Meatless in Miami: A Master Cleanse Diary, Part One

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After years of tossing the idea around I've decided to stop being a nancy and do the damn Master Cleanse.  You may be asking...what is this Master Cleanse?  Well, it's a 10-day (minimum) detox developed in the 1941 that's still being used today.  Also called the "Lemonade Diet", you subsist solely on a mixture of organic grade B maple syrup, fresh squeezed organic lemon juice, water and a dash of cayenne pepper.  You also drink a nightly detox tea, do a saltwater flush in the mornings, drink as much water as you like of course, and a cup of organic peppermint tea here and there is allowed too.  It is definitely amongst the most hardcore of the fasts/detoxes.  I have several friends who do this on a yearly basis, Naomi Campbell swears by it, Trina tried it, and Beyonce hated it but lost the weight she needed to before she shot a movie.  

Personally I enjoy a challenge and have felt in need of a break from routine so the time just feels right.  Prepping the kitchen was first.  I purposely hadn't gone grocery shopping in almost two weeks so I finished what was fresh, boxed up the rest of the potentially tempting non-perishables and stowed them in the pantry.

The last proper meal I had was at the (wonderful, inspiring) Serving the Arts luncheon.  Every seat at the event was "pre-plated" and I despaired when I saw waiting for me the veritable vegan nightmare of a giant hunk of salmon with cream sauce, buttery bread, and chocolate cake with whipped cream.  Luckily another fish-eschewer was at my table and when she asked the servers about an alternative we were both immediately brought out plates of marinated tofu steaks over mixed wild rice with a side of veggies.  It was surprisingly delicious and I can't tell you how elated it made me that they had the option available.  If I had a nickel for every time I was offered fish as a "vegetarian option", I'd have my own private vegan chef.  (For the record, fish: still not a vegetable.)

After that it was juice and water only.  Later in the evening I survived my first serious temptation.  At my friend's birthday bowling party there was a bunch of mouth-watering vegetarian Indian food from Udipi, one of my favorite restaurants ever.  I kept sipping my juice and reminded myself that I better get used to this because for the next ten days, weakness was not going to be an option.

Then I hit Whole Foods for supplies: two 32 oz jugs of organic grade B maple syrup, a few bags of organic lemons, organic cayenne pepper, organic senna leaf tea for it's "flushing" properties, organic peppermint tea which is the only "treat" you're allowed, non-iodized sea salt, an extra BPA-free water bottle to use for the concoction.  On ten days worth of stuff I spend way less than what I'd spend on food normally.

I go home and make a little prep area for the week - cutting board, hand juicer, measuring spoons, filtered water pitcher.  I've done all the research and am beyond ready to do this.  Wish me luck...

Further reading, here is the original book, The Master Cleanser by Stanley Burroughs, and two different updated versions.  Also, themastercleanse.org was my go-to site for info and inspiration.

Lemonade Day 1

Today was the first saltwater flush or SWF.  Two teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt mixed in four cups of room-temperature water.  Yes, you drink it.  You do this early in the morning and make for damn sure you have no reason to the leave comfort of your dwelling (and more importantly, the bathroom) for at least an hour.

I've kept my water bottle and lemonade bottle at my side at all times and am focusing on the goals - the goals being to a) see if I can actually do this, and b) break through a fitness plateau.  Via actual exercise and healthy eating I've dropped two full sizes since last fall but I've been so busy with work lately I haven't had time to really be as dedicated as I'd like.  The MC will be good for that AND a time-saver as I'll only have to worry about "eating" one thing.

I have an ongoing dull (but not distractingly so) headache induced by the lack of caffeine.  It's manageable though so I go about my day and everything seems fine.  Even being at my shop surrounded by delicious vegan goodies I'm happily not even tempted to sway.

Lemonade Day 2

The SWF tasted extra vile this morning but I pushed through thinking grim thoughts like it's probably better than getting waterboarded or what happened to this guy.  No headache today and I'm miraculously not hungry at all.  I don't think I'm drinking enough of the lemonade so am going to try to be better about that tomorrow.

All in all I feel fine.  I woke up at 9am and had enough energy to work and run errands all day, give a presentation and hit two clubs before turning in around 2am.  At the end of a day of only drinking the lemonade, the flavorful senna tea feels almost like a meal.

Lemonade Day 3

Am learning the tricks of mentally psyching myself out for the SWF.  I do it the very first thing in the morning so I can't think about it too much. Also I keep a spoon with a dollop of maple syrup nearby.  I close my sinuses so I can't taste the chug, then right after each one I take a lick of syrup as a chaser before breathing again so I taste that and not the saltwater.  The worst part about it isn't actually the taste but the amount you have to drink at once -- one liter (32 oz).  It's like having a little ocean in your belly.

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Photo by Lauren Reskin
Saltwater slammer with a maple syrup chaser.
Side effects I'm starting to notice include some whiteness on my tongue and a little mucus in the back of my throat.  Not pretty but it means it's all coming out (and a slight head cold I had is totally gone).  I'm feeling kinda sluggish midday and feel the espresso machine at Sweat calling out to me but I persevere. 

Lemonade Day 4

I've taken to calling the SWF the "saltwater slammer" to further psych myself out for it.  I OWNED it today.  Glug, glug, gone.

I think it helps that I don't have a television.  The amount of commercials for food would make one think about it too often.  On the net the only food ads are for fast food and processed junk that I don't eat to begin with.  Have been feeling a little extra sensitive toward sound and light.  It probably didn't help that I spent the last three nights out between The Vagabond, Grand Central and the Awarehouse.  I'm going to take it easy the next few days and try to not go to any smoky nightclubs for the rest of the cleanse.  

Lemonade Day 5

Today I finally was able to sleep in a bit.  I had a dream where I accidentally ate something and was trying to spit it out.  I woke up and made the saltwater slammer my beeyotch.  Five gulps, the maple chaser and it was gone.  

I need to go out and get some more organic lemons.  I've been warned that going into a supermarket is sensory/temptation overload.  It'll suck to be at Whole Foods knowing that my beloved buffalo garlic tofu, raw cashews and mango slices are so close yet so far, but I'm already halfway done and nothing's going to stop me.

Read part two to Lauren Reskin's Master Cleanse diary next week.


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