(Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or health professional, but my husband is a lawyer. 🙂 The following information is just sharing my personal experience. None of this constitutes medical advice, nor should it be used as an instructional guide for doing the cleanse. If you’re interested, check out the full book I link to below and always consult your physician before starting any new diet or exercise program.)
About a year ago I did a five-day juice cleanse and absolutely loved it. I had amazing energy, restful sleep, and finally got control of my overeating. That juice cleanse kicked off one of the healthiest periods of my life, and I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape than I was last spring. (Evidence here.)
Fast forward to today: It’s bad, y’all. Despite the fact I work way less hours/have less stress, I’ve struggled to find a workout routine I can stick to. I’ve let cravings get the best of me when I nanny and their cabinets are full of chips, crackers, and other things I shouldn’t be eating. My wake-up call came when I dug out my clothes for my spring capsule wardrobe and…nothing fit. Nothing. I was so discouraged and disappointed in myself.
Luckily, my friend Hanna (one of my BFFs from yoga training) had heard of this thing called The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush and suggested we do it. Hanna’s boyfriend had done it, as well as our dear teacher Andrea. Both of them are vegan yogis and non-drinkers, so I figured if they benefited from the cleanse then I would too.
I encourage you to read the entire book for detailed information, but to sum it up: the author claims that gallstones form in our liver as well as our gallbladder, clogging the ducts and causing all sorts of health problems. These stones can be caused by overeating, acidic foods, hormonal birth control, drinking alcohol…basically a Western diet/lifestyle. All of this puts stress on the liver and causes stones to form. In order to rid ourselves of these and allow the liver to function optimally, we need to prepare the liver for six days by drinking 32 oz of apple juice per day (malic acid softens the stones), then on the sixth day we do the actual flush. I could write an entire blog post just about incredible information in the book, but I wanted to share my experience via a “cleanse diary” of sorts.
Quick warning: this post is about a cleanse, which means poop is discussed. I also took a picture of some of the stones I expelled, so if you’re not into that then stop reading now. 🙂 If you’re interested in doing the cleanse yourself, there’s a link to a free PDF version at the bottom of this post.
Day 1! Besides my liter of organic apple juice, I’m also aiming to drink a gallon of water a day. I thought it would be tough to consume this much liquid, but it’s fine. Drinking 32 oz. of juice plus all that water means I just have to be mindful about not drinking around meals as it’s bad for digestion. I try to stop drinking 30 minutes before I eat or start again 2 hours after I eat, which takes some coordination and watching the clock. I stepped on the scale this morning and…wow. 163. 3, which is high for me. I knew I’d gained weight, but didn’t realize it was so much. I don’t weigh myself often, but this time last year I was between 145-150. That’s almost a twenty pound difference. Yikes. There’s all the motivation I need.
Breakfast: Hot water with lemon, 1 mug chai tea with stevia + almond milk, Glowing Green Smoothie
Lunch: Spinach salad with croutons, alfalfa sprouts, red bell pepper, avocado, and an Amy’s Organic Quarter Pounder.
Dinner: Chana Saag from Forks over Knives. A few squares of Alter Eco chocolate for dessert.
Besides drinking apple juice, the only real preparation for the liver flush is to be vegan and not overeat. I’ve got the former down pat, but the latter is a struggle. Overeating has always been an issue for me, but the emphasis on eating lightly already has me feeling good. Now that I’m super hydrated as well, I feel like I can “hear” my body telling me when it’s full. Normally I just plough on through that feeling, but now I’m actually stopping. (Considering this is <24 hrs in, I’m rather impressed with myself. ) Knowing that overeating will make the cleanse less effective/not effective is really motivating me. I want this to work.
Breakfast:Hot water with lemon, 1 mug chai tea with stevia + almond milk, GGS
Lunch: Leftover Chana Saag
Snack: A few pita chips + hummus
Dinner: Veggie soup with a few slices of dinner bread + Earth Balance.
This is when the apple juice, er, starts to really take effect. The book gives a heads-up that this can happen, but my stomach is gurgling and I’m running to the bathroom every five minutes in the morning. I take this as a good sign that it’s working, and am just glad I have a job where it’s no big deal to go to the bathroom when I need to. (Aka not teaching.) A cup of peppermint tea helps, as did continuing to down water. By the afternoon things are better.
Breakfast:Hot water with lemon, 1 mug chai tea with stevia + almond milk, GGS
Lunch: leftover Chana Saag
Dinner: Peanut Noodles with Broccoli from Forks Over Knives (my favorite recipe EVEEEERRRR). A few squares of Alter Eco chocolate for dessert.
Still feeling kind of bloated/gurgly but not running to the bathroom as much anymore. I’m mixing the apple juice with a little water because I’m not used to the sweetness. I thought all of this juice and water would make me feel like I could float away, but instead I feel skinny AF. Honestly, my stomach feels SO FLAT I swear I have a six pack. (I don’t.) I step on the scale just to confirm my lithe-ness and it says 154.5. One. Fifty-four. Point. Five. In four days I have literally lost eight pounds of bloat/water weight. And that’s drinking a gallon a day + a ton of juice. WHOA. And I haven’t even started the actual “cleanse” yet. Cue happy dancing around my apartment.
Breakfast: Hot water with lemon, 1 mug chai tea with stevia + almond milk, vegan protein smoothie (this was because I was heading over to Kendra’s house and needed something quick!)
Lunch: salad from Whole Foods
Snack: pita chips and hummus
Dinner: leftover Peanut Noodles + Broccoli, then (you guessed it) chocolate for dessert.
And now for some deep thoughts between me and Hanna before we get our colonics (I’m the blue):
“Swaha” is the Sanskrit term for “whatever”. And just FYI, there’s definitely no leaking. 🙂
I’m loving this! My routine and eating have been so out of whack (hence the weight gain) and getting back into good habits just feels amazing. I haven’t felt deprived at all, and instead I feel disciplined and strong. Basically I’m the Wonder Woman of liver cleanses.
Patrick and I wanted to go out for dinner Friday night, but it’s tough to eat out when you’re trying to eat lightly. Veggie burgers and fries? Nope. Pizza with vegan cheese? Too tasty. Mexican? Definitely not. We settle on sushi, since there’s a great place near us that has a ton of vegan rolls (I cannot eat another carrot-avocado-cucumber roll as long as I live. SNOOZE FEST.) After just a few pieces my body was telling me that I was full, but I kept eating and felt so stuffed. After almost a week of stopping when my body told me it was satiated, being so full was hella uncomfortable. I can’t believe I had been doing this to myself almost every meal before I started this cleanse. Ugh. Lesson learned.
Breakfast: Hot water with lemon, 1 mug chai tea with stevia + almond milk
Lunch: A few leftover peanut noodles + broccoli, salad w/sprouts, avocado, nooch, and one of these Hilary’s burgers
Dinner: Miso soup + vegan sushi from Akahana.
Colonic day! This was the first time I’ve ever had this done, and it’s sort of a hard experience to describe. It’s not like a massage where you enjoy it while it’s actually happening, but it’s oddly satisfying. Basically, a lubed-up tube is stuck up your butt (not my favorite part), then the hydrotherapist turns a switch, your colon fills with water, they turn the switch again and it empties. This continues for the better part of an hour. The first few times not much happened-it wasn’t that uncomfortable and not much came out. I guess things, um, loosened up as time went on though, so towards the end it got more uncomfortable but SO MUCH CAME OUT. It was wild. It does get uncomfortable at some points, but nothing close to pain. More a strong urge to have a bowel movement while someone is massaging your abdomen. There’s no weirdness after the appointment-you just put your clothes on and head home. We went to dinner with some of our BFFs, and I just made an attempt to eat lightly and not overload on guacamole. Easier said than done, but remembering how uncomfortable I’d been last night kept me in check.
Breakfast: Hot water with lemon, 1 mug chai tea with stevia + almond milk, GGS
Lunch: Ethiopian chickpea soup and white bean hummus sandwich from The Pickled Peach
Dinner: Guacamole and chips, salad w/tempeh, croutons, red bell pepper, sprouts, nooch, and goddess dressing. A little bread with Earth Balance as well. This sounds like a lot, but my portions were small. YUM.
Actual cleanse day!
The instructions were to eat lightly, with no protein, fats, or oils of any kind, then nothing but water after 2pm. I drank a GGS early, then had a small amount of oatmeal, cinnamon, and bananas for “brunch”.
Luckily, my friend Erin invited me to go on a hike so I had something to do other than think about not eating.
I really, REALLY don’t do well with fasting. Especially dinner. I LOVE DINNER. I look forward to it all day (laughing at myself as I type this). Plus, the Oscars were on and I really wanted a big bowl of popcorn popped on the stove with nooch and coconut oil. Mmmmmm.
At 6pm, we had to mix Epsom salts with water and chug. I thought this was going to taste like saltwater-NOPE. It tastes nothing like salt and a lot like bitter nastiness. I coined it “stank juice”.
At 8pm, we had to do the same thing. Thank goodness for the Oscars, as they kept me very distracted.
Turns out Hanna doesn’t do so well when fasting either. Here’s a sample of our texts (sorry in advance for the cursing):
By the way when I said “did it”, I mean took the second round of Epsom salts.
At 10pm, we make this fresh grapefruit juice and olive oil concoction, shake it up, chug it, and then lie down. Literally the instructions are LIE DOWN STRAIGHT AWAY in bold + all caps. This is when things got less fun, as having all that olive oil in your empty stomach doesn’t feel that great. Shudder.
At this point, I have no idea what’s going to happen. Am I going to be running to the bathroom all night? Will I be able to sleep? Turns out nothing dramatic happens (I don’t even go to the bathroom), and it’s fine. I lay down on the couch and finish watching the Oscars, then go to sleep.
Cleanse day, part 2!
7:30am I slept so hard Sunday night through Monday morning. I think I was seriously in the exact same position I fell asleep in, with my sleep mask in place (which NEVER happens). I feel fine, so I get up, brush my teeth, and chug my third dose of stank juice aka Epsom salts. Since I can’t have my normal chai tea with almond milk, I have a mug of hot water with lemon.
9:00am I wonder if there’s a way for me to watch TV in the bathroom because I’ve just decided to stay in there. No point in running in and out every 30 seconds. A loooooot is happening.
9:30am I take my fourth and final dose of Epsom salts, and then the magic happens. There’s not really any waste left in my bowels between the colonic and week of apple juice, so I have what feels like diarrhea but there’s only stones in the toilet. SO MANY STONES. I bravely reach in there with a gloved hand, scooped some out, and rinsed them off for a photo opp. (Ah, the memories.) The ones in the picture below are about the size of 2 peas mushed together. Most were smaller than these, but I released at least a hundred. A HUNDRED. Those had been in my liver and bile ducts. UGH.
By 11:00am, I’m feeling pretty good and take Brody for a walk. My bowels feel a little weird the rest of the day, but I’m not running back and forth to the bathroom. I can just kind of tell it’s done. I stepped on the scale just for fun and, lo and behold, it’s staying strong at 154.5. I’m thrilled! Even though I didn’t do this to lose weight, to see that number so soon is just incredible.
Around 11:30 we were good to start eating again, so I made a biiiiiig GGS and it tasted like pure heaven. I made a salad for lunch and a salad for dinner.
It’s hard to describe accurately, but I just feel light. I have great energy and I just feel good. Not like when you’re all jazzed up on caffeine, just healthy and happy. I have total control over my cravings (that’s a new one), and am still sticking to the one gallon of H20 a day. I ran into a friend at the yoga studio today and she told me I looked good, which obviously felt amazing. Seeing how good I felt when making an effort to eat smaller portions has motivated me. My theory is I’ll start with a small portion, and if I’m hungry then I’ll eat more. I’ve either felt super full from the small portion, or can’t even finish that! Just goes to show why I was having so much trouble losing weight.
Breakfast: Hot water with lemon, 1 mug chai tea with stevia + almond milk, vegan protein smoothie
Lunch: big salad with white beans, red bell pepper, carrots, avocado, sprouts, and a few croutons. The kiddo I nanny for had the day off school and wanted to go to Bojangles, so I also had a small order of seasoned fries.
Snack: two tangerines
Dinner: one cup of minestrone soup, slice of dinner bread with Earth Balance. Chocolate for dessert! 🙂
This morning I had my second and final colonic at 8am. It wasn’t as dramatic as the first, but I’m pretty sure waaay more stones came out. WAY MORE. I felt good enough afterwards to hit up a TRX class at the Y and Trader Joe’s afterwards. Who am I?
Today when I put on my clothes to get to work I almost cried from relief. My muffin top is gone, my belly isn’t hanging over the top of my jeans, and I just feel fit. I think one of the most frustrating things when you are getting back into a healthy routine is that it can take weeks to see results. This little jumpstart was exactly what I needed to gain energy and motivation. I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW.
Breakfast: Hot water with lemon, chai tea w/almond milk + stevia. I know I’m bad about eating breakfast, but I just don’t really get hungry in the mornings.
Lunch: Big salad with mixed greens, white beans, carrot, sprouts, avocado, and hummus. Some vegan chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s.
Dinner: TBD, but probably the same as last night.
I can honestly say I’ll do this liver flush over a juice cleanse any day. I feel like this cleansed so deeply but, other than the one night of fasting, allowed me to live my normal life. I’m a believer y’all! Apparently you’re supposed to keep flushing every month or two until you have two consecutive flushes with no stones, so I’ll be doing it again eventually. My recommendation? Do it with a friend. Talking to Hanna on the phone everyday made it fun, whether it was laughing about our gurgling stomachs or grumbling over our hanger. Going through this together made the experience so joyful. Physically I feel GREAT. The combination of getting back into my workouts, getting my portions under control, and cleansing are exactly what I needed. I keep reminding myself that it’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape, but I have the motivation to put the work in now.