Today's breakfast smoothie: red cabbage, pineapple, beetroot, blueberries, hulled sunflower seeds, flax seed, fresh ginger, coconut milk, ice cubes.
This is Day 21 of Clean. I have not been 100% perfect, but the benefits have still been many.
Most thrilling gains:
1. No caffeine except for two cups of green tea early on, and one cup of Earl Grey tea on this past Saturday evening before my CART gig, and one taste of Diet Pepsi that was -- thank the Lord -- absolutely revolting. This is huge, people. Huge. No coffee, though I was tempted once, but my most excellent friend talked me out of it. But most importantly, NO DIET SODA. And not only do I not crave it any longer, I am turned off by it.
HUGE. POSITIVE. IMPACT!
2. Abundant energy and clearheadedness. It maybe even could be described as "bouncing" but not frenetic -- just nice calm, sweet energy. No brain fog. No hating to get up in the morning. No slogging around -- EXCEPT in the beginning of the 2nd week, which I think is the hardest week for this plan. No difficulty concentrating or feeling strong at work, and no "OMG, I'm going to die if I don't have a cup of coffee" feelings.
EXCEPT for last Thursday morning. I had worked late the previous night, and driven home on some stressful roads. While driving home, I craved macaroni and cheese. I had some Amy's Naturals Rice Mac & Cheese in my freezer, and I thought "listen to your body" and all that, so I ate it for dinner. The next morning I woke up with my old aches and sluggishness. This does help a bit to narrow down at least one of the culprits -- dairy. This mac & cheese did not have wheat or gluten, so in this particular case that is clearly not the culprit. It must be dairy.
3. Absolutely not one bit of my heretofore chronic sinus mucus. In Week 2, a friend on the phone asked if I had a cold, because I sounded congested, but it was only inflammation and no mucus. Now, even that is gone. I don't even need to use the neti pot anymore, except that I still use it on occasion if I've been out, as a protection against viruses. EXCEPT the morning after (see No. 2)
AND this morning. THIS MORNING! Why? Because last evening we attended a benefit dinner and fundraiser. Dinner was veggie (or sausage) lasagna and salad. I ate veggie. So I ate wheat and lots of cheese. And in the middle of the night I woke up all stuffed up, had to get up and use the neti pot so I could breathe, and again this morning. And I feel a bit sluggish and irritable. So now we don't know whether it is the wheat or the dairy or both. EXCEPT for this piece of evidence: At the end of Week 2, we went out to eat, and I had fried -- yes, fried! (I told you I wasn't perfect) lake perch and french fries. It is a seasonal local delicacy here, and it was prepared by a wonderful chef at a wonderful restaurant, so I did not want to pass that up. And except that it felt like way too much food for me, I had no ill effects from that meal. No dairy in that meal, and I was fine. So I think now we're back to dairy as the enemy.
4. My skin. Big changes here. Winter dryness: gone, except for a part of my hands that is the most weather-worn and gets the most washing and winter exposure. No lotion required, and still really good skin -- no itching, no flaking, no dryness. I did a fair bit of exfoliating in the beginning of this plan, but don't have to anymore.
5. One reason I did this program is because.... how shall I put this... I will borrow the phraseology from an RN I conferred with: I have suffered for a while from a slow colon and some vague, rather frightening pain in my lower left quadrant that I think was related to that. The colon has been retrained in this process to be peristaltic again. That is another huge gain. And the pain is gone.
6. I've lost a few pounds, but not as many as I'd hoped. I lost a total of 7 pounds, and it was all in the first week. However, I had put on much of that during the campaign, so I am pretty much back to my long-held status quo, which is that old "I just want to lose that last 10 pounds" place.
7. Senses of taste and smell are very different. I love the fresh taste of vegetables -- well, you know, I always have. But now even more, I smell and taste "off" things. Anything that is starting to go bad in the house, it bothers me and I get rid of it. Any processed food smells ICK. Anything that is on a vegetable (such as pesticide residues, I suppose -- or whatever it is) it smells and tastes like chemicals. Salt is what it should be -- only a little bit or none is what is required. Super-sweet things are less pleasant. My mouth tastes and my nose smells and feels so CLEAN!
8. This was unexpected: My teeth are noticeably whiter. I guess that comes from not drinking coffee and cola. But I'd have thought the stains were more deep than the surface, so it comes as a welcome surprise.
9. Workouts: I have held back a little bit on the heavy weights, as recommended by Dr. Junger. But my workouts are some of the best I've had in a long time. I feel light as air, fluid, and strong. I'm having fun! The fluidity is the most happy change for me. It's as if the fascia and connective tissues are liquid and lubricated again, instead of tight and sticky and gluey and gummed-up and sore. And I like the image I see in the mirrors. And I like the compliments I have received from people at the gym, at my doctor's office, and at that benefit dinner last night.
BUT I am still craving sweets -- cakes, brownies, puddings, cookies. Maybe not as much as before, but I definitely still want them. I have to continue to work on that.
One step at a time.
Last week I started ramping up towards regular eating again. In other words, rather than the two juices or smoothies per day, and the one solid meal at lunchtime, I added a second (small) solid meal for dinner, as well. Or here's the other thing that I have seen happening: Sometimes I just have a late lunch, like around 3 p.m. (After my high-fiber green smoothies I don't get hungry unless there is too much fruit in them.). It's a rather large lunch, consisting of fish or chicken and piles of delicious vegetables and allowed whole grains (quinoa or brown rice or millet or barley) or beans, and that is my last meal of the day. The much less food seems to be really sitting well with me. Really well, as in life-changingly well.
So here's my plan: I'm going to stay on the elimination diet in the book ad infinitum (or as close to "ad infinitum" as I can). I'm going to continue to drink green smoothies (though today's is purple, you know what I mean -- raw veggies and fruits of all colors) for breakfast every day, or as close to every day as I can manage. I look at it as nutritional and behavioral modification insurance. If I have my raw, packed-with-nutrients-and-fiber-and-liquid smoothie for breakfast instead of a cup of coffee or a Diet Pepsi, that already puts me light years ahead of where I was before, and sets the tone for the rest of the healthy day.
I don't expect to be perfect, and I expect to have slip-ups, and I expect to learn from them.
Do I endorse the Clean plan? That'd be a big Y to the ESS. I wish my best friends would all try it, especially the ones who aren't feeling their best. But that is the end of my proselytizing. Full stop.