21-day Whole Living Magazine Cleanse

Is anyone else out there extremely disappointed that Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine has been discontinued? I know I am.  For the past year I’ve had a subscription and I’ve gotten a lot out of it. When I received the January 2013 issue in the mail, I was immediately intrigued by the article about their third annual  21-day detox cleanse to “hit the reset button” after all that holiday indulging.

I perused the details of the cleanse and took a look at the 3-week meal plan. I knew right away that  I wanted to give the plan a try.  I had really never tried any type of diet whatsoever, and this one was quite extreme.  A bit of a challenge, I know, but I felt like it was something I really needed to do for myself.

The diet has several restrictions, though calorie restriction isn’t one of them.  The big one was to go vegetarian for the duration.  But there were six additional major no-no’s:

  1. no dairy
  2. no gluten
  3. no sugar
  4. no processed foods
  5. no coffee
  6. no alcohol

The plan builds on itself week after week and can be found here.

Week 1: the first seven days are the most restrictive and the most difficult.  The meal plan is very basic, allowing fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, lentils, and oils/seasonings.  You could have black tea if you wanted caffeine.

Week 2: days 7 – 14  allowed back in fish, all beans and legumes, and all gluten-free grains.

Week 3: days 14 – 21 allowed eggs and soy back in.

Piece of cake, right? Uhh, no. But challenge accepted!

I had a few personal reasons for doing the cleanse:

  1. I absolutely LOVE food.  My family is full of cooks and bakers, and my father is a food critic.  I just get so much enjoyment out of eating.  I don’t eat to live, I live to EAT.  That being said, I have never really had the willpower to say no to food or drinks. What I wanted I would have. I realized I needed to test my willpower and endurance, and to see if I could make it 21 days without giving in to my vices. What are my vices?  Everything. I am a cofffee-drinking, carb-loving, wine-swigging girl with a huge sweet tooth. I love vegetables, but I also love wings, beer, cheese, chocolate, chips, and all those other delicious-but-terrible-for-you foods.
  2. I am getting married this coming November and wanted  to lose a few pounds to shape up for the wedding and our tropical vacation in St. Lucia (read: spending lots of time in a bikini).
  3. I spent November and December of last year almost constantly sick.  I decided that it was time to purify my body from the inside out, which is exactly the point of the detox cleanse.

I knew that to have any decent chance at accomplishing the cleanse I needed lots of support and motivation. My amazing fiancé and best friend both agreed to do the cleanse with me–how wonderful (and crazy) of them.  The night before day 1, my best friend and I went to Elm City Co-op in downtown New Haven and put more vegetables in our carts than I usually do in a month. We also bought lots of other random items: almond butter, red lentils, coconut water, almond milk, pomegranate juice, and lots more. We spent double what we normally budget each week (one of the unfortunate consequences of shopping healthy), and we went home and started cooking.

I could not have been more impressed with the outcome of the cleanse.  As you might be able to imagine, the first few days were difficult. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t think about canceling the plan by dinner of the first day. But with my fiancé and best friend in it with me, I had people to answer to. I had also picked up Moleskine’s Wellness Journal in order to keep track of what I ate each day, how I felt, what food I liked and didn’t like, what gave me adverse reactions, how much I weighed, etc.

90% of the meals were really delicious.  And the snacks were yummy as well.  I would make most of these regardless of whether or not I was on a cleanse. A few of my favorites were the red lentil curry sweet potato stew, the cauliflower “rice” stir fry, the acorn squash with kale & white beans, the portobello mushrooms, the black bean patties, the breakfast smoothies, the trail mix, the lime/chili pumpkin seeds, and the oat date bars.  Okay, I guess that’s more than a few!

French Green Lentil Salad
French Green Lentil Salad
Antioxidant Smoothie
Antioxidant Smoothie
Cauliflower "rice" stir fry
Cauliflower “rice” stir fry

I noticed after day 3 on the cleanse that I wasn’t obsessively thinking about food anymore, like I had been doing almost every minute of every day. I stopped being constantly hungry and moody too. I noticed that I started gaining more energy, sleeping better (which was a wonderful bonus because I’m a terrible sleeper), and my skin was rosier and clearer (another huge added bonus because my skin is extremely sensitive and breakout prone).

Although I tried to do my best, I should mention that I did not strictly follow the meal plan the entire time. If was very busy one night and didn’t have time to make the meal that was specified for that day, I swapped it with a quicker meal from another day. There were also a couple nights that my fiancé and I went out for dinner. On our Friday date nights, we chose a vegan or vegetarian option for dinner and strictly adhered to the plan rules. Our favorite local place is Branford’s G-Zen.

I should also mention that if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, this plan may not be for you. It’s very demanding, and I spent most nights cooking for three hours before I sat down to dinner.  Dinner itself doesn’t take that long to make of course, but sometimes I had to make lunch for the following day as well as a couple snacks all in one night.  I was pretty exhausted by each evening, but in a good way.

I felt such a great sense of accomplishment with each passing day, and my body and mind continued to flourish on the diet. I have had more energy than in a long time, I feel less bloated which I attribute mainly to the absence of processed foods, and I have lost 7.5 pounds.

In fact, my fiancé and I have been so pleased with the cleanse that we intend to follow it in some way going forward. We are meat eaters, and I don’t think either of us intends to permanently cut out meat, but we did realize that it was surprisingly easy not to eat meat for 21 days.  We plan to stick to a mainly vegetarian diet going forward, and to keep dairy and sugars at a minimum, to incorporate gluten free grains as much as possible, and to keep processed foods to a bare minimum.

I already own two excellent restaurant cookbooks–one from Claire’s Corner Copia and the other from Moosewood Restaurant–so we’ve got some excellent sources to use going forward. I’ve also been pinning vegan and gluten-free recipes on Pinterest like crazy, and at suggestion my vegan coworker, I ordered Kris Carr’s Crazy, Sexy Diet.  This arrived in the mail today and I can’t wait to read it!

Have YOU tried the Whole Living 2013 cleanse or any other cleanses out there?  What was your experience?  I’d love to hear about it!


3 thoughts on “21-day Whole Living Magazine Cleanse

  1. hey rebecca,
    i am on week 3 of the Whole Living Cleanse and I liked it so much that this is my second time this year. The first time was in February. i lost about 10 pounds, felt great, and swore that this was the new way of eating for me. Alas my love of beer and carbs won out so now I find myself wanting to shed a few before my wedding day too. less than 3 weeks before the wedding, I can breathe in my dress, but to be on the safe side and honeymoon svelt, i plan to continue this cleanse for 2 additional weeks ( excluding bachelorette night, of course ). i will create my on menu schedule from their recipes… skipping the beets!

    • Wow, good for you! It’s funny….I’m finding myself in exactly the same position as you. I was thinking about doing the cleanse again this year as well, especially since I’m getting married in 8 weeks and I gained all the weight back that I lost. I too felt amazing and swore that I was going to stick to the cleanse because I had come to crave the ingredients that I was cooking with all the time, was sleeping better, had clearer skin, and more energy. But I’m also crazy about carbs, the occasional drink, and SWEETS, and I’ve fallen off the healthy wagon. Let me know how it goes, and definitely indulge yourself for your bachelorette 🙂 What’s the plan for the evening? Good luck to you and I hope you have a wonderful wedding! P.S. My fiance is not a fan of beets at all either!

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