I arrived back from my amazing summer trip about 3.5 kilos heavier than when I left and I was feeling seriously bloated and bleurgh. I often look forward to coming back home for a couple of reasons. 1. I get to see the cats and 2. I can get back in to my normal habits with eating and exercise. For me, I wanted to get back to eating properly and ideally lose the weight that I had put on over the holiday. These were my big priorities alongside getting started with my new position at school.
I decided I was going to do a cleanse when I came back from the USA before I even left for Canada. I even knew which one. I bought a copy of Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast and it was waiting for me in Canada. Even the timing of the cleanse worked out well as Seb decided to prolong his trip by 2 weeks. I had the sneaky suspicion that he might not be in to this cleanse business as much as I would be.
On arrival, I was so excited to see that it would be easy to do in Indonesia although I did purchase some of the super foods that the book specified as I knew they wouldn’t be available there. I bought things like hemp protein powder and green matcha powder but I certainly don’t think you need to have them to get the same results as they could be easily substituted or omitted.
What is the cleanse about? The food on the cleanse is pretty much 100% raw. Ani divides the cleanse into 3 parts. The first 3 days are smoothies and cold soups only. The next 4 days add a salad in to the 5 daily meals mix and in the last 7 days more of a main meal is added in the evening. There is a wide range of different ingredients used to make the recipes and all of the ingredients have their own nutritional benefits. When you are doing this cleanse you are really just getting a huge range of very healthy foods in to your body.
Observations about the cleanse itself: First of all, I really don’t like the term cleanse. Sadly, these days there are so many negative associations with this word. You hear about the cayenne pepper and maple syrup cleanse and it just sounds ridiculous. However, to me, this actually was a cleanse in the true sense of the word. It was about eating incredibly healthy food, rebooting my system after a few weeks of indulgence and hopefully installing some new habits. I think it is usually completely pointless to go straight back to what you were eating before a cleanse. I think you need to have some take aways and I really did from this experience. I am under no delusions that something magical happened to me to lose weight. I know that I lost weight because the calories I ate were less than the calories I expended which led to a calorie deficit. Ani talks about coconut oil being a fat burner. I am a little skeptical about this and many of the claims she made in her book as they were not properly referenced. I did do a calorie count of some of the days meals and I was certainly would have had a significant deficit each day however, the challenge with dieting is eating enough to feel satiated. Ani’s plan managed to do this most of the time probably due to the use of nuts and plenty of foods chock-a-block of fibre. I should also add that I stuck to the cleanse 100% with only a couple of dish or ingredient substituions when needed.
Reasons for doing the cleanse: Like I stated above. I wanted to lose the weight I had gained on holiday and feel a bit less bloated. I also wanted to try 100% raw for a while and follow a program that was quite rigid so I could see if there were any results. I also needed a bit of a reboot after a very decadent summer, try some more things and get in to some new habits. I also wanted to see what would happen if I went without gluten for 15 days. Would it make me feel any different like so many people say?
- I liked most of the food and some of it was surprisingly very good. It was quick and easy to prepare. Every work evening I would make dinner for that night and then breakfast, snack, lunch and snack for the next day. That’s 5 different things! I would say that I spend about 1 hour in the kitchen in the evening. Not too long considering.
- I especially loved all the wonderful breakfast smoothies. Some of the combinations like ginger mint and pear, lime ginger shake were fantastic.
- The food kept well in the fridge. This meant I could prepare food the night before and just take it to work.
- I didn’t get to weigh myself until the end of the day 2 due to the batteries being empyty in my scale. My weight at the end of day 2 was 66.5kg. On the morning of day 16 at the end of the cleanse it was 62.4kg. That’s a total of 4 kg! This was really exciting for me. I like the idea that I can just do a few days of eating this way if the kilos pile on and get rid of them. I felt so much lighter than before.
- I didn’t like all the dishes. Some of them were only just edible for me (perhaps 10% of the total recipes). Luckily I am just one of those people that can usually get something I am not keen on down the hatch regardless. This would have been a bigger problem for someone who only likes to eat things that they like.
- Secondly, I did get hungry from time to time. This was much more of a problem at the weekends. During the week when I was busy at school then there wasn’t usually time to get peckish and to stand in front of the fridge. The weekends when I was wandering around the house was much more of a problem as the meals didn’t keep me full for as long. This I find very telling. It shows that I often eat when I am bored / or have time on my hands. I didn’t think I was an emotional eater, but I might be when I’m bored. I need to work on strategies to deal with these feelings.
- It wasn’t very social to be on a cleanse. I had to take my food with me when going out the the mall and eating it (during fasting month) was a bit of a challenge but I guess I am used to that. 🙂
- For some people not used to vegan or raw food this might be a challenge. There are funny ingredients and very different foods to a the diet that most people eat. Lots of cold soups might freak some people out. This might lead to people giving up. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are looking to try to go vegan as they might not be able to do it and then give up on veganism. I would recommend it to people who were fully open and committed to make drastic changes in their diet to see if it gives them results.
- I would have liked to see a nutritional breakdown of the recipes. Of course, we can do it ourselves, but I think it adds a certain amount of validity to the book to have that. Also, on the 15 day meun plan I wish page numbers for the recipe could have been included. Going back to the index all the time was annoying. The book did have a very cheap feel to it and I also saw some problems with the index.
- The groceries for the cleanse were a bit more expensive than I would normally spend. I had to have lots of avocados and also berries which were out of season. The “superfoods” I purchased were pricey as they always are, but I will be using long after the cleanse is over so during the cleanse they were not that expensive for the duration of the cleanse.
- I will be reusing many of the recipes from her cleanse on a regular basis as I enjoyed them so much. I will also prepare my morning shakes the evening before and possibly a snack shake for lunch or a snack.
- I’ll try to stick to similar portion sizes and snack on low calorie fruit and vegetables when needed. I love to eat and can put food away like nobody’s business, but I often find that the more I eat, the more my appetite increases. Keeping a moderate appetite will help keep me balanced.
- I am also going to cut down on the amount of grains that I eat and try to have one or two serves a day only. Grains (even wholegrains) are high in calories and not very high in nutrition (compared to leafy greens for example). Of course, I love grains but I don’t think it is realistic for me to keep them out of the diet. I don’t want to and don’t need to (Seb wouldn’t like to be 100% raw and I don’t want to be cooking different meals) but limiting them to a couple of serves a day will help keep my calorie intake low.
- I will try to eat 100% raw for two meals a day. I will try to eat very high % raw at the weekends.
- Miso is my new BFF. Many of the savoury dishes called for some miso and it just adds that Umami flavour that most of us really like. I am sure this is when turned a dish from meh to really delicious.
- I would certainly do this cleanse again if I put on weight or felt a bit bleurgh.
If you are interested in doing this cleanse, check out Ani’s book.