I gotta be me: Diary of a diet detox
A few weeks ago, as some of you may recall, I decided to do a pretty hard-core diet detox based on a 21-day plan created by my health and fitness guru Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Diet and creator of Crazy Sexy everything. Granted the start of December was probably not an ideal time to attempt a detox, what with all the holiday festivities in the offing, but it’s so me to try to do something at its most challenging, like I need to prove I can not only detox but I can do so under the most stressful food circumstances. I’m like the Navy Seals of detoxing but without the Night Vision goggles.
Anyway, I knew at the outset I wasn’t going to attempt the whole 21-day detox. I mean, even a Navy Seal isn’t going to be on a detox diet come Christmas day, so I started with a plan for five days and ended up extending it to seven.
I gave up coffee cold turkey. If I had done nothing else, this thing would have been enough. I love coffee, not for the caffeine but simply for the coffee. I love the smell, I love the taste, I love the feel of a warm mug in my hands and the steam rising up to my face first thing in the morning. First thing in the afternoon. First thing in the evening.
I gave up wine and all alcohol. Again, this by itself would have monumental, so adding it on top of the coffee ban was nothing short of miraculous. In fact, this may be John Paul II’s second miracle required for canonization. I like my nightly red wine. I’ve got a glass of Pinot Noir sitting beside me as I write this. (It’s 5:30 P.M., in case you’re reading this with breakfast.)
I gave up sugar, processed food, gluten, and animal products. (Told you it was a hard-core detox.) As you may have noticed, I love chocolate (sugar), pasta (gluten), and Chobani Greek yogurt, especially the pineapple flavor (animal product). I don’t eat much processed food, so that was the one thing that really wasn’t an issue.
In addition to giving up everything except lettuce and tofu, I had to add in a minimum of 16 ounces of green juice daily. I love green juice and I have the most awesome juicer, so this was not a sacrifice. Green juice is super-delicious, if you’ve never tried it. (See photo above.) Typically I rev up my machine and load it with romaine, spinach, celery, green pepper, one carrot, one granny smith apple, a one-inch piece of peeled ginger, and one cucumber. Sometimes I throw other things in, but that’s my basic “recipe.”
In the midst of what in hindsight seems like a brief flirtation with insanity (keep the commentary to yourself folks), I actually hosted a holiday party and book signing and made a whole bunch of delicious food I could not eat. On top of that, people brought me gifts, something I never expected. I mean, I was inviting them to buy my books. Why they would bring me gifts for this is beyond me. Clearly I’m not as generous as my friends. All sorts of yummy stuff was paraded into my kitchen: homemade fudge, homemade nut clusters covered in chocolate, homemade cookies, an entire bag of yummy stuff from Trader Joe’s covered in dark chocolate – the yummy stuff, not the bag, and bottle upon bottle of wine. I am so grateful to the one person who brought me a holiday plant because I couldn’t eat it, although on this particular detox plan that might have been possible. I should have juiced it.
Why did I do this detox? I was feeling like my diet was a bit out of control – lots of unhealthy stuff, too much of everything – so I wanted something to bring me back in line. And I knew Kris Carr was just the one to do it. Did it make a difference? Yes! I had more energy. I felt more balanced. (This may have had something to do with the daily meditation requirement that was part of the detox plan.) I felt good. No, I felt great. That’s why I extended it from five to seven days, and I might have gone longer if I hadn’t had a dinner date with some friends. No way was I going to sit there eating a plate of lettuce while they ate zuppa di pesce and pizza. And when I fall, I fall hard.
Within 24 hours of ending my detox, I was on a caffeine high. I was buzzing. Perhaps you felt a disturbance in the force that day? Yeah, that was me. I was eating chocolate sandwiched between slabs of gluten. Not really, but you get the idea. I was eating pasta, pasta, pasta. And all of this caused me to pause – to make more coffee. No, really, I paused to evaluate my detox and my life. Kris Carr lives this particular kind of detox around the clock. So it’s not a detox for her; it’s normal life. No way could I live like this all the time, and for the briefest moment I felt bad about that, like somehow my life wouldn’t be quite as good if I couldn’t pull this off on a permanent basis. And then I thought,” Why would I want to eat this way all the time?” I don’t have to live according to someone else’s life plan; I make my own life plan. Always have, always will.
Why would I give up coffee forever when I love coffee? Why would I give up red wine when I love red wine? I wouldn’t. Unless I had to for health reasons, and then I would. Simple as that.
So here’s the thing. People often ask me, especially in light of Cravings, how to deal with some of this diet stuff, and I have to say that my best recommendation is to eat what you love but to eat it in balance. Don’t eat all protein or no protein, all carbs or no carbs, all veggies or no veggies. Life is too short not to eat at least a little of what you love now and then. And therein lies the answer. Stop denying yourself all the things you love based on someone else’s plan. Sure, detox for a day or a week or a month if that’s what your body needs, but if it doesn’t work for you full-time, adjust and adapt until it does work.
Be who you are, for goodness sake, not who someone else says you should be. That’s always the best answer because, Guess what? If you are not true to yourself, in diet as in life, you will not be happy and your plan won’t work. Create your own plan. Hopefully it will include chocolate.