So right now I am roughly half way through my 21-day yoga cleanse and things have been overall positive. If you recall, the focus of the cleanse is for us to abstain from the "big five": sugar, animal products, gluten, caffeine and alcohol. In other words, I have been a very sober, sugar-free, decaffeinated vegan for the sake of this experiment. My initial anxiety was having to give up sugar, but that has been one of the two least difficult items to avoid. I thought I would be coming out of my skin by now, hopelessly yearning for sugar of some kind. The monster-sized cravings I thought would consume me simply have not happened. I am shocked. As long as I keep sweet treats out the house, I am able to avoid them quite nicely and my kids don't seem to notice the absence of their sugar laden snacks much either. If I had to name one sugary thing I have missed the most, it would have to be Tropicana orange juice. Why? I have no friggin' idea why. For some reason, when I think of sugar, that is the "delicacy" that crosses my mind first. Weird, huh?
Avoiding animal products has not been hard either, simply because I have gone vegetarian several times over the years. However, it is avoiding the dairy items that takes a little more practice. Let me explain. When I was a vegetarian, I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian, which means I avoided eating meat but I still ate dairy products and eggs. This cleanse requires us to go all out as full blown vegans, meaning the dairy had to be eliminated as well. This still has not been difficult for me, but I did notice that I eat some dairy products out of habit and not always because of taste. Since I am a self-proclaimed cereal oficianado, switching from cow's milk to unsweetened almond milk sent my taste buds to no-man's land. Unsweetened almond milk is pretty bland, but it does it's job in the supportive role of moistening my gluten-free cereal just the same as cow's milk.
What I surprisingly have missed the most is my morning cup o' joe. I never considered myself addicted to caffeine, but not stopping at Starbucks for my soy Americano or Mocha has been rough. I am pretty certain the baristas at my local Starbucks have put out a missing person's report on me. They have probably been combing through the obituaries expecting to see my picture, because death would be the only thing to keep me out of a coffeehouse this long. It is not really the coffee itself that I miss, but the comforting feelings I normally associate with the smell and the warmth of coffee. It relaxes me and serves as my temporary crutch in the mornings when I am not quite brave enough to face my mornings alone. Yeah I could try to drink the decaf stuff for the next few weeks, but that would feel like eating diet ice cream when the super rich full fat version is what you really want.
Although I have whined too much about what I am not allowed to have on this cleanse, I tend to forget all the factors that have tipped my opinion in favor of this thing in the first place. First and foremost, I have lost a little weight while eating filling and satisfying meals all day long. By staying clear of the processed junk and loading up on the fresh whole foods, I have easily dropped the recommended two pounds per week that so many medical professionals say is the correct amount to aim for. I have been eating more than my usual amount of food and still remained well below my daily calorie count. My workout regime has shifted a little during the cleanse, because I am simultaneously doing the 30-day yoga commitment, too. My running has temporarily taken a back seat until this cleanse is over, because I wanted to keep my focus on the internal changes I was trying to make and not the sweat sessions I usually take pride in doing. So far the formula has worked. On any other diet, I would eat a "cheat treat" and then go to the gym and run my ass off on the treadmill, trying to burn off the calories I cheated with in the first place. This was definitely counter productive, because I would continue to the cycle day after day and never actually lose any weight at all.
The best part of the cleanse for me by far and wide is leaving behind my regretful eating habits. By that, I mean I can honestly say I have eaten absolutely nothing on this cleanse that I regret eating. Usually, because of "cheats" and dietary slip ups I would make from week to week, I would look back on my diet and workout journals and be regretful about my awful food choices. I am such a food lover sometimes that I pig out on the good stuff and the junk in a 50/50 fashion. For the sake of this cleanse, those percentages have shifted to about 90% healthy whole foods and it feels damn good to be able to say that truthfully. My cleanse only lasts one month, but I am seriously considering keeping up the vegan portion of the program after the official diet is over. I will gladly add my delicious morning coffee back to my routine, as long as it is dairy free. The sugary stuff will take a back seat as well after the cleanse, now that I see I can go without it successfully. Who knows how my margarita and wine favorites will fall into my new list of priorities, but so far I haven't missed them. Is it possible that I am beginning a new healthier chapter because some funky new age dietary cleanse? Let's hope so, because this old body can use all the help it can get.