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Friday, June 18, 2010

Diary of a Cleanser: Part 1

Diary of a Cleanser: Part 1
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Meal Replacement Shakes. Dietary Supplements. Appetite Suppressing Natural Chocolate cubes. Cleansing juice. Organic foods. Gallons and gallons of water… Welcome to my new reality.

I’d spent 45 years walking around on this planet and flushed several car radiators, multiple drains and numerous toilets. But I’d never flushed my own system, so when Westport, CT-based Dr. Propper and his wife and Cleansing Director Ginger offered the opportunity to try their proprietary nutritional cleanse and weight loss program, I decided to give it a whirl. The appeal: A free initial consultation, only a 40-day commitment, tasty whey shakes that would give me a much-needed energy boost and the potential of losing about 12 pounds around my middle. Beyond this, some consultation on my general back and organ health.

The first I heard about their facility, the Propper Cleanse Center LLC, was via email from The Dance Collective. The latter was where I had been taking Latin dance classes – another story in itself – and the owners, at Ginger’s suggestion, thought the already health conscious group would benefit from hearing about the program. Honestly, I didn’t think this was for me and hadn’t planned on attending, but the talk immediately followed my Salsa dance class and I thought the least I could do was listen in. No harm in that, right?

I usually like to learn new things, so I was all ears as I and my 16 or so classmates relaxed in folding chairs in the mirrored studio in which we had just finished strutting. Ginger, a member of our dance class, introduced her husband and he jumped right in telling us about how he first became interested in the program – a patented system created by a company called Isagenix. He claimed to be a “sports jock” himself and so was in fairly good shape. Indeed, he looked trim. But, he said, no matter how active, impurities collect in cells, eventually damage organs and lead to sickness. By the end of the talk, I was committed to trying the program and made an appointment to visit the Center.

It was a Monday morning when I dropped into the clean, sunny office at 375 Post Road West. Ginger greeted me, had me fill out a tome of forms and then turned me over to Dr. Propper who led me to a private consultation room. We spoke about my spinal and organ health and external factors, e.g. stress, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, etc. that may be affecting me. He turned me back over to Ginger, she swiped my credit card – now officially committing me to the program – and I was on my way. I would return end of day to pick up the first salvo of products, to sustain me through a two-day Pre-Cleanse and then nine-day Cleanse period.

I had grocery shopping to do now, so when Tuesday rolled around, I meandered over to the friendly, local Trader Joe’s with a list of products that were not my typical pick-ups. Replacing tortilla chips, beef burgers and Tuscan bread were organic apples, celery stalks, peanut butter, kiwi, raw almonds, oatmeal, berries, chicken breast, organic brown rice, veggies for steaming and fresh turkey meat and burgers. I was used to grabbing and going -- the quicker the in-and-out shopping time, the better. Now I felt like one of those fussy health nuts as I prowled the aisles, carefully selected items and stood there reading packaging.

With the initial products purchase and this shopping trip, I’d racked up about $230 in expense – but, then, can you really put a price on good health and feeling good? That’s what I reasoned, anyhow.

All that was left to do was to decide on my start day. Let’s just jump right in, I figured and planned to start the next day. Here, then, is my journey, documented as “Diary of a Cleanser.”

Wednesday, June 16: Day 1
I awoke at 6:45am, usual time, and really felt stiff, achy and tired. I’d pushed myself to finish a writing piece the night before, working until midnight, and my lower back throbbed from sitting at a funny angle at the keyboard. I really had to make a focused effort to get up.

After a quick shower, I dropped to the kitchen, pulled out my detailed Pre-Cleanse Day 1 schedule and looked at the first item, to be initiated at 7am. “Breakfast: IsaLean Shake plus one Natural Accelerator capsule.” Reading the labels, I noted that the Shake has ingredients that promote fat-burning, protein amino acids, appetite suppressors, stress absorbers, liver and kidney nourishers, muscle mass maintainers and muscle density protectors. The capsules do some of the same but also stabilize blood sugars, enhance oxygen assimilation and cleanse the circulatory system.

I pulled out a blender, dropped in the chocolate-flavored powder and nine ounces of cold purified water and, voila, I had a breakfast shake. With a couple ice cubes to chill it, I found that it was actually pretty tasty. The caplet had no taste and went down easy. Normally, I would have fired up a pot of high-octane coffee, which would sustain me throughout the morning, so this was the New Deal. OK so far.

At 9am and 10:30am respectively, the schedule directed me to consume 8 to 16 ounces of cold water and two (count ‘em, one, two) raw almonds. I crunched the latter in small little nips, making the very modest offering last. I expected to be hungry by late morning, but the water was actually holding off the desire to chow.

When the next time slot popped up – 12:30pm – I was ready to munch. I would actually get to eat a lunch, though contained to between 400 and 600 calories. I had never been a calorie counter so, really, this was meaningless to me. But I figured it meant portions would be small.

The program offers “Menu Ideas” with regard to meal occasions, wherein you can select one item from each of five columns: Protein, Starches, Fat, Vegetable and Optional (the latter being like the Potpourri column on Jeopardy!). Within these columns were the items for which I had gone and shopped.

I decided to make it easy on myself this first day and just go right across the top row: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 cup oatmeal, 2 tbsp of olive oil, 3 cups mixed greens and 1 organic apple. The point here, apparently, was to affect a good balance of the foods our bodies need.

I set to work like a mad scientist, with multiple pots, measuring spoons, measuring cup, bowls and utensils, cooking up this goulash of purported goodness. When the timer had stopped buzzing and the steam cleared, I actually had a diverse little collection of food, and dug in. Everything was good and I was experiencing no adverse symptoms at the outset of this cleanse “warm up”, with the exception of having to pee more frequently than usual. And each time I did so, the resulting fluid was clearer and clearer.

About a half hour after lunch, I started to drag, feeling sluggish and light-headed. I read that this was to be expected and is a sign that the cleanse is starting to take effect and impurities are being released. Ginger checked in and suggested more protein to counteract the lightheadedness, so I helped myself to a slice of turkey breast.

On this first day, I decided I should probably weigh and measure myself, so I have a baseline for comparison as I go along. The local CVS had both a digital scale and a soft measuring tape like tailors use when they’re doing alterations. These combined set me back another $32, but would be useful going beyond this program anyhow, so good investments I figured.

So, the measurement process drove a couple surprises. First, I expected to weigh in around 195-200 pounds, so was very happy that I was only registering 184, pretty good for a 6-foot tall male. I was not so happy with the waist measure. I knew some fat had settled around my waist but never did I expect a reading of 40 inches! This was around my thickest area, which is really a couple inches above where my pants fall, which is why I can wear pants with a 36-inch waist. The measure around my chest was 42 inches, another area that I hoped to firm up.

Now good and running and amply hydrated, I more closely leafed through the 38-page packet I’d been given. This primarily spelled out the day-to-day, but also provided background on how the body works. I found this all quite interesting and how each cell has its own little furnace (the mitochondria) and how that little furnace needs to heat up to help raise our metabolism and burn fat. When the furnace isn’t getting its required trace minerals and active enzymes, it doesn’t function properly, doesn’t burn the fat and impurities get stored in the body rather than carried away by the minerals and flushed out of our systems. (Dieting is actually the complete wrong thing to do when you want to lose weight.) The resulting fat-burning lowers insulin and cortisol levels, produces proper brain chemistry and enhances the cells. Fascinating stuff… and logical.

More doses of cold water, raw almonds and an Accelerator capsule followed at 2pm and 3:30pm and, still, all was seemingly ok in Intestine Land. Enough so that I was able to venture out for a bit, two water bottles clutched in hand. But I had to make sure to race back home to make dinner – another IsaLean Shake mixed in the blender. The tricky thing with the shake is that you can’t pre-prepare it. There’s an enzyme that’s activated when you add cold water and you have to drink the shake within five minutes of mixing or it’s ineffective.

Around 6:30pm, after another round of water and almonds, I was jones-ing for food and resorted to an approved helping of two celery stalks with some organic peanut butter smoothed on them. “Ingesting negative calories?” my son Evan inquired, looking over. Very perceptive of him… and accurate. Each 8-inch stalk has six calories and its ingestion can result in negative calories due to the bodily energy devoted to its digestion. The ingestion of cold water enhances the effect, because the liquid needs to be warmed to body temperature, which requires further expenditure of energy. How ‘bout them apples?!

The 10th and final scheduled step of the day called for IsaFlush, another dietary supplement. These caplets contain magnesium, which “improves water absorption for better colonic function”, encourage regularity, support cardiovascular health, soothe any intestinal discomfort and improve the user’s ability to withstand physical, emotional and environmental stress by having a balanced digestive system. Grey in color, tasteless and pretty harmless looking, it cruised downtown with no hitch or obstacle.

I was done for the day and thought I’d drop into bed early to get some needed z’s.

Thursday, June 17: Day 2 
I felt kind of warm last night going to bed, like my body was really working on something – which I’m sure it was – and flipped on a window fan. This morning, my stomach felt a little knotted, like more was going on in my body. Once I was up though, these feelings went away and I was eager for my starter Shake. My schedule for the day would be the exact same as yesterday, with 10 “events”, though I planned to vary my midday meal and try something different.

Throughout the morning, I had to keep reminding myself that I could not just fire up an English muffin or grab some cereal, which I would often do if I saw my boys doing the same. I got a little bummed, too, when a friend sent me a reminder email about a beer festival happening in five days in New York City, an event that I would normally be all over. When I informed him I was participating in a cleanse program, he said beer is usually his cleanser. He then wondered if I was following the cleanse program you see in the infomercials all the time, offered by Klee Irwin, that cheesy-looking guy with the pencil-thin moustache who looks like he should be selling used cars rather than pushing health solutions.

In terms of my overall status today, I was feeling pretty energized, and diligently worked throughout the morning. Perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me – or it was wishful thinking – but my upper torso also seemed somewhat more firm. Further, my pee was as clear as spring water – which is essentially what it was given my voracious consumption of same.

When early afternoon rolled around, I was good and ready (but not starving) for my midday meal. I decided to be a little more adventuresome and went for the following menu options: 5-ounce chicken breast (easy enough to microwave), one cup of basmati rice (a little more involved with boiling, fluffing, letting stand), two tbsp’s of nuts of choice (I picked walnuts), 3 cups of steamed vegetables (quick to steam, and good with the rice) and a handful of organic berries (nice plump raspberries). A pretty nice, nutritious lunch all in all that I might even be likely to order in a restaurant. That was really it though in terms of any hard core food and, looking ahead in my program schedule, the last “meal” I’d have for the next 48 hours.

Mid-afternoon, I was able to escape to the beach and took a soft-sided cooler in which to keep chilled the two bottles of water and four raw almonds I would need to consume. That worked out ok.

What was harder was resisting the urge to fall off the wagon mid-evening when the NBA Game 7 Finals between the Celtics and Lakers aired, and I really wanted to have a beer and chips. But I soldiered through. Again, late night, I felt a bit warm and my legs were kind of tight and throbbing.

Friday, June 18: Day 3 
I looked at today with some curiosity… and trepidation… as it was a non-meal day… only products, water and almonds. It was the first official Cleansing day. First, I had to do a weigh-in/measure, the “reward” for the commitment as my info packet suggested. 181.2 lbs and 39 ½” around the widest part of my waist -- I had lost almost three pounds already and a ½” around the middle, just in the Pre-Cleanse phase. Not bad.

Breakfast consisted of a Natural Chocolate Isagenix Snack, one Natural Accelerator capsule, four ounces of Cleanse For Life drink and a bottle of cold water. Two of these products were first time tryouts for me. The snack – a large saucer-like brown disk that broke down easily when chewed and tasted ok, promotes thermogenic fat burning, lean muscle density and blood sugar balance, supports liver health, decreases sugar cravings and absorbs stress -- a lot for a little tablet. The Cleanse For Life drink (tropical berry flavored) was the Big Kahuna of the bunch, with 70 ionic minerals from ancient plant deposits blended into rich Aloe Vera juice powder. It promotes the health of the liver and kidneys and rapid fat burning, absorbs stress, suppresses the appetite, enhances oxygen assimilation and stabilizes blood sugar.

The drink has two other elements that are key: Pau Di Arco helps cleanse the system of residual chemicals, parasites and parasite eggs as well as Candida, which is essentially yeast that interferes with protein absorption and causes anxiety, bloating and subsequent weight gain. Yeast, according to my packet, also contributes to chronic constipation and loss of focus, memory and concentration. The second helpful drink element is a blend of Lipotropic Nutrients which help cleanse the intestines and the colon as well as improve the effectiveness of one’s elimination system.

Warm, the drink was not so palatable, but ok when I chased it with water. I figured, too, that it would taste better once refrigerated, which one is supposed to do after opening the big plastic bottle.

By mid-afternoon, I could feel these new elements doing their work… like a bulldozer in my colon, pushing out the debris. I won’t go into any more detail than that -- suffice it to say, things were going downtown. The balance of the day would bring more combinations of Snacks, cold water, raw almonds and Cleanse drinks. I looked forward to the weigh-in tomorrow a.m.