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What Happened When I Tried a Cleanse

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I realize that the words I am about to utter will make me sound like an L.A. cliché but, thirteen days ago, I started a cleanse.

Called Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, the program promised that I would lose weight, have healthier looking skin and more energy—all in just fourteen days. Of course, all of these possibilities seemed enticing, but for me the most appealing of all of the benefits was a clearer sense of mental focus.

I found myself ten months in to Baby No. 2, six months into a never-ending home renovation and 30something years into life had me feeling pretty underwater—oh, and I forgot to mention my toddler.

Having done this cleanse one other time, just before my daughter turned one, I have personally experienced the changes it brought me during a time when my head felt like it was full of mush, ongoing fatigue and perhaps just a dash of postpartum depression.

Cut to today, almost three years later, I was excited and anxious to try it again. Full disclosure, I'd ordered the cleanses (naturally, I would make my husband suffer too) back in November, but there was never a good time to start. There were holiday parties, birthdays, vacations, etc., that always made eliminating certain things (OK, alcohol) seem very daunting. At last, I ripped off the Band-Aid and decided enough was enough. I had to start some time and thirteen days ago seemed as good a time as there was ever going to be!

Let me first disclose what you'd be getting yourself into, should you decide to do this one day. It's basically two shakes in the morning. (Disclaimer: To call them shakes is a bit of a misnomer as a "shake" should be chocolate and come with french fries. Think more like a tastier Metamucil.) For lunch and dinner, you can actually eat. There's even a "shake" in between. You just need to adhere to a reasonably strict guideline of foods that are off-limits. For me, this definitely hit where it hurts. I consider spaghetti to be the most important of food groups, wine weighing-in at a close second—and sadly neither of them are allowed. Neither is caffeine, dairy, sugar, gluten, alcohol of any sort or fun. (I kid! ... Kind of.)

My experience has gone as follows:

First stage: Regret. Why did I decide to do this cleanse? Ooh, I really want to eat that. Where is my coffee? What do you mean "no Arnold Palmers"? This coincided with the opening of a friend's restaurant (Au Fudge, for any Angelenos reading this) that celebrated with a big party complete with tray-passed burgers and truffle fries being offered to me at every turn. This was a dark period but I managed to stay strong.

Middle stage: Acceptance. Easing into it. After the first few days, I really wasn't missing anything that terribly. Of course, I still drooled over thoughts of pasta, sushi and chocolate but I was feeling less sluggish in the morning and could swear my eyes looked brighter.

Final days: Reset. Now that I'm nearing the end, I am less inclined to go overboard and mow as many Shake Shack burgers as I wanted when this started two weeks ago. I'm excited to transition this experience from a short-term cleanse into a way of life. I won't always be as strict but I will be more mindful of what I put into my body or my "temple," as Jada Pinkett Smith refers to it.

I can't tell you if I lost any weight. I don't have a scale and am much more interested in how my clothes fit me than anything else. I can tell you that I was able to put on a particularly tight pair of jeans standing up like a human rather than lying down on my bed and hoping for the best. I can also tell you that I am a person who loves to eat with remarkably low will power and if I can do this cleanse, anyone can.

Lastly, I know for certain that not only do I physically feel better because of my choices over the last two weeks but I also feel better mentally. Of course, no alcohol, caffeine or sugar help my brain to function more sharply. I also think that setting a goal and sticking to it—even through the discomfort—and coming out the other side has given me a renewed sense of confidence, as well as respect for my health and well-being.

As moms, it's sometimes easy to take care of everyone aside from yourself but it's just as important to exercise self-care. Seeing results from your efforts is addicting in any department and if I can forgo pasta for two weeks, I might just be able to conquer the world or at least get my kids to both sleep through the night. Here's hoping!

Sara is co-founder of The Hive.

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