I do not enjoy drinks that are green (my suggestion for the sequel to Green Eggs and Ham). I avoid the green smoothie at juice bars and bypass the same in the refrigerated section at the grocery store, reaching for something in a more pleasing pink or purple hue (grape kombucha, please). There is an exception, however: the shamrock shake. I will make just one pilgrimage a year to the golden arches in order to sit in a frustratingly (and concerningly) long drive-through in order to sip on that miracle concoction of milkshake and mint. Plus, this tradition harkens back to when our twins were newborns when, after their weight-checks and blood draws at the hospital, my husband and I would indulge on the way back home. Shamrock shakes are a bit of nostalgia.
Dietary vices. We all have them. I know my desire (addiction?) to indulge in something best left to a once-a-week enjoyment runs long and deep. I’ve convinced myself that that Americone Dream or that glass of red blend has just the right “hit” of endorphins I need after a busy day of homeschool and running to extracurricular activities. I mean, it’s the only treat I have had all day. What could be wrong with having a small helping (or two)?
As it turns out, that simple treat, which can turn into a few simple treats, can cause harm beyond the artery-clogging and the weight gain. As I recently discovered, my evening hedonism was affecting my writing, my blog-baby…in that I wasn’t doing it. And not because sticky, stained fingers were gumming up the keys on my laptop. My sleep pattern was a mess and I was foregoing my 5:30 am writing date to hit the snooze button several times in search of the extra shut-eye. I was miserable, missing my creative outlet that wasn’t suffering from writers’ block but from loss of devotion.
There’s the saying, If you love it, set it free. That is what I needed to do. I love dessert. I love my glass of red wine in the evening. Gluten is god. But after being free of this triad for 10 days, I’ve never felt better.
A friend of mine from college, and fellow biology grad, has made her life’s work at Arbonne** a true career and she and I recently reconnected. She invited me to participate in an Arbonne-sponsored 10-day “Greentox,” a nutritional program designed to give the digestive system a rest from doing its thing. I’d read some of the studies the Mayo Clinic did on the Arbonne nutritional line and the results were encouraging. Plus the Greentox was designed by a team of nutritionists and physicians, professionals who know a thing or two about good nutrition. This is no grapefruit diet. This isn’t a diet at all. This is true-blue healthy eating.
No processed sugar, no processed anything. No alcohol. No gluten and no dairy.
Why put yourself through this? I asked myself. Especially in the middle of the holidays when we get to enjoy those treats we get just once a year? Make this a January resolution, I begged myself, Not a torture device which you will hate yourself for tinkering with.
The devil on my shoulder continued. Why add another element to my already packed daily routine, planning meals (often separate) from those the rest of family would eat? Why subject myself to three, count ’em, three liquid days that coincide with the fun-and-carefree, often devoted to restaurant-eating, weekend? Why go to the expense of the extra food, the organics, the supplements?
Two simple reasons:
~I’d never done a cleanse before and wanted to try it out.
~I wanted to kick some bad, ingrained dietary habits.
So I took the leap.
And I drank green stuff. Everyday. Once, unless it was a liquid day, then it was twice, adding in a thick soup for lunch that was also the hue of a dinosaur taking a mud bath. That vision aside, the soup was pretty tasty! And the greens, still greens, were best approached like limoncello…just knock ’em back. Most days on this program I felt full. No “hangries” or cravings. Except on one particular liquid day, I couldn’t get full and chalked that up to needing an extra protein shake, which, I still can’t figure out why I didn’t indulge (low blood sugar clouding my brain?). Because the shake was PRACTICALLY DESSERT. Chocolate, thick and heavenly. I could have two a day. And most days I did, without abandon. On “solid” days I ate curry, eggs and burrito bowls. Really yummy stuff. Some of it even my kids liked.
Before I start to sound too much like an infomercial for a weight-loss plan, let me emphasize that this process was not a diet but a cleanse. I chose to do this to get healthier, not leaner…although the latter was an added perk. I wanted to give my digestive system a break after the indulgent Thanksgiving-week days of restaurant- and turkey-eating and prepare for the hedonism of Christmas cookies, mulled cider and post-recital goodies.
And I’m so happy I did. Less the gluten, wine and refined sugar, I began to sleep better. I started to awaken in the morning naturally, before my alarm, and feel rested. (Although a new puppy in the house has thrown a monkey wrench in to this!) I am able to resume my early-morning writing date, having coffee with my husband who also writes during this time. I get to enjoy some quiet, my blog, and see my husband before the flurry of before-school activity. All because I’ve improved my diet.
Am I perfect? Oh, no. No. I still enjoy red wine and guess what? It disrupts my sleep. Ugh. Do I polish off the dark chocolate enrobed (yes, the package says enrobed, which just adds to the temptation…) strawberries left over from New Years so my kids aren’t tempted by more junk food? Yes. But overall I have reduced how much bad-for-me stuff I take in and have reaped nothing but benefits from doing so.
As for drinking the “greens”…well let’s just say it’s still a work in progress.
**I receive no incentives or kickback from Arbonne for writing this, only better health!