April’s arrival is the starting gun for my cleanse. The first year I did this marked a permanent shift from a vegetarian to a vegan and gluten free diet, and that was no small thing for me. For the first two weeks, I complained and craved bread, pasta and pastries like I’ve never craved before. Buttery crackers dominated my thoughts. It wasn’t a very productive time, but I stuck with a 21-day cleanse and finished feeling better than I had in years.
It only feels right to go back to that place every April for a tune-up, and clean my habits, my body and my filthy mind. Kidding! I am trying to watch my language, so I’ll add that to the little notebook I’m using to keep myself in check this year.
The crankiness is temporary and it’s not my fault. Cutting coffee is hard! It’s even harder when I step out of the shower and smell a fresh brewed pot. Then watch MoonPie pour his first cup of the day. Then watch him take a sip, leaning in close to inhale as much flavor as possible before he scoots away to top himself off. We both work from home mostly and sit right across a table from each other. The man is never not drinking coffee, pouring only 1/4 cup at a time so it stays hot in the carafe and makes my first week without torture.
About two weeks ago I began Project Get MoonPie to Cut Coffee, Too. Tried and failed. We don’t celebrate Easter, but he’s crazy about all the Eastern European foods available in our neighborhood around the holiday. He has agreed to go vegan and cut coffee and booze for a few days after Easter, but 21 days is too much to ask. He’s a cheese-loving meat eater, so that’ll be interesting. I hope he doesn’t get cranky. Our apartment needs cheer and I’ve already claimed Not it!
My objective in getting him to try a cleanse is a big fat selfish pastry stuffed with best intentions. Cutting coffee and wine is much easier when the person you live with isn’t partaking – selfish. Things are more fun when MoonPie’s aboard – selfish. Cleaning the body of toxins and nourishing detoxifying organs is a good thing and I can’t be the only one running into my hundreds.
Normally I do this for three weeks because my first experience was 21 days and it left me feeling like I’d swapped my body with a healthy person. Now I’m coming to this from a plant-based diet that’s already packed with wholefoods, so I’m not sure about the duration yet. Three weeks isn’t necessary. Right now, it sounds like a long time go without coffee, but after a few days it won’t feel like deprivation. This I know. After a few days, flavors in tea stand out more. A cup of white peach tea with lemon becomes crave-able, according to last year’s journal. We’ll see.
I wish the term “cleanse” wasn’t automatically associated with weird celebrity weight loss stories. I’m not trying to lose weight! I’d love to gain weight – five pounds of muscle right in my arms – but this isn’t about weight at all. It’s about trying to be better to myself and more aware of the choices I make. I’m also chasing that more peaceful version of myself I’ve sometimes encountered. Get back here! is probably not the best approach. Peaceful Me is like that wave you wait for in the ocean, the one that doesn’t come until it thinks you’re not ready. So you talk to the waves and say I’m going in now and never mind people who look at you funny because your wave rolls up and carries you away. I miss swimming in the ocean.
After a few years of sticking to Kris Carr’s 21-Day cleanse, I’m going a little rogue. Eating raw food is a drag. Some people love it. Not me. I gently cook food instead, which means less time at lower temperatures to preserve the enzymes, and make a lot more salads. Salads are raw, too, but unlike other raw foods, I don’t have to pretend a salad is an enchilada.
So, gentle cooking and shooting for an 80/20 ratio of alkaline to acidic foods, spices and drinks. Alcohol, coffee, black tea, refined sugars and processed grains all get the boot. I’m stocked up on green drink fixings, lemons, my favorite edamame hummus, quinoa, frozen blueberries and a lovely 90% dark chocolate bar to quench my thirst for bitterness.
We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll be so energized I’ll keep running and running past the 15-mile mark at last.