheese with hot dog weiners.
Fast forward three years: Clint and I are traveling with work or play most weeks of the year. I am tired and groggy and seem to be continually getting sick. I contend ignorance that the gas station food, alcohol, and sheer magnatute of caffiene have anything to do with this.
I make small life changes. I go to the gym and practice yoga. I learn how to cook. I try to cut back my sweets- but if I’m honest, I am doing this out of fear of The Almighty Bikini.
Then one day I decide it’s enough. I’m an all or nothing type of gal- and so once I had my mind made up that it was time for a life change- I dived in head first. I was ready to take accountability for what I was doing to my body.
Day 1: I almost vomit on the fiber drink. This is no exaggeration. I quickly learned that it takes about 60 seconds for this liquid to become a solidified mass in your throat if you don’t chug fast enough. I know my fellow Advocareians feel my pain.
I am feeling extra earthy and domestic cooking for every meal, and my husband decides this is the greatest thing ever. Until I won’t let him eat chips in front of me.
Day 2: Diet Coke withdrawals hit, but other than that, I am feeling fantastic. I may never eat another processed food again!
Day 3: Am I dying? I think I’m dying.
Day 4: I am quickly running out of things to make- and eat an entire bag of baby carrots for lunch. Time to do some internet research of “things to make devoid of anything delicious”.
I am working out everyday, which actually helps calm the hunger for a few hours. I am feeling strong. And guess what?! I like almond milk. This is a revolutionary thing for me since I am a lactose intolerant woman who loves dairy. (You can ask a few very close people to me what happens when I choose to partake in ice cream.) If there is one thing that I can take from this cleanse, it is that I can now live relatively milk free. Hallelujah.
Day 5: I can NOT stay full. I eat and I eat and I eat and there is this pang inside of my stomach that I am sure will only be satisfied next time I eat waffle fries.
I text my council of friends because I need to be talked back from the ledge before I jump head first into a sugar sack. They tell me I don’t need sugar, I need Jesus.
I pray and sob into some broccoli.
Day 6: I watch a documentary about food and how much what we put into our mouths and our health are connected. (DUH.) But then I dive into more research. First, about what benefits come from clean eating which range from mental clarity to fighting off cancer. I decide it’s time to be thankful for this one body I have, and treat it like it’s supposed to run. You don’t buy a luxury car and shove saw dust in the gas tank.
Day 7: I can see a noticable difference in my complexion. My acne has almost completely cleared up already, and I am going out in public without make up on.
I am texting every spinach leaf and spoonful of almond butter I put in my mouth to Tessa, who is also on the cleanse. Lindsey is sending us bible verses and encouragement through our group text every morning. Buffy sends an “after” shot from her clean eating and she looks hot. I love that this challenging time has brought our group closer together.
I do some research about becoming vegan. I have no plan of living animal free, but I want to become aware of the food industry and what really goes on before I bring home my pretty little package of boneless, skinless, 95% fat free meat.
I watch Vegucated on Netflix- a documentary on a group of cheese loving people who agree to adopt a vegan lifestyle for 6 weeks. I am definitely in shock. And anyone who knows me is aware that I like animals more than most people, so I am sick to my stomach. I still believe that animals are made for us to eat, but that it’s important for me to support local farms that have safe and natural practices for their livestock.
I am feeling more connected to my home and my husband by cooking every meal. We’re also saving money by not eating out at all. And we’re exercising together. I am really getting into the groove of this whole thing.
Day 8: It’s best that I don’t speak to anyone. Withdrawal has hit me in full swing. I am tired and cranky and the last ounce of hydrogenated oil has officially left my system.
Clint tells me that we’re walking too fast on our trip to the park and I cry.
Michelle tells me that I can have a cheat since I’ve been doing so well. Bless her. And then Whitney texts me and says the words “cellulite dimple” and I refrain.
Day 9: We go to the grocery store, and I am excited! I am waltzing through the produce section buying up every color of fruit and veggie I see. HEB is my new best friend. Just aisles and aisles of gluten free, dairy free, organic goodness to devour. This is when I realize I am becoming lame. When going to the natural food section of the grocery store is the highlight of my weekend.
I get to the eggs. After inspecting each brand of “organic”, “free range”, and “cage free” (is there a difference?), I settle on a carton that is from a local farm. It even includes a picture of their farm inside and a small newsletter about the chickens living their wonderful feathered life out on a pasture, free of cages and hormones. I run up to Clint, just giddy about how eccentric and natural I am becoming. He is less than enthused. “Kendall, this is like Portlandia crap.” But he’s a good husband and only laughs at it one more time before we leave the grocery store.
Day 10: Jen Hatmaker has a book called “Seven”. This book humbles me every time I read it. In part of the book, she also does a cleanse. She writes-
“I realized that my slightly reduced life is still extraordinary in every way. There is no end to my advantages. For whatever reason I was born into privilege; I’ve never known hunger, poverty, or despair. I have been blessed, blessed, blessed- relationally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. My life is so happy it’s almost embarrassing. So I thawed into a gratitude puddle, exchanging my physical aching for spiritual communion. It was a good trade. I exhaled and breathed, ‘Thank You.'”