This is a guest post in which Rene shares a real-life fat to fit story.
Caution: This is a story of my personal journey. This is not meant to be a recommendation for you to adopt and follow. Any fitness program can have serious side effects. You should consult with a health practitioner and get yourself checked up before starting any new program for detox, weight-loss or fitness.
zavesti.com is not affiliated with any company, nor does it earn any money from any of the products mentioned in this post. This is to reassure you that we have no hidden agenda in mentioning any service or product on this post.
How I Got to Where I Was
It was Dec 22nd, 2021. I was in my early fifties and had been for years struggling with obesity.
My previous successes in fitness had been modest at best.
In my late twenties to about mid thirties I had been a regular gym goer and had kept myself fairly fit. Brisk walking and hiking were my favorite activities and I dabbled in Yoga now and then.
In my early forties, I lived in hot Texas and got a chance to be out in the nature to my heart’s content. I could go out for a walk in the middle of December in my shorts and Reebok sandals. I managed a 3 mile walk almost every day and frequently visited my neighborhood gym.
During that period, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in my office gym due to slowdown at work and over a period of three months I lost about 2 inches and a couple of pounds. My pants started to hang loose. These successes inspired me to eat better and I found myself happily eating low calorie meals such as a bowl of squash vegetable soup for lunch. I found myself easily able to walk long distances. My body became strong and flexible and I could slouch in my office chair for hours without getting backache of any kind.
I started feeling so fit that I wondered if ever I will get old. I started to look down upon unfit people, thinking, “where have you been!” I was guilty of being proud instead of being humbly grateful for my good health, and fate decided to teach me a lesson. The slowdown at work became slower and to survive in this difficult world I switched jobs.
I moved to Minnesota where the cold climate and the struggle to keep my head above the water in a new job kept me chair-bound for the next 6 years. To make matters worse, the new office did not have a gym. Without the strength training at a gym I started to pile up weight and inches. Even my love for walking could not compete with the pressures at work and for days and weeks I would be tied to my chair trying to learn new things at work with glassy eyes.
I no longer could fit in any of my usual pants. I purchased a stretch jeans from Nordstrom and I wore it everywhere including to office. During lunch meetings I would surreptitiously unbuckle my belt and loosen the top pant button. I remember one guy at office looking at me with disgust and I scowled back as well.
Finally, I joined up a neighborhood gym but had mixed success. After being out of the active circuit, I started hurting myself, getting backaches as I tried to do my old workout routines. I was no longer sure of the intensity of the exercise that was right for me. I got groin injury moving some boxes that I had packed a few years back with ease. I couldn’t trust my body anymore.
How I Created an Effective Low Impact Home Workout Routine for Myself
A few years back our lives were torn apart by Covid. A slightly positive side-effect of this terrible adversity, at least for me, has been the opportunity to work from home. Work-from-home allowed me to transform my lifestyle to a bit more normal form.
I focused on getting some kind of sustainable fitness regime in place. After careful thinking I realized that my basement had limited space and can not contain large equipments like treadmills or ecliptics. Moreover these had never been my favorite machines at the gym. Instead of purchasing some white elephants which would clutter up my basement I invested in a few dumb-bells, a kettlebell, some light weight (to carry while running) and a weighted vest. I also explored extensively the home workout videos so I could develop a low impact home workout for myself.
I fell in love with the Walk at Home programs by Leslie Sansone and purchased several of her DVDs.
BodyFit by Amy is another of my favorite channels. Amy’s channel is simply extraordinary. She publishes complete amazing workouts fully free on her channel. You would typically pay a personal fitness instructor $100/hour for similar workouts.
While I love all these workout videos, I personally found Leslie Sansone to be the most complete and easy to follow workout. I especially love her “5 Boosted Miles” DVD. I adapt her workouts to be more intensive or less intensive by carrying weights in my hands or wearing my weighted vest.
Eventually I created a home workout regime based on Leslie’s various DVDs. I personally don’t like the idea of someone orchestrating my every move during each of my workouts and I found that some of her cast members could be a bit annoying in their well intentioned ebullience. I don’t want to have to pop in a video every-time I want to workout. I listed out all of Leslie’s moves and variations on paper and now simply go through them during my home workout. I vary the number of repetitions based on my energy level on that day.
So far so good. I started feeling more mobile, flexible and lost a few inches. I could now fit in my pants. I no longer dreaded stretching myself during an exercise routine, afraid that I would break something inside my body.
Yet I wasn’t making headway. True weight loss and satisfying success still eluded me. My fitness accomplishments could barely keep up with the weight gains from the cakes and ice-creams I occasionally indulged myself in.
The Wake Up Call
On Dec 22nd, I was lying down in bed wondering how I can do something useful and memorable in the coming holiday week. I stumbled upon the movie Fat Sick and Nearly Dead by Joe Cross.
Joe’s YouTube channel says about the movie:
Part road trip, part self-help manifesto, FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD defies the traditional documentary format to present an unconventional and uplifting story of two men from different worlds who each realize that the only person who can save them is themselves.
100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well— with one foot already in the grave, the other wasn’t far behind. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health.
Joe’s reboot formula was simple. No processed food. No animal product. Only vegetable juice for 60 days. I fell in love with the simplicity of the idea.
In the past I had tried balanced diets. The trouble with balanced diets is that they don’t stay balanced. It is always possible to break them and then you end up with nothing. By going in for a simple formula I could not have any excuse. I couldn’t say, for example, “let’s have three pieces of bread instead of one today”. Joe’s program is a zero or one kind of formula. No processed food. No bread. He kept it basic and simple.
So far in my life I had tried everything with mixed successes. When I saw Joe’s movie, I thought why not. The next ten days are holidays. I wouldn’t be at work so I can manage the side effects of radical cleansing. I also remembered meeting a co-worker many years back who had mentioned that living on juice for a period of time had helped him slim down drastically.
While I was inspired by the movie I didn’t plan to follow Joe’s program in the literal sense. I adapted it to my own comfort level.
Starting out with My Detox and Weight-loss plan
I set up a modest 10 day detox goal for myself with the hope that I will continue from that point onwards with a less radical, more easily doable weight loss strategy.
My reasoning for a drastic weight loss to start with was two fold. One, some kind of success is motivational. It is very difficult to continue on a diet day after day with almost zero results visible on the weighing scale. Second, I reasoned, that it is easier to be miserable for a short intense period rather than being wretchedly unhappy calorie-counting every bite for months.
The biggest challenge I have found in weight loss is “getting it off”. Melting even one pound of fat is not easy. I am hopeful that once I get it off, it would be fairly easy to keep it off.
I settled on the idea of a 10 day intensive, plus the next 3 months less intense weight loss target.
What Does Success Mean for Me?
I hope and pray that overall I shall have better outcomes in medical checkup results.
My current weight is 170 lb. I aim to get to about 160 lb in 10 days. Then eventually to less than 130 lb over a period of three months.
I hope to fit in the clothes and shirts and pants that I wore 20 years back some of which I still possess. Instead of wearing large T-shirts, I hope to fit into medium or small T-shirts more easily.
I hope to reduce my waist from 34 inches to 29 inches.
I hope this proves to be a successful fitness journey.
Preparations and Highlights
- I planned my detox with vegetable and fruit smoothie. No, unlike Joe Cross I did not go for the juicing and instead opted for blended smoothies. My past experience with an expensive juicer was that it took a horribly long time to clean. I didn’t use my juicer more than once or twice and I don’t know of anyone who actually juices on a long term basis. A juicer wastes a lot of food – for example, since you can extract out only so much juice from a carrot you need 20 carrots for a glass of juice. I thought it would be better to eat 2 carrots a day instead of throwing out food and wasting time cleaning the juicer.
- As far as possible keep it natural – this means no protein powders and shakes and such.
- I drink a glass of an electrolyte drink which has no added sugar (Vega Sport Hydrator).
- I started out with no nuts, but then started eating about 20 almonds everyday for protein. I reasoned that it is a better alternative than sugary fruits.
- No coffee. Tea with zero sugar and no dairy milk or cream. I drink black Assam tea three times a day and I add in a pinch of pure unsweetened cocoa. I want to completely remove the dependency on refined sugar in my tea. Ideally I should have cut out tea itself, but this would have been too drastic and I didn’t want to risk complete diet failure. I have been drinking tea since I was 5 years old. I will attack my caffeine dependency another day. Update: Please see the “Day 6” section in this post for a note on how I eventually found a way to make my tea palatable without refined sugar or dairy cream.
- I opted not to have any animal products at all – this means no yogurt for my smoothie base. I use tap water. I did purchase Tropicana full pulp orange juice but I stopped using it when I realized how sweet it is and have reverted back to water, at least for the ten day period. I also did not use almond milk for my smoothie base as I have resolved to use only fully natural, raw and scratch ingredients – the almond milk in the stores seems to have a lot of additives that I am not comfortable with.
- My primary goals are weight loss and remove dependence on sugary tea. I am hoping that my blood pressure and cholesterol which are at borderline will come down. I would love to see myself transformed from a pear-shaped person to a ruler type attractive human being. I really envy those celebrities!
- I have also incorporated a 4 mile walk everyday. It is a huge hassle to bundle up everyday in this cold weather in my heavy Baffin boots and insulated parka but I thought, in for a penny, in for a pound. I might as well make the most of my detox program in these holidays since I have the time now. I could as well walk 10K steps in the comfort of my basement or simply do my home workout. But walking outside is a bit more strenuous and a bit more effective. In my house I could easily get sidetracked and there is a greater chance of skimping. That being said, walking in your driveway or running in your basement (with or without a treadmill) are fully legit ways of getting the same exercise and I only wish I had realized it earlier in my life. You don’t need a 4 mile trail to run 4 miles. You can run 4 miles back and forth in your driveway or even in your living room. All you need is some space with about 10 steps one way. My neighbor completed a marathon in her driveway just a few days back.
- I went out to Walmart the next day after watching the movie and purchased the Ninja Professional Plus blender. It seems that this is relatively new so I couldn’t find many reviews for it but it is working great for me. I had thought of Nutri Bullet and Magic Bullet blenders but they seem to be a bit too flimsy for my needs. Vitamix and Blendtec are on the premium side but I couldn’t find them locally – moreover the new Ninja promises (and delivers so far at least) almost the same results at a fraction of the cost. It packs 1400 Watts at maximum capacity which compares well to the 1560 Watts that Blendtec Classic promises.
- Together with the blender, I purchased some vegetables from Walmart – beetroot, lemon, celery sticks, carrots. I also purchased some fruits – blueberries raspberries, apples and bananas.
With the blender unpacked, washed and ready to go in my kitchen, and the vegetables and fruits neatly stowed away in my refrigerator I felt adequately prepared for the coming 10 days of detox misery.
For my last meal before the detox days started, I binged on chocolate and all cookies and goodies at home.
A Day by Day Story of My Detox and Weight loss Journey
I had eaten so well in the previous night that this day wasn’t too bad.
I made a mess of my first smoothie. I decided to throw in things at random, unpeeled beetroot together with the leaves, a piece of lemon together with its peel and many large carrots. The resulting smoothie was bitter, dense and certainly not very palatable. As a result I couldn’t drink more than half a cup and relied on a couple of bananas for sustenance for the rest of the day.
I woke up very tired since I hadn’t had much to eat the previous day. I lost interest in life and even in making a smoothie. Eventually around 10am I dragged myself to the washroom, washed my face and came back and had a banana. For lunch I had a few carrots. I could empathize with one of the scenes in the movie (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead) in which the person says about her initial experience: “I felt like slapping someone.” I felt aggrieved and unhappy with the world in general and with my family in particular.
Obviously day 2 had been a nightmare. I barely had the zeal to eat anything. On day 3, I felt a bit better. I thought why make a miserable thing more miserable than it needs to be. With this thought in mind, I revisited Walmart to stock up on some more stuff: Tropicana full pulp orange juice, bananas, papaya, avocados, ginger, navel oranges and frozen mangoes.
I came home and made a somewhat better tasting smoothie (i.e., better than day 1) with the help of ginger, avocados and orange juice.
I decided to follow the following plan: fruit smoothie in the morning, vegetable smoothie for lunch. I then go out for my walk at around 5pm when it just starts to get dark. I eat raw fruits (banana, blueberries, raspberries) and almonds for dinner when I return from my long walk on the dark and cold neighborhood trail.
I measured myself in the morning and noticed that I seem to weigh 4 lb less so far. Yay!
In the evening I installed the free version of my fitness pal app on my IPhone to track my calories. Obviously I am taking in lower calories than what is considered safe and the app wouldn’t create a trend line for me. Still it is a very useful tool to help me monitor what I am eating.
I noticed that I am drinking less water and peeing less. This might be of concern to many people, but in my case, by “less” I mean I am drinking about 2 liters (32 oz or about 8 cups) of water everyday instead of the 5 to 8 liters (20 to 32 cups) that I used to do previously. I believe it was my sugary tea and high sugar diet, together with an excessive surplus of vitamins that made me want to pee very frequently and as a result I needed to consume huge quantities of water. This urge for frequent urination has been a major irritant through out my adult life. Extensive medical checkups have thankfully revealed no disease, yet I never could understand why I need to pee so much.
With these few days of detox I am already feeling much more comfortable. In the past when I came home from a walk I would rush into the washroom. When I went out, I hunted out the washrooms. Today on returning from a visit to the post-office, I was happy to discover that I did not need to fumble through front door lock and rush into the toilet. Instead, I happily picked up the shovel and cleaned the snow from my neighbors driveway and mine.
Unlike the past few days, today I seemed to be normalizing a bit. For the past three days I had been getting up at around 11am and then again hitting the bed for the afternoon siesta before going for a walk. I would then come home, shower, eat a bowl of fruits and then hit the sack very soon after. Today I didn’t feel the urge to sleep in the afternoon and stayed up fairly late without feeling dead.
However – I did not, in all honesty, feel on top of the world. I constantly felt that some fried chicken with fries, a bottle of Pepsi followed by a couple of cups of hot milky, sweet and strong tea would undoubtedly perk me up. I resisted these demonic whisperings, did not break my diet and went to sleep with a clear conscience.
I didn’t have enough energy in the past few days to start documenting my fitness journey. But from today I plan to document my journey as it unfolds day by day. I shall publish this journal at the end of the ten days. I have already put in ‘successful’ in my title so I am hoping this journey would result in some kind of tangible long term success.
Temptation beckoned me all day. I was sorely tempted to modify my strategy. I thought: “Do I really need to punish myself with this veggie diet? Why not modify my diet to a low-calorie diet instead of keeping it as a “veggie and fruit” diet. I can have a chicken pate sandwich with onions and chili peppers and still stick to my calorie goal for the day.”
I however resolved to stick to my original plan of veggie and fruit. I am thinking that perhaps this veggie and fruit diet will result in some kind of body cleansing and not merely weight loss. I am staying away from all animal products at least for the 10 day period.
I do feel much better, lighter and higher energy. I am not sure if this is because of my 10,000 steps a day (3.5 miles) that I have been doing or if it is because of the 5 lb that I have lost.
I am hoping that eventually when I get back to normal diet, I would be able to give up or drastically reduce refined sugar in my diet and overall eat less. Hopefully my belly would shrink and my body will get accustomed to less food.
I am optimistic that I shall have a better energy baseline through out the day instead of mood swings – for example, feeling great when I have sugary tea and then getting into a slump again.
I am not yet sure how much of this weight loss is real. We will see. In any case success begets success and seeing actual results made me want to stay away from sugary stuff. I didn’t pamper myself with orange juice, avocado or dates today.
I haven’t lost many inches yet.
I woke up last night at around 3 am with a parched throat and decided to have a glass of orange juice. In the morning I had a glass of Vega Sport Hydrator (electrolyte with no added sugar).
Though I had gone in to sleep at around 10 PM, I couldn’t drag myself out of bed before 11 AM. The cheerless prospect of no hot breakfast and tasteless unsweetened tea wasn’t tempting enough to draw me out of my cozy winter bed.
When I eventually got up I measured myself on the bathroom scale. I seem to have lost some more weight. Thank goodness.
For breakfast, I cut myself a banana, half a papaya and half of the left over avocado. I usually don’t make a smoothie from the fruits and prefer to enjoy them whole. In any case mastication releases saliva which is supposed to be good for digestion.
Throughout my life I have battled with caffeine addiction. Here is a small digression as I share with you my love-hate relationship with tea and my quest for healthy alternatives to refined sugar and dairy-based whiteners.
At the moment, I am sitting in my study, “enjoying” my black Assam tea with a pinch of unsweetened pure cocoa. To be perfectly honest, this bitter tea without the added cream and sugar has a revolting taste, and only the caffeine in it, to which I have been addicted for the past 50+ years, makes it palatable. The prospect of getting up in the morning itself seems less pleasing, now that I know there isn’t a cup of hot, sweet, strong and creamy tea – with a plateful of cookies – waiting for me . I find it difficult to enjoy my usual activities such as reading or writing.
I believe that coffee and tea are the unknown evils of this world. They are addictive stimulants and sooner or later you will get hooked on to them. Even though you will read that “research shows that caffeine consumed in moderation can have some positive benefits to most people,” I challenge you to show me a person who can consume any stimulant “in moderation”. The addictive stimulant completely disrupts the body clock aka the ‘circadian Rhythm.” Instead of the natural ebb and flow of hormones through the day, you maniuplate it with tea. When you have tea or coffee you feel good and start going into a slump when its effect wears off.
These beverages are socially acceptable so even kids can consume tea or coffee with aplomb with their parents. The industry thrives on romanticizing picturesque and cozy moments such as “tea and cookies” or “coffee and cake.”
I remember a story that my father told me. In India tea wasn’t a common beverage. Then the tea gardens started flourishing during the early 1900s. My father said that the tea company sales people visited door to door with cheap pure milk and tea. The unsuspecting poor people partook of the beverage only so they can get the low-cost milk.
Eventually the people got hooked on to the caffeine and then the tea company sales reps stopped bringing the milk. There was no need. People lined up to purchase tea since they couldn’t live without it anymore.
The problem with tea and cocoa are manifold. They lead to greater consumption of refined sugar and sugary treats, for example, I can’t imagine a cup of tea without some nice Marie biscuits or Rusk cake. Even worse, the caffeine itself has been linked to a variety of long term diseases (Reference: Harmful Side Effects of Caffeine). Unfortunately I have had first hand experience of several of these side effects such as digestive upsets, anxiety and high blood pressure. Yet I am finding it very difficult to get this devil completely off my back.
I came back from my walk and ate some blueberry, raspberry and almonds. I had chewed up a few almonds on the trail as well.
I had a cup of bitter black tea with a pinch of cocoa and lemon juice and it tasted even more unappetizing than in the morning. In the morning since I am heavily caffeine deprived, even the bitter tea seems acceptable, now in the evening, I had a hard time swallowing my erstwhile favorite drink.
In desperation I searched on Google for the “best alternatives to refined sugar and milk in tea.” Voila! It seems I have hit pay-dirt. This blog post by Angelike Gaunt mentions some great ideas I hadn’t previously thought of. I latched on to the idea of date paste and immediately went in and made some date paste using cardamom instead of vanilla extract. The recipe is easy-peasy: one cup of pitted dates, seeds from 10 peeled cardamom pods and 1 cup of water – blend it all in the blender. The resulting paste was just heavenly. I had to restrain myself from consuming the whole thing as a delicious dessert.
I believe that date paste is fully vegetarian and is probably a healthier alternative than any of other artificial sweeteners. Unlike the dried dates which can stay unspoiled for ever at room temperature, the date paste likely has a short shelf life so I have stored it in the refrigerator.
I have also found another great article with ideas for milk and cream alternatives for tea. I believe that pea milk may be best for me as I love chickpeas. I will try to make pea milk at home after my 10 day detox period, since during these 10 days I am staying away from all grains. It’s a bit of a pity that almond milk tends to curdle in hot beverage, and also that almond milk is so terrible for my beloved honeybees. Hopefully, the pea milk will prove to be a great tasting alternative.
Finally my tea is drinkable and I am at peace with the world. A sigh escapes my lips — a deep sigh of intense happiness.
I woke up at night and had a cup of no-sugar electrolyte drink. I had stayed up very late last night feeling energized with my date-paste tea. I woke up late at around 10:30am, browsed news on my iPhone, and finally got up from the bed at around 11am.
I had a glass of smoothie I had made the previous day which turned out to be delicious. Here’s the recipe: 1 avocado, 1 beetroot, 1 large banana, 2 celery sticks, half cup orange juice, half cup of frozen mangoes, 1 inch ginger, 2 cups of water. I ended up with about 2 very large cups of smoothie and I consumed one cup on waking up.
I had my date-paste tea and then had a drink of an effervescent Vitamin supplement.
Today for once I enjoyed my tea in the true sense. The date-paste has been a game changer.
I now realize that my goal of 10 lb in one week was just wishful thinking. It is nearly impossible, without resorting to drastic starvation, to lose more than 4 lb in 10 days. Even with full veggie, fruit and no sugar diet it doesn’t seem like I will cross 3 lb.
The math is straight forward. For every 1 lb of weight loss I need to create 3500 lb calorie deficit. If I want to reduce 10 lb in 10 days, I would have to create a deficit of 3500 calories every day. Considering the fact that the average calories that take in is 2500 calories (without dieting), I would likely have to go in to water fasting which I don’t plan to do. I feel it is too dangerous on a sustained basis.
So while 6 lb is not bad, I hope it is long term gain.
On a positive note, my cheeks did start losing their chubbiness in a very visible way. This in itself is motivational for me.
The date paste has gone bad in the fridge and gave a tummy upset. I discovered that by adding some hot water to black tea makes it palatable without resorting to complex shenanigans like date-paste and pea-milk.
I no longer love smoothies. I have had enough of them. I discovered that eating a mix of raw vegetables is very satisfying. I had beetroot, turnin, carrots, avocado, celery stalk, three almonds and some cut onions for lunch and it was very filling and satisfying. It is true that we can consume more vegetables through juicing or smoothie but I don’t think we were meant to consume half a field of produce in one meal.
Today is the last day.
Today morning, the scale touched 160 lb. Wow! I had started with 170 lb and now it’s 10 lb less in 10 days. I had certainly given up hope of seeing the needle at 160 anytime soon. I hope this is a long term gain. Motivated, in the morning, I had unsweetened tea with 5 almonds (instead of 10) as breakfast.
I have prepared black bean soup in anticipation of no-dieting tomorrow. I also prepared some spicy lentil soup and a bit of rice.
It was biting cold, but I bundled up and went for the 5 mile hike and I am glad I did.
In the evening I had half a glass of orange juice and one cup of frozen mangoes.
Day 11 – It’s OVER!
This is Jan 3rd. The 11th day of my fitness journey. It’s OVER!
I measured myself and it was 160 lb.
I got up and broke my “fast” with a bowl of mixed beans soup and unsweetened black tea. Everything tasted delicious.
I hope to continue the journey in a less aggressive way for the next three months by paying careful attention to what I eat.
Lessons Learned from the 10 Day Weight Loss and Detox Experience
- Stock up! Get prepared with the best ingredients that you can afford. If I hadn’t purchased a variety of stuff in advance, it could have resulted in a complete failure – I didn’t have the energy on day 1 or day 2 to actually make smoothie and I was able to survive thanks to the bananas and some fruits and vegetables (carrots).
- Pamper yourself a bit while still staying within the dietary restrictions of the program. I can’t really afford to consume a pack of blueberry and raspberry every day. But I thought why not indulge myself for 10 days.
- Use caution. Though I am fairly fit, I still took a lot of precautions. While going on the hiking trail I would carry some emergency food like chocolates, Gatorade or apple in case I had a bout of faintness while walking due to low food intake. I always carry some hand and feet warmers (e.g., Little Hotties) in case I suddenly start feeling cold. I always took the precaution of eating something before driving to eliminate the possibly of low sugar faintness. Dieting can have extremely serious unwanted consequences: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/20/crash.diets.harm.health/index.html
- It is best to do any new fitness program when you have the time to detach from work. I had the luxury of 10 days off during Christmas and New Year and made the most of it. Starting a new program while at work can have unexpected unpleasant consequences. Several years back when I was trying to give up caffeine and sugar I recollect feeling so stressed. I ended up barking at a very friendly senior member of my team and even now I cringe whenever I remember that incident.
- I have had a very hard time finding a suitable base for my vegetable smoothies. Orange juice proved to be too sugary and sweet. I didn’t want to use Soya or Almond milk due to all the unknown additives in them. I thought of coconut milk as a tasty smoothie base, but I had completely stopped eating coconuts a couple of years back when I had read how the monkeys are brutally tortured by this industry. During this period of detox, I was inspired to revisit the coconut conundrum and I did some research into finding a good smoothie base and monkey labor-free coconut products. It seems that there are a lot of coconut brands now that have actively taken a stand against monkey labor: Monkey Labor-free Coconut Brands.
- Interestingly, during these 10 days I didn’t actually feel starved. I felt “deprived” – I missed delicious tea, cakes, cookies, meat, oil and salty snacks – but I never really felt desperately hungry. Possibly the carrots and beetroots were making me feel full without adding fattening calories.
- Towards the end of the 10 day veggie and fruit diet, I started to feel great, without having consumed any animal protein! In the past I used to start feeling uneasy and low energy if I missed chicken or beef for a few days. Even eggs wouldn’t suffice. I always envied vegetarians and wondered how they go about their daily life without eating meat. Now I know.
- I discovered healthier and more ethical alternatives to refined sugar (date-paste) and dairy cream (pea milk) – Update: I am no longer sure if I would use this combination on an ongoing basis.
- Journaling motivated me to stay on track. The myfitnesspal app helped me become conscious of the calories in the food I eat – and also they help in tracking and journaling. A friend of mine also mentioned that she lost about 30 lb by tracking her weight through myfitnesspal app. I believe that the free version is fully sufficient for what I need.
- I learned the surprising fact that while almonds are good for health, the unnaturally large consumption of almonds through almond milk supports an industry which is terrible for the environment and torturous for living creatures like honeybees. Store bought almond milk may not be a good choice some brands of almond milk have carrageenan, which is used as a stabilizer and thickening agent, and has been linked to digestive troubles. I believe 10 almonds a day are enough for a healthy heart. There is no need for me to consume unnecessarily large amounts of almond. I am also happy to learn of the Bee Better Certified program which seeks to make the world a better place for our tiny friends.
The 10 day dieting has been an illuminating experience for me. I realized how painful it is to lose the calories even from a small amount of sugary and creamy treat.
In the past I would have a meal of a rice bowl with channa masala, potato curry and fried chicken with some pickles on the side, followed by a cup of delicious hot chocolate. Now I realize that one single meal like this would be about 1500 calories which should be my daily total intake if I want to continue losing 1 lb per week. In addition to multiple calorie dense meals, I typically consumed a lot more stuff through my day – e.g. 18% cream with several cups of sweet tea, cookies, rusk, dessert, hot chocolate, sugared mints and many other treats.
I realize that I may not need to completely deprive myself from all creature comforts, but if I am having having a hot chocolate with milk then I have to remember that it is a minimum of 390 calories and I must be prepared to skip some meals to make up for it.
I always knew this math (i.e, 3500 calories = 1 lb), but these 10 days brought it home to me in a very hard way. The four or five innocent mints I would take on my way to my walk would come to a total of 200 calories which is pretty much the entire benefit I would gain from sweating through a brisk 5 mile walk in one hour on a shivery, cold trail.
I much needed this awakening. I also learnt what lifestyle changes I can make which I would enjoy and would not give me a feeling of deprivation.
I veered away from the program which Joe followed in the movie (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead), but the movie was the trigger which launched my own personal journey into fitness. I am grateful that Joe took the time to document his own personal journey in such a detailed, honest and inspirational manner. I have been motivated in turn to share my own journey with you candidly.
I feel that with all honesty, I can write ‘successful’ in my blog title – the nature of my “success” has been very different from what I had initially visualized. I did not lose a lot of pounds – some of the initial gains were apparently misleading “water weight loss”. I don’t feel sense of having “detoxed or cleansed in any sense.” I don’t seem to have shrunk my waist though the pants fit a bit more comfortably. Nevertheless it has been a very rewarding experience. These brutal 10 days in some ways have strengthened my will power.
In the past I would easily slip from my resolutions. As an example, in this holiday season, I started with a “bit” of ice-cream, went on to buy three tubs, ate several giant chunks of cake, and then in a delirious frenzy I purchased a lot of sugary cookies. The hard 10 days have given me a taste of what lies in store for me if I let myself slip again.
These 10 days have taught me to be very conscious of what I eat. I need to make healthier choices. Instead of eating a banana a day for potassium, I could eat a celery stalk a day. Instead of buying frozen mangoes, I should have chosen frozen blueberry. Instead of gorging myself on avocado just because it is a ‘fruit’ and hence ‘healthy’ I need to remember that each medium avocado packs 250 calories. If I consume 2 avocados, then that itself amounts to the total calories I should take in one meal!
The few pounds that I lost and my distinctly slimmer cheeks have given me a glimpse into the reward which awaits me when I lose 30 lb and go back to my correct height-weight ratio.
I am glad that I went through this 10 day process of self-realization.
Wishing you much success and happiness!
- Dangers of extreme dieting: How crash diets harm your health: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/20/crash.diets.harm.health/index.html
- 8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/8-ways-to-lose-belly-fat-and-live-a-healthier-life
- Joe Cross (the hero of the movie Fat Sick and Nearly Dead) has a website in which he expands on his journey into fitness and shares recipes and stories: https://www.rebootwithjoe.com/recipes/