5 Reasons To Do A Cleanse -- My 21-Day Cleanse Recap

If you missed it, this is the first update, and the second pissed off update. This is the what I based my diet on (mainly because she was on Oprah, and hey, it worked for Oprah, right?).

This would have been easier
Top 5 things I learned from doing the cleanse:

You become mindful of what you put in your mouth. The first couple of days I had to stop myself several times mindlessly sticking my hand into a bag of chips, or a bowl of snacks that one of my kids had left out on the counter. It was such a natural motion and it made me realize how much I snack throughout the day, and how much crap I eat. I don't usually serve it for myself, but if it's sitting out, I tend to grab a few handfuls without even thinking about it. After a few days when the sugar cravings wore off, and I'd eat a piece of fruit, it was a juicy piece of heaven. I admit it, I perved out on peaches.

You realize what you are dependent on. For me, the hardest part of the first few days was the caffeine headache. I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but I do like my morning cup or two, and caffeine is addictive, and it's really tough to kick. I was in a bad mood for a couple of days, and I'm pretty sure that cutting out caffeine was the main cause. After about five days, I woke up feeling great, not needing the extra morning jolt. I still enjoy coffee. I love the smell, the ritual of grinding the beans, mixing in a touch of cream and sugar and sitting quietly in the kitchen before the rest of the family wakes up.

It forces you to get creative and try new foods. You can only eat so much hummus. Some of the more creative meals I've tried are rice curry with chickpeas, portobello mushroom tacos, ratatouille, and vegan variations of my wife's Persian dishes. I became a frequent visitor to Native Foods, and we bought a couple vegan cookbooks to continue to try out new meals.

It's a good test of will, and like hard training or racing, while it's tough going through it, it's satisfying and fulfilling to follow through and rise up to the challenge (especially over Memorial Day weekend).

You realize how important food choices are to people (and how crazy some people can be). A lot of people think they have the answer (and the studies to back it up), even the guy in the Denny's commercial who is exercising his freedom by stuffing his patriotic face with Red, White and Blue 'Mericakes. For a fun time, you should ask a vegan if they get enough protein, or someone on the Paleo diet about fat, or someone who eats "clean" about the hormone-stuffed lettuce-wrapped patty they just ate.

People treat diet like it's religion and there is only the one true diet. I tend to believe that different things work for different people, and most of these cleanses work for weight loss because they cut out processed foods and sugars, so the testimonials are endless. Speaking of which...

After the first few days, I felt awesome. I dropped 11 pounds overall, not including the extra 10 pounds I lost due to dehydration (not a recommended cleanse) last weekend on the PCT training weekend (which will be the subject of my next blog post, so stay tuned for pictures of me vomiting). My running felt great, and I don't know how much of that was attributed to the weight loss, and how much of it was the actual diet. I was able to run some steep local routes faster than I ever have before, but I also bonked pretty hard on a couple of longer training runs, so I'm not sure that I was getting enough calories even though it seemed that I was always eating.

Going forward, I'm sticking with a few of the changes I made over the past three weeks. I'm trying to completely cut out gluten (my wife and daughter are both allergic, so it's easy for me to make that switch), I'm switching to green tea in the mornings with the occasional coffee, I'm going to eat less meat, and get more creative with vegan dishes. I'm also going to cut back on the alcohol, but not cut it out completely (because as my neighbor said, what's the point of feeling great if you can't enjoy life?).

I broke the cleanse in a small diner off the PCT with a bacon cheeseburger covered in barbecue sauce, criss-cut sweet potato fries dipped in ranch dressing and a pint of Fat Tire Ale. After finishing the aforementioned dehydrated death march, I ate with unrestrained gluttony. And it was so damn good I nearly cried.

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