Post-Master Cleanse Update (Updated with Photos)

Not surprisingly, my previous post on my Master Cleanse experience garnered reactions that ran the gamut from curious to supportive to “that’s a load of woo”. Most posts that I’ve seen on the subject garner the same widespread reaction.

What I’ve not seen much of is any sort of consistent follow-up posts by people who have done the cleanse. I’ve seen mostly positive reviews by those who have tried it (a few “I just couldn’t do it” too), usually with a good amount of “success”. Of course, “success” in these cases can be somewhat of a subjective term. If a person loses 30lbs in 30 days, can that be considered a success if they gain it all back over the next 30? And why is it that so few are willing to post those ongoing entries?

Not sure this will become a “regular thing”, but I do want to take the time to address my first 3 weeks post-cleanse, and talk about whether or not I still consider my cleanse a “success”.

I did the cleanse for the entire month of March. 31 days in total, and by the end of day 31 had lost 30.8 lbs. I was down from 213.6 to 182.4 lbs. I was thrilled, and looked forward to the next step. The next step, of course, would be not only trying to maintain the new weight, but hopefully losing about 8 more lbs.

I expected after breaking the cleanse, that I’d gain about five lbs back in the first week, just by virtue of the fact that I was eating solid foods again. I was wrong. I gained back 6.8 lbs in the first week. That was a little discouraging, as I felt that I was eating much, MUCH better and exercising regularly (not a lot each night, but doing something on a nightly basis). With each night on the scale that first week, I wondered how much higher it was going to go.

6.8 turned out to be the maximum. Since then, I’ve dropped 4.4 in (just under) 2 weeks that followed. So, since breaking the cleanse, I’m up 2.6 lbs total, and still down 28.8 lbs from my weight prior to the cleanse.

I feel great about that. The initial weight gain was, as mentioned, not unexpected (even if it was slightly more than I had anticipated). The ongoing and consistent loss in the last 12 days makes me feel that I’m definitely on the right track.

I’ve been averaging roughly 1800 calories per day. What’s great about that is that it’s not really been difficult nor a significant conscious effort to do so. I haven’t felt hungry, or like I’ve been depriving myself of anything. Bear in mind that, for 31 days, I was taking in roughly 660 calories in the way of nothing but liquid (the lemonade mixture). During those 31 days, I also got out of the habit of snacking.

Post-cleanse, I have 3/4 cup of cereal in the morning with 3/4 cup of soy milk (another change… I used to despise soy milk). Since I’m eating fewer carbs, I also sprinkle half a scoop (about 14g) of protein powder. On occasion, I swap out a couple of eggs (scrambled) for the cereal. Lunch is a decent sized salad, or a sliced turkey sandwich on multigrain bread. A teaspoon of light mayo keeps the sandwich from being too dray. Most days will include a yogurt as well for lunch. Snacks have either been a serving (about 3/4 cup to 1 cup) of dried blueberries or fresh blackberries, along with 12 almonds. For dinner, my lovely wife prepares some sort of fish or chicken, along with a salad.

The portioning aspect has been the strangest one for me. I never used to think about how much I ate. Now, because I’m trying to track the calories (using a wonderful iPhone app called “Lose It”), I’ve become very aware of portions sizes. While the portions are certainly smaller than what I’d been used to, I find that if I take my time and eat slowly, and drink plenty of water, it easily fills me up.

Another result that I wasn’t explicitly shooting for, is that I no longer drink coffee. I used to drink coffee constantly throughout the day. With flavored creamer. I couldn’t start my mornings or get through my afternoons without it. Now, I’m fine without it. Not saying I’ll never have coffee again. Maybe after a nice dinner on the rare occasion that my wife and I get to go out without the kids, some coffee would hit the spot. But I no longer rely on it to get me through the day. Again, this was not a goal that I set out to achieve by doing the cleanse. Just a happy side effect.

To get slightly into the “TMI” category… during the first week after the cleanse, I found that I wasn’t really… regular. At all. Food was going in, but nothing was coming out. I rectified that by adding psyllium to my daily routine. In the morning and before bed, I mix 3tbsp of psyllium husk into 3/4 cup of the soy milk. Regularity has ensued in a big, big way.

So, to recap… yes, I’m sure there are probably healthier or better ways to lose weight than the master cleanse. Do I regret doing it? Not even a little bit. It gave me exactly what I needed. It gave me the head start that my instant-gratification-needing brain needed to motivate me to maintain the weight that I had achieved via making significant changes to my lifestyle/eating habits. And I believe it allowed me to introduce those significant changes much more easily than if I had tried to do it without the cleanse. When I sit down with my allocation of 12 almonds (where in the past I’d probably have eaten a whole bag in one sitting), and lament the small serving size, I think about March. I think about how happy I would have been to have had a single almond back then. And then I’m grateful for the 12 in front of me.

The cleanse is not a one-stop-solution. If you do the cleanse, you will undoubtedly lose weight. But it’s what you do afterwards that really matters. You need to resolve yourself to the fact that losing the weight is only the first step. The next step… the ongoing step… is keeping it off. But I definitely think the experience of having done the cleanse makes that next long ongoing step doable.

If you had asked me 3 months ago whether or not my daily caloric intake would be averaging 1800 calories -and- I’d not be drinking coffee or soda, I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s not only the fact that I’m doing it… it’s the fact that I’m enjoying doing it that makes it that much more unbelievable. But here I am, enjoying portioning out my meals and enjoying the fact that I’m no longer dependent on caffeine and excited at the prospect of the long term results. And “woo” or not, I couldn’t have done it without the Master Cleanse.

Update:

By popular demand (half of the commenters on April 30th requested it), I’ve thrown together some before and after pics. Bear in mind that one of the “before” pics is 3 days prior to starting the cleanse. The “after” pics are all almost a full month after breaking the cleanse (not directly after). Hopefully it shows that, with the willpower to make some lifestyle changes (eating habits, exercise), the weight can stay off.

View Photos