I’m not good at 30-day things.
My 30-day yoga challenges turn into 3-day yoga followed by 362-day no-yoga. With a few hot yoga’s thrown in there just because I hate myself and keep holding onto the idea that sweating my weight in liquids onto my yoga mat is actually fun and not the worst idea I’ve ever had.
This past month I tried a 30-day cleanse diet. And boy was it a doozy!
Never in my life would I have sought this kind of thing out on my own free will. But thanks to a lovely friend who posted a transformation photo and story recently (SHOUT OUT to Layne if you out there, girl you duh best), I thought hey, why the hell not.
I had zero expectations with this thing. Negative expectations actually.
I had this conception in my head that people who went on diets were crazy, deranged, wack-a-doodle’s. And sometimes just plain ol’ bat-shit sociopaths.
Who is this motivational person on this pamphlet to tell me not to eat bacon?
I. Don’t. Think. So.
But I called up my ol’ friend from middle school and we chatted about her transformation. It was amazing. She told me she not only looked great but actually felt great too. I liked the idea of not feeling so fat and lazy all the time.
I’d hit a point where I started to notice extra fat hanging around my sides in photographs. I took a selfie and had a double chin without trying. I ate a lot of delicious foods in Europe in the spring and I think they attached themselves to my belly button. Alright, I told myself. What the hell, let’s just do this thing.
Here is my (abridged) experience:
- A lot of my friends are resisting the idea of me being on a diet “You don’t need to lose weight,” they say. “Haven’t you heard of working out?” “That’s a pyramid scam,” or my personal favorite, “Just cut out carbs, it’s easy.”
I promptly want to punch them all in the face.
- I buy a sugary coffee on my way to an improv show, there was 5 dollar minimum on the card so I had to buy a bag of skittles (obviously).
- I drink a beer with new friends after the show because I have a feeling this is the last time I can do this kind of thing.
- I buy a tube of Pringles on the subway home. I feel hopeless and probably not even that hungry. I see a guy pissing on the side of the subway, run to the opposite side of the platform, and eat half the tube in disgust and shame. I get on the subway and try to offer the other half of my Pringles can to a homeless man and even HE didn’t want that shit. I get off the subway and proceed to throw away the can in the nearest trashcan.
Day 1: Sat 8/12
- Wake up, tired at 10:30 a.m.
- Read the directions on my giant box of mystery weight loss products.
- Take a “natural accelerator” pill.
- Drink 1 oz. of a weird brown liquid and start to question my life decisions.
- Make a vanilla shake, not the worst thing I’ve ever had. But it’s no doughnut.
- It’s snack time! I am so excited to eat again that I try to cut into a baby avocado that isn’t even close to ripe and butcher it horribly.
- I end up eating 10 grape tomatoes and a tiny spoon of hummus and kind of want to punch my boyfriend* as he opens a bag of Takis while simultaneously offering me a scoop of ice cream.
- Make banana bread with chocolate chips that I can’t eat and lick the spoon on accident.
- 2nd shake of the day, strawberry…I get the consistency down a bit better.
- First meal of day: half plate Kale (it’s surprising how good Kale can taste when you haven’t had solid food all day), half plate whole grain coos-coos with spoon of garlic, some artichokes, and a handful of grape tomatoes, plus some Trader Joe’s Mango Sweet and Spicy dressing (probably not supposed to eat this dressing but fuck it).
Day 2: Sun 8/13
- I feel sick this morning, like pukey. Maybe it’s the consistency of the shake. I’ve let it sit for a bit and now it’s lukewarm. I try to drink it, but cast half aside unable to stomach the texture of what feels like warm drool.
- I gulp down the brown liquid stuff again and feel like a whiny 9-year old taking my cough syrup medicine.
- For a snack, I have lentils and rice and veggies and don’t totally hate myself.
Only one word can describe my emotions at 11 a.m. HANGRY. FUCKING HANGRY.
- I have my 2nd shake and a handful of almonds.
- I make dinner. A baked stuffed pepper with quinoa, asparagus, tomatoes. I inhale half of it and then have to get on a train to a house event.
- I break not once, not twice but THREE times at the house party. I sneakily inhale three bites of fettuccine alfredo, then cut a pizza into a small triangle and inhale that in shame, and then cut a small piece of bread. In my haste, the bread drops to the floor and I pick it up and dust it off, cover it with brie cheese and homemade berry jam and eat it anyway.
I feel like a giant dumpster fire of a human being.
- No one at the party senses my disdain for them all as I watch them merrily eat everything and anything they want. Those fucking assholes with their brie cheese. BRIE.
Day 3: Mon 8/14
- I feel much better this morning and have my 1st shake of the day and prep for an interview.
- I get really hungry right as I’m leaving for the interview. I’m stressed because I’m helping someone new move into the house. I eat a “Go Lean” Isagenix bar and make a strawberry shake for the subway ride.
- My train is about to leave and I’m walking the new guy to the train but he needs to refill his MetroCard. I apologize and run onto the train anyway, not stopping for him because I can’t risk being late to this interview.
- I am early to my interview, encouraging me to stop at Starbucks and order an unsweetened pineapple black tea and call my best friend Kristen.
I eat a quinoa bowl and water for dinner! Go me!
- I go to a friend’s comedy show. There is a 2 drink minimum which I confuse with a 2 item minimum. I buy zucchini chips…(okay they are fried), a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (minus whipped cream), and a way too expensive Perrier.
- I get to keep the mug from my alcoholic drink but steal the pen from signing the check because I spent 40 bucks and feel empty inside.
Day 4: Tues 8/15
- I get help from a friend on how to manage the 20-person co-living space I’ve just been hired to manage. I drink my shake slowly over the course of 3 hours.
- Later I go to a coffee shop and get a tea while I prepare for another interview for the next day.
It’s 4 pm and I’m still at the coffee shop and now I am STARVING because I suck at following an eating schedule.
- I get home and eat a handful of nuts and cranberries.
- I eat 5 mini pretzels with cheese.
- I eat 5 cinnamon sugar almonds.
- I have my 2nd shake.
- I lead a house meeting and order pizza for my housemates. I eat a salad and fruit and try my best not to even look at the pizza. Go me!
Day 5: Wed 8/16
- I might be losing my mind but there are weird beige spots on my arms today…are these bruises? Am I dying? Wtf is going on.
- I feel more energy today but feel like I need more to really crush my interview. I eat a Go Lean bar on the way to the 911 Memorial and stop at Starbucks for a small iced coffee with a pump of vanilla. I crush my interview and feel awesome on the sugar high that I'm not allowed to be experiencing.
- I drink my 2nd shake then meet at Whole foods in Tribeca for manager training and dinner for my house. I get a box and head to the salad bar. I get some grilled veggies, salad, stuffed zucchini, tiki masala…and shit now I’ve gotten 2 large spoon’s full of mac and cheese, how the fuck did that happen. Oh, well.
- I decline dessert even though the CEO’s are buying.
I go home and have a weird bowel movement.
Day 6: Thurs 8/17 (Cleanse Day 1)
- It’s cleanse day #1 and I talk to Layne on the phone about the schedule I should follow for cleanse days. I have absolutely no idea what I’ve gotten myself into.
- I spend the day eating my chalky capsules, pills, juice concoctions, chocolate (that’s my favorite part), and water.
- I sit and watch my boyfriend* order a veggie burger at a restaurant and can barely stand it.
- I have one slice of cucumber and a slice of tomato on accident.
- I’m writing like mad today because a publisher has requested my manuscript. I am having trouble focusing on the task at hand because I like to eat when I write. A lot.
Day 7: Fri 8/18 (Cleanse Day 2)
- It’s cleanse day #2; they are back to back every few weeks and I feel like that’s a recipe for disaster (and not the delicious kind).
- I’m actually doing okay. I’m surprised that I survived yesterday without real food.
I follow the hourly schedule with fighter pilot precision.
- My boyfriend* lets me have a bite of mango at 3 p.m.
- This is more of a mental game than anything else. I don’t think I’m even that hungry, I just want to eat food to eat it, you know?
Day 8: Sat 8/19
- My book is due to the publisher today and I am stressed AF. I get up early to write, make a shake and forget to eat again until 5 p.m. I eat some pretzel crackers and avocado in .02 seconds over the sink.
- I lead an improv workshop in the basement of the house and buy some sugary snacks and alcohol for everyone. I eat a few pieces of chocolate but restrained myself from alcohol (okay so I took a sip and then bf was like “what are you doin’” and I was like “you right Bae, thanks”).
- I eat 2 bites of zucchini pasta and a shake for dinner.
I weigh in and have lost about 5 pounds.
Day 9: Sun 8/20
- It’s Brunch Day at the house and we’re pulling out all the stops: biscuits and gravy, eggs, an entire case of champagne…
- Restrained myself and had Kombucha instead of Champagne and I’m going to be honest they taste about the same.
- I try to keep it light and have a few potatoes, half a biscuit, and tons of fruit (the non-Tequila-soaked ones).
- Lesson: I don’t even crave the alcohol, it’s the company. The people. I want to be around my friends!
Day 10: Mon 8/21
- It’s my first day at my editorial internship and I’m excited to walk into the office feeling like a big girl with a big important job.
- I kind of forget to eat again during normal lunch time but brought snacks and had a salad and shake.
After the internship, I meet up with my new friend Becky and BREAK the shit out of my diet by eating a cheese board, bread, and “world famous” mac and cheese.
- I regret nothing but also everything.
- I feel a bit guilty, but also manage to restrain myself from alcohol for the 3rd day in a row! Wow!
Day 11: Tues 8/22
- Adding this Isagenix orange energy powder thing to my Vanilla shake (tastes like Orange Creamsicle) is rocking my world right now.
I do a 4 mile run at Prospect Park and talk to geese and turtles and see a swan floating away like he didn’t want none of your bullshit.
- Lunch/Dinner: Veggie burger with Ezekiel bread, garlic spread, sweet corn salsa, tomatoes, and cucumbers OMG FOODGASM.
- Another shake at night and some bites of curry (bf is so supportive he gives me bites but only of healthy stuff).
- I realize that I am saving so much money on not eating out, drinking alcohol, and grocery shopping! YAY ME.
Day 12: Wed 8/23
- This Orange Creamsicle invention is still giving me life.
- I find out about the release of a new shake flavor, Cookies n’ Cream. I order it immediately and within a few hours, it completely breaks the internet.
- I make Quinoa pasta with Ezekiel bread on side for dinner 😊
- I notice: not drinking enough water! Bad!
Not much physical activity today but I felt pretty energetic.
- Made banana bread and subconsciously (or consciously) forgot to add the 3/4th cup of sugar! Woops. Still tasted good though with chocolate chips, soy milk, applesauce, and some agave.
Day 13: Thurs 8/24
- Was doing fine today until I saw an almond croissant from a bakery window…I ate it, naturally. I thought to myself, wow that was bad, why don’t I make up for it with this $8 juice, that must be healthy for me right? Um, NO. 190 calories, 810 mg potassium (okay, that’s okay right?), 45g carbs, 16g sugar, 340% Vitamin C. Alright, so not altogether awful. At least it’s not a Coke, right? But definitely not as healthy as the happy leaf on the front of the bottle would have you believe.
- I also notice when I tell myself I’m “hungry,” I actually get hungry. Like if I wasn’t thinking about food 24/7 I probably would have gotten on the train, skipped the almond croissant and juice, and been just fine.
Day 14: Fri 8/25
- I think I did okay today?
- I drink two shakes, a sushi dinner…is sushi in my diet? Can I eat this? No matter, it’s fucking delicious.
I do some stand up at an open mic and don’t get any alcohol.
- When I get home some of the boys downstairs are playing a drinking game on the porch. I join them and feel super awkward when I decline alcohol again. “C’MON, ONE SHOT!” They scream. Nah, I’m okay. I just want to watch you all fail at the simplest of tasks in this game right now.
Day 15: Sat 8/26
- I have a comedy show tonight! I’m super excited and surprised that I got booked (shoutout to Raman if you in dis, thanks for hookin’ me up!).
- I have my shakes throughout the day and prep my set.
- I go to lunch with my good friend and brain buddy Emily who I haven’t seen for 6 years and we order a pizza and some salads. I wonder if it’s healthier because it’s gluten free but at this point, I think I’m just trying to make excuses. A pizza is a pizza.
- The show goes great and I feel back in the swing of stand up!
Day 16: Sun 8/27
- I’m getting a little frustrated because I’m not seeing the number on the scale go down…like at all. Damn it, pizza.
- I’m also on my special lady time so I’m bloated and feeling gross.
- I go for a run today which feels good.
- I want to eat a lot today, and I’m not really sure why...
- We do a taco bar for house dinner and I make mine like a salad…which is still probs not that healthy because I’ve dumped a bit of queso (okay a luxurious amount of queso) onto it.
I’m not loving myself today. I feel shameful when I have these “fat” moments. It feels like I’m really screwing this up pretty much every day. Maybe I’m just emotional because my uterus feels like it’s on fire? I don’t know.
- I eat some snacks in the basement when we watch the Game of Thrones finale and feel real triggered.
Day 17: Mon 8/28
- Ate a “snack” tablet (kind of like a chalky tablet version of a shake) and an energy shot before my…wait for it…10.5 mile run. Yes. It’s true. I actually spent like 4 miles of this run getting lost in a cemetery, because that seemed like a good idea at the time.
- Finally arrive at my destination (a Trader Joe’s, obviously) and am a little disappointed by the scope and size of this location’s store. I buy some protein bars, water, and a non-Isagenix protein shake and call an Uber right as my phone is about to completely die.
- Take a shower. Get lunch with boyfriend* and another friend at an Israeli place down the street. I don’t realize what I’m ordering and it’s a sandwich. I pick off the bread and eat all the yummy veggie insides.
Day 18: Tues 8/29
- The granola from Trader Joe’s is like crack cocaine…I hope I’m allowed to eat this. It looks healthy. It’s gotta be healthy. I mean come on.
- I snack during the internship on dried mango, a banana, and some chips and pico de gallo from the deli downstairs during lunch break. I’ve spent all day writing about food that I can’t eat and alcohol I can’t drink. It’s getting kind of annoying.
- I stop at a chocolate store to buy something (for my boyfriend*, not for me!) and end up getting a sample piece of chocolate and a sample of a pistachio macaroon. What! What was I supposed to do? Turn down a macaroon from the nice man? Come now, I might be on a diet but I do have a soul.
Caught a whiff of Chick-fil-A on the way from the chocolate store to the subway and hate everything.
Day 19: Wed 8/30
- A French house guest catches me making my shake this morning (with my new Cookies and Cream flavor!) and comments that “zat stuff eez really bad for you.” Hmm. Pourquoi, my little French busybody? I guess it’s starting to piss me off a reasonable amount that everybody and their mother has to weigh in on my dietary choices. What’s that? It’s bad for my liver you say? Please tell me more as you smoke that cigarette.
- The office ordered pizza for a meeting. And I sit contemplating my next move. Which is to eat 3 slices, obviously. I proceed to hate myself despite the deliciousness. I try to tell myself it’s okay because it was thin crust.
Bargaining. The third step of grieving. Next, I will slip into a foodie depression.
- When I get home I eat some biscotti cookies.
- I don’t have my second shake until 11:30 p.m. I just can’t seem to get the scheduling down. I get distracted and I’m like “oh I already ruined my diet today so might as well just not eat!” That’s not good.
Day 20: Thurs 8/31
- I felt much better today. A bit more in control. I have 2 shakes throughout the day, some light snacks, a veggie patty, salad, and risotto (okay it had cheese in it but that was an oversight on my part, don't judge meeeee).
It was a stressful day at the internship. I have a lot on my mind today and people are moving in and out of house like crazy. A friend calls to tell me she is having health issues. I cry for five minutes in the private phone booth at work for no apparent reason other than being overwhelmed.
- I probably ate something small I wasn’t supposed to at some point today. I can’t remember.
Day 21: Fri 9/1 (CLEANSE DAY 3)
- I hated today. I was very emotional, and it felt like there was drama around every corner. It was a terrible day for a cleanse day but I stuck to it. I watched a friend eat Indian food in front of me and I’m really proud of myself for that.
- Just a bullshit emotional day.
I’ve lost 10 pounds.
Day 22: Sat 9/2 (CLEANSE DAY 4)
- I’m still emotional and at this point, my eyes just look puffy from all the crying I’ve been doing. I go for a run and call a friend to debrief her on the newest developments in my emotional roller coaster ride.
- I fucking hate not eating.
- I look real skinny today though.
Day 23: Sun 9/3
- I feel happy to be back to shakes today, Cookie’s n’ Cream is pretty bomb and I’m happy it exists.
- I go to a BBQ for my house and feel a little anxious about not being able to find food there that I can eat. I’m relieved to find a veggie burger.
But I have a few Oreo’s from the dessert table. I’ve had a rough freaking weekend. I deserve this.
Day 24: Mon 9/4
- I wish I knew what went down on this day. I can’t find my notes for this day anywhere. Oh well. Use your imagination!
Day 25: Tues 9/5
- I did aiiight today.
I did manage to start pinning doughnut places in NYC to my favorite’s tab today during work so that I can visit all of them once my diet ends. Sounds like a great idea.
- I made veggies and a sweet potato for dinner. Veggies go bad so fast I notice…
Day 26: Wed 9/6
- The Hannah’s (the names of the other interns, lol) are making fun of me for my lame shakes at our internship today. Not like in a mean way. I think part of them admire my quasi-dedication to this thing.
- I have a veggie burger for dinner and it’s delicious but I wasn’t supposed to eat the bread (don’t care). I eat some chips and guac and a swig of fancy cognac (that’s alcohol, and no I don’t care) for a friend’s going away party at the house.
- I make scones for the house snack. And eat one.
Day 27: Thurs 9/7
- Made a healthy quinoa breakfast with blueberries, cinnamon, and some other healthy bullshit. It’s actually really good. I know I’ve been grumpy these past few days, but really it’s not so bad.
I accidentally skip a meal.
- I get home to find that my boyfriend* has made me a bowl of ice cream with blueberries and it makes me feel very special but I also know I’m not supposed to have it. I agree to have several bites and make him eat the rest of it.
- I eat some Ezekiel bread with garlic spread close to 10:30 p.m.
Day 28: Fri 9/8
- My boyfriend* and I stay in all day. We have granola and fruit for breakfast, order Pad Thai, and binge watch Bollywood movies all day.
I’m feeling down this week, for a lot of reasons unrelated to the diet, but a few caused specifically by the diet.
- I’m getting really angry about having to say no to food. I feels like an open invitation for people to question me when I’m out somewhere. I also don’t think I’ve lost as much weight or fat as I wanted to, which I know is probably because all of my not-so-sneeky food cheating. I’m back up a few pounds from the cleanse day when I was at my lowest weight.
Day 29: Sat 9/9
- I unofficially end my diet a day early by eating peach french toast out with a friend for brunch.
- I get a green tea frappacino later in the day as I kill time before my improv class.
- After class I meet my boyfriend* at the bus station to go to Saugerties, a small town in up state NY where we’ve booked an Airbnb and decide to take a long weekend.
- Our bus makes a stop along the way at a cute diner and we order grilled cheese and fries.
- I have definitely ended my diet and I feel a lot of things about it…
Day 30: Sun 9/10
- For breakfast we go to a cute little restaurant in the main strip of town and I order a vegan pancake. I feel a little better about ending the whole thing but the lure of vacation food is too tempting. For lunch we have some chips and queso and for dinner I eat a steak taco and get a cider. Later I drink half a bottle of wine and we watch more Bollywood movies.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations!
You’re likely well suited to attempt a 30-day adventure just by your shear will and determination to get through this long ass post!
A few last thoughts.
Since ending my 30-day diet I have bounced back pretty closely to where I was before, numbers wise. I’m not happy about this, but I know that I was also going through a tremedously difficult season of life (and still am). I realize now that it took extreme focus to live my life this way for this period of time, even if it wasn’t executed perfectly.
I know deep down I could have done better, I could have been more careful about falling back off once the diet was over. I could have done a lot more sit ups, probably.
But this is life. It’s a process. There are no 30-day magic fixes for our lives, in the health department or otherwise. I’ve decided that this was the first step that I needed to take to achieve a healthy lifestyle and I’m willing to try it again and would truly recommend it for anyone who wants to be healthier in body and mind.
I think there should be a balance though. This thing was no joke. It was extremely strict and as a result I sometimes felt ill-equipt to follow it with precision. But what I was doing before (and started to slip back into after) was the completely wrong way to go about eating.
I had no mindfulness about what was going into my body, nor did I care what it did to me.
And this truly has to change.
I’m still working on it. It might take me another 30 days. Maybe 90. Shit, maybe 365. But I’m conscious of this now and I owe it to myself to keep working.
*Editor’s note: Yes, it’s true. I was dating someone during this time. And it truly made me a better candidate for success. If your curiousity is killing you because you haven’t talked to me in 2+ months please feel free to call me on the phone, send me a hand written letter, or a carrier pidgeon if you wish to know further.