Ithought I was a relatively healthy person; I did yoga regularly, loved my veggies and had never uttered the phrase “Supersize me.” But a whirlwind winter of partying had raged on well past the new year, and decadent staples like wine, cheese, bread, chocolate and strong espresso every morning to jolt me alert had left me with that not-so-fresh feeling right down to my ribosomes. I needed a cleansing.
Somewhere in the champagne-clouded recesses of my brain I remembered hearing about the 21-Day Detox. The Santa Monica–based program was started six years ago by Dr. Richard DeAndrea and nutritionist John Wood, who believe that an organic, plant-based diet (no animal products or refined sugar at all) is the foundation for healthy living. They also believe that we should all detox twice a year. “If you’re living on this planet in this time,” says Wood, “you’re pretty toxic.”
The 21 days are broken down into a week of vegetarian food, a week of raw (or “live”) food, and one week of a liquid diet — all supplemented by a daily dose of Dr. Greens “superfood,” a powder that contains vitamins, amino acids, chlorophyll and other nutrients. Green tea is allowed the first week, but after that, caffeine is out. I thought three weeks seemed like a reasonable amount of time, long enough to justify bragging and bitching but not so long (I thought, then, before I began) that I would lose it. You can do the program in a workshop with a group (the next session starts Sunday, July 9) or on your own with a detox kit and a partner, which is what I chose. I enlisted my friend Laurel, an A&R executive who goes out every night of the week, but who, like me, also has a thick new-age hippie streak. “I’m in!” she said. Then I told her the news: “It starts tomorrow. No booze.”
Day 1: I go shopping at Whole Foods, ignoring all the free cheese chunks pointing at me with their wooden toothpicks, calling out to me, begging me to sample their dairy goodness. I come home and eat about half a pound of dried fruit and nuts out of sheer laziness. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to eat them. I suppose I should check. I guess I’m a vegan now.
Day 2: I have green tea, apples and oatmeal in the morning, greens and rice for lunch. More nuts. I’m constipated and tired. I bail on a screening in Beverly Hills, and by 8:30 p.m. I am ravenously gobbling plain puffed rice, even though I ate just as much, if not more, than I eat every day.
Day 3: I swing by Cha Cha late night with some friends, I chat with a cute young artist boy, and he offers to buy me a drink. He is visible disappointed by request for water. I explain I’m detoxing. Sorry, dude, no Sex on the Beach tonight.
Day 4: I stock up at the Sunset Junction farmers’ market and then Laurel and I head to Clear Way to Health Within, near Venice, for the first of two colonics, a treatment that aids the detox process. Talya Meldy, my colon hydrotherapist, is lean, lanky and funny. “I just pump the poop!” she says cheerfully, massaging my legs and my temples to get me relaxed, which is challenging when you’re lying on a table with a tube up your butt. My first session isn’t very “successful.” I’m gassy, so the water can’t move through my colon (it can be 10 feet long!). But it’s a start. “You’re sensitive, honey,” Talya tells me. She also says that I do too much overindulging. How can she tell? Laurel and I are shown photographs of hideous black sludge that has come out of people’s colons. “I want that to come out of me!” says Laurel. We vow to purge black sludge next time.
Day 5: I’ve got my first inexplicable headache. I go to a party and fixate on the tortilla chips on the table. I grab a handful and eat them plain, feeling vaguely guilty. But I stay out until 3 a.m. having great conversations, probably because I’m not distracted by what’s available at the bar.
Day 6: The green tea isn’t cutting it. I miss coffee. I’m exhausted. The detox program urges us to rest when we need to, without guilt, so I lie down for a nap at 5 p.m. An hour and a half later, I get up and go to Target to pick up a blender for the smoothies I’m supposed to be drinking every morning. This will be great for margaritas in the summer, I think as I place it in the cart.