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By Lora O’Brien
Confession: I know I’ve abused my body lately. I’ve been eating at the wrong times, not drinking nearly enough water and I’ve developed a habit of not being able to even comprehend starting my day without a mug of coffee. I wake up feeling sluggish and tired and I hit that mid-morning crash around eleven, when I find myself making more coffee to power me through the day. So when Plenish Cleanse offered me the chance to do a three day detox, I jumped at the chance. God knows I needed it.
Never having done this sort of thing before, I was given the Beginners Level 1 Cleanse which consisted of six juices for three days. When my cleanse arrived I was a little overwhelmed, and I think it truly hit home. Six juices only. For three days. No coffee . . . no food . . . for THREE days. I admit it was a little scary.
So, why cleanse?
As I said, I’ve not been too conscious of late with regards to what I’m eating. The result? Moodiness, weight gain, and acidity. Acidity, you ask? This is related to the levels of blood pH we all carry. pH is a measure of how alkaline or acidic our bodies system is. This is determined by how acidic or alkaline the food we are eating is, but can also be combined with other crucial factors of a busy lifestyle such as stress. If, like me, you find you have a low pH, this means you’re acidic. The results could be fatigue, redness in your complexion, and over the long term, bodily inflammation, osteoporosis, candida, loss of muscle, kidney stones and the more severe of all, an increase in free radicals which in turn can damage cells and contribute to developing cancers.
Your body works hard to stay alkaline, and if you’re too acidic, it will start to leach alkaline minerals from the places where you really need them, such as your bones and teeth. If you’re prone to stress, this can also raise your acidity levels, as stress causes adrenaline levels to soar, affecting your pH and making your body more acidic. So, to prevent a nasty list of illnesses becoming a reality, you’ll really want to keep both your blood and body in an alkaline state.
The best way to shift pH levels is by eating lots of alkaline rich plant-based foods and avoiding acid-forming foods, such as processed foods, meat, dairy, breads, artificial sweeteners, and even pasta. Alkaline rich foods that you’ll want to eat a lot more of are: leafy greens like lettuce, spinach and kale, most veg and lots of fruit. Grains such as quinoa, millet and teff are also great foods to incorporate into meals. But if you want to kickstart your bod into an alkaline state, a juice fast could be the way to go. I know it was for me!
Detox Diary: Day One
So, how did my quest for a more alkaline body go? I chose to do the popular Plenish cleanse. It was a tough three days, let me tell you….
6am: When my alarm went off at six, I struggled up even lift my head off the pillow. As usual these days, I felt tired, I felt sluggish and I very nearly snoozed my alarm and rolled back over to sleep. Eventually, I dragged myself out of bed and made my way downstairs to start my day off with some warm lemon water. It wasn’t coffee, so I didn’t get my usual (lovely, welcome) jolt. Instead, I felt just a little more awake, and the lemon refreshed my morning breath.
8am: By now my stomach was singing for food, and I was starving. I was also craving a huge cup of strong coffee. But I resisted anything solid and had juice number one. The first Plenish juice is created to fuel the body and fight fatigue – something I needed as I couldn’t stop yawning. This juice had pear, cucumber, romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, basil, broccoli and lime. I’m going to be completely honest here. I am not aboard the basil love train. I find it hard to stomach the pungent taste and it was a pretty strong flavour in this juice. I tried to focus on the cucumber and lime flavours to make it more bearable. I admit, after drinking, I did feel a little less tired and I was no longer staring longingly at the kettle thinking of coffee.
10am: As I normally graze on snacks all day, I expected to be hungry by now, and guess what? I was. I wanted food and I wanted it right now. I was daydreaming of foods I don’t even like – suddenly the jar of gherkins in the kitchen cupboard looked like the most delicious thing in the world. But I persevered. I got my next juice out and I was pleasantly surprised. This juice is created to calm and soothe and has a boost of vitamin C to combat fatigue. This juice had pineapple, apple, mint and aloe vera and was sweet from the pineapple and apple, while the mint gave it a very refreshing edge.
12pm: By this time my head was pounding, and I was ready to throw in the towel and stick my tongue into the jar of coffee granules. My next juice was created to boost spirits and was a green juice based on spinach, kale, parsley, romaine, cucumber, pear, lemon and ginger. The juice itself was okay, I was just glad to have something inside of me. But this headache was pounding, and so I made a cup of green tea and went outside to sit in the sun. This helped a lot and I felt a little more refreshed.
2pm: I read a book under a blanket as I was feeling considerably chilly, but I looked into the booklet that came with my cleanse, and was somewhat comforted to see this was listed as a possible side effect. But who doesn’t love lying under a comfy blanket? So those two hours between my cleanses went pretty quick, and it was the first time I wasn’t thinking about coffee. The next juice was created to give the body a little kick: lemon, red chilli, lime, coconut nectar and filtered water did the trick. The chilli even left me feeling a little bit warmer.
4pm: I was definitely feeling a little energy slump. I couldn’t focus on reading, I was avoiding the television because the adverts for chocolate were too much, and I was feeling pretty lousy. I didn’t expect this juice to do much, and by now I was dreading the next two days. So when I pulled out this juice and read how it was crafted to pump, drive and sustain the body I was hoping it would give me a little lift. Firstly, this juice was the most delicious colour. It was beetroot, carrot, cherry, lime and filtered water and it was like liquid perfection. And I’ve got to say, this juice did give me a boost of energy. So much so that I even opened up my yoga app on my phone and did a five minute meditation just to relax.
8pm: Starving. Just starving. I practically ripped the next juice from the fridge and practically devoured it with one sip. The gap between my last juice and now – four hours to be exact – felt like torture. Whilst everyone else in my family was eating a yummy smelling dinner, I was pretty excited to drink my next juice as it was actually a rich, creamy nut milk. With cashews, vanilla, dates, cinnamon, Himalayan salt and filtered water, this was a great way to end the first day of my cleanse. This was delicious and felt like a treat.
10pm: I’m usually in bed at midnight, and around ten I’m usually making a cup of tea and looking for something to graze on. I’m not sure whether it was to prevent the temptation of raiding the kitchen cupboards, or the genuine need for an early night, but I had a hot bath and went to bed before 10. I was off to sleep in minutes.
6am: This morning when my alarm went off I didn’t bolt awake in groggy shock. I opened my eyes and I felt . . . alright. Like I’d had a really good sleep, which I guess I did have. I was up in a minute, whereas my normal routine is to turn off my alarm, roll over and go back to sleep. I was downstairs in five making some warm lemon water.
8am: I can’t tell you I wasn’t hungry, or that I didn’t still look enviously at my mum as she made a cup of coffee. But I didn’t feel like I would take someone’s eyes out for a scrap of food. I sat and drank my ‘basil’ juice, and afterwards I took my book into the bath and had a long soak. And the taste? I still wasn’t a convert but it didn’t seem as pungent as yesterday.
10am: It might just be the placebo effect, but when I looked into the mirror after my bath, I felt like I didn’t look tired, my skin was smooth and so I decided to treat myself further to a clay mud mask whilst I drunk my second juice of the day. With every sip I felt a little more empowered.
12pm: I was feeling hungry now. The avocado in the fridge was tempting me, screaming at me to smash it up onto a piece of toast. I reached for my juice, and whilst it wasn’t as satisfying as avo on toast, I did feel good for drinking it. I had more energy, I didn’t feel sluggish and there was no desire to take a midday nap. So I went for a walk round the block, and I came back feeling like I’d run a marathon.
2pm: I decided to do a tiny bit of yoga before my juice. I wasn’t prepared to do a full on workout without food inside of me. I had visions of either 1, fainting or 2, devouring everything in the fridge as a post-workout boost. So I settled on a few yoga stretches and then I took my juice outside to listen to an acoustic playlist on Spotify. I don’t know whether it was the mellow voices feeding my ears or the fact the sun was shining and I felt warm and happy, but I was more than happy to drink my juice and nothing else.
4pm: I felt a tiny little dip in my motivation here. Just a little bite of food wouldn’t kill me, right? But I’d come this far and I wasn’t about to quit. No, Sir. So I drank my juice, made some more lemon water and then I did some writing to occupy my mind. Hope this isn’t TMI, but I was alarmed to see my pee was bright pink. Why?
8pm: I felt very chilled whilst waiting to have my last juice. I’d already had a relaxing bath with some lavender oil in it, and I was feeling pretty mellow and zen. I drank my juice and then did another five minute meditation exercise on my yoga app and I felt like the epitome of relaxed.
9.30pm: I couldn’t even wait up until 10pm. My eyes were heavy so I went to bed with some water in case I woke up thirsty. I didn’t wake up until the next morning.
6am: I woke up before my alarm for the first time in ages, so I turned it off and allowed myself the luxury of laying there for five minutes whilst planning my day. I got up and as usual, started my cleanse off with some warm lemon water. As always, it felt refreshing and even though I was already awake I felt more alert. I took a shower and exfoliated my body with a coconut and cacao scrub to give it a little loving.
8am: I didn’t even look at the coffee pot. Okay, maybe I did once. But I wasn’t really tempted to make a cup. I was feeling awake, alert, and like I had bundles of energy considering I hadn’t yet had my juice. So as I drank my juice – the basil still wasn’t my favourite, but it didn’t stop me from chugging it back – I sat down to answer some emails and I was feeling pretty darn good.
10am: Was I finally getting used to juices? I hadn’t even thought about actual food, and I went to get my juice without even thinking about anything else inside the fridge. I enjoyed my juice outside in the sun and then I felt like I had energy to burn so I took out my Nike trainers and went for a run. I came back sweaty, and as red as a beetroot, but I also felt pretty good about myself. And I didn’t faint – bonus!
12pm: This green juice felt good after my active morning. I sat and did some reading whilst I enjoyed it, and as the green juices flooded through my body, I felt like I was shaking with a boost of energy. I did consult my booklet just in case I was actually going into some kind of a energy shock, but nope, there it said that you could expect increased energy levels. It was such a novelty to me, after spending months slogging through the day. But I felt amazing.
2pm: Whilst I was used to the flavours in my juices by now, I was a little relieved to know I wouldn’t have to drink the juice with chilli in it any longer. Whilst it wasn’t hugely detectable, the slight spice did leave a little aftertaste in my mouth that I had to chase away with some water afterwards. But it was a small price to pay for feeling like I could conquer the world.
4pm: I noticed as I reached for this juice that I wasn’t reaching into the fridge out of boredom or hunger, but for fuel. For so long I’ve been stuck in a cycle of emotional and bad eating habits, so to notice this felt like a massive leap. I wasn’t eating for convenience anymore or snacking for want of something to do, but drinking juices that felt like they flushed my body with goodness.
8pm: It may sound a little strange, but it was a weird moment to drink my last cleansing drink. I hadn’t expected to feel so great doing this cleanse, especially with how miserable I felt after the first day. I had a different nut milk today, and this one was created to nourish and reward the body. It was made from cashews, cacao, vanilla, maca, dates, cinnamon, himalayan salt and filtered water. It was like a creamy chocolate milkshake, and definitely felt like a reward at the end of these past three days.
9.30pm: It wasn’t so much that I was tired or sleeping to forget about food, but more that I didn’t want to stay up late. Going to sleep earlier made falling asleep easier, because my mind wasn’t buzzing and my phone wasn’t going off. I actually put my phone into airplane mode so that nothing would disturb me. Plus it felt really good to get a solid sleep and it also made waking up the next day a little easier.
Was it worth it?
I had never done this before, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Day one felt hellish. I just wanted to eat, eat, eat. At one point I very nearly opened the fridge and ate a grape, but I stopped myself. What helped me stay focused? It sounds really odd but first of all, water. I know that when I sometimes feel sluggish or get a headache it’s from lack of hydration, so during this cleanse I made sure to get my two liters of water in. I had a large glass of water between each juice and this seemed to satisfy my cravings, and keep me full enough until my next juice.
The thing I was most surprised by was the huge abundance of energy I had. I found I slept better than I have in a really long time. I didn’t monitor my weight during the cleanse as I didn’t look at this for weight loss, more a body fixer, but I am pleased to inform you I feel less bloated. And my skin? I look after my skin and always thought it was in great condition until I did this cleanse. I’ve realised that my skin was great on the outside, but needing some attention from the inside out. My cheeks had a glow to them and my skin was still clear but not as dull. I still have no idea why my pee was pink one day though!
Would I recommend a cleanse?
YES! You really have to do a cleanse to appreciate the wonderful benefits of doing so. But they work differently for different people. I do believe my body was screaming out for a break in overeating and was begging for more hydration. I think I struggled so much during that first day because of my bad lifestyle choices. It wasn’t until halfway through the second day that I really found my groove, stopped thinking about coffee and food and really listened to my body and that’s when I realised, I actually don’t feel too bad! I think I learned that a lot of eating is done out of habit or boredom: we don’t actually need all that much food. For that realisation alone, that this cleanse was so rewarding. This is a great cleanse for beginners, but you do have to go into it mentally prepared and feeling motivated. But when you get to the end, the feeling you’ll have will make it all so worth it. Oh – and of course, your body will be far less acidic, too – which you’ll notice in how you feel and look: the skin says it all.
For more information about Plenish Cleanse, click here.