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Deciding to go on the master cleanse in December was either inspired or idiotic. Since I got the idea while in the far-too-familiar haze of a wine buzz, I blame it on the alcohol.
You're probably aware of the idea, if not the details. The cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet, went mainstream when Beyoncé used it in 2006 to lose weight for her role in Dreamgirls. These days, buying 15 lemons, a jug of maple syrup and a canister of cayenne pepper in L.A. telegraphs exactly what you're up to -- and no one lifts an eyebrow.
But the fast, which requires eating no solids and drinking a juice made from the above ingredients for no less than 10 days, wasn't created to shrink starlets. A health guru concocted the plan in the 1940s as a detox. As the Weekly's assistant music editor, I was going out too much and drinking too much of whichever poison was placed on the bar in front of me. I needed a detox, desperately.
But in December? The season of open bars and heavily laden buffet tables? I faltered until a friend gave me the side eye. "The most hard-core chicks I knew in college never lasted more than three days." That sounded like a challenge.
Day 1: Catered party at a speakeasy in Hollywood. I happen to sit right in front of a gourmet pizza. My sense of smell becomes doglike.
The lady next to me raves over a drink. Next thing I know, she's ordered me one. Feeling incredibly rude, I let it melt as I chew gum -- three pieces in a row.
Day 2: I could probably gnaw on the leg of my coffee table right now. Only frantic activity distracts me from the clawing in my stomach.
At a party later, I sidestep the open bar by ordering bottled water, but the powdery gems on the buffet are winking at me. It's nice, though, to be sober and actually remember the conversations I'm having.
Day 3: I wake up berating myself for eating an entire tub of cashews -- only to realize it was a dream. I notice my jeans slide on easier, and I'm happy until I get stuck in rush-hour traffic. I string together curse words that would shock a rapper. Someone's cranky.
Day 4: At the grocery with a friend, I wander off to fetishize food. Would it really be so bad if I scarfed a pound of wasabi almonds in the middle of the store? Trader Joe's is Satan, and I'm Christ during his 40-day fast.
Day 5: Preparing the juice has become a ritual, perhaps because squeezing lemons is the only exercise I'm getting. (You try to work out while drinking nothing but sugar water.) It takes forever, and I'm mesmerized. I might be a little delirious.
After two hours standing at the Jay-Z concert, I feel so weak I buy a VitaminWater. I stumble as I pull my wallet out of my purse and realize the cashier thinks I'm drunk.
Day 6: I think I've forgotten how to chew. I freeze some juice and eat it like a slushy.
Day 7: Today is the first day I don't think about food. Shit, I'm on day seven! I'm not breaking now.
Day 8: The choreography for Fela! is so intensely aerobic, I wonder how the dancers manage it. Oh, right, they eat.
Day 9: At a listening party, I'm driven to distraction by the open bar. Stone-cold sobriety isn't so novel anymore. I'm bored.
Day 10: When a friend and I meet for tea, I can't concentrate: I realize I must get home immediately to eat cashews. Once there, though, I convince myself to make it through three hours more on sheer willpower. I'm the little engine that could. Three hours later, I'm officially cleansed.
Four days later, I realize, my post-cleanse diet has consisted primarily of cashews. But I've only had one glass of wine ... and it took me two hours to finish it. Mission impossible, accomplished. Now, who's holding Christmas cookies?