Monday, February 3, 2014

My 24 Hour Relationship with a 3 Day Cleanse

Month one of P90X3 was done and even though I lost a full 1.5% of body fat and definitely saw strength gains, the scale hadn't budged. I know my nutrition this past month was to blame.  While I eat sensibly most of the time, I did have a few late night treats and a couple extra "cheat meals" this month. Beachbody sells a supplement shake called Shakeology and many people claim doing a 3 day "cleanse" with Shakeology helped them bust through a plateau.

I felt I needed something drastic to reset my eating habits, so I purchased a bag of Shakeology off of Ebay ($40 cheaper than if you go through Beachbody) and convinced my significant other to do this 3 day adventure with me. I had purchased a sampler pack of Shakeology a month ago, so I knew what to expect in terms of taste and thought I could handle 3 days of nothin' but shakes. (After all, I successfully completed the 17 Day Diet... I can commit to nutritionally sound dietary changes.)  I extensively researched Shakeology, as the FDA does not regulate any supplements, so you have to be very careful with any supplement; they can have adverse side effects and can also interfere with medications you might be taking, and some are just plain dangerous. But after reading reviews and doing my research, I felt comfortable giving it a try.

The Shakeology "cleanse" isn't a traditional cleanse… you drink 3 shakes a day and eat some fruit and a portion of protein and big salad/veggies for one meal. You also drink green tea and lots of water. And you do this for 3 days straight. Some people lose weight while doing this; most claim it helps them recommit to a healthy lifestyle. (Of course, I couldn't find any negative reviews of the cleanse, so perhaps I shall be the first?)

My spouse and I woke up Thursday morning and in lieu of our cups of coffee, we had a cup of green tea. Shortly after, we had our breakfast of greenberry Shakeology. Technically, you're only supposed to mix the Shakeology with ice and water during the cleanse, but if I had to drink this 9 times in 3 days, I needed something to disguise the taste of algae-fied pond water. We mixed it with Trop50 pomegranate/blueberry juice - not too much added sugar, but enough to add some flavor. Unfortunately, it was a horrible flavor, but we managed to gulp it down. Most reviewers I found online who do this cleanse suffer from a lack of energy, so I quickly completed my P90X3 Yoga workout, before my energy ran out. Two hours later, we had our "snack" of fruit.

Time was ticking by so slowly Thursday. The weather was horrible - cold and rainy - and it was killing us not to drink hot chocolate. Instead we had some more green tea. Lunch was another greenberry Shakeology, this time with low sugar apple juice - again just adding approximately 50 calories to the shake.  Even though I really liked the apple juice/greenberry combo when I tried it 3 weeks ago, it was all I could do to not regurgitate it half way through. It took me 15 minutes to finally finish a mere 8 oz shake.

They claim Shakeology reduces your cravings and it certainly reduced mine… my stomach felt heavy and  nauseated after that second shake. Our second snack of the day (which is a 3rd shake) could be consumed in the afternoon or after dinner. I didn't want to touch another one, so I set my mind to not eating anything prior to dinner - it actually wasn't too hard to do.

A horrible headache kicked in around 1pm that day. It could have been the weather or it could have been the lack of solid food.  My mood was depressed, I had no energy, and I felt entirely lazy and unmotivated. My spouse was feeling the same way and actually fell asleep on lunch break (we both work from home). At 4pm, my spouse - who at this point resembled a zombie - emerged from the home office exclaiming "I need FOOOOOD!"  Even in my lethargic, depressed state, I nearly fell on the floor laughing.

I began cooking dinner at 4:30pm, a half hour earlier than normal - baked chicken with a huge salad.  I swear, greens have never tasted so good and that chicken was probably the best chicken I've ever cooked in my life. After dinner, I saw that giant bag of Shakeology staring at me on the counter and I knew I was supposed to have one more shake that night.  I couldn't do it - if I had to drink one more of those shakes I knew it wouldn't make it all the way down and stay down.

Defeated, I tentatively inquired as to if my spouse wanted to keep doing the cleanse. The response was "I think one day is fine." With a huge sigh of relief, I smiled for the first time that day.  Unfortunately, the headache and extreme lethargy continued throughout the rest of the night.

Friday I woke up and ate Van's Power Grains Waffles and a cup of fruit for breakfast and I felt amazing. We had set out to do a 3 day cleanse and finished only one day.  The perfectionist in me was tempted to beat myself up and feel like a failure. But I learned quite a bit from this 24 hour "cleanse."

  • Humans need to eat solid food. There is a satisfaction and satiety that comes from physically chewing good, nutritious food. Not being able to fully consume real food for 10 hours made me savor every bite of my chicken and salad. This in turn, made me realize how often I mindlessly eat without truly enjoying the taste and texture. Lesson to move forward with:  practice mindful eating.
  • There are a lot of pros (and cons) to fasting and cleansing, but ultimately each individual needs to determine what's best for him or her.  Don't cleanse or fast just because that's the fad right now or some "expert" on the Dr. Oz show said to do it. After 10 hours of "cleansing", I determined it was not worth it for me to continue doing so, if it meant feeling physically ill and emotionally wrecked. Lesson to move forward with: what works for someone else may not be the best thing for you.
  • There is no magic pill. I have always been a firm believer in not taking supplements for weight loss nor replacing meals with shakes/bars. Because when the weight comes off, will you continue to consume those products for the rest of your life?  Instead, learning proper nutrition and portion control and eating a balanced diet sets you up for a lifestyle change, which aids in weight loss and then weight maintenance.  Could I have lost a few pounds had I continued the "cleanse"? Probably. Experiencing a migraine and mood alterations was not worth it to me to lose a quick few pounds that way. What I gained was the affirmation that, for me, eating well and counting calories is a tried and true method, with minimal negative physical/emotional side effects.
Have you tried a cleanse? Thoughts? Positive experience? Negative experience? Please share in the comments!



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