I’m not a chick who likes to deprive herself, but after this extended holiday season, some self-restraint is in order. With a continuous rotation of family and friends visiting our Florida condo, I’ve been eating, drinking and goofing off like a college freshman on spring break for the last two months. Five Guys cheeseburgers, chips & dip, and peanut m&ms are not appropriate food groups for a 59 year-old woman! (Not to mention all the sunset happy hours.) Now my husband is traveling, my last girlfriend has departed and I’m launching into a five day cleanse. I’ll update my progress right here each day, so check back to see how I’m doing and follow along yourself if you’re up for it.
This cleanse is not about dieting or weight loss, it’s about treating myself better. My goal is to reset, restore and reenergize myself for 2023 by putting healthier food into my bod and higher quality ideas into my brain. Five days is a short enough period of time that I can be ambitious. Here’s what I’m going to do:
- Eliminate all dairy, sugar, alcohol, red meat and processed carbs
- Cut back on caffeine and mindless screen time/scrolling
- Read an actual book for two hours a day
It’s a lot of change, but I’m in complete control of my environment and schedule this week, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get into a good groove. And of course I LOVE a new challenge. Here’s the daily recap of how it’s going.
Day 1: Off to a Smug Start
I approached day one with excitement and confidence because I’ve really been craving a healthier routine. I rounded up all the forbidden foods and threw them away. Farewell half bottle of rosé. Bye-bye cheese, crackers, dips and cookies! You can’t tempt me from the dumpster.
I savored my single cup of coffee with almond creamer. Knowing it was the only one I would have all day made it even more delicious. Since I was feeling overstuffed and over indulged, it wasn’t hard to stick to meals of veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts and chicken.
Spending my first evening on my own in months was a treat too. I sank into my couch with a cup of Yogi bedtime tea and dove into Carrie Soto is Back, a novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid about a female tennis champ making an emotional comeback. I used to be such an avid reader, but lately my attention span has become mush. I played some mellow tunes, kept the TV off and mostly stayed away from my phone.
By 9pm I was sleepy, so I popped a Lord Jones CBD gummie and headed to bed to write a few lines in my journal. I felt very virtuous. Cleansing is a breeze!
Day 2: Cupcakes and Mocktails
Day two wasn’t as effortless as day one because I was in situations where I forgot I was cleansing. I guess this shows how influenced we are by other people and social events.
At a birthday celebration for a friend after tennis, there was a tray of cupcakes and sweets to share. As soon as we sang happy birthday, I snagged a mini cupcake and popped it in my mouth. I was mid-chew before I remembered I’m not supposed to eat sugar! I balled up the remainder in my napkin and tossed it out, but not before swallowing half of it. (It was delicious.)
I don’t think of myself as having a sweet tooth, but sugar was my nemesis on day two. I put some electrolyte powder in my water bottle during tennis. Oops, that has sugar. I made myself a sunset “mocktail” with some fresh squeezed orange juice, pomegranate juice and pellegrino. Does juice count as sugar? I declare fresh fruit juice is allowed!
My evening felt very quiet and long. I think it’s because I’ve gotten used to having a houseful of guests around. Also, indulgent foods and drinks are fun! I can see how often I reach for a snack or beverage (I miss you Diet Coke) because I’m simply bored and looking to entertain myself. A cup of ho-hum yogi bedtime tea had to suffice.
Other than the sugar slips, I stuck to the plan. I kept the screens off and finished my book. I love reading in the evening but found it hard to fall asleep. Without Netflix, popcorn or a glass of wine to dull my senses, I was über alert when I headed to bed. The CBD gummy was worthless. I was keenly aware of every sound in the condo, every sigh from my dog. Even my own breathing was annoyingly loud. I might have to try meditating tonight.
Day 3: Coffee is good for you (and other excuses)
When our building fire alarm went off at 4:45am, I was not happy. I scrambled to put on a bra, find my glasses and leash Phoebe. It stopped screaming “Emergency! Emergency! Exit the Building!” a few minutes later, but by then I was definitely awake for the day. I brewed my single mug of coffee and cursed myself for putting a caffeine limit in this challenge.
As this NY Times story discusses in depth, coffee is good for you! Why eliminate something positive from my life just for the sake of some dumb, arbitrary cleanse I made up for myself? I’m an independent woman, if I decide to adjust the rules of this plan midweek, I can! Who cares if I have one cup of coffee or three? Coffee is a beautiful gift from the gods to humanity and I deserve to partake in the sacred ritual by consuming a pot of it!
Clearly, caffeine was the main challenge on day 3. I craved it all day long, yet stuck to my single cup because I am an adult woman and I can keep commitments to myself. (See how I’m sneaking the affirmations in here?)
I actually stuck to my plan quite well. My breakfast of plain oatmeal with berries and almonds looked good but tasted awful. Luckily things got better. I had a delicious roasted veggie salad with salmon for lunch with my mom, and topped off some canned lentil soup with shredded chicken and avocado for dinner. I drank a sparkling Fresca at cocktail hour, started my new book, People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Harris, and sipped a cup of Aveda tea (the best!) at bedtime. After my early morning I was pooped and fell right to sleep.
Overall a good day, but I gotta say I’m missing my husband. These nights feel dark and long and a bit dreary on my own. But he’ll be back on Friday, so for now, on to day 4!
Day 4: Bland and Boring
On day four, I found all my permissible foods impossibly boring. I eliminated so many things on this cleanse there aren’t any realistic substitutes to turn to when I have a craving. I cut out caffeine so I can’t have an iced tea at lunch. But I cut out sugar, so lemonade is out too. I’m sick of sparkling water and have to ask—is life without cheese even worth living? I think not. I realize that not only do I use food as entertainment, I use it to comfort myself. After a long, hot tennis match, a turkey lettuce roll up with avocado left me unsatisfied, frustrated and hangry.
Then I got creative and made myself a hearty, flavorful dish for dinner. I mixed browned ground turkey with tomato sauce and stirred in fresh spinach. I poured the combo over steamed brown rice and topped it with basil and greek olives. It was yummy and filling and I immediately cheered up. Yes, I want to be healthier but a girl has got to EAT.
I spent another quiet evening reading on the couch, sipping tea with my dog. Honestly, I don’t miss TV watching at all, and skipping the wine hasn’t been a big deal, but it’s weird to be in such a dark, quiet condo after all the energy of the last two months. I am loving my new reading habit though, and have been sleeping well.
The most effective tool in sticking with this challenge is writing about it here. It’s keeping me accountable. I don’t want to write about slipping up and I’m certainly not gonna lie about it. So day four was a bit rocky, but I kept to the plan. One more day to go!
Day 5: Energized and Finishing Strong-ish
On day five, the results of all my discipline and self-control kicked in—I felt simply fabulous! From my delightful morning dog walk to my refreshing fruit smoothie to a lovely ladies lunch, I felt upbeat, energized and happy all day long. Healthy food can be delicious (look at my salad!) and it feels great to accomplish something you said you would. Mentally I felt sharp and alert, and very excited to wrap up the cleanse.
The hardest part of the week has been the evenings. Liam being out of town gave me the opportunity to have complete control over my meals and time, but after four very quiet nights of reading, I’d had enough. After taking Phoebe out for her 8pm walk, I sprawled on the couch and binge-watched four episodes of Emily in Paris. (Such a frothy, fun show!) I feel okay about this because I only committed to reducing my screen time, not eliminating it altogether. But the big glass of wine I poured myself was most certainly a cheat and I’m not sorry about it. I made so many big changes over the last five days!
I’m typing this update on Friday morning, and I gotta say, I still feel amazing. This cleanse has definitely been a mood and energy booster, and even though it wasn’t the point, I lost a little weight. I’m going to take a few days to process what I learned from the experience and decide what to do/not do going forward. I’ll share that with you next week.
I’m definitely enjoying my second cup of coffee!
TGIF, friends! Thanks for following along. Treat yourself well this weekend.