21 Day Vegan

No meat. No dairy. No caffeine.  No alcohol. No processed food.  On January 2nd, I started a 21 day plant based cleanse.  I’ve never done a cleanse before.  I decided in December that I would do this to clear out all the “poison” in my body.  I was the heaviest I have ever been and I was also having digestive issues.  My colleague had recommended the cleanse called Fresh Start 21.  What I liked about this program initially was that I wasn’t going to need to think about what I was going to cook. I needed to shop once a week and follow the recipes, which I was told were delicious minus a couple of recipes which I could substitute out.  

Grocery shopping for week 1 was pretty intense.  It took me about 90 minutes to complete my very organized shopping list at Berkeley Bowl and I spent about $100.  I was a little surprised by the cost since I didn’t have meat or alcohol.  On the other hand, this was cheap considering I was not going to be spending money eating out this week.  

I was really excited about this new challenge at first. I even got a new Ninja Blender for Christmas which has six blades to prepare for the morning smoothies.  The cleanse included a morning tonic upon waking up, a green smoothie for breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and a warm glass of spiced almond milk before bed.

Honestly, by the end of Day 3, I remember thinking “what the hell did I sign up for?” January 22 felt like a long ways away.  I contemplated quitting.  I had already posted on Facebook that I was starting this cleanse and I didn’t want everyone to think I was a quitter.   I had to keep going.  I thought about why I was doing this in the first place.  I had to finish this for myself.  Just as I was getting tired of salads, then came recipes for hot food.  I miraculously made it through week 1 and lost 3 lbs.  

Strawberry Fields Salad

Week 2 had a different challenge where there would be no beans and grains either.  The variety of recipes changed as well and soups were introduced which I enjoyed a lot.  I started to notice a lot of things happening in my body.  I was sleeping through the night and I was getting up around 6:30am every morning without an alarm.  I was not having any digestive problems.  I noticed that my back pain also seemed to dissipate.  By the end of Week 2, I was down 5 lbs.

Potato Cauliflower Leek Soup with Kale Chips

By the time Week 3 came along, I was feeling proud of myself because I had no doubt I could finish.  I didn’t even use the shopping list for week 3 because I still had ingredients from the weeks before.   I wanted to use what I had and buy things as needed, so I skipped some of the recipes and repeated some recipes of old ones I liked.  At the end of the cleanse, I lost 8 lbs. and felt great.  

Loaded Sweet Potato

This cleanse was the third hardest thing I’ve done in my life.  For three weeks, all I’ve been able to do is work and prepare food for the cleanse.  Between shopping, prepping, cooking, and washing dishes, it has consumed my life.  It has been my one extracurricular activity.  The two things harder than this cleanse was backpacking in the Sierras and training for a half marathon.

What now? Do I go back on Weight Watchers?  Do I start Keto?  I am still figuring out what comes next, but for now I am staying mindful.  I absolutely will continue to make green smoothies.  I absolutely will incorporate more vegetarian or vegan dishes in my life.  But when it comes to meat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and processed snacks I like, it will be about moderation.