I’m currently on Day Six of a Seven Day, self-imposed cleanse. I’ve done them before. Almost everyone I know has done one. We even did them as a team when I worked in our New York office (otherwise known as the last time I will ever eat avocado). I should have been completely prepared for what this week would be like.
People rave about the benefits of cleanses.
“I feel so energized!”
“I feel so light!”
“I feel so clearheaded!”
“I love life!!!”
THIS IS NOT ME.
I feel utterly exhausted.
I feel like I’m dragging myself around with weights tied to my appendages.
I feel foggy and confused.
I hate life.
I hate life right now. I hate this cleanse. I hate everyone who is euphoric on this cleanse. I hate everyone who is not on this cleanse. I hate everyone who can eat sugar, or fat, or any food more than once a day.
Instead of the elated feelings, I’m at my worst. Why on earth have I done this to myself again?
I am punishing myself.
For a few months, since the holidays really, I have been eating with complete lack of discernment about what I’m putting into my mouth. With a complete lack of regard for what I’m doing to my body.
Bacon for breakfast (and lunch, maybe dinner too)? Yes, please!
Dessert after every meal? Of course!
Three glasses of wine? Better than two!
Candy, just because? Obviously!!
It caught up with me. My yoga practice has suffered. My skin has suffered. My sleep has suffered. And my poor clothes have suffered the worst of all. When I nearly ripped my jeans trying to squeeze into them last weekend in Santa Fe, and certainly stretched them past the point where jeans should ever go, I knew it had to stop.
It probably would have been a good idea to just start eating cleanly again, or to just cut back on the excessive fat and sugar. But I don’t always, or usually, like to do what’s good for me. I like to do what works quickly. It’s what I know. Thus the cleanse.
For the indulgences, for the lack of willpower, for the out of control eating…I punish myself.
I drink my shakes. I choke down my green juices. I force myself to keep eating my daily meal of spinach and protein. Each sip, each bite reminds me that I deserve this punishment. I have tried, convicted and sentenced myself.
So I sit here on my couch, alone, on a Saturday night. Going out seems pointless. I can’t eat. I can’t drink. I have no energy. I am hypersensitive and frequently on the verge of tears. It’s better that I stay here. I’m resigned to serving out this sentence.
This is a slippery slope for me. It only takes one cleanse for me to start monitoring every morsel of food, every calorie. One cleanse to set me on the road to obsession. One cleanse to be my gateway drug.
I think about what it would be like instead to stop this Draconian punishment. I think about what it would be like to be eating dinner, drinking wine like normal people. I think about what fun these normal people must be out having tonight.
I think, there must be more than this.
I know there is.
That logical part of my brain continues to hang on, despite being starved, and tells me, You don’t have to do this. Just eat healthy! Everything in moderation! Even, I think you look great! Sometimes it starts to sound just like my mom, encouraging and supporting and believing and loving, even when the other part of me fights back. I’m relieved when I hear it though, knowing I haven’t totally given over to the other, darker voice. Knowing I can still find my way out of the darkness.
So screw Day Seven.
I’m done with this cleanse on Day Six, and I’m climbing out of the darkness and taking my life back. I want to be strong and present in my yoga class tomorrow. I want to be able to meet up with friends, and laugh and share and enjoy. For one day at least, I want to stop punishing myself, and accept my imperfect, sugar-loving, over-indulging self.
There is more than this. And I’m ready for it. With a side of chocolate.