So Week Three of The Cleanse was going pretty well. I even survived a catered lunch on Friday at a conference, despite the fact that their idea of a vegetarian option was a sandwich containing mushrooms smothered with cheese. The only gluten-free, dairy-free, minimally processed choice was Maryland crab soup which, other than the sodium content, probably fell within my restrictions. It’s a good thing I brought some snacks with me.
By Saturday I was getting a little lazy. I had planned on making Rice Noodles with Broccoli-Almond Pesto for lunch, but I just could not bring myself to pull out the food processor again. So I made a version with “deconstructed pesto”; I just tossed all the pesto ingredients, in their whole form, in with the noodles. Was it the most amazing lunch I’ve ever prepared? No. But it worked.
Still, I sensed my willpower weakening. It wasn’t so much that I was eager to eat tons of bread, cheese, and chocolate with a big glass of wine on the side as it was that I was just so tired of cooking. And tired of washing dishes.
Emily and I had already agreed to cut The Cleanse one or two meals short. She was going to a party on Sunday afternoon to watch the Ravens game, and didn’t want to have to worry about what she ate. And I was ready to let Nick back into the kitchen for a change, especially if he was in the mood to make pizza.
But even knowing there were only 24 hours left, I texted Em on Saturday afternoon.
“How about we just end things now? We could still have a healthy breakfast tomorrow morning…”
“Why do you want to stop now?”
“I don’t want to cook dinner tonight.”
“Okay. Want a brownie?”
This is how awesome my sister is- on Friday night she baked brownies for her fiance and his friends. She even cut them up. It would have been so easy to just cut off a tiny, tiny bite, but she didn’t. She rocks. But the leftover brownies were taunting her on Saturday. So, within 15 minutes of us agreeing that we would settle on a 19.5-day cleanse rather than a 21-day cleanse, she was delivering brownies to my door.
I waited to have my brownie until after dinner that night. But I did have the little Dove dark chocolate that has been sitting in a bowl for the last few weeks- one of the last remnants of the Christmas goodies. It was … okay. But not amazing. There were no fireworks, no rainbows, no orgasmic revelation of, “Oh my god, Chocolate, I have missed you so much!!!” And yes, part of me did expect that to happen. But it didn’t. Which was good. It reminded me that it’s okay to enjoy some indulgence, but to save it for the things I really love.
So, where did I go for my first post-Cleanse meal last night? Panera. I wanted to ease back into things, and I knew there would be some tasty, balanced options that would keep me from being tempted to go all out. Plus, in case my digestive system did freak out from dairy or gluten, I didn’t want to associate something I really love with getting sick. So I had some soup and salad, with a little cheese and whole-grain bread. And a glass of wine when I got home. My stomach seems to have accepted everything just fine.
Tonight Nick will be making pizza. And I will be having wine. But overall, I’m still feeling motivated to continue incorporating the principles of the cleanse into my regular eating. At the beginning of the month, I had written down five goals, or things I hoped to get out of the cleanse. Overall, I think I accomplished them:
1. To kick-start some weight loss. Yup… probably lost around five to six pounds, bringing me back to where I was before the end of the semester and the holidays. Since I’ve gotten used to eating smaller meals, and I’m starting to have more energy again, I’m hoping with continued careful eating and more exercise I can continue down this track and lose 8 to 10 more pounds. Doing so will put me back to around where I was when I felt my best.
2. To get back on track with eating balanced meals. Between eating more convenience foods during finals and all the baked goods around the holidays, vegetables and fruits definitely had taken a back seat. This cleanse helped put them back as the focal part of my meals. And even though I don’t have a meal plan for this coming week, my grocery bags today were full of kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, apples, and sweet potatoes.
3. To encourage myself to try new healthy foods. I’ve finally accepted red peppers. And I learned to like almond milk. I’m running out of new green vegetables to try, but I’m more open to using them in different ways. Except smoothies.
4. To get into a habit of planning ahead and having ingredients for healthy meals and snacks on hand. Some of the lunch recipes were my favorites. I’ll be making the chickpea and brown rice burgers regularly. And I have a bag of nuts and dried fruit in my car for hunger emergencies.
5. To bring my focus back on emphasizing eating for nutrition first, and eating for pleasure as a secondary thing. Shortly into the cleanse, I realized, so what if I get a lot of pleasure out of food? It’s one of the things I’m most passionate about, and I’ve decided that’s okay. And it’s okay if sometimes the food that I’m passionate about has lots of butter, or even sugar. That is, as long as “sometimes” means once a week or so, rather than once a day.