Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 21 on the Clean Program - I Did It!

Wow, I'm on my last day of Dr. Alejandro Junger's Clean Program, and I feel fantastic! I am stronger in body, mind, and spirit than I was three weeks ago. My hysterectomy last November flattened my immune system, and I felt like I was 80 years old. But now I feel 20 years younger than my 47.

If I told you that you could spend three weeks on this program and feel this good, you probably wouldn't believe me--or you'd think I was exaggerating. But it's the kickstart I needed to compare my health before and after The Clean Program. It's shocking how bad you can feel and not realize it, simply because you have nothing to which you can compare it.

I found a couple of sources for vitamins and other nutritional supplements so I can keep up with my Clean regimen. Swanson's Vitamins has great prices on products. We've used them for years, and they are very reliable.

The results of The Clean Program were fairly typical for me, compared with reports from other Clean graduates. I lost about 10 lbs.—very good! But all the other great results reported here and here mean more to me than the 10 lb. loss. I feel SO wonderful.

So, thank you to Dr. Junger for being such a great physician of the people and helping me (and thousands of others) find True North.

Did you know Oklahoma has more manmade lakes than any other state? 
My biggest problem right now is finding a decent grocery store that sells FRESH and ORGANIC produce. I've dabbled in a vegetarian lifestyle, picked at the idea of a raw food diet, and I'd like to do both. But FINDING FOOD is the biggest problem where I live (a certain, deprived location in Oklahoma).

To paraphrase Trevanian's beloved and bawdy Basque, Benat Le Cagot: By the sweating and shriveled balls of St. Thomas, who in hell would live in Oklahoma?!

My sentiments exactly.

Seen in an Oklahoma Walmart
My grocery choices here are … wait, I have to sit just right to type this because it's so pathetic it gives me a stomach ache … Walmart (think People of Walmart) and CountryMart (which is sort of like what you'd find in a third-world country, except less fresh and more flies). The general population here is  generally unhealthy and growing more so by the generation. Obesity is a problem. Every stop light is like the smoking zone at a NASCAR race. Fast food joints on every corner, sandwiched between the decrepit porn barns disguised as pawn shops and the hellish bastions of pay-day loanery.

The Mullet ... alive and living in OK
The only way I'll set foot in the Walmart is if I have my camera ready and I am allowed to take pictures of the wackdoodlery I see there. It's too hilarious not to capture in pictures.

So, I am now on a quest to find a place to buy healthier foods. I'm about 80 miles from Oklahoma City and about an hour from Wichita Falls, Texas. Surely I'll have some luck in those locations.

If you get anything at all from this blog posting, I hope you are either thankful that you live in a place where you have good grocery choices or that you'll at least write and tell me how much worse it could be if I lived where you live.

Seriously, I am thankful for everything in my life (even Oklahoma). I'm thankful for good health, which eludes so many. I'm thankful for resources like the internet so that I can connect with others for support and find tools to help in the quest for better health. I'm thankful for my family, my darling Dan, my healthy kids and grandkids. I'm thankful to love what I do and do what I love.

To your health,


Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 11 on the Clean Program - The Power Behind the Throne: Your Support Network

Talking to GB over breakfast today (GB is Googly Bear: Dan. He calls me Hun, which is short for Atilla) about how much better we both feel.

Dan has been following along with me on the Clean program, but he's been doing his own home version of the Clean program. He has a healthy protein-type shake for breakfast and dinner, just like me, and eats something super healthy for lunch, just like me. And he's been feeling better and better every day! Just like me! We already take a lot of supplements so trying to choke down a handful of pills several times a day isn't a big deal. We both do it, and we agree that the benefits outweigh the annoyance of swallowing horse pills. 

He put on a pair of pants today and they HUNG on him. He's dropped a few pounds obviously. He's 6' tall and straight as an arrow with long monkey arms so he carries weight very well. 

All that to say, he didn't fork over $425 but he's following along with me and being extremely supportive. It's so important to have a support system while you're doing this, especially if you experience any kind of "healing crisis." A healing crisis occurs when your body tries to dump toxins faster than it's able to get rid of them. And the more toxic you are, the worse your healing crisis can be. Picture mean, evil toxins barreling like freight trains to every possible elimination site in your body in order to evade the healthy little cheerleaders you're putting into it. It's a train wreck. 

This is why you may start a detox program or a super healthy diet and then feel awful (sometimes immediately, sometimes several days into it). And you're left to think, What is THIS? I'm trying to be healthy and I feel this bad? And then you may give up on the detox or diet because you think it's hurting you.  If you hang in there, that healing crisis will pass in about 2-3 days and you'll start feeling the benefits of what you're doing. Eventually, the freight trains carrying the toxins find escape routes and all your little cheerleaders start throwing parties. (There's a bad Joe Francis joke in there somewhere.)

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to change to a strict raw diet. I knew nothing about raw diets or even why I should eat a raw diet. It sounded like a good idea at the time! Two words: STOO-PID! Dan held my hand and took me to the emergency room five days into my Brilliant Idea because I could not POOP! I had a brick in my gut and it wasn't moving! I didn't know that going raw cold turkey and not drinking enough water and not taking a fiber supplement was a bad and dangerous combination. I was pretty mad that I tried to do something healthy for myself and it ended soooooo badly. 

About five years ago, I wanted to try it again, but I did it the SMART way this time. I actually researched raw diets quite a bit, and even edited a book about raw food living by George Malkmus (author of The Hallelujah Diet). Dan supported me 100%, and I eased into it. I didn't eliminate all cooked foods and meat immediately, I drank tons of water, and took supplements, including fiber. The best thing that came of that experience was that I was able to get off blood pressure medication (the only medication I've had to take on a regular basis). I lost a lot of weight, slowly, and I felt pretty good until … you know, you read the first post … we slid fell crashed off the health wagon. 

Dan was right beside me when we crashed off the wagon too! Wow, now there's a life partner for you! :) Beside me through thick and thin (mostly thick), for richer or poorer (mostly poorer), and in butter-and-heavy-cream-and-andouille-sausage sickness and in health. 

If you live with another human being, you absolutely MUST have their full, undivided support if you're going to endeavor toward a healthier life. I mean, your cat doesn't care how fat you are! And your dog actually LOVES it when you sit and eat a whole pizza because he'll probably get some of it when you fall asleep on the couch with the pizza box open on the coffee table. 

Your spouse, your friends, your other family members MUST be 100% IN with you. They don't necessarily have to do exactly what you're doing or eat what you're eating, but they must love you enough to know that you're not doing this because you're experiencing temporary insanity. This is important to you, so it needs to be important to them. Don't let your mother tempt you with her lemon cake by saying, "Oh come on! You'll hurt my feelings if you don't eat a big piece!" You just have to say, "No, you'll live if I don't have any." And if she persists, just get up and go for a brisk walk. It's really okay to tell family and friends, "Stop trying to make me fail at this! It's important to me to succeed!" 

And if push comes to shove, just stop putting yourself in social settings with people who don't care about what's important to you. Especially avoid settings where there will be food you shouldn't eat and people who will try and shove it down your throat. 

I've experienced this, and from my perspective: the people who do this to you usually have a lot of health issues and they feel bad that they don't have your will power or desire to live a healthier life. Misery loves company. But nothing tastes better than good health feels. A very wise lady told me that once. 

But what if the uncooperative person in your health quest is your spouse? You can't very well desert him (or her) just because he won't jump on your broccoli bandwagon. (Well, I think you can, but I'm weird that way.) This isn't about that naysaying spouse whining, "If you love me, you won't change the way you eat! I need to share meals with you the way we always have! Because … um … we … uh … BOND when we eat together!" (Or some such silly nonsense.) What a load of CRAP! This is an insecurity issue that can only be dealt with head on with love and trust on the line. 

YOU have to be strong and say, "I love you, but this is changing for me." Period. And make it happen. And let your spouse deal with it. He will either come along or pout while you get healthier and feel better. 

Don't let anyone pull you down. You can love these people, but you don't have to give up your health goals. 

So What's New?

Dan tried to help me think of the other great things I've noticed over the last few days that have occurred since I started the Clean program. Here are a couple of new ones:
  • My sleep is incredible. I've been sleeping through the night consistently since about Day 6 of the Rebuild program. I used to wake up several times a night and had trouble getting back to sleep. Now, I sleep eight hours a night, ALL night, and I wake up completely rested. I don't know why I had trouble sleeping prior to the program. Maybe it was joint pain, maybe my circadian rhythms were haywire. 
  • My eyes are very clear. I've never had a problem with bloodshot eyes, but they have appeared dull for quite some time. Now, the whites of my eyes are very white, and my eyes look brighter. I wish my vision would improve, but maybe that's something I can look forward to on this program. 
  • I've also always had great ability to concentrate and multitask, but it seems like I definitely upped my game this week. I've been getting more work done in a day than I normally do (and I already get about a week of work done in three days, so that's saying a lot). 
  • Dan, who isn't doing the Clean program, but is echoing what I'm doing with his own home program, is lighter on his feet and feels better than he has in a long time. He feels healthier and stronger, less stiffness, and more energy. 
I'm thankful for Dan. He's my best friend. And the fact that he's giving up meals and our old way of life and following me in this program says a lot about his personal definition of partnership. 

His birthday is coming up … what can I do for him? 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Clean Program by Alejandro Junger, M.D.

I begin this blog on Day 10 of the Rebuild Cleanse, one of two types of detoxification programs designed by author, cardiologist, and founder of the The Clean Program, Dr. Alejandro Junger. 

Why didn't I start blogging on Day 1? I didn't think I needed to.

Really, there are so many people blogging their little fingers off, and I used to faithfully read a dozen or more each week. But I stopped reading blogs completely about three years ago because I felt like I was blogging my arteries with garbage. It was almost as bad as watching television. 

But I digress! I didn't think I needed to blog about my Clean experience because I didn't expect anything spectacular to happen. But that begs the question: If I wasn't expecting anything spectacular, why would I spend $425 on a product that claimed fairly spectacular results?

Once, a long time ago, I lost my entire savings on a product that made big promises. That's right, I put my money into an envelope, mailed it, and waited patiently. Finally! My investment arrived, and I was devastated. In case you were wondering, there are no such things as REAL sea monkeys. A whole dollar wasted. Ever since that traumatic event (I think was five), I have been careful not to fall for marketing ploys and the claims of snake oil salesmen.

So it took a lot of courage (and a helluva lot of research) for me to open my wallet and dish out nearly five C-notes for something that was basically going into one end of me and out the other (sorry to be crass, but the success of detoxification is about bowel movements after all). It was hard to part with that kind of money, but I did it because … (here it is, and a lot of readers will relate to this) … because I was desperate to feel better.

I had no idea what I was in for with the Clean Program. Sure, I read what other people experienced and I watched some videos and researched the ingredients of the products, but these types of programs affect each person in a different way. Results vary--and widely. 

But here I am at Day 10, with eleven days to go, and I already feel like a different person. Before I explain what is different, though, I need to give you a little background so you know how I got from point A to point B.

AJ, at 47

It's hard for me to believe I'm 47. I'm mostly surprised because I never felt "old"--until last November when I had a complete hysterectomy. Prior to the surgery, I'd had the usual aches and pains; stiffness in the morning, increasing loss of flexibility, etc. etc. But I thought I felt generally good most of the time. Everyone told me I looked a lot younger than my age, too, so that helped me believe I was somewhat healthier than average.

But I needed that hysterectomy because I was out of commission for about two weeks of every month with pain, hot flashes, bleeding, and the general insanity that makes one want to sit in a clocktower with a high-powered rifle. My child-bearing days had been over for 21 years, so bye-bye plumbing! And good riddance! I believed I was going to wiz through surgery and recovery because of the healthy lifestyle I'd been practicing for the last ten years. 

You see, about seven years ago, my hubby-wubby, Dan, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The prognosis was sickening but we refused to accept it, so we began a heated pursuit to learn ways to negate, if not reverse, the effects of the RA. We changed our diet in drastic ways almost immediately. Over the years, we made a lot of other changes, like not cooking or storing food in plastic, eliminating parabens and phosphates like sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate (SLS) from products we use, buying organic products, avoiding gluten. 

And guess what? When Dan saw his rheumatologist two years ago, aside from damage that was done in the very beginning of his diagnosis, he'd had no progression in the disease and was virtually symptom free. Take that, RA! Mess with my husband! (By the way, Dan turns 58 on February 12. Look at him ... uglier than a bowling shoe, ain't he? I don't care who you are, this guy is just dead sexy.) Now I'm distracted. Where was I?

I admit, we slid off the wagon a little over the last couple of years. We got comfortable in our lives and started eating in our favorite restaurants again. We started cooking with the ingredients of our youth (God love ya, Julia Child, for letting the world know how wonderful butter is). We love to entertain and cook for friends, and we made Cajun and Mexican and Indian and Italian to everyone's delight. 

But we were writing checks in the kitchen that our bodies couldn't cash. And by hysterectomy time, I had a feeling my health was in some trouble. I was foolish to think getting the hysterectomy would fix all that. In fact, the surgery set off the timer to the ticking time bomb in my body.

After the surgery, the aches and pains and the "etc. etc." became more prominent than ever. My recovery took almost an entire month. That may be normal for most post-op chicks, but I've always bounced back from anything quicker than most. 

Then, one month to the day after my hysterectomy, I caught a horrible bug. Bronchitis, sinus infection, ear infections. And I had this mess for almost SIX WEEKS. As soon as that was over, I got another sinus infection, followed by an ear infection. I went through a round of powerful antibiotics, and that floored me because I managed to go years without needing antibiotics. 

Everything hurt. I saw a strange face in my mirror every morning--a woman with dark circles under her eyes, too much weight on her face (and the rest of her body!); a tired, aging woman. My hair was dull, my skin was dry and itchy, and I wasn't sleeping well.

What is wrong with me?

I told Dan I desperately needed to do something because I was getting worse by the day. I had another ear ache coming and I was still coughing from my bout with bronchitis. I went to the most powerful tool available to us: the internet; and began my quest for answers. 

I researched: poor health; chronic fatigue syndrome; sleep problems; dry skin; weight problems; joint pain; aging … and some of these things led me to other issues: food allergies; detoxification … which led me to: cleansing; elimination diets. And finally, through a kind of stream of internet consciousness, I found the Clean Program website. 

Oh, boy, here we go. Another spin doctor with health claims and … what's this? A BOOK? Now, THERE'S a shocker! (I worked in the book publishing industry for a long time, so I have a teensy bit of cynicism about every Dr. Tom, Dick, and Harry who writes a book and slaps it on their fancy website.) 

I gave Dr. Junger a chance though because of the name of his book: Clean. Now, that's a great title for a health book. I watched a couple of the videos about him--about how he himself was sick of being sick and traveled the world in search of answers to why he felt that way. I started to appreciate this guy because I wasn't in a position to globe trot around to look for alternate NON-MEDICAL ways to improve my health. He did all the fancy footwork, and I merely gleaned from his adventures. It made me feel a little guilty for my initial reaction: that he was just another opportunistic crackpot health author releasing his wackdoodlery upon a public that should know better by now.  

So, I researched further, and I found dozens and then hundreds of online testimonials about the Clean Program and how it changed lives. I spent a couple of weeks really digging for information about Dr. Junger and the program, and I couldn't find anything negative about either (amazing, considering the internet is crawling with idiots who have nothing better to do than sit around and complain to the masses).

I looked over Dr. Junger's website, top to bottom. I read about every product he sells, looked at every ingredient of his products, watched every video I could find, and everything Dr. Junger talked about just reinforced everything Dan and I have been learning over the last seven years. 

The next thing I did was buy Dr. Junger's book, Clean. I read the first four chapters and went back to his website and ordered the Rebuild Cleanse. There is also a Renew Cleanse--both are 21-day programs--but Rebuild is a more serious "reset" for the system. That's exactly what I needed. I shelled out $425 and waited for my Sea Monkeys to arrive. :) 

Thursday, January 27: Day 1

Me, without hormones
I started the Rebuild Cleanse on the day I had a follow-up appointment with my gyno to talk about refilling my prescription for Estradiol, a natural hormone replacement therapy. I'd rather not take any kind of hormone replacement, but more than that I'd rather not look like a member of ZZ Top. My doctor asked how I was feeling and I admitted to him that I felt like crap but was starting a detox and cleanse program. He was thrilled to hear it! And then he told me it was a great time to do it, since I gained about five pounds since my surgery. Sigh. 

I thought I'd be hungry the first couple days of the cleanse, but I wasn't. My pre-cleanse diet already consisted mostly of raw vegetables and lean meats, but I also consumed a lot of coffee, chocolate and other sweets, and white starches (bagels, yum). So far, I haven't had any cravings for those things. I have avoided high-sodium, high-fat foods, and processed (fast) foods for a number of years, so I didn't go through painful withdrawals for them. 

The schedule worried me at first. My pre-cleanse habits were awful. I ate at odd hours and didn't pay much attention to how much time lapsed between my last meal of the day and breakfast the next morning. I'd eat dinner at 9:30pm and then eat breakfast at 6am. I didn't know how I'd handle leaving twelve hours open between the two meals. But it wasn't a big deal. 

And that's why I didn't think I needed to blog about the experience, because I figured my pre-cleanse diet and habits weren't … horrible. Surely not as bad as most people. I hoped I would see some improvement in my health, but, like I said before, I didn't expect anything spectacular. 

And here we are … 

Back to the Beginning

It is Day 10 of my cleanse and I feel … WOW! Allow me, please, to gush because I still have 11 days to go and I can't even imagine how much better I'll feel at the end of 11 days. Here is what I've experienced:
  • Around Day 4, I woke up and noticed something strange: I can breathe out of both my nostrils! The crazy thing is that I never noticed before that I couldn't breathe through my nose. I noticed some general stuffiness in the past and used a neti pot to clean out my sinuses, but they never fully cleared, even though huge amounts of stuff evacuated my head! I swear, a couple of times I saw things that looked like they had their own central nervous system. I was thinking conjoined twin? I never knew I had a chronic case of sinusitis. It was a health issue that crept up on me over the years and I can't remember the last time I could breathe normally. But now, since Day 4, I have had completely clear sinuses. 
  • Also around Day 4, I noticed that I didn't have to take over-the-counter allergy meds. I used pills and eye drops daily to combat red, itchy eyes and sneezing. I haven't used anything for allergies since Day 4, because I don't have allergy symptoms anymore.
  • Around Day 5, I noticed my skin was softer. The skin on my legs and body is normally like an alligator hide (a slight exaggeration, unless you're Dan and I rubbed my leg against you under the covers at night!). I've used coconut oil on my skin for about a year, and that's helped a lot, but five days into the cleanse, and I was shocked at the softness of my skin in places that were previously without hope of cure. 
  • My hair has always been great, but it's been dull and sort of limp for a long time. Around Day 5, I noticed my hair is like it was when I was in my 20s and 30s. 
  • Day 5, I noticed when I get up in the morning, I don't have to wobble to the bathroom. I didn't realize how much pain I was in first thing in the morning until I didn't feel that pain anymore. I have ZERO joint pain anywhere in my body. 
  • From about Day 5 on, I noticed I have so much energy I can't sit still. (Today, on Day 10 of the cleanse, I did a Zumba class!)
  • My fingernails have grown a lot faster in the last week, and they're stronger than they were.
  • My face blows me a away. My dark circles are nearly gone and my skin glows. It's like skin I had in my 20s.
  • I've lost 6.8 pounds so far.
  • I've had no hunger pangs, no cravings, no incidents of going off program (except two days ago I ate some grilled shrimp, thinking it was okay, but I found out later that shellfish is a no-no).
I'm going to chronicle this thing to the end. I can't wait to see what happens in the next eleven days. If there is anyone out there reading this, and you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, here's what I recommend:

  • Read Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger. You'll learn so much about what's in your environment that is slowly killing you and what you can do about it.  
  • Take Dr. Junger's advice, and go through your house and refrigerator and get rid of the things that are toxic and dangerous (shampoos, dryer sheets, bleach, household cleaners, etc.) and replace them with products that are safe. Look for products with SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). If you see these ingredients in any of your personal care products, throw it away. Here's why. Here are some sites with great products that you may be able to find in some of your local health stores:
    • Jason products at or directly at the Jason site. Jason has everything from personal care products like body wash and shampoo to household products.
    • Swanson Health Products has great deals on vitamin supplements and other products like fish oils (it's about half the price from Swanson as opposed to our local health food store).
  • Likewise, go through your cabinets and refrigerator and get rid of packaged, pre-prepared, high-sodium, high-fat foods. Fill your fridge with fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. Fill your cabinets with raw nuts and seeds, healthy grains. Stop drinking tap water (you do not want to know what's in there). Buy a water filter or buy water bottled in GLASS bottles. Stop buying meat that's wrapped in styrofoam and plastic. You can get better meat, wrapped in butcher paper, from the deli department.
  • Stop using plastic to cook (microwave) or store food. See #7 on this list.  
  • Visit the Clean Program website at and find the cleanse that is best for you. Renew if you need a little nudge. Rebuild if you need a big shove. Do the math in your head and you'll see that the cost of the program is less than all the prescription drugs you may be taking, or equal to the cost of the over-the-counter remedies you have to take to ward off all your ailments. 
    • Join a gym, your local YMCA, Curves (for women), or any kind of fitness program that will get you off your butt and moving. 
    • Find resources online that will help you learn more about your body, your health, your environment, and everything you can do to reverse the aging process and live a longer, healthier life. Here are some of our favorites:
      • Wellness physician, Josh Axe - this guy saved his mother's life (breast cancer and lung cancer) with knowledge he shares with everyone through his books, radio program, and speaking tours (you'll pardon me for saying, but this dude is easy on the eyes too).
      • Dr. Michael F. Roizen - say what you will about the tenets of shameless self-promotion (I know I complain about it enough) but this man, founder of RealAge and co-author with Dr. Mehmet Oz of the best-selling You series, has some great advice.
      • Health Ranger, Mike Adams, author of Natural News. It's an exhaustive resource about examining all the people and products they endorse. 
    • Stop making excuses for your bad health. Do something about it. 
    More soon on the next 11 days! Here's to great health - for a long time,