Religion & Beliefs

Blogging the Cleanse #6: I’m ready for my swiss chard, Mr. Demille

And all good things must come to an end — sometimes, as with Godfather III or Clerks 2, after they've overstayed their welcome a bit.  The parallels with meditation retreat continue; on the last day of a retreat, it's really … Read More

By / April 27, 2007

And all good things must come to an end — sometimes, as with Godfather III or Clerks 2, after they've overstayed their welcome a bit.  The parallels with meditation retreat continue; on the last day of a retreat, it's really hard to sit still, because your mind has already started thinking about going home.  Likewise, I'm now sick of the spicy lemonade, because I'm ready to move to orange juice and veggie juice, which is what I'm starting tonight.  Plus I'm now up at my house, with my partner, who is microwaving veggie burgers and eating cereal and basically causing my appetite to roil.  And then, because I'm not drinking enough of the lemonade, I get headaches.  Which I know I'll get, because I've learned that lesson already.  But I'm sick of the lemonade — and round and round it goes. 

So, what have I learned during this week of near-fasting (and drinking the juice of all the lemons at right, and then some)?

First, that we really don't need anywhere near as much food as we take in.  It really is amazing how high-functioning I've been able to be, just on lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.  I'm going back to eating not because I have to, but because I want to. 

Second, that I would really look great if I didn't eat so much crap.  I'm back down to my optimal weight of 160 — I must've been pushing 170 before the cleanse, given how much thinner I look.  And not just thinner — better.  Skin clearer, eyes clearer, and somehow, the lost few pounds were all in the right places; my face looks like it used to 10 years ago, and so does my gut.  I was thinking about posting some pictures online — but I thought better of it. 

 Now, I still think that, on balance, enjoying the delicious variety of foods in the world is worth a little extra flab and a little less energy.  It's part of the delight of life, and this discipline is too ascetic for an everyday lifestyle.  But it is instructive to see what's really causing the paunches and big bottoms of America: eating garbage. 

Third, I've really appreciated, in a visceral way, the fact that I always have enough to eat in my life.  When your entire mental stability depends on one bottle of orange fluid, you can really see that clearly.  It's like that environmental parable about a civilization entirely dependent upon a single pipe.  They love it, take care of it, even venerate it — now if only our dependence on the Earth were as clear for us to see.

Fourth, I think I've put some space between the sensation of hunger on the one hand, and the grouchy, crabby feeling I usually get when I'm hungry on the other.  This week, I always felt hunger in my belly.  But it was just part of the scenery, and part of the plan of the week.  I got used to it; it was really no big deal.  If only I'd feel that way when it's 2:30 in the afternoon and I haven't managed to eat lunch yet. 

And finally, I do feel, somehow, cleaner.  I've learned a lot this week about "toxins" and "cleansing" and other dubiously-defined touchstones of the wacky nutritionist fringe.  And I don't know about any of that.  But I can say that I feel somehow cleaner inside.  It's amazing how much crap (literally, in this case) was still coming out of me during my daily salt water flush, days after I'd stopped eating.  That stuff just sits there, all the time; who knows, maybe it does have something to do with toxicity, or loss of energy, or, well, something we don't yet fully understand.

  I'm glad I did the cleanse, and I'd recommend it to any healthy individual, if only for the adventure and for seeing how much of our ordinary responses to food and hunger are conditioned behaviors that have little to do with actually nourishing the body.  It was important that I was working with a nutritionist, in case anything did really go wrong.  Nothing did, but it felt good to know that my back was covered.  Not that I'm really out of the woods yet — for many people, coming off the Master Cleanse is as difficult as the cleanse itself.  Which is why my shabbat dinner tonight will consist of vegetable juice.  Wow, look at the time — time to light candles!  Shabbat shalom!