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When most people get bored, they binge on Netflix, try a new hobby, or go out with friends. When I get bored, I diet. I’m talking about those diets that promise to clean you out, kick-start weight loss, and have you feeling brand new in a matter of days.
Instagram celebrities spin these webs of lies preaching about detoxes and diets that don’t work, but what about the ones that do?
Important Disclaimer: I’m well aware that most detoxes and diets aren’t going to turn me into Kim Kardashian overnight. We all know it takes a true lifestyle change, serious time in the gym, and a little bit of surgery to do that. I don’t go in with ridiculously high expectations to lose weight or change my body.
Weight loss is rarely ever the goal — feeling healthier is. More importantly, I do it because I like a challenge. Plain and simple.
The Master Cleanse: Only The Strong Survive
I first happened upon the Master Cleanse a little over a year ago, and almost wish I hadn’t. I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with my experience and still feel indifferent about it. Clear warning here: The Master Cleanse is a 10-day, all-liquid diet that promises “amazing” results. It also happens to be what so many celebrities swear by. Sounds sketchy, I know, but after pouring over hours of YouTube testimonies, I figured it was worth a try.
For 10 whole days, I was limited to a maple syrupy concoction of cayenne pepper, lemons, and water. Each evening was finished off by a diuretic tea and each morning was followed up with a saltwater flush. The maple sugar supplies the necessary calories, the cayenne pepper stimulates weight loss, the citrus of the lemon flushes out waste, and the water promotes hydration. But I repeat, no solid food. For someone who loves to eat, that’s a big sacrifice.
The Master Cleanse is all about perseverance. It tests just how willing you are to ignore your primal instincts and control your natural urge to eat. That’s why in the end it wasn’t so much the taste of the lemonade mixture that got to me; it was the mind games. It was the temptation to sneak a French fry when I was out with friends. It was the way I would salivate from the smell of food. The saltwater flush is another major detail that might keep me from committing to this cleanse in the near future. I’m going to spare the details here.
Fortunately, the Master Cleanse does have its benefits. Day three is when the hunger pains, headaches, and cravings dissipated, and a clear-mind, boost of energy, and will to continue emerged.
After completing the 10 days, my skin was glowing and my cravings were gone. I don’t recall losing much weight, but the way I felt after the cleanse was enough of a reward. It’s a great way to kickstart a new lifestyle change and completely clean out your system. I’ve determined it’s not for the faint-hearted, but rather serves a challenge for even the strong-willed.
The Juice Diet: A Dose of Liquid Courage
I used to tell my family all the time that life would be so much easier if I could drink all my meals. For someone who stays busy and is constantly on the go, it’s a real hassle to have to stop my day to cook or sit down to eat. That’s why juicing was so appealing to me.
Juicing is exactly what it sounds like: A combination of vegetables and fruits are squeezed of every ounce of their nutrients and served up in a glass. The diet suggests consuming 80 to 120 ounces of juice per day. There’s no limitation to juicing. Some people commit to a few days and others choose juicing as a lifestyle. I chose to meet somewhere in the middle and pledged to 15 days.
With juicing, the recipes are endless. It wasn’t anything I got bored with. You’d be surprised how many different combinations and flavors can be made from mixing fruits and vegetables.
Frankly, it sounds too good to be true because it is. The diet isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. It’s hard work. I would spend a couple of hours cutting up fruits and vegetables and running them through the slow juicer just to end up with less than a day’s’ worth of food.
The huge chunk of money it took out of my wallet every few days kept me far from motivated. With the little amount of juice most veggies and fruits yield, it was necessary to buy a huge supply of them. I often spent $12 to $20 per day on supplies. Not ideal for a then, broke-college student.
On the other hand, the feeling I had after juicing was second to none, and the taste of almost every juice was amazing. I swear you haven’t lived until you’ve had freshly made apple juice. Teachers, dietitians and doctors alike have been preaching about the food pyramid for decades. I was finally seeing and feeling the benefit of what fulfilling your daily nutrients looked like.
I could see myself committing to substituting juice for one meal a day, but I could never rely on juicing every day for the rest of my life. Kudos to the people who can, but it takes way too much patience and just isn’t something my budget can afford.
The Military Diet: No Nonsense, No Problem
My most recent adventure consisted of the Military Diet. The fun part of this one: I actually got to eat solid food. This restrictive fast allows you to consume a limited amount of calories. Added bonus: it also claims to be the fastest way to lose 10 pounds in three days. The results sound insane, but after hearing about a close family member’s results, I had to give it a try.
Three days you’re on the diet, and the rest of the week is back to your same routine. The chemical makeup of the foods is what triggers weight loss. A majority of the meals consisted of a strange combination of foods:
Breakfast: A slice of toast, grapefruit, peanut butter and tea.
Lunch: Tuna, saltine crackers, and tea.
Dinner: A meat of choice, green beans, a combination of fruit and a cup of ice cream. (Yes. I’m serious. ICE CREAM).
Each day differed slightly, but I stuck to the same set of principles. I had to plug my nose for a majority of the meals as I could only season my food with salt and pepper. I gagged my way through the carrots and practically swallowed the green beans whole, but I managed to survive.
Finally, a fad diet that worked — well, sort of. It worked in the way it was intended — I lost weight. Strangely, I finished the detox feeling like something was missing. I didn’t lose anywhere near 10 pounds. I lost half of that, but I was miserable in the process. To my surprise, the weight I did lose turned out to be actual fat, rather than water weight.
To test that theory, I completely pigged out, went buck-wild and binged on unlimited pizza and margaritas on a cruise the week afterward. I came back expecting to have gained it all back, and to my surprise I didn’t.
To this day, months later, I still haven’t. For the first time in my detox diet history, I was getting substantial results and I didn’t feel like I was starving. That being said, even though I lost a bit of weight, I wouldn’t put myself through it again. Unlike my other diets, this one didn’t come with the extra energy and that almost euphoric high. My moral was deflated. I felt like I was clawing myself through those three days. I promise the bowl of ice cream was the only incentive keeping me on track.