Three days on the Blueprint Cleanse: A memoir

April 10, 2013

Rather than tell you how Eric’s doing on our new diet, I figured I’d let him tell you in his own words! Here’s his recap and review of his three-day Blueprint Cleanse. – Rachel

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My subconscious tends to have a way of expressing itself to me by getting a song stuck in my head for no apparent reason. For example, last week, the song “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was stuck in my head and I realized it was because Rachel and I were talking about the meatloaf we were planning to have for dinner in a few hours. And just such a thing happened when Rachel asked me to write a blog post about my experience doing the Blueprint Cleanse (referred to herein as the BPC). The song I found on loop in my head was “Still Counting the Days” by Goldfinger, one of my favorite bands during my teens and early twenties. The song is an angry, tragic account of the spectrum of emotions experienced by the singer during the week following a break-up. While the BPC was only a 3-day cleanse, many of the feelings I was experiencing were strikingly similar to those in the song; just, you know…instead of feeling these feelings about another person, I was feeling them for solid food.

First, here’s a list of the six juices I drank throughout each day as part of this cleanse.

  1. Green Juice. Apple, lemon, kale, celery, parsley, spinach, cucumber, and romaine. I also called this my recovery juice because every time I had to drink it, I spent the subsequent hours recovering from it. I’m sure that due to the fact that it was hands down the worst tasting of the 5 (and it only got worse as the cleanse went on) that it was probably the most nutrient rich, but damn. I truly hated that stuff by the end.
  2. PAM. Not just a clever name — consists of pineapple, apple, and mint. How delightful! The pineapple was so strong and it was just a nice hearty and filling juice. It definitely helped me recover from the Green Juice and felt like an added boost of energy to get my through the rest of the morning.
  3. Another Green Juice.
  4. Spicy Lemonade. Lemon, water, cayenne, and agave nectar. Kind of indifferent toward this one. The taste was fine but it was very mild and very watery. It was the wateriest of all of them and I was finding that by that point in the afternoon I was really craving something a little more substantial to tide me over and the Spicy Lemonade did not provide that.
  5. CAB. Carrot, apple, beet, lemon and ginger. (I guess they didn’t want to call it CABLG? Cable Guy?) This was a pretty decent juice. I was worried because of the beets that it would probably taste like dirt but the ginger was the predominant flavor which gave it a very clean taste. For as thick as it was I was expecting it to be a little more filling, but all in all it was still pretty good.
  6. Cashew Milk. Consists of pulverized cashews, water, cinnamon, vanilla, and agave nectar. ERMAHGERD FERRRD!! I seriously just do not even have words to describe this stuff. What a lifesaver. After getting your ass kicked all day that stuff was heaven. Wanna know how good it was? When I finished the drink there was still pulverized cashew residue in the bottom of the bottle. I went to the kitchen and got a knife and scraped that shit off the bottom and the sides and had me some cashew paste. Should I be ashamed? Probably. But first-world hunger is a real thing and if you haven’t been there then you just really couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to truly be first-world hungry so spare me your judgments.

Without further ado, let’s put on the Goldfinger and begin.

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“Day one, was no fun…”

You said it, brother. In fairness, I think part of what made the first day so difficult (aside from the obvious no solid foods) was that the other things I was advised to do were things to which I was completely unaccustomed. For example, BPC recommends starting the day with a cup of hot green tea. Probably fine for someone who drinks green tea, or hot tea, or even hot drinks in general like coffee, but I don’t like hot drinks because apparently I’m not an adult. Even once the green tea cooled down enough for me to drink it, it still tasted like dishwasher water. But that’s just me. Anyone fond of or just indifferent toward hot green tea already has a leg up on the competition.

The rest of the morning went on about as well as I could have hoped but by the afternoon, things really started to break down. My head felt foggy, I was getting confused doing simple tasks, and a co-worker (who knew I was doing this cleanse) expressed concern that I looked “overwhelmed” and that I was about to snap and go crazy on somebody. In my defense, I was frustrated with a co-worker whose incompetence was making my day exponentially more stressful. I’m not sure if my reaction had anything to do with the fact that I hadn’t had any solid food in almost 18 hours (or that I knew it was going to be another 64 hours before I could have solid food again) or if I would have been that irritated regardless.

By 5:00 I had a full blown headache and even though I’d planned to be at work for another hour, it was clear my mental energy was gone and it was time for me to go home. 5:00 was also the first time that I’d started to feel actually hungry.

“Now I gotta get away, find something to do…’cause everything I hear, and everything I see, reminds me of you…”

It’s funny — for as much TV as I watch, I really never paid close attention to food commercials or how frequently characters in TV shows are dining…until now, that is. Every advertisement for food — fast food, candy, you name it — was like the TV was taunting me. Luckily, Rachel was very supportive throughout this process and agreed to go on a walk with me. That really helped; anything to keep your mind off the fact that you can’t have any solid food is probably going to help.

As the night wore on, I became increasingly more in tune with my hunger. Fortunately, the final BPC juice of the day, Cashew Milk, was a total godsend. It was so rich and creamy and fatty, and at that moment it was the single greatest thing I’d ever tasted. It was also a good morale boost knowing I’d have that to look forward to as a way to end the day.

Additional thoughts on Day 1

I became aware of how often I eat just out of habit — as if it were just an activity I was unconsciously planning to do regardless of whether or not I was hungry. It was an eye-opening to realize how many times throughout the day my inclination to take a break from whatever I was doing also included grabbing something to snack on.

Perhaps more difficult than the gnawing hunger were the “mental gymnastics” I had to do to stay focused. When a wave of hunger would come over me, I’d sometimes let my mind trick me into thinking this was a fast that was almost over. Snapping back to the reality that this fast is not, in fact, over at bedtime, and that I still had more than two more full days of doing this, was very disheartening. The only way to deal was to stay focused and not let myself think of it as a temporary fast. I reminded myself that I two more days to get through.

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“…day 2, I hated you…”

But not for the reasons you might think. Truth be told, Day 2 was (for the most part) quite a bit easier than Day 1. The reason I hated it was because it quickly became evident to me that I had picked the worst day to be on a juice cleanse. For starters, someone brought donuts to work for some stupid reason. They were placed on a table right by my desk and I had no way of avoiding them whenever I got up from my desk. Every time I got up to go pee (which, turns out was a lot more than I was expecting), I had to face my nemesis. Fortunately, good triumphed over delicious evil. But that was not the end of my plight. Shortly thereafter I got an email from my boss’s boss, inviting me and a few other new-ish employees out to lunch to discuss how we are liking things thus far. This is not one of those events to which you RSVP “no” unless either your house is on fire or you really don’t care about keeping your job. I explained to him what I was doing and he was down with BPC (yeah you know me!). Despite the circumstances, I went to lunch with everyone and let me tell you…there’s nothing quite like walking into a fancy restaurant, bottle of green juice in hand, and politely declining to order off the decadent carb-tastic menu that everyone else is enjoying and opting instead for some water to help wash down your liquified grass clippings. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Day 2 finished out mostly without incident except for one pretty major thing: Almost like clockwork, right at 5:00 I began experiencing the same malaise I had experienced at that time on Day 1 — only this time it was amplified by roughly…infinity. I had a terrible headache and there was just nothing that could console me. At that time, I wasn’t so much craving solid food because I was hungry, I was craving solid food like one might crave a TUMS when experiencing indigestion. It’s not that you so badly want a chalky antacid; you just want the relief you know it will bring. Turns out, a nice walk and some fresh air were a fitting substitute for solid food. After Rachel and I went on a walk for about an hour, my headache was gone and spirits were high the remainder of the evening.

Additional thoughts on Day 2

I really started to notice an increased sensitivity to smell. Rachel had grilled chicken on her salad for dinner, and from across the room I could smell it…and was salivating. [Ed note: Lest you think I'm a total jerk, know that I didn't make any bacon for those three days!] Also, when I took the dogs out, I felt a wave of nausea when cleaning up their poop. Along those lines, I also noticed an increased sensitivity to loud noises. I’m not sure if it was just because I was irritable, but anytime the dogs would start barking, it really hurt my head and wore on my patience. I also noticed that the green juice was leaving a weird slimy film on my teeth. Brushing got it off the inner and outer surfaces well enough, but no matter how hard I brushed I couldn’t seem to get it off the top part of my molars. You know, the part of your molars where Cheetos always get stuck…except in this case, it was not a mysterious and delicious orange powder, but green scum. It was really gross and uncomfortable.

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“…by day 3 I wished you’d come right back to me…”

OK, I guess at this point the song analogy starts to break down a little bit. Day 3 was, without a doubt, the easiest of the three days. I had that day off work but I made a point to keep myself occupied with chores that I’d been needing to take care of in the hopes that I wouldn’t let myself succumb to thinking about food and feeling sad about the lack thereof. As the day wore on, I grew increasingly anxious around 5:00 because of how I’d felt around that time on the previous two days. Fortunately, 5:00 came and went without incident, as did the remainder of the evening. By the time I went to bed, I really didn’t feel bad at all, and thought that, if necessary, I could probably continue this cleanse for another day or two. But I’m really glad that wasn’t the case. Later that night, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. I slept restlessly and by the time I let myself get up the next morning I realized I’d completely mentally checked out of the BPC and was ready for solid food.

Final thoughts on the BPC

It’s not a bad cleanse, depending on your expectations. I didn’t weigh myself afterwards so I don’t know how much, if any, weight that I lost but I can’t honestly say that I felt super “lean” or “skinny” during the process, and from what I can tell my appearance did not undergo a dramatic makeover from Day 1 to Day 3. Did I feel like I had increased levels of energy? No, not really. And that’s not surprising…after all I was cutting my daily calorie intake by 50 percent or more. I guess I viewed it more as a detoxification. It wasn’t easy, and it most certainly wasn’t performance-enhancing, but it was rewarding and cathartic. By the end I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had done something radical and difficult without cheating and I saw it through from start to finish. I suppose I also had the satisfaction of knowing that for three days I was putting nothing but good, wholesome ingredients into my body. I’d equate the feeling of finishing the cleanse to the feeling you get after going to the dentist…like you have a clean slate, and as long as you take care and make good choices, you’re going to be in good shape. Of course, this is just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions: Everyone has a stinky asshole.

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