I’m not one to jump on the latest trendy cleanse bandwagon. In fact, before two weeks ago, I’ve never actually gone through with any sort of cleanse or detox. I’ve never juiced, and unfailingly rolled my eyes every time I caught a friend carrying around a giant water bottle filled with a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.
However, over the years, I've noticed that around this time every summer, I find myself (and my body) in need of a serious reset. While I consider myself a pretty healthy eater, and am a vegetarian of almost nine years, from Memorial Day on, there’s a definite increase in how many sugary, boozy drinks I consume and the frequency with which I find myself going out to eat (and going for the fried stuff). By the time August hits, I pretty much feel like, not to sugarcoat it, shit.
So I was definitely interested when I learned about Pure Change, a detox formulated by Dr. Charles Passler, a celebrity nutritionist and lifestyle guru who works with the likes of Bella Hadid and the Victoria's Secret Angels. Basically, Pure Change is a seven-day program that helps you wean out the things that make you feel terrible (i.e. everything I had been consuming the past two months) and changes your overall relationship with food and drink. It targets your overall health, bringing your body back to functioning as efficiently as possible.
The reason I even allowed myself to give Pure Change a try is because it isn’t about succumbing to a liquid diet or barely eating. The cleanse has a very concise and scheduled meal plan consisting of protein shakes and bars and tons of veggies. It calls for drinking a lot of water throughout the day and not eating anything after 7pm, instead allowing your body to “microfast” each night, which gets it in the right state to heal, repair, and recover while you sleep. Most importantly, I wasn’t consuming any sugar, excess salt, fried food, or alcohol throughout the program—the four major culprits of my crappy summer lifestyle.
I’m not going to lie, the day I started my cleanse I was a bit nervous. What if I went hungry by 8pm, or felt tired and dizzy throughout the day? What if I began craving cheese so badly that I accidentally sleepwalked to the pizzeria on my corner and consumed an entire pie?
Well, fortunately, none of that happened—at all. The veggies, shakes, and bars kept me filled and satisfied, and I had enough freedom to create a variety of vegetable-filled meals throughout the week. I found that my cravings were curbed, and even survived my friend downing a bowl of mac and cheese in front of me. Throughout this whole thing, I developed a very deep appreciation for asparagus.
By the morning of my last day of the cleanse, there’s no way to describe the way I felt other than “fucking awesome.” I had energy like never before. I jumped out of bed in the morning in a (gasp!) good mood, ready to take on whatever came my way. For once, I didn’t feel like I was dragging myself through my day. I was peppy—but not in an overly peppy, borderline-annoying way. I was low-key Superwoman.
The biggest benefit from this detox was that any bloating I suffered from significantly dissipated. I’m someone that normally would bloat after eating anything, healthy or not, and could never figure out why. Over the course of the week, I dropped a few pounds of water weight—meaning my body was able to flush itself of all that caused me to bloat in the first place. Even a week after my cleanse ended and after having incorporated more foods back into my diet, I’m still bloat-free.
While I’d like to say I’m on a much healthier grind at this point, I also haven’t become a wellness freak that no longer has any fun. Sure, I look at food differently now, aiming to consume things that make me feel good and avoid the things that are bad for me (most of the time). But, did I order a ton of Indian food delivery to my boyfriend’s apartment the night after my cleanse ended and eat all of it? Of course, I did. I am Superwoman!
Do I need to submit to a fully-healthy-100-percent-of-the-time lifestyle in order to keep feeling this good? No, because life is meant for living. But I have learned to be reasonable. Like, hell yeah, I'll order huevos rancheros when I go out for Sunday brunch, but I'll skip out on mindlessly eating chips at my desk. Dr. Passler himself explains that there’s nothing wrong with drinking in moderation or a bit of indulgence, but to “keep it as close to nature as possible.” His advice if you’re feeling the urge to go all-out at a summer soiree? “Overdo the guac or overdo the bowl of nuts instead of the artificial nonsense.” And who doesn’t love guac?!
So, what did I learn from this? Not that I should never party or treat myself to a cheese quesadilla again (because, yeah right), but instead that I should listen to my body and treat it with a little more respect—and that starts with what I choose to put in it. No one is perfect 100 percent of the time, but when your body is urging you to take a step back and let it reset, when you’re feeling lethargic, foggy, bloated, and gross, allow your body to work its magic and heal itself.