Bad news: no race recap of the recent 15k Championships because I had to withdraw due to the continuing mystery surrounding my health.
Bad news #2: traditional docs keep insisting that I do NOT have Lyme's disease. And although there are a few other potential diagnoses floating around, until I go to the neurologist, nothing definitive to report as to why I don't feel well.
GOOD NEWS! Yeah! A friend of mine who happens to be a chiropractor and health coach reached out asking if I'd want to take part in his spring detox program. He didn't by any means suggest that this would "cure" me, but he thought the detox might alleviate some of my discomforts (headaches, body aches, low energy, etc.). At this point, I was feeling so miserable that I that I thought, "why not?"
A little background info first...
I am VERY skeptical of detoxes and cleanses because I feel the body does this naturally. However after hearing about TrUe North's program, I realized this was legit (http://www.truenorthhealthcoaching.com/). This was not caloric deprivation and/or a lose weight quickly scheme (which I was NOT interested in), this was all about enhancing the regular detox processes of the body. The support products were not stimulants or anything else weird, they were FDA-approved nutritional supplements. Also, I think it's noteworthy to mention that this was something I took on at the suggestion of Dr. Chris, but I paid for the service and support. My review is not based on their "sponsorship" of my participation (but good news for TrUe North...I would TOTALLY urge anyone/everyone to do this detox! For reals).
Ok, so what's this detox all about? It involved 10 days of detoxing. No deprivation, eat whatever, whenever, but eat only the approved foods. Approved foods varied throughout the course of the 10 days, but the guidelines were pretty simple: no gluten and no caffeine (which I was already doing), plus no GMOs (genetically modified foods), nor dairy and/or processed sugar. You might be wondering what the heck you eat then, but I found plenty of delicious options. At the beginning and end of the detox things like g-free oats, quinoa, and white rice were game. And throughout the detox, I could stuff myself with as many delicious fruits, veggies, and wild fish as I wanted. Plus, during the 10 days, I also was taking Metagenics products: a few capsules of a "vitamin" called AdvaClear and a shake-like drink called UltraClear Renew. Again, both products were medically developed and FDA-approved to enhance natural detoxification. No magic potions, no stimulants, no wonky side effects, etc.
Now, by no means was I a perfect example of healthy eating before this detox. I LOVE dessert and sugar, but no wonder, apparently sugar is 8x more addictive than heroine! But I don't have a caffeine habit, I love veggies, and I had already eliminated gluten. So, not to say this was going to be easy, but I found that I had fewer negative side effects than some of the other participants (oh yeah, this was done as a group, so there was a private Facebook support page, access to health coaches via phone/email, and a couple of weekly conference calls to discuss how everyone was doing).
My biggest challenges during the detox included:
1) The lack of processed sugar. I'm proud to say that I did not cheat once on the detox, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't dream of nutella or drool over my bf's ice cream. The urge was definitely there, but surprisingly, fruit was a decent substitute. I ate a lot of strawberries, blueberries and bananas when my sweet tooth would strike. Or if I was really feeling on edge, a handful of raisins. By the end of the detox, those alternatives usually hit the spot. I won't say that I'll stay sugar-free for ever, but I definitely felt the benefits of eliminating it from my diet.
b) Social situations that involved food. I felt a little bit like a weirdo around others when/if food was involved. For example, at a morning work function, I sat politely sipping my water while everyone else gorged on coffee, muffins, and yogurt (remember, no dairy!). When I had dinner with my bf, he got to stuff himself with delicious homemade chicken enchiladas while I munched on broccoli and fish. When a girlfriend suggested dinner out, I had to pass because I didn't know if there would be anything on the menu that I could eat. This isn't to say that I would have rather been eating differently, it just was a bit awkward at times.
4) Lack of imagination/variety. Having new restrictive guidelines and a busy life, I found myself eating the same meals over and over again. I'm sure if I would have put a little more time and effort into research, I could have come up with some fun meal options, but fruit for breakfast, veggies & hummus for lunch, and fish & veggies for dinner was kind of the repeating theme for me throughout the detox. Not bad, but kinda boring.
Now, the good stuff! The pros of my experience far outweighed the few cons.
During and after the 10 days I experienced:
1) Decreased headaches! Oh my gosh. I couldn't tell you the last day I didn't have at least a slight headache before this detox, but by day 2 of eating cleanly and taking the supplements, I was and stayed headache free. A miracle! (Side note: other participants going through caffeine withdrawal had worse headaches those first two days...just thought I should warn any coffee drinkers: it apparently gets worse before it gets better.)
b) Decreased body pains! My aches didn't disappear completely and I still feel a lack of coordination which makes running difficult, BUT day-to-day my body felt much better than it has in months.
4) Happy stomach. Despite going gluten-free in October, I was still experiencing random bouts of tummy troubles and nausea. I didn't feel nauseous once while doing the detox. And even though I didn't weigh myself or plan on losing weight, I think I might have dropped an lb or two during the process (which is exceptionally impressive considering my activity level has dropped significantly lately).
r) Increased energy. Now, there may be a little more to this than just the detox. My latest doc recommended a sleep aid because I was suffering from persistent insomnia and the body needs sleep to function properly, so I have been sleeping more, BUT...the combo of 8 hours of sleep and eating clean gave me more energy than I've had in a long time (meaning, I didn't need a nap).
Overall, I really enjoyed the detox. Despite the few drawbacks, the experience highlighted just how important nutrition is/can be in wellness. I believe every participant in my group reported feeling not only better physically, but also emotionally. I'm not saying that everyone became their perfect self or that everyone will stay on the completely toxin-free regimine forever, but we all agreed that there was an increased sense of vitality that came from clean eating and the nutritional supplement support.
If you're at all considering some kind of detox or cleanse, I would strongly suggest this program. Like I said, it wasn't a fad or a gimmick, and it wasn't about deprivation. It was simply enhancing the body's natural processes.