I made it. Day ten was yesterday, and I was so excited about downing my last gulp of lemonade that I'd polished it off by 3PM. This morning, I began the process of weaning myself back to a regular diet with a tall glass of orange juice, with several more to follow as the day carries on. The juice smelled absolutely delicious when I waved it under my nose before my first sip, but I found myself disappointed by the flavor. It's not that it was particularly bad, or that it had gone sour or anything, it... was just orange juice. My mouth didn't explode into an orgasm of flavorful joy, my eyes didn't well up with tears, and my body didn't feel any different. I'd been hoping that my return to something I routinely enjoyed before the diet would prove to be a familiar, wonderful moment, but it was more like a return to the day-to-day. It was definitely a let-down.
The last two days of the fast were far and away my easiest. Although I was still making routine bathroom visits, (which hasn't changed thus far) I felt genuinely good from head to toe. Nothing exquisite or unusual, just good. Which sums up the whole of my experience with the fast - I enjoyed it, but not so much that I'll be thinking about a second fast any time soon. I never experienced some of the things I was most looking forward to - the consistent boosts of energy, the shortened sleep cycles, the regularly cleansed nostrils - and found that the difficulties of the hard days outweighed the pleasantries of the good ones. I'm sure that, if I were to stay on the fast for another week or so, the scales would even out a little bit. That's just not a commitment I feel ready to make right now, though. I enjoy my meals far too much to go another week without them. I've been anticipating a steak dinner at Hop's for a week and a half now, and even the concept of pushing it back another day or two is enough to darken my day considerably. That steak has kept me going for ten days of lemonade, and now I can almost taste it.
Still, I'm happy I tried this fast out. My body does feel much lighter, airier and healthier than before. I have a lingering hunch that my body wasn't really all that unhealthy to begin with, but that it was good for me to give it a good cleansing all the same. Twenty seven years' worth of accumulated crap can't be good for the internals, no matter how insignificant it may appear in contrast to most of the population's baggage. I stepped onto the scales for my final weigh-in this morning and discovered that I'd lost twelve pounds since day one. More than a pound a day - that's not bad at all. I know it'll all come right back if I don't change something about my lifestyle, too, so Autumn and I are thinking about buying a pair of bikes and starting a weekend habit of exploring the neighborhood. Man, does that sound sickeningly suburban. Somebody slap me before I start gardening.
Yesterday evening and this morning were fantastic. Around five o'clock Saturday evening, I had another boost of energy, very similar to the one I had Monday afternoon, after taking the day off work and recuperating on the couch all morning. I did all of the laundry in the house, (including my cel phone, in the pocket of my jeans) polished off the dishes (comprised solely of coffee cups, cat food dishes and glasses) and cleaned up the living room, then sat down for a game of chess with Autumn. I was sharp both mentally and physically, although the effect was more passing than it was the first time I experienced it. I wonder if the influx of energy was due to the fast, or my spending the entire afternoon playing Final Fantasy. Come to think of it, that's what I did all morning on Monday, too, immediately preceding my rash of activity. Maybe the game is to thank, and this whole fast has been based off of coincidence.
Today, I've felt astonishingly good. Although I woke up with a crick in my neck, it was at an unusually early 8:30 in the morning and I was ready to immediately start my day. By ten, when I'm usually still rolling around in bed, I'd cleaned my desk, taken a shower, got dressed and watched half of an old UFC DVD while waiting for Autumn to catch up with some work. We'd gone out in search of an architectural salvage joint, (which was closed) visited Lowe's and returned to the house before noon. That's only happened once or twice since making the move to Florida. While we were at Lowe's, I realized that my body was wholly and completely at peace with itself. I had no aches and pains, my stomach felt warm and pleasant, and my head was in the clouds. I don't think I'd call the sensation "bliss," per se, but it was definitely a nice change. It helped immensely that the weather outside was so gorgeous. It feels like a warm, breezy June afternoon in Indianapolis, the kind I remember enjoying on South Harbour Drive as a kid. January is far and away the best time of the year to live in Southwest Florida.
Autumn's struggled with the fast in the last few days. She slept through almost all of Saturday, and is obviously not feeling well. We've both lost some weight... I've dropped close to eight pounds since last Friday, while she's lost close to ten. We're almost there, though. We each have just three and a half bottles of lemonade left to ingest, then it's on the fruit juices, soups and, finally, real foods. The experiment has been very interesting and curious, but I'm ready to begin the shift back to the regular routine.
I'm on the home stretch now. I've completed a full seven days of the fast, and only have a weekend and a Monday left in front of me. Beyond that, I have three days of orange juice and soup, and then a triumphant return to solid foods on Friday. I can only imagine the kind of feedings that will commence around lunchtime on the 26th.
Yesterday morning was probably the most difficult of my entire experience. I felt absolutely awful, almost from head to toe, and the clouds didn't part until well after the lunch hour. My neck was extremely stiff, my head felt bloated and sickly, and my mentality was not positive. It was like I was going through the first stages of an ugly flu. I had the kind of dry, pasty flavor in my mouth that's closely associated with an incoming sickness, my stomach sat like a mossy rock at the bottom of a toxic river, and my focus was completely lost. I complained about the diet to anyone willing to listen on IM, (thanks to those that did) and allowed the experience to put me in a rotten mood for most of the day. So far, today (day eight) has been much more manageable, and I'm optimistic that I've finally passed the most difficult part of my road to purification. I do have a very subtle, barely noticeable discomfort at the top of my forehead, like an extremely minor headache, but otherwise I feel greatly improved from where I was yesterday.
After struggling to add some hard drive space to Autumn's home machine last night, (her factory HD doesn't play well with others... it refuses to provide an operating system if it isn't the sole internal drive installed) I settled down with her on the couch to enjoy one of our recent Netflix acquisitions: The IMAX presentation of the Serengetti. It was fairly good, a little cheesy, but a breathtaking visual and aural experience. The surround sound was working nicely, and the video (strangely presented in 4x3, not widescreen) was unbelievable. I found myself noticing small details in the video that would have normally gone undetected, and immediately wondered if it was due to the fast. I don't know if mental clarity and sharpness are common effects of this diet, but I was experiencing them last night.
Even more interestingly, I had a very sound night's rest. I say that's interesting because Barry, our enormous tabby, was doing everything in his power to make sure that neither of us enjoyed more than an hour of uninterrupted sleep throughout the evening. He was being a royal ass, screaming at the top of his lungs from the doorway, chasing Hesh across the bed, scratching anything and everything within reach, and then returning to his screaming. I eventually shut him in the bathroom, which Hesh took as an invitation to lay down just outside the door and claw at its base. Needless to say, I fully expected to wake up for my 9:00 meeting with a freelance client completely exhausted, grumpy and cramped. Instead, I woke up fifteen minutes before I expected to, fully rested, replenished and happy to be alive. Again, I'm wondering if this is thanks to the Master Cleanse. When I voiced my concerns in the office yesterday, Jeph said that he didn't truly begin to feel exceptional until his 8th or 9th day on the fast. My fingers are crossed, and I'm still optimistic about my chances of a similar experience. Maybe all of my pains and labors will bear fruit after all.
It's day six, and my willpower has been tested. I've had every excuse to throw good reason to the wayside and leave the diet in the past, but have stayed the course. When I left for work this morning, I had the strong suspicion that I was forgetting something. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the sensation: you just KNOW that something's askew, but you can't put your finger on it, so you carry on about your business with a little grey cloud hanging above your head. It wasn't until half an hour later, almost immediately upon my arrival to the office, that I remembered what it was. My two tall containers of lemonade were still in the fridge.
It was a busy morning, so the time until lunch cruised past in the bat of an eye, and I took the opportunity to make a mad northern dash in search of my abandoned beverages. My commute is an easy half an hour, potentially much more during the lunch rush, so I wasn't especially looking forward to it, but I didn't like the thought of lasting a full day without anything to calm my gut. It's been rumbling enough throughout the day as it is, so I can't even imagine the noises it would begin to make with this kind of a valid excuse. I made the drive in thirty minutes, almost on the dot, through some fine driving and a few lucky breaks with my lane choices, when I was revisited by the same feeling that had bothered me earlier that morning. I'd left my house keys in my bag, back at the office. Glorious. Fortunately enough, the condo association's office hadn't closed yet (I live with a building full of fuddy-duddies who are always around to complain, ride the elevator to the top floor, wander the halls and stand guard in the office) and they were kind enough to buzz me in, then allow me into my unit. I made it back to the office around one thirty, opened up the side drawer of my desk, and saw two full cans of Pringle's potato chips, left over from a Publix run a few days before I began the diet. I love Pringle's.
I passed the test. My two cans of fried, salted potato slices are still intact. As they will remain until the moment I tear into them eight days from now, victorious and proud of the conclusion of this fast.
Otherwise, it's been a fairly status quo kind of day. My body remains unchanged, my taste for the three drinks in question haven't undergone any kind of a shift (I almost gagged upon my last sip of tea this morning) and my mind is determined. I'm still patiently waiting for more of the positive effects of the fast to kick in, and I'm still anxiously counting the minutes until I can put the whole experience behind me. The salt water fired through me like a faucet last night, so I'm fairly confident that my tubes are clean, and I've lost a couple more pounds. My head is clear, (which probably has as much to do with my time away from the Volcano as it does the change in diet) my stomach is empty and my tongue is partially fuzzy. I've read that it's not uncommon for your tongue to gather a kind of faint fuzzy texture during the fast, and that when it returns to its normal pink hue, it's an indication that your system is completely flushed. A few days ago it was almost completely coated, and today there are patches of pink showing through. Maybe that means I'm on the verge of good things?
I've survived another day and a half, and my optimism about this routine is slowly beginning to fade. I'm really looking forward to my next opportunity to eat solid food again, although there's no question in my mind that I'll easily make the ten day deadline I'd initially set for myself. Since Monday afternoon, I haven't really experienced any more boosts of energy, and my nose has remained about as clogged as ever. I'm not sleeping any less, although to be fair, last night was actually a bit more restful than usual. It's been five days since my last full meal, and I don't truly feel all that different at the moment. My stomach's stopped bothering me, the occasional hunger pangs have subsided almost entirely, and I'm visiting the restroom much less frequently. Almost disturbingly so, in fact. After two and a half days of hourly visits to the toilet, my "output" has slowed drastically. It's a little worrisome to have such a sporadic change in my system without any change in my diet, so I'm working my way through an early evening salt water cleanse at this very moment. I'm going to crap, by god, whether my intestines like the idea or not!
It's funny, I remember absolutely despising this same salt water beverage just five days ago, but today it's almost delicious. It's probably got a lot to do with downing a pitcher of thick, spicy lemonade every day with nothing to cleanse the palette, but I'm actually enjoying the taste of this stuff. I can only imagine how good "real" food will taste, upon my triumphant return in another eight days. While I've reached the halfway point of the actual fast, I'll need to prepare my innards for a return to solids immediately afterwards. The first day after, I'll be kept company with a few tall glasses of orange juice. The second and third days, it's any kind of fruit juice and a special kind of vegetable soup. On day four, Friday, the 26th, all bets are off. I've already begun discussions with Autumn about our menu for the evening. I thought about coming off the diet a day early, so I could celebrate in style with the rest of the GravityFree production department (we traditionally order Rico's Pizza on Thursdays, as the grunts hang around for an extra hour and discuss the direction we see the company taking and its means to get there) but quickly decided that an enormous helping of infamously-greasy Italian food is probably the wrong way to dive back into that pool. Autumn had mentioned Sushi... that sounds nice and light.
At this point, I'm still glad that I undertook this fast. I don't regret a moment of it, and appreciate the experience. I'd have hated myself if I hadn't tried it out at least once, but at this stage I don't know that I'll be doing it again. Thus far I've gone through what's supposedly the toughest part (actually beginning the diet) and have yet to see more than a passing glance at the benefits. Maybe something drastic will happen in the next few days and open my eyes once again. For the time being, my anticipation of that miraculous return to cooked meals will have to be enough.
Day three is now behind me, and my experience on the diet continues to be varied. Yesterday was strange. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I felt terrible in the morning. My stomach was up in arms, my head was aching and I was making constant trips to the restroom. Around lunchtime, all of the bad feelings suddenly began to fade away, like a cluster of clouds breaking apart to let some rays of sunlight through. I felt great! My head was crystal clear, I had the energy AND the motivation to do something with my day, and… most exciting of all, my nose had cleared up completely. Where before the diet, I've always had trouble with my sense of smell thanks to a constantly-blocked snout, yesterday afternoon I was smelling things like never before. When I took the laundry down the hall to hit the washer and dryer, I knew what was going on in each of my neighbors' kitchens. My immediate neighbors were preparing a serving of chocolate chip cookies, while someone a bit further down the hall was slowly cooking a roast. I could do more than smell them, I could almost visualize them, taste them. Every room I entered seemed to have a brand new personality all its own. This was very strange, but very, very welcome.
It's funny, as I was explaining this diet to my Mom over the phone this weekend, I started sneezing and snotting up spontaneously, from out of nowhere. I hadn't been sick, and didn't feel any other symptoms, so I wondered aloud if it was the Master Cleanser working its way through my upper respiratory system. It looks like that may have been the case, even if the sensations were temporary. By bedtime, my usual nasal blockade was in place.
When I came back to the condo after putting in the first load of laundry, I was overwhelmed with the need to do something. It wasn't that I was overly invigorated, so much as I was completely motivated. I needed to do something with my day besides laundry, blog updates and Final Fantasy XII, I needed to accomplish something. So, I set about adding a corkboard base to our kitchen cabinets, a project we'd both been ignoring since we bought the materials about a month back.
My taste for the tea still hasn't changed, and I'm beginning to doubt it ever will. I loathe the thought of even tasting that stuff, and have been dreading my nightly mug of it throughout the last couple of days. This morning, I gargled with Listerine after chugging a warm coffee cup full of the substance. Not sure if I was supposed to do that or not, but it was the best thing I could do to avoid tasting it for the rest of my morning commute.
This morning, I felt somewhat nauseous and under the weather. Having experienced a similar situation yesterday, I refused to burn another of my days off and soldiered my way into the office. Around eleven, my stomach quit churning and kindly left me alone to complete my day's work. I've made several trips to the bathroom, fearing disaster, but haven't yet produced anything. Maybe it's time for another salt water cleanse.
I've survived another 24 hours, and feel like I'm just beginning to get the hang of this. I slept better last night, although waking up and removing myself from the bed was about as difficult as usual. My BMs came a lot less frequently yesterday afternoon and evening, although I'm still afraid to fart since I fear the unpredictable wrath of the liquid I'm carrying inside of me. That's a bad thing, too, because this stuff is making me really gassy. Nine times out of ten, I'll feel a powerful force that urges me to take a seat aboard the porcelain throne, take a seat in the bathroom, and proceed to cut a series of weak, dry, emotionless blasts of wind. Unfulfilled, I'll realize the experience is over and await my next such adventure. It's that ten percent chance of pure liquid discharge, however, that keeps me hurrying back with fear in my eyes. I've also been pissing about four or five times more than usual every day, which is something I really should've anticipated, but for some reason overlooked.
After a long session in the bathroom this morning, my stomach was doing cartwheels. I felt extremely queasy, didn't feel comfortable with the half-hour drive to work, and used one of my sick days to enjoy one final day of rest before returning to the full daily grind. I'm glad I did, too. For most of the morning I was miserable, but around noon I suddenly felt at ease and pleasant. I feel lighter than usual, and upon weighing myself I realized that I'd lost four pounds in the last 48 hours. It's not really the physical weight that I felt had been lifted, though. It's tough to describe... it's like I was carrying myself differently, and my body felt simplified, fresher than usual. Those feelings passed after about ten minutes, and now I feel about average, maybe a little bit better. There's something different about my body, but it's so subtle and faded that I only really notice it when I'm concentrating.
My taste for the lemonade has almost completely transformed. I can scarcely taste the pepper any more, and I'm really enjoying the flavor of the lemon juice. I don't even taste the maple syrup, and the actual act of drinking the stuff is much more pleasant than it was Saturday night. It feels like it has a lot less substance than it did initially, and I've already finished about 55 ounces of the stuff as of this writing (3:45pm). I may approach the maximum recommended daily intake of 100oz by the end of the day, if I keep it up. My tolerance for the tea, unfortunately, has gone in the opposite direction. I cannot stand that stuff, and find myself eager to remove it from my life. If it weren't for one or two glasses of that crap every day, I could imagine myself lasting a lot longer on this diet.
I had a few serious hunger pangs last night, and a few grumbles of the stomach have accompanied me this afternoon. It's nowhere near as urgent a cry as I'd anticipated, though, and it's quickly silenced by a gulp or two of lemonade. I do wish Taco Bell would quit advertising their glorious beef burritos when I'm in front of the set, though. I'm like a Pavlovian dog now, salivating at the opening tunes of their commercials. Again, it's not so much a physical need as it is a mental yearning. So many of my waking hours have been scheduled around my meals, I'm finding it hard to function without food in hand.
It's been about sixty five hours since my last meal, and I feel no worse for the wear. Where last night, I was counting the days until I could enjoy another hamburger, today I feel pleased with my current predicament.
I wrote this, on a message board which shall remain nameless, a few days ago.
Autumn and I have been planning to begin "the Master Cleanse" for several months now, an alternative diet which is more popularly known as the "lemonade fast." Basically, you stop eating altogether and subsist entirely on a beverage that contains water, freshly squeezed organic lemon juice, a small portion of cayenne pepper and maple syrup. It's meant to serve as a full system flush, and from the three friends I know who have done it, all have told me they've never felt as good as they did when they were on it. One of them managed to go a mythical forty days on it. It's supposed to be difficult for the first 48 - 92 hours, while it cleans all the shit out of your body, and once you cross that threshold you feel like a million bucks and don't yearn for food any longer.
I've been really excited about this for a variety of reasons, but equally pensive. I'm really looking forward to the boost of activity you get from it (everyone I've known who has done it told me they were sleeping 4 – 5 hours a night while fasting, and waking up completely recharged, full of energy) since I've always had a tough time coming to grips with the fact that I kill 33% of my day laying motionless in bed snoring. I'm also extremely intrigued by the benefits it claims to have for your upper respiratory system. My nose is always, ALWAYS stopped up. I've never really had a moderately good sense of smell, and when I sleep it's with my mouth wide open, so I have a mound of nast on my tongue and terrible breath first thing in the morning. I think I have mild allergies to everything on the planet. The master cleanse claims to completely unblock your sinuses and eliminate almost all of the mucus and unhealthy buildups from your body, which totally thrills me, and which my friends have all backed up 100% from their experiences. I'm looking forward to smelling things. I'm looking forward to the euphoria and weightlessness you feel. I'm looking forward to losing a few pounds, because that's something I really need.
On the other hand, I LOVE eating and can't imagine going without for more than a few hours, let alone 10+ days. I'm sure it'll be thrilling, but also worrisome. I'm anxious about the first few days, which are supposed to be really tough. I don't know how I feel about the salt water cleanse you're supposed to do every day or two – basically drinking a large amount of salt water and firing it out the other end within the hour. And I'm concerned because I don't know how "in control" I'll feel of my body at the time… but I don't think I'm really all that much in control of that right now, so it's the least of my concerns.
It sounds like a crazy hippy thing to do, but everyone I've known who has done it has emerged unscathed and with rave reviews. It's a totally foreign concept in health and well-being, and that freaks me out more than a little bit. But, (and this is a fairly big but) I have similar feelings about all of modern western medicine, honestly. It was just a hundred or so years ago that our medical professionals were SURE that nearly every ailment was the result of upset humours within the body, and that if they could be appeased, pure health could be attained. Imagine what we'll look back on about today's medicinal practices and laugh about. I know I'm very suspicious about all the perfectly color-labeled little pills the medical industry pumps out every year.
Well, since all that's kind of beside the point, you should know that we took the dive yesterday and are continuing the experience today. My buddy Jeph, the aforementioned superstar who managed an outstanding forty days on this diet, posted a few blogs of his experiences while on the fast, which I thought was a fabulous idea. So fabulous an idea, in fact, that I'm going to steal it for myself. It's my ultimate goal to have a status update every day I'm on the diet, but I've let myself down with similar aspirations in the past, so don't expect perfection. Anyway, after 24 hours without food, here are my initial feelings.
I don't know what I was expecting, but this lemonade mixture is just disgusting. It's like bile with a kick, a sharply sour fluid with a spicy aftertaste. It's much more bearable if I take big swigs throughout the day, rather than neatly sipping it every few minutes, but I've had to chase it with water off and on, just because I don't want it on my tongue any longer than it has to be. I can't imagine drinking this stuff for nine more days, but I'm going to practice willpower and get it done.
Strangely, I haven't been really hungry yet. It may be my distaste for the lemonade, but my stomach has been relatively calm. I still have a strong psychological yearning for food (I would've killed for some Wheat Thins last night) and when I see food on the TV it's like a slap in the face, but my body isn't bending itself in half from the agony of it all. That may change as my tolerance for the drink grows. Not even an hour after we started the fast, Autumn and I ran out to Target to buy a new Brita filter for our faucet (hey, if you're gonna do it all the way...). On the way to the store, waiting at an intersection, an enormous truck drove by with a giant, juicy, mouth-watering sandwich plastered on its side. Our conversation stopped, and we both pondered the significance of it, before we both noted what the other was doing and tried to pass it off like we weren't doing the exact same thing.
I hate, hate, hate, the laxative tea. It's called "Senna Tea," for all the tea-ites out there, if you've ever heard of it. I've never been much of a warm beverage man, and this stuff is just putrid. I downed it in three big gulps last night, and tasted it for about an hour after, which is funny because it doesn't have a very distinct taste. It's very, very flat, tastes soapy and just doesn't please me in the slightest. I wanted to dump a pitcher of salt into it so I could taste something sharper.
I slept poorly last night. I kept waking up every hour or two, rolling over and passing back out. My head was pounding, and my neck was stiff, like my pillows had been filled with stones. I slept in longer than I usually do, but when I finally rolled out of bed, I did feel much more rested and refreshed than I'd expected to, considering the previous night's sleep.
This morning, I downed my first hearty 32oz serving of salt water, which is meant to work with the laxative tea to wash out all of the impurities shaken loose by the previous day's glasses of lemonade. I hated the salt water, too, until Autumn shared her wisdom with me. She suggested that I imagine I'm drinking soup, and oddly enough, that really did the trick. Like I said, I have a psychological need for food right now, and after a day of tea, lemons and peppers, the salty texture was a welcome change of pace. Salt water tastes an awful lot like beef broth if you close your eyes and really use your imagination.
My head's been swimming since around the eight hour mark. It's very mild, nothing that's going to change the way I live, but it's noticeable. I was feeling fine yesterday, but this morning I woke up with a weak headache right at the base of my skull. It's since toured the entirety of my head, checking out the spots behind my eyes, the crown of my skull and the center, before finally settling back down at the base. Autumn's suggested I battle it with some Aspirin, but I think that would be a self-defeating exercise. I knew the fist few days were going to be uncomfortable, so I can deal, and as I mentioned, I don't really trust perfect pill packages anyway. Even Aspirin.
About an hour after finishing the salt water cleanse, it hit me like a sledgehammer to the ass. I seriously almost shit the couch, and didn't even pause the PS2 as I hurled myself into the bathroom. I'd passed a few solids earlier in the morning, and it was like I'd popped the cork off of a wine bottle. I'd filled two bowls full of liquid before the fun had passed.
And that brings us back to the present. My initial impressions aren't good, but as I said earlier, I knew the first few days were going to be rough. It's actually been much easier than I expected so far, all things considered, and I'm eager to start enjoying some of the nicer aspects of this diet as the next few days go on. I can't believe Jeph lasted the full forty days on this stuff, but think the ten days suggested by the book is certainly attainable. I'll follow his strategy of re-evaluating the length of my fast once I hit that milestone.