Detox Week 2009: The Beginning

I’ve been wavering on the naming of this event for a few weeks. First it was RawWeek, then WholeFoods week, and now … well, we’re going with Detox Week, because even though it sounds like I’m going cold turkey from heroin addiction or something, saying “raw” or “vegan” or whatever is limiting and/or inaccurate.

What the hell am I talking about?

A few weeks ago, someone I follow on Twitter — gawd, don’t ask me who — mentioned he’d lost 20 pounds in two weeks (or a month? I don’t recall) eating only fruits and vegetables. This isn’t a revelation or anything, but it got me thinking about how I’ve let my eating and exercise habits slide due to stress, overworking and things like holidays and vacations. As most people should know, I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my adult life. I did veer into fish consumption for about 18 months, but whether or not I’ll return to that remains to be seen. A little more than a year ago, I visited a doctor to look into some abdominal pain I was having and it was discovered I had really high, bad cholesterol, as well as high triglycerides and a fatty liver. Remember, I’d been vegetarian for at least 7 years at this point.

So I had to cut out anything high in cholesterol or fat. In my case, that was mostly cheese and egg products. And I had to get back to the gym. I’ve been an on-and-off-again gym member, going through alternating periods of high attendance and non-attendance. When I was working multiple jobs and going to school, it wasn’t so much of a problem, as I was on my feet and running around a lot. But most of my work now is sedentary, and apparently the combo of eating French toast three days a week plus not going to the gym in almost a year had done me in. My doctor put me on cholesterol-reducing meds, the aforementioned no-cholesterol, low-fat diet, and an increased exercise regimen. All of which — aside from the pills, which I’ve never had to take for anything in my life — was fine by me, especially since the other discovery at the first doctor’s visit was that my weight was approaching 190 pounds — about 30 more than my highest average.

I re-upped my gym membership, started going there three days a week, began to actually read the labels of the food I was buying, and slowly but surely, the pain dissipated (no one ever did pin down what was casuing it, even after MRIs and ultrasounds — likely, it was something muscular) and the weight started coming off. After three months, my cholesterol came down from a total of 235 to 115, and after another three months, my doctor took me off the pills.

Then I got busy. Or lazy. Or cocky. I started eating the occasional grilled cheese sandwich or egg omelet as a “treat.” Or because I was drinking and needed “absorption food” (alcohol consumption is a topic for a whole other blog post). Three-days-a-week at the gym went down to two, and then one, and then as life spiraled out of control, a visit once in two weeks was an accomplishment. I haven’t weighed myself or been to the doctor since, but I’m pretty sure things aren’t looking too good. Even that slight twinge of pain comes back every so often.

So, inspired by Twitter Guy Who Lost 20 Pounds Eating Only Fruits and Vegetables, I decided I’d take 10 days to make a drastic kick-start for my body’s health happen by following a similar regimen. Wedged between a weekend full of debaucherous parties and events and Christmas Ever, Detox Week 2009 will commence the morning of Monday, Dec. 14 and run through the evening of Thursday, Dec. 24. Yes, that’s more than a week. But “Detox 10 Days 2009” sounds stupid. I at first contemplated going fully raw, but given my workload and lack of proper tools or time, I wouldn’t be able to do that fully effectively. Then I thought, oh, just vegan, but that could include things like bread and pasta, and I wanted to stay away from that stuff. So I’m creating a custom eating regimen for myself that holds mostly true to a whole foods diet, leaning more heavily on the raw side. The basic guidelines (and these are just guidelines — the most important thing is to listen to my body):

  • No processed foods
  • No dairy, no bread, no pasta
  • No soda or alcohol
  • Obviously, no meat or animal products — including eggs and foods made with eggs
  • Only eating combinations of vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes, organic and raw whenever possible

I went shopping for the first few days tonight at Sunflower Market, stocking up on a bunch of fruits and veggies, raw nuts/seeds, fermented drinks (a staple of whole foods diets), raw snacks, juices and for special occasions, a few vegetable-lentil soups. Almost everything I bought was organic, and surprisingly, did not cost more than my normal grocery list of processed meat substitutes, frozen meals and salty snacks.

I’m very excited to rediscover the joy of just eating what comes naturally and experimenting with different combinations of foods. I’m sure the first few days will be difficult, especially as I’m used to eating a lot of breads and cereals. But I think the end result will be worth it. So stay tuned as I attempt to document my progress during Detox Week 2009, and if anyone has any constructive feedback, I welcome it, though I won’t promise to actually pay attention to it. 😉


  1. Chris Snethen December 13, 2009 9:52 pm 

    I’ve battled weight my entire life. It was always funny to me when people made excuses for their weight. They blamed hormones or some other form of body chemistry. The entire answer, I knew, was intake. Items sold as “family size” were “my size”. From mac and cheese to pizza to Oreos. I loved it all.

    I would occasionally promise myself that “tomorrow” I’d take control. Eventually though I was back in the drive-thru. Usually the next day. It’s a tough habit to break.

    A friend of mine turned me on to a 12-step program for food addiction back in July. I’d tried everything else, so I figured I had nothing to lose. They gave me the program, which consists of weighed and measured meals with no flour and no sugar. I’ve done nothing but this since July 20. As of today I’m down 75 pounds. It’s not 100% raw foods. And it’s not 100% unprocessed either. But c’mon…there are WAY worse things out there to eat than canned vegetables. I love green beans right out of the can.

    Anyway, I’m going through clothes like no ones business. My stamina is was up. And I’m doing things now that I never thought possible. I’d given up.

    If there’s one piece of advice I can give it’s to not get too far ahead of yourself. Yes, the allure of bread and cereal won’t be going away soon. But if you tell yourself it’s just for today, not for two weeks, not for life, but just for today, it makes it a TON easier. It’s a simple trick, and one I’ve been using daily now since July. It works.

    Looking forward to reading about your progress.

  2. Pj Perez December 13, 2009 11:03 pm 

    Thanks for sharing your story, Chris. That’s amazing progress you’ve made!

    Obviously, this “detox” of mine is not so much necessary as desired. I’m in good shape, have no medical problems, and still wear “medium” sized clothing. But I know that I can be BETTER, and this will hopefully clear out some of the junk.

    Or I’ll just starve and freak out and order a pizza. 😉