Actually the cleanse wasn’t really that bad at all. I was allowed fruit, and nuts. I was allowed meat and potatoes. I was blessedly allowed a cup of coffee per day, as long as it was brewed from my own organic, fair trade beans. What I wasn’t allowed was any kind of sugar or sweetener, any booze, any milk or cheese, any bread or gluten, and of course anything processed/fried/saturatedly fatty. Seven days under those rules.
Why would I voluntarily undergo such an ordeal? It’s not really that I felt all that guilty about how much I ate and drank over the holidays, or that it was particularly important to me to balance my blood sugar levels and start 2016 “clean”. Can I say that sometimes I like to experiment with my body? Can I say that food and nutrition are the departments of someone else in my household, and the decision wasn’t entirely my own? Dare I admit that while healthy living is very important to me, I have a load of indulgences that I sometimes worry I’m a slave to? For a combination of these reasons, and others, I hesitantly agreed to undertake this cleanse.
Now here’s the surprising thing: it was way, way easier than I expected. That’s not to say that it was a walk in the park, but I didn’t even come close to caving and never reached the pits of desperation I was sure I was in for. The cleanse is over now, and looking back on it I can see three ways that being a dad helped get me through.
For as much as I was dreading giving up all my favourite foods for a week, what really had me stressed pre-cleanse was how inconvenient it was all going to be. During the week I spend a lot of time on the road going between meetings and job sites and frequently fuel up while I’m out and about. If you’ve never considered how hard it is to get non-fried, sugar-free, gluten-free food at any roadside establishment, try it for a week. I started out dreading the hassle.
But parenting has taught me to be adaptable like I never was before. A baby is an inconvenience machine – he creates hassles like it’s his job – and I’ve learned to live with that pretty well. After you’ve planned entire days around accommodating nap and snack times for someone else, packing a lunch or some snacks for the car isn’t that big a deal.
At this point I need to give a shout-out to my beautiful love and baby mama, who was super helpful in preparing those snacks for me and keeping the house full of cleanse-worthy food. She has learned adaptability much better than I have. Couldn’t have done it without you! xo
If I had had time and energy to dwell on all the delicious treats I was missing out on, their absence might have weighed on me more heavily. But time and energy are things this kid gobbles up like sweet potatoes. You can’t daydream about baguettes when you’ve got a one-year old trying to sneak a handful of dog food. You forget your longing for the sweet taste of beer when you see your kid exploring the taste of a plugged-in phone charger.
Before starting up I had worried about all the ways I would be tempted to cheat or to cave, all the peer pressure that I might find too hard to handle. I had foolishly forgotten: you need a social life to be peer-pressured! Thanks to the kid, this didn’t turn out to be a problem.
Was the lack of sugar affecting my energy levels or causing headaches? How the hell am I supposed to know that when I’m getting a full night’s sleep one night, then being woken up 3 or 4 times the next? This is all to say that since my mental and physical well-being is so inconsistent these days to begin with, this cleanse was just another wild card in the whirlwind.
The whole thing hinged on this. Spending a week successfully cleansing wouldn’t have even been conceivable if I didn’t have a reason to go beyond what I personally wanted and look at a bigger picture.
Like lots of stuff I never thought I would end up doing, I did it for him. And for his mom, but mostly for him. And it’s not that I want to live forever for his sake, or rather, it’s not that I think this cleanse is necessarily going to help me live longer than I otherwise would. I want him to grow up understanding that it’s ok that healthy living requires sacrifice, sometimes small and sometimes bigger. I want him to know that it’s good to try things outside our comfort zone and push our own limits. Obviously, since he’s 1 year old, I don’t expect him to get those lessons now…so maybe it’s that I was motivated to prove to myself that I could in fact back up those values with action.
This isn’t the space to start describing what I took away from the cleanse; suffice it to say I learned a lot and recommend it to anyone. If you’re adaptable, have plenty of distractions and the right motivation, it might be easier than you’d think. Now that I’ve successfully passed the finish line, I’m off to daydream about what I’ll be eating for lunch today…
ed.: If you are thinking about trying a cleanse or some other dietary changes you should consult a professional, not the internet. Why not try our great holistic nutritionist Jackie McCaffrey. I wasn’t compensated for this shout-out, I just think she’s great.