I feel tired, sluggish, distracted, unmotivated, and mentally out of it all the time. Kind of like a permanent hangover from life.
I’d like to think that working two jobs in order to pay my rent and school fees while being in school full-time is a legitimate excuse. I have no money almost 100 per cent of the time and use my Visa like it’s a life source.
Forget buying healthy groceries, I can barely afford the five coffees a day I devour.
But the fact of the matter is, I feel like crap all the time because I eat like crap all the time.
Ever since starting university, I can’t remember a time I’ve had a completely healthy meal – and this is not an exaggeration. Fruits and vegetables seem like a distant memory from my childhood because for the past four years, I’ve been living off frozen dinners and Tim Horton’s.
People talk about getting the “freshman 15” from poor eating habits but I think I suffered from the “freshman ‘I have no idea how to balance school and work with eating healthy’”.
To this day, I can count on one hand the amount of times I purchased a bunch of bananas and actually ate them, instead of letting them brown until I could make banana bread or the amount of times I cooked a proper meal at home that wasn’t pasta, instead of resorting to the Chinese restaurant next door.
But now that I’m in my final year and turning 22 in a month, I realize that I can’t go on like this. Now is the time where I need to be the best possible version of myself so that I can graduate feeling good and motivated to do more with my life. Not just sit in bed with a bag of chips watching back-to-back episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
So I decided to do a “cleanse.”
A cleanse, or detox, is the act of ridding your body of toxins and cleaning out your system…literally. (Cleanses are also supposed to help your digestive tract empty itself out…)
Most people do cleanses to lose weight while others do it for the health benefits.
I was doing it to see if I felt any differently mentally and physically by eating 100 per cent clean for a week.
Let’s just say a week was definitely an overestimation of my will power. My “cleanse” lasted two days. Two very long days.
On a normal day, I wake up at 8 a.m., get ready for school, and hop on the subway because by the time I leave my house at 9:15, it’s too late to walk. Class starts around 9:30 and goes until around 5:30 – every day. Usually right after class, I head over to my part-time job as a server and work until around 1:30 in the morning and get home around 2. At this point, I usually realize I have work due for my three online classes that I’m taking on top of being sports editor at The Ryersonian. I end up staying up until 3:30 a.m. planning news stories that have to be published or finishing up an essay for a class.
Repeat this on a daily basis and hopefully people can understand why I’m too disoriented to even focus on a healthy diet. All I can think about is how I have too much to do and not enough time. Hence, my poor eating habits which have developed over time because junk food is usually the easy way out.
I chose to do a cleanse where I ate only fruits and vegetables while drinking a variety of fruit-infused waters and smoothies.
One thing missing from this list is my number one vice – coffee. Beautiful, rich, dark roast coffee with one cream and two sugars. I prefer mediums but a large lasts longer and allows me to cut my five trips a day to Timmies to maybe … four? Cutting coffee out of my diet probably has a lot do with why I failed so miserably.
But this got me thinking whether or not other people have had similar experiences and if they had been successful at completing and benefiting from a cleanse. So I asked around AT work to see if anyone else had attempted a detox/cleanse before.
A co-worker of mine, John Colangelo, decided to do a cleanse because of how unhappy he felt and the low energy levels he had.
“I knew it was dietary because I was putting all sorts of bad stuff in my system,” said Colangelo. “I lived a life of excess and it was not sustainable.”
Colangelo put himself through the Master Cleanse for 10 days. I was instantly interested because Beyonce had done this one.
“If you do it properly, it’s worth it and it does what its meant to do,” said Colengelo of his one successful attempt out of four at cleansing. “But it didn’t change my dietary choices or eating habits. I wouldn’t recommend it over learning how to make healthy choices.”
Kendall Young, another co-worker, had also tried a cleanse and saw some results from it, but did not feel the greatest while doing it.
“They’re bull****. I lost like 10 pounds in a week but I felt awful. There’s no actual scientific evidence that you’re detoxifying your body,” said Young. “You’re just depriving it of what it actually needs.”
For me, doing a cleanse was stressful. All I could think about was the food I could not eat. I did feel lighter and not as tired, but mentally, I was still distracted. It seemed more like a chore than something positive.
Based off my two days of “cleansing”, I can safely say that I can see how it can be beneficial in terms of forcing you to eat clean for a few days. At the same time, I can also see how it can be pointless. Cleanses are not the answer to becoming a healthier person, making the right dietary choices and changing old bad habits into good ones is the only way you can see benefits.
Ever since my failure to cleanse, I realized that by adding some nutrition here and there was a small step in the right direction. I’m a student with barely enough time to do my laundry – I don’t expect to be able to devote enough time to eating completely healthy. But I can make some small gradual changes in my diet to do so: instead of five coffees a day, I can cut back to 1 or 2; instead of grabbing takeout every night, I can try to actually do groceries this year and make myself dinner. But even though I talk all this game, I highly doubt I’m going to be able to focus on my diet until I’m done school. I need carbs and coffee until the day I write my last exam.
So if you decide to do a cleanse, make sure you know why exactly you’re doing it, prepare yourself in advance, and do it properly, because you may end up feeling worse than before you started.