I made a concerted effort last year to take better care of myself. I decided to stop struggling to be, and stay, on a diet. Instead, I completely overhauled my diet (what and how much I eat) and committed to regular exercise. I lost over 60 pounds (287 lbs –> 225 lbs), and about eight inches off of my waistline (46″ –> 38″. I had surgery on my foot in August, and I could not exercise for two months. In that time, I pretty much kept my weight in check. However, I kind of approached the remainder of the year with less commitment to both diet and exercise — admittedly using my foot recovery as an excuse to half-ass the latter. As I head into the New Year, I had put about 20–25 pounds back on from my low. I decided to recommit to portion control and exercise. I signed up with a trainer at the gym about six weeks ago, mainly I had never really focused on toning and building core strength. I signed up for a Biggest Loser Challenge in my office, hoping to use the contest as further motivation to get my act together.
Right around the same time as entering the Challenge at work, I posted a picture of some juice, by Blueprint, on display at Whole Foods, asking why it was so expensive. A number of friends replied that the juice was part of a cleanse program. A number of friends commented that they tried the cleanse and had a good experience. I am usually game to try things, but I didn’t want another “diet.” My friends assured me that this was not a diet, but a means to clean out our system. That appealed to me, and I decided to give juice cleansing a try. I read a number of reviews online by bloggers. I also came across Chef Amber Shea’s website, where she reviewed juice cleanses by 18 different companies. The cost for the cleanses were about the same. Since I heard so much about the Blueprint Cleanse, I chose to go with their cleanse.
It’s worth noting that prepared juice cleanses are not cheap. Most cost somewhere between $175 and $250 for a three-day cleanse.
A lot of people view, or call, cleanses “juice diets.” That my be how some people approach a juice cleanse, but my goal was not to do the cleanse to lose weight. I decided to try the cleanse because I wanted a reset, of sorts. I wanted to clear my body of a bunch of sugar-laden foods (damn you Ben & Jerry Phish Food!). I also felt like I has experiencing some mild allergic reactions to various foods, but I couldn’t put my finger on what the culprit(s). I figured that eliminating practically everything from my daily intake, I could better identify problematic foods as I reintroduced them after the cleanse.
The Blueprint Cleanse has three different levels, or offerings — Renovation, Foundation, and Excavation. Though I have never juiced before, I opted for the Excavation Cleanse, which is the “greenest” of all of the cleanses. I decided on the Excavation Cleanse because I wanted the cleanse with least amount of fruit in the juices.
I decided to start the cleanse on a Thursday. Most people I know did their cleanses over the weekend. I decided to start on Thursday because I work with a trainer on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I didn’t want to do strength training while on the cleanse. Several people mentioned having to use the bathroom frequently, but I drink so much water, as it is, that making frequent treks to the bathroom wasn’t that unusual or nettlesome. Blueprint recommends adjusting your diet three days prior to starting the cleanse. Basically, you need to eliminate most foods, particularly meet, grains, and dairy. I tend to be a pretty strict textualist, so I followed the instructions almost the letter, if not a bit more. Here is an example of what I ate for three days prior to starting the cleanse.
I felt good after three days of prep, and was excited to get thing started. I was a tad ambivalent about the green juices. I love salads and green veggies, but the thought of them pressed into juice wasn’t making my mouth water. You’re supposed to put at least an hour between finishing one juice and starting the next, and at least two-three hours before going to be. Accordingly, I timed out my juices for 9am, 11am, 1:30 pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.
Green Juice #2 — This juice is pretty the same as number one, but with the addition of ginger.
Green Juice #3 — This is the same juice as #1.
Spicy Lemonade #4 — This juice is made with water, lemon, agave nectar, and cayenne. The drink is pretty sweet, almost cloyingly sweet, but it is a welcome, and refreshing, change of pace from the green juice.
Green Juice #4 — This is the same juice as #1.
Cashew Milk #6 — As the name suggestions, this “juice” is made with water, unstrained cashew agave nectar, vanilla, and cinnamon. The drink is a little gritty, but it didn’t bother me. I appreciated the fatty feel of the cashew milk. It was kind of like having dessert. Unlike the spicy lemonade, the agave nectar didn’t make this drink too sweet. My only complaint about the cashew milk was that there were clumps of cashew meal in the bottom of the bottle. No matter how vigorously I shook the bottle, you would get a clump of cashew paste in your mouth. I suppose that if you had a problem with the grittiness, or the cashew meal clumps, you could empty the bottle into a mixer to smooth it further.
As I mentioned, the juices were not that bad. In fact, other than #2 with the ginger, they were pretty good. I normally love ginger, but I didn’t care for it in this mixture. By the third day, I just gulped #2 to get through it.
Throughout the cleanse, even pre and post, I never felt hungry. I drank plenty of water between each bottle of juice. I had a mild headache on the first day, but I don’t know if it had to do with some effects of sugar withdrawals. I can’t imagine that I was dehydrated. [shrug] Most people told me that day two was the toughest, but I felt fine. I continued to do an hour of cardio each day during the cleanse, though I intentionally dialed back the intensity of my workouts. During the post-cleanse period, five days, I repeated the menu of food that I listed for the prep. The only difference was that I only ate watermelon on the first day of the post-cleanse.
After the cleanse, I kept thinking about, and was frequently asked, how I felt. I couldn’t, and can’t, say that I felt noticeably different or better. I felt good, but couldn’t necessarily attribute it to the cleanse. I think the how I felt about the cleanse became clearer after I started to introduce various foods back into my diet. I had a big salad with some walnuts. Not long after eating the salad, I felt itchy and hot. I chalked it up to the walnuts, which I don’t recall having a problem with before. I think that the biggest benefit of the cleanse is that I am paying much closer attention to what I eat and how I feel after eating. I may not repeat the Blueprint Cleanse, but I can see myself doing some sort of juice cleanse every so often; particularly when I feel like my eating habits have turned down the wrong road, and I need a reset.
01 — Exactly like you 00:00:00
02 — Moody’s mood for love 00:05:13
03 — I’ve got my love to keep me warm 00:08:38
04 — I got it bad (And that ain’t good) 00:11:56
05 — Social call 00:16:31
06 — Detour ahead 00:19:56
07 — No regrets 00:22:23
08 — Frosty morning blues 00:26:30
09 — Easy to love 00:31:13
10 — I wonder where our love has gone 00:34:40
11 — Anything goes 00:39:16
12 — After you’ve gone 00:44:04
After a year, or so, of running bookmarks on Tumblr, I decided to bring the series back to my blog. It is a little more labor intensive to run the series here, but I like the look and feel more. I think that I will keep my Tumblr, and use it for sharing more random or spur-of-the-moment things. If you like this series coming back to my blog, I’d appreciate hearing from you.
This post will be longer than usual, because I have a lot of bookmarked articles and videos.
A couple of years ago, I posted a piece about on shoes. I used to a bit of a clothes and shoe person when I worked on Capitol Hill and downtown as a lobbyist. Today, I dress much more casually at work, but I still like a good suit and shoes. Here is pretty cool infographic on pairing/matching shoes with suits of varying colors that I spotted on Business Insider.
Click on the infographic to enlarge
I was heading into the shower at the gym today, and I noticed a slender guy jump onto the scale. I freely admit that an exasperatingly wry voice in my head said, “Huh! Like you need to get on a scale. [eyes rolling]”
I walked along into the shower and stood there with my negative thought. My mind ran back to some pre-marital counseling sessions. The counselor would challenge me, when I was having a bout of jealousy or a negative thought, to stop and examine that negative thought. Think about where that feeling was really coming from. Most of the time, the problem be discovered in my reaction, not the action itself. With that in mind, I had an “Aha!” moment.
I recalled a recent conversation with my good friend Elliott about getting in shape and having a poor body image. I occasionally, and sadly passive-aggressively, zing him about his toned physique, and he jabs me right back. He reminded me that there are a good number of people that struggle to put, or keep, weight on. Considering that I have always struggled with taking, or keeping, weight off, I never even thought of the flip side of the coin. I really appreciate having friends who not only get me, but are also willing to challenge me to see things differently.
I usually take pretty quick showers, but lingered today because I needed to let these thought play out. What if that guy was staring down at the scale and excited because he gained two pounds? What if he, unbeknownst to me, looked at the scale with despair because his weight was the same, or possibly less than the last time? Conversely, what if that guy has been working on weight loss for years and I was seeing the result of his hard work and commitment to fitness? Whatever the reason, the problem was not his. It was, and is, mine.
The issue is not about what back story, if any, the guy on the scale has. No. The real issue here is why I cared about that slender guy getting on the scale. My negative thought was less about him, than it was one of comparison and self-loathing. I have been working hard on exercising regularly and eating well. (Keep an eye out for a blog post about that, soon.) Since going to the gym regularly, and working with a personal trainer, I have started to look at some people as inspiration. A body goal. Even with that, though, I occasionally find myself looking at very fit or slender people with a small dose of visual venom. I, often unwittingly, am casting mental/emotional shade on some toned individual because I don’t have the same build. What kind of sense does that make? Now that I am working with a trainer, the thought makes even less sense. I know how much work it takes to get, let alone be, tone. Why hate on someone who has worked hard to have a nice body?
I finally turned off the water in the shower, and stood for another minute or two to finish this rumination. I walked away feeling lighter. I am glad that I had that negative thought, because it forced me to confront the genesis of the real issue. I plan to use this moment as a reminder to stop at the very moment that a negative thought comes into my mind. I won’t beat myself up for having thought. Instead, I will try to be honest about where those feelings are coming from. Is it really the other person? Most often, the answer is no. I am slowly learning to stay in my lane, and stop comparing myself, or my progress, to others. It’s a struggle.
I’m sharing this interesting infographic with those who plunked down a lot of money for a nice KitchenAid mixer, and then [secretly] wondered “What the hell does this attachment do?” That is, if you ever even used it for anything other than an impressive countertop decoration.
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
image credit: Karen Kurycki