Friday, January 22, 2010

#84 The Ten Day Master Cleanse That Lasted Only Five

On Monday January 18th, I started The Master Cleanse. Why? Well, because in the 2 weeks since New Years, I have eaten food that I haven't touched in years. My poor arteries were probably wondering why I was punishing them. My skin, too, was asking the same question. My blue jeans, that I discarded for black sweat pants, were missing my flabby white ass, and my belly and ankles were swollen and bloated. Don't think I'm being hard on myself. I didn't just eat "bad" food, I ate in quantity... with relish, loads of guilt, and a smidgen of concern for my health or weight!! So, we come back to WHY.... I wish I knew. Really!

I've been down this road before. I know sooner or later somethings gotta give. I look for signs.... hopefully sooner rather than later.

Ta Da! I was perusing my facebook one night when I noticed a yoga buddy's status: "I am now eating solids". Thinking that she was sick or maybe had surgery, I wrote her a note. She responded that she was fine, but had just completed a 10 day cleanse; The Master Cleanse. She went on to explain what the cleanse was, how it is done, and how she felt during and afterwards. I knew that this was what I needed, a good detox [and a kick in the pants]. Better yet, talk about getting a sign... I'm in Whole Foods to buy the ingredients. I can't get service on my iphone to read the email where the ingredients are listed, so I go sit on some boxes by the front door to wait for my phone to find service. While sitting there, I look to my left and realize that I'm sitting on the display for the Master Cleanse. All the ingredients I need are right there, plus a booklet explaining how to do the cleanse.

When I told my dear friend Hilary about taking on this cleanse, she told me she would be there everyday to support me, and she was. Each day I received a text that used the word FAST to make other words.


F riends
A lways
S often
T roubles

I started the day with the recommended tea (a laxative) and drank my lemonade mix, some mint tea, and water throughout the day. Took Iggy for a long walk. No lack of energy. I finished the day with the recommended tea (laxative) again. Did you know that they make a laxative tea that tastes like chocolate? Headache started around 4:00 pm. Otherwise the day wasn't too awful.


F inest
A ss
S imply
T errific

Same as day one, not too bad. Took Iggy for a long walk. Headache still present, a 9.8 on a scale of ten. Probably detoxing from sugar, caffeine, nutrasweet, etc. I told you I was toxic. I finally took Tylenol around midnight because the headache was still visiting, and because I was exhausted from my lack of sleep on the first night. This was due in part to my constant trips to the bathroom, and then having a hard time falling back to sleep because of the headache.


My best guy friend Michael chimed in with a ditty of his own for this day.

F at
A ss
S ays
T ata

Do you think he meant mine or just in general fat ass? Down 5 lbs. Headache gone. Took a 75 minute tennis clinic... kinda sluggish after the first 45 minutes. Realized that I hadn't pooped since Sunday [laxative tea not working??] and dreaded the "sea salt flush" the booklet recommends for moving the sludge through the pipes. Interestingly, my belly didn't feel uncomfortable. Went food shopping for the family because I'm not cooking this week. Truth be told, that was a little difficult. Luckily, my family was so busy during the week that there was never one night where we had a sit down meal. Took Iggy for a walk with friend Marcy, and then went to the mall to keep my mind off food. We both did a little monetary damage. Ah, retail therapy. Drank the salt water flush. Some stomach gurgling, but that's it. Slept like a between poking Marc to stop his snoring.


F ly
A way
S tupid
T acos

Took Iggy for a walk before 12:30 tennis game. Felt fine on the walk. Played contract tennis for 75 minutes... not feeling my usual chippy self. Came home and wham! Salt water flush worked, but about 12 hours after it was supposed to. I'll spare you the details, but I will tell you it wasn't a pleasant experience. Down another 3 pounds. Since my belly and ankles were really [respectively] bloated and swollen before I started the cleanse, I'm sure that 6 lbs were water and the rest were weight. No matter. I felt so much better than I did on Sunday. Ankles back to normal, skin beginning to respond, and no tummy bloat. No headache. Thought about food... a lot. I'm not a big drinker so trying to get in the recommended amount of the lemonade mix was difficult.


F limsy
A rms
S tart
T rouble

Took Iggy for a long walk. Felt like a slug, but at the same time the cold weather was invigorating. Down 1 more pound. Decided that a 10 day cleanse is just not gonna happen for me. Made the decision to make day five the last day - for two reasons. First, we had made dinner plans with another couple for Saturday night and I didn't want to cancel. Second, I also didn't want to drink my lemonade mix while sitting in a restaurant. I know these were not the best excuses for ending this torture, but they worked for me. The book says to break the fast with orange juice and fruit. I had my morning Smooth Move Tea [it never did "move" me], drank watered down orange juice and had some berries. I drank the lemonade concoction throughout the day and ate some more berries and a 1/2 of a banana. I went to bed that night looking forward to chewing things with more substance on Saturday.

SATURDAY [now that I'm off the cleanse, Hilary's support is gone and her true colors come out... that's why I love her!]

F laccid
A ppendages
S o
T ragic

Down a half pound more. Mint tea, 1/2 banana, and a handful of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries for breakfast. Although wanting coffee, I wasn't too sure my belly was ready, and it's also not part of the "break-fast protocol". I had some plain chicken late in the morning and plain white rice [Chinese leftover from my non-cooking week] mid afternoon. Drank water and tea most of the day. Decided to "coat" my belly with a small piece of gluten free toast before going out to dinner -- where I asked the chef to steam a piece of fish for me. After dinner, I started feeling human again, although a little guilty for cutting the cleanse short. On the other hand, that's why God gave me teeth.... to chew.

As I write this babble, I'm trying to tell myself that from this day onwards, I need to remember what it feels like to be so bloated and unhappy in both a physical and emotional way. Darn, I should have taken pictures.

And my own little ditty to end this babble....

F ood
A bstinence
S omewhat
T ollerable

Note: I am not explaining how the cleanse should be done, nor advocating it. I'm just sharing my experience. If you want information on the cleanse, you can google numerous sites or go to

Quote of the Day: "I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process. It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?" Author Unknown

#83 Think Ahead

This morning I commented on a blog post from one of the bloggers I follow. For privacy sake, I won't name her blog.

Her post:

"Yesterday I hauled my round body onto my treadmill and ran for about 20 minutes. I do not like feeling so out of shape. And those 20 minutes were NOT fun. I pretty much felt like crap on a cracker. It was a busy day, so I was happy that I made the time for even a short workout, and felt like I finally got started in the right direction."

My Response:

I know the struggle. So many other things call my name to keep me from my morning exercise, but what gets me there is knowing how good it feels afterwards. Plus, I feel so sluggish and guilty later in the day if I don't exercise in the morning. Maybe you should think about "later" instead of "now". I know that's against all the "fads" out there, like the whole "be present" thing. But, perhaps this is one instance where looking ahead in time might just work. Hey, as I write this, I'm thinking that maybe I'll use this thought process when it comes to eating. When I want to eat, I'll think about how it makes me feel later. Hahahahahah, no really, I'm going to really make the effort and try this. Good luck to you and good luck to me too.
Quote of the Day: "Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act." Truman Capote

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

#82 Vacationing on a Full Stomach

Whenever I talk to my friends who don't have food issues, I am reminded that they live their lives pretty much the way I do, except that food doesn't "get in the way" for them. What I mean is, my non food-challenged friends do all this -- exercise 4-7 days a week, think about their health, leave food on their plates, eat slowly, and more often than not, eat well -- without letting food throw them off their game. However, vacations are another story. Where I worry about eating too much on vacation, they go away knowing that they will over indulge. They also know that they will easily deal with those [potential] extra pounds after arriving back home. Notice that word 'easily'.

I wasn't really hip to the idea of "activity" vacations when Marc and I started vacationing together. Why? Because I was the person who wanted to lie in the sun on my cushy lounge chair, drink diet coke [I'm not good with the alcohol, heat and sun combo], and read a book. The only exercise I expected to partake in was rolling over every 30 minutes or so as not to burn any body parts.

Meeting Marc changed the way I vacation... for the better. Our vacations are always wonderful and interesting and I am worry-free about eating because our days, or parts of our days, are filled with activities. Our first vacation together was to the island of Nevis. When we went, back in 1990, there were about 4 or 5 hotels on the island. No cars were allowed, except the random taxi to move and your luggage from the water where you arrived via tiny plane or ferry. This meant that one needed to walk everywhere. Since our hotel, the Golden Rock Inn, was at the top of a small mountain, going anywhere on the island ended in an exhausting climb back to our beautiful paradise. We did a lot of sight seeing, played tennis, and swam a lot. The food was fresh and yummy, and because of our activity level, I ate without worry. Nope, I don't think I'll ever say "I ate with abandon".

Since that vacation, we've gone on a number of vacations ["holidays" to my non-American readers] where our mornings were spent in strenuous and demanding tennis clinics, leaving our afternoons for relaxing, sightseeing and shopping. Last summer, our vacation was a little open as to the exercise. We biked around Cape Cod, played tennis on courts placed so that you could see the ocean, and walked round-trip from our hotel to town [2+ mile round trip] every night for dinner. As some of you know, two summers ago we went biking from Prague to Austria with 7 couples from our neighborhood. It was an amazing vacation. Once again, I was able to eat without worry. Do you know why? Many of those hills we rode were colossal, and even if I had wanted to join my Swiss friend and yodel when finally reaching the top, there was no breath left in me to do so.

However, this past Christmas/New Years holiday, our family vacation was not designed around exercise. Marc belongs to an International Dental Fraternity and every year 400-800 dental-type people and their families meet in a different venue. The dental people take courses and work on the different committees that keep the fraternity functioning. The spouses have their activities and the kids are in kids camp. If Marc and I had our druthers, we probably would have chosen to miss this year since neither one of us are 'cruisers'. It was our children who really wanted to go. Seeing that they've been going with us since their infancy, this winter trip has pretty much become the only time during the year that they get to visit with their friends from different parts of the country [as well as those friends from around the world].

You're wondering, I'm sure, where I'm going with this vacation history. Well, as you all know, My babble started as weekly emails to ladies in my women's group to help keep us all focused on eating healthy and exercising. Let me say this now.... cruising makes this very difficult. On the first day, our Cruise Director, Big Tex, announced the ship's activities over the loud speaker. He then went on to say that, "As we all know, cruising is about the food...". Really? Why????

Without having to say, you all know that I started the cruise with the best intentions: eggs and fruit for breakfast, salads with protein for lunch, a dinner with a salad to start and an allowed taste [or two] of dessert. I stayed clear of the soft serve ice cream machines, the three tiered dessert table in the middle of the "cafeteria", the midnight buffet, only drank wine with dinner, and if I went to the coffee bar, it was only coffee I ordered. By day three, I had tasted the ice cream, not too shabby, and had added a starch or two to my breakfast. Honestly, how many people can walk by french toast, waffles and pancakes daily and not be tempted?

Of course the ship did have a gym, but it was always crowded in the morning, which is when I like to exercise. My other option for exercise was the track on the top deck. I did visit this 5 of the 7 days at sea. And I'll share that when the wind was at my back, I finally ran that 10 minute mile which has alluded me my whole life.

In the end, I probably put on some poundage. However, I can't end my babble on a sour note - so here goes. On the last day of the cruise, would you believe I got sea sick?! I was pretty green most of the morning and only ate a small breakfast because, to be blunt, I was more worried about dry heaving than bringing something up if I was going to "be sick". And sick I was. Happily, I lost everything inside me from top and bottom [thankfully not at the same time because that's a logistic hell -- been there, done that.]. The next day, I was still lacking an appetite, and ate cautiously. So, drum roll please.... I came home weighing exactly the same as I did on the day we left for the cruise.

See, I told you the ending would be a happy one.

Photos: Jersey Shore; Nevis at the Golden Rock Inn; Group Bike Trip in Prague; View from the porch of the Chatham Bar Inn on Cape Cod; Marc and me on the cruise [you'd think there was enough to eat...]; Dessert on the cruise.

Quote of the Day: "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished"
Lao Tzu (author)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

#81 Why I Cried When I Quit Smoking

Twenty years ago I quit smoking. I did not want to quit. I loved smoking. I loved the smell and taste. I loved holding the cigarette, inhaling deeply, blowing out a long stream of smoke, and of course, making smoke-rings. Why did I start smoking? To be cool. Why did I keep smoking? Mostly because it helped me not eat. It was also something to do when I was bored or angry or lonely or tired. Why did I quit? For all the right reasons!

I truly, honestly and sincerely did not want to quit. However, working in the hospital and seeing first hand the problems, complications and deaths caused by smoking, my hand, literally, was forced. When I finally decided that I was going to stop smoking, I did some research. I knew that the majority of people who quit smoking, quit 4 and 5 times; I didn't want to be one of them. A friend recommended that I call a smoking cessation group that used "Aversive Conditioning" to help smokers quit because she had heard that their success rate was through the roof. So, I did what needed to be done, I called. After I took down all the information and made my appointment, I hung up and cried.

I knew I was going to miss smoking... a lot. I was also going to miss the effects [the good ones] of smoking. I know that's hard to believe, but for me, smoking was the perfect diet. When I felt hungry, I smoked. Smoking was also a great way to meet guys - like - excuse me, but do you have a light? Today, smoking is much less socially accepted than when I smoked. Also, when I smoked, we smokers were the majority.

Today, I am your typical X-smoker. I can't stand the smell, and if someone near me is smoking, and the area is small or confined, and they are the only person smoking, I ask them to move. I know that's rude of me, but I have to say, [most] smokers will move. Perhaps it's the way I ask, or perhaps these smokers know the dangers of second hand smoke and are being responsible. Emotionally, they're probably cursing me. Rationally, they know that they are harming themselves, and maybe they're taking the high road by trying not to harm those around them.

Why am I telling you my smoking history? Because today I read on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer that Widener University is "set for big smoke-out". The subtext read that by July, they will be the first area university to ban smoking both indoors and outside. Amazing... and wonderful. I hate walking out of a building into a cloud of noxious cigarette smoke because smokers have been banned from smoking inside [of course I'm glad about that too]. I'm always amazed to see people standing outside a building in the freezing cold wearing nothing more than their "outfit". I, on the other hand, am shivering in my ski parka, gloves and boots as I walk from place to place.

People who read my blog, and who smoke, might think that I'm anti smoking. Well, if you read my blog, you know that I'm pro-health; that I try to continually improve upon improving me. Over the years, that has meant giving up many things that I once loved -- like buttered popcorn at the movies, cakes and cookies with hydrogenated oil and/or transfats, diet sodas, eating late at night, and smoking. I could go on and on, but the idea is that in giving up those "vices", I feel and look better. As for my internal organs, vessels, muscles and bones, I can only hope that I didn't wait too long, and that any damage that was done from my old lifestyle and habits, has been somewhat halted and hopefully the above body parts have been returned to their original state.

One more thing.... if we know that sucking on a cigarette increases our chances [and those around us] of getting lung cancer and potentially dying, then it's a no brainer. Quitting is the only option. I read a blog today [written by a nutritionist] where the blogger shared a discussion she had with a visiting priest to her church. He had, over the past year, lost 40 pounds. She asked him what had made him shed those pounds. He confided in her that he had been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and that this diagnosis was his wake-up call. Isn't it sad and awful that most of us need to wait for something terrible to happen to make us change? Why do we need to be knocked over the head to see the obvious?

And last... please don't feel that I'm preaching. I am one of you. I am not perfect... I fall off the wagon. However, if this rambling babble has done one thing, may it be your wake up call. Did you feel that? I just knocked you over the head. If you smoke, if you are 20+ pounds overweight, if you are not exercising, if you are drinking alcohol in quantities that are not safe or healthy, if you are texting while driving, WAKE UP!

You'll thank me one day....

Quote of the Day: "I hope to just fall over one day in the middle of a song... with a smile on my face" Dolly Parton

Monday, January 4, 2010

#80 I Survived the Quantum Cleanse

Originally Posted 6/08 - A new year is always a good time to look at the way you take care of yourself. Here is a re-post of babble #11 for those of you who didn't get to read it the first time, or for those who would like to think about doing something new and good to get your year started in a clean and healthy way.

I don't get to watch Oprah as much as I would like, but I do get an email from Harpo [Oprah spelled backwards for those of you who don't know this] studios everyday telling me what's going on and what's coming up. When I read about the 21-day cleanse that Oprah was planning to start, I thought, why not. Since January, I have been struggling with a healthy 6 pounds that go away with weeks of watching my calories and then pops back on in just days. Maybe this is what I needed.

Oprah's cleanse is based on the book, The Quantum Cleanse, by Kathy Freston. It says to spend 21 days without caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten [wheat products] and animal proteins. I believe that somewhere in there is cutting out white flour too. I decided to go ahead and give it a try, but I also decided to keep eating egg whites, fish and chicken. I've learned from past experience that I need that kind of protein in my diet.

I brought the idea of this cleanse to my women's group, but everyone had their worries like, "No way I can give up caffeine" or my worry, "How am I NOT going to have my evening glass of red wine?". Even though nobody was willing to do this with me, I decided that 21 days isn't that much, and that at least I was allowed to eat solid food. Other cleanses I had read about were liquid or other yucky concoctions. So, lucky for me, I have a friend who keeps a dairy free/gluten free house and she took me to Whole Foods. She patiently showed me what to look for and what she has learned from hers and her family's experience. She showed me the the better gluten free breads, pizzas [remember I can't have dairy either so I needed to find one with soy cheese], etc. We got in line and $136 later I had at least 2 weeks of staples.

Day one started out well, but by 1:00 PM I had already hit a snag. I was playing in a tennis tournament and afterwards lunch was served. On the table were tuna and egg salad hoagies [mayo is a no, no], chocolate chip cookies and a fruit salad with whip cream and those yellow cake things. I was ready to let myself just go ahead and eat and start the cleanse the next day, but somewhere I found the strength and ate just the fruit salad. Truly, I don't know how I did this, but I just did.

After that meal, the rest of the three weeks was pretty easy accept for 2 instances. The first time I "fell" was when I spent two days visiting my pantry on and off looking for something. I hadn't been having any cravings after the first week and couldn't understand what was going on. I finally gave into a large bowl of ice cream and voila, the next day I got my period. It seems my body keeps track better than I do. The second time was for a birthday dinner party. The dinner was at a restaurant that doesn't use utensils [you use very thin pita bread to pick up the food] and since I was grabbing food from platters with 10 other people, I decided it would be o.k to drink some alcohol for medicinal purposes. I figured that if I drank enough the alcohol would kill any germs that my have hopped from someone's hands into the communal platter. Let me just say without getting into quantity detail, there were no bugs that could have survived in my body that evening.

Ok, so what happened to me and what did I learn over these 21 days? First, nothing changed. My skin didn't get all aglow, my pores didn't shrink and miraculously my wrinkles didn't get less wrinkled. My output [numbers one and two] stayed exactly the same, my hair didn't get shinier and thicker and my breath and body odor didn't get better or worse [at least nobody told me]. Pretty much right away I lost about 5 pounds and ranged 5-7 pounds during the cleanse.

My friend who keeps the gluten-free house had been telling me for a while that some people can't digest wheat products well and get bloated from them. Perhaps that is what happened/was happening to me. I definitely lost my belly bloat. However, what also happened was that it got warm out, and on certain days unbearably hot. My eating may have changed because of the heat. Who knows. I lost the weight and feel much better. Surprisingly I didn't miss my evening vino as much as I missed my daily Trader Joe's diet black cherry soda. And, because I continued to eat 5-6 small meals like I usually did, I wasn't really ever hungry. And, I did make myself gluten free, dairy free, egg free brownies for those moments where I really needed something sweet and fruit just wasn't going to cut it. Even though the brownies had sugar, the author of Quantum Cleanse said that quantum changes happen incrementally. Knowing that the brownies were there for me gave me such a feeling of freedom. In the past, I had never been able to keep brownies in the house without slowly polishing them off over the course of 48 hours. These survived for almost 10 days in the fridge out of site and a lot of the time out of mind.

If there is meaning to be gotten from this experience it is that I realized that I have a strong will. It's been a long time since I've taken on a challenge that needed almost a month's dedication. I've started many things in the past and have let myself down many times too. I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said I did this for reasons of health and not for weight loss, but I can truly say that what I discovered was that I am more proud of myself for sticking with this than for the pounds that I was finally able to to lose.

If you are feeling that you need to make a change for reasons of health and/or weight, or just want a challenge, but are scared of failing because of past failures, then perhaps your goals were set too high. This just might be the thing for you. Pick a number of days that you think you can handle, adapt the cleanse to your needs and allow yourself to feel victory.

Kathy Freston's Comments: External "fillers"—like soda and chips—leave you feeling empty and wanting more. Yearning, dissatisfied. To really feel substantially filled and nurtured and cared for, it has to come from something that is not outside of us.

Kathy Freston's Comments: It's okay to have a glass of wine and enjoy it. It hurts no one. This is not about deprivation, so feel no guilt. 'Leaning in' sometimes means you have to stop, take a rest and look at the view.