Love Handles: Chapter Eighteen

9.11.2005

By Bob Merrick

Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely true'although some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask?

Part Eighteen: A Cleansing Experience

While at a party two weeks ago, someone came up to me and started sharing his war stories from the diet front. In his account, he began going over all of the nitty-gritty details of an apple juice 'cleanse' he was on day three of and suffering through. 'It is designed to cleanse your liver and optimize your health, but I would rather just be drinking a glass of wine,' he told me. 'This is the first night I haven't spent hanging out at the toilet.' I felt like offering my hand for a kiss and saying, 'Charmed, I'm sure.' Even though I was uncomfortable with this total stranger's revelations, I was, as usual, also eager to jump on the latest get-rid-of-the-bad-in-my-body scheme. But I knew that I was allergic to apple juice and there was no way I could even attempt his cleanse for one meal.

One night later, I was watching Valerie Cherish preparing to get herself into her gown for the People's Choice Awards on the HBO series The Comeback. Like a sign from above, she was sharing with her gay confidant and hairdresser that she was on the Master Cleanse. As far as I was concerned, I was her gay confidant and she was telling me directly. I immediately ran to my computer and a Google search returned 53,900 different mentions of the Master Cleanse.

The Master Cleanse consists of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup (not Mrs. Butterworth), and cayenne pepper mixed with water. It's drunk every day, while consuming no other food and is safely 'recommended' for 10 to 40 days, depending on your physical condition (and in my opinion, your threshold for masochism).

The benefits were listed as:

' Dissolves and eliminates toxins and congestion that have formed in any part of the body
' Cleanses the kidneys and the digestive system
' Purifies the glands and cells
' Eliminates waste and hardened material in the joints and muscles
' Builds a healthy bloodstream
' Helps eliminate excess body weight (That was the only one I needed to read.)

I remembered when my friend Erica did it a few years ago. Not only was I not supportive as I repeatedly called her crazy, I deliberately ate excessive amounts of food in front of her to prove my point that hunger pains are an indication to eat. Fortunately she was out of town when I decided to give it my own try.

The morning of the first day was actually a breeze. Based on the horrid hodge-podge of ingredients, I expected the flavor to be awful. But instead it was actually quite good. It was like washing down a very spicy mouthful of jambalaya with a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. By lunchtime, my stomach was feeling sated, but when I overheard a coworker mention down the hall that he was on his way to Wienerschnitzel for corn dogs, nothing edible in the room was safe. I sat there fixated on all of the delicious flavors of the corn dog. That delicious piece of buttery meat, whose ingredients no one really knows, wrapped in that doughy, sweet and crispy corn fabulousness and drizzled with the salty tanginess of old-fashioned yellow mustard.

My saving grace was Bonnie, a dear friend and coworker, who has been supportive of every crazy attempt to keep my calories at a minimum for months, often by leaving me low-cal snacks on my desk. 'You should go for a walk around the building every time you feel like whining about your hunger,' she says. There is no way I could have spent that much time walking at work, but the one lap did help. Eventually I couldn't take it any longer. I had to have something and I opted for a piece of dry whole-wheat toast. It might possibly be the most delicious piece of bread I have ever eaten.

By the afternoon, I was peeing like clockwork every 15 to 20 minutes. While driving home, my head began to feel dizzy. It was that feeling you get after your first cocktail on an empty stomach. You are still present and aware, but there is a comfortable numbness that washes over you. But by the time I got home, the sensation had intensified as though I had kept on drinking on said empty stomach, but I was already on the next morning without the part of the evening where I danced like a fool with a lampshade on my head.

My head throbbed like nothing I had ever experienced. I lay on the couch trying to watch Big Brother, and as much as I would have loved to blame my headache on Ivette's voice, it was obvious it was coming from the amount of poison that was being released into my blood stream. I had to close my eyes to make it stop and found myself asleep on the couch somewhere around one in the morning with the TV still blaring and a very angry cat wondering why we hadn't gone to bed.

When I woke up on day two, the headache was gone. My constant corn dog craving was also absent and I felt like Mary Tyler Moore as I rolled up my sleeves and decided to tackle my day knowing I was going to make it after all. Bonnie again lent her encouragement and support to get me through what I am convinced was my body telling me I was pregnant and not fat. My once insufferable craving for corn dogs had suddenly been replaced with the most unrelenting desire for chocolate milk. I just kept my head low and drank my juice and sluggishly made it through the work day.

I went directly home again after work'a little cranky and a lot hungry. I now know why Gandhi is considered so amazing. Anyone that could still be fighting for peace while fasting for 21 days at a time has got to be tapped into a higher power.

On the third day of fasting, my body gave to me'clearer skin? I suffer from patches of dry skin known as eczema. But on day three I noticed that the little patch I had left was just that'very little. But even with glowing skin, I was incredibly cranky. Bonnie's support finally began to cave: 'I think you should have two pieces of toast.' And so I did.

That night, when friends from Orlando canceled our evening plans, I was completely relieved and went home and collapsed. If I could have just slept for 10 days with a maple syrup drip and dreamt about pancakes, the cleanse would have been a huge success, but as with everything, you have to work really hard if you want any results.

Day number four is when it all came crashing down. My boss invited a couple of us to lunch. After making a grandiose announcement that I was on a cleanse and wouldn't be eating, I decided I would go for their company and get some fresh air. Bad idea. Before I knew it and without hesitation, I was eating a barbecue beef sandwich from the Country Mart in Santa Monica.

I was sick the rest of the afternoon, both physically and mentally, but also relieved knowing I had made the decision to pull the plug. There was just no way that what I was doing was good for my body, no matter how many years people had been doing it. Later that night when I met up with my rescheduled Orlando friends, I didn't go overboard and eat corn dogs and chocolate milk, but I did savor one of the most delicious ears of corn on the cob and a perfectly grilled chicken breast. I have so much respect for anyone who has done it for the full 10 days, but have been content to find out that the majority of people only make it four to five.

The breaking of the cleanse was also a wake-up call for me. There is a mental trigger that I need to get a grasp on so that I can figure out why my motivation loses focus. I already have an appointment with a therapist, whom I don't expect to hold the answers, but to help me flip my trigger.

When all was said and done, I was happy to discover I had lost four more pounds these last two weeks (taking me down to 254 pounds). Considering I never thought I would make it one full day, I am happy that I made it as far as I did. To me, the experience was like running a marathon. It was something I really wanted to try and be able to say I did, but I have no desire to ever do again.

To read part seventeen, 'Suggestion Box' click here.

To read part sixteen, 'Turning Up the Heat' click here.

To read part fifteen, 'Surf's Up' click here.

To read part fourteen, 'Grin And Bear It' click here.

To read part thirteen, 'When in Rome' click here.

To read part twelve, 'Moving On Out' click here.

To read part eleven, 'I'm Getting Very Sleepy'' click here.

To read part ten, 'Who's Got the Pain?' click here.

To read part nine, 'Old Habits Die Hard,' click here.

To read part eight, 'Taking A Fresh Dip in the Dating Pool,' click here.

To read part seven, 'A Walk Down (Unpleasant) Memory Lane,' click here.

To read part six, 'Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures,' click here.

To read part five, 'Sex, Lies, and the Internet,' click here.

To read part four, 'Sweatin' with an Oldie' But Goodie,' click here.

To read part three, 'What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Always Stay in Vegas,' click here.

To read part two, 'Let's Get Physical,' click here.

To read part one, 'Resolutions and Commitment,' click here.

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