Tyler’s Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet) Journal

-by Tyler McPeek


So, I decided I wanted to try something along the lines of a juice fast.  I can’t say why exactly, except that I was a little bored, I had the time to experiment, and it just seemed like a weird and cool thing to do.  In college, when hanging out with my alternative and hippie-ish, artistically geared friends (you’ll have many when you are circulating in the creative writing department of a small liberal arts college in the USA), it was often mentioned and practiced—the idea of vegan diets, juice fasts, water fasts, and the like.  So, since that time, I had always had these ideas in my mind, although I never put any energy into trying any of them in a serious way.

I went down to the local health food store and started checking out the supplements, juicers, and book section.   Of course, this was after I checked around on the internet a bit.  One thing I found out was that decent juicers, such as the pressure screw kind that press, rather than cut or puree, the fruit and/or vegetables, thus not creating heat, and therefore supposedly preserving the vitamin and nutrient content of the food—important when that juice is the only food you intend to eat for a prolonged period.  Still, I bought a book on juice fasting, that included different juice and smoothie recipes in its pages, and was prepared to buy a top of the line juicer for a few hundred dollars.  Then, I realized that there was a more extreme and intriguing option—the so-called Lemonade Diet or Master Cleanse.  One can easily research this diet oneself, but essentially it is a fast diet that dictates a person drink only water, an herbal laxative tea, twice daily, and a homemade lemonade (which is made from a strict recipe of organic, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, spring water, cayenne red pepper, and Grade B organic maple syrup).  There is also a certain procedure for preparing for it, set directions for how much and when to consume it, for how long to continue the diet (for a period of at least 10 days, and perhaps as much as a year or more), and how to come off the diet.  Some of these details might vary according to whose directions you read and what lemonade diet guru’s advice you subscribe to.  The diet has been around since at least the 1940s and the common theme is that you must drink only the lemonade and water, no food, no exceptions, for at least 10 days (with the possible and only exception being approved, no calorie, no caffeine, organic herbal tea at some points).

There are many claims as to the benefits.  Mainly, they are the cleansing of your colon and digestive system, offering it a “rest,” since it doesn’t have to work to digest solid food or even juice during the fast.  A side benefit is weight loss, although it is noted that you will level off at a certain “natural” weight for your body, after which you will continue at that set weight, no matter how long you continue the diet—with examples given of people who have done the fast for as long as 2 years or more.  This is because the combination of the water, lemon, maple syrup, and red pepper provide a perfect nutritional mix for the human body, so that nothing else is necessary.  Again, there might be some notable exceptions, but I can’t argue, since I did feel like I could probably continue the diet indefinitely, without being undernourished, at least as far as I could tell.  Still, there were other unpleasant aspects of the fasting lifestyle that might prompt one to not want to continue on this diet for any prolonged period of time.

My primary source book that I used to guide me through the diet was The Complete Master Cleanse, by Tom Woloshyn.  I also consulted with some local people that I was able to find who had done the cleanse before, as well as a couple who did the cleanse together twice a year.  I researched on the internet as well, and found some interesting information, including the naming of a number of celebrities who attested to the master cleanse (Beyonce, who used the cleanse to lose 22 lbs in 14 days before “Dream Girls,” and Robin Quivers, Howard Stern’s radio sidekick, who says she lost 73 lbs over an extended period, to name two notable examples), as well as a few blogs, even one from Japan, of people who had tried the cleanse.  I also bought the necessary measuring spoons and cups, as well as a cheap citrus juicer (the rotary motor kind for oranges), that I bought at Walmart for about 10 bucks.  The correct syrup and lemons are a bit pricey, but not nearly as much as you would spend on food over the same period.  If you are going to try it, visit the closest “health food/natural foods store” and start researching and asking around; the rest will fall into place.


Prep Day 1 / Wednesday, April 16, 2008:

This is a preparation day.  I’m planning on doing two before I start the cleanse.  All I’ve eaten today is a package of baby carrots, a fruit cup, a banana, and a cup of organic apple sauce.  It’s 7:30pm and I don’t really feel that hungry for whatever reason.  I’m going to try to eat like this, plus maybe some vegetable soup and salads mixed in, through tomorrow.  Then, tomorrow night I’m going to take the herbal laxative tea (smooth move) and start the cleanse on Friday.  I hope to do the cleanse for 2 weeks, but I’ll settle for 10 days.  I definitely want to stick out the full 10 days though.  At least, that is the plan.  I just hope it doesn’t interfere with all of the other things I have on my plate during that same time.  After I stop the cleanse, I’m planning on doing the same vegan diet for a couple days after.  I’m going to take a picture of myself today and weigh myself daily in the mornings for posterity, along with keeping this daily journal for later blog conversion.  I just weighed myself.  I am exactly 215, which is actually 2 pounds heavier than the other day (last time I weighed myself).  That’s probably because I pigged-out on ribs last night with my Dad (a full slab of baby back) and a bunch of margaritas and vodka (that’s the first time I’ve eaten and drank like that in awhile).  Also, it is evening, not morning, and supposedly people weigh less in the mornings..


Prep Day 2 / Thursday, April 17:

Today is fairly uneventful.  I haven’t been exercising the past couple days, which is unusual.  Today I just plain forgot about my aikido lesson, unintentionally skipping the class.  So, this got me to thinking about whether exercise is going to feel good or not, once I get into the cleanse.  I hope I feel up to it.  I ate more today than yesterday—just felt like I should since it was my last chance, but I did stick to the vegan theme, but mixed it up with a couple burritos from the health food store and a cookie (all non-dairy/non-egg/totally vegan), in addition to the usual green salad and fruit.  I also had a strawberry breakfast bar.  It actually made me realize that a vegan diet is totally doable, although I’m not sure what the point would be, since a healthy non-vegan diet is just as good, easier, and, for me, more enjoyable.  Late at night I drank the herbal laxative tea (smooth move).  I may have brewed it too long (15 minutes plus, with the cup covered, then squeezed out the extract).  It doesn’t taste good or bad, but it does have a strong taste (which combined with the knowledge of what it is, makes it somewhat unpleasant).  I’m actually drinking it right now.  I’ll get it down.  I’ve never taken a laxative in my entire life, herbal or otherwise, not sure what effect it will have.  I’m glad it’s herbal.  I guess that means it must be milder than a drug-based one.


Day 1 / Friday, April 18:

Today started off with the toilet.  The herbal laxative was effective, but not urgently so.  I would say the effect was mild.  However! –the salt “bath” that I drank in the morning was not.  It was pretty intense.  It was hard to drink down a quart of salt water.  It tasted bad and felt unnatural to drink—like swallowing water while swimming in the ocean, but not quite so salty as that.  It took me nearly 30 minutes to drink it all.  About 30 minutes later, I was back to the toilet.  Then, 20 minutes later, and I was back again.  The last time, I could really understand why they call it a “top-down enema.”  I’ve never had an enema, but that is sort of how I imagine it.  The same water that I put in, came right back out.  My weight today was unchanged from yesterday.  I started drinking the lemonade.  Pleasant surprise, the lemonade tastes great!  Still, it isn’t quite the same as food.  I don’t feel “starving,” but I do feel hungry.  So far today, I’ve had 5 glasses (it’s 10pm, but I stay up late, so I’ll have another two before I sleep).  The book said to make it fresh every time, but that is really too much.  A woman I met who also does this said that she makes it up a gallon at a time.  I split the difference and made up a concentrate of the maple syrup and the lemon juice ahead of time, then mixed in the water and cayenne fresh every time I had a glass—this was actually the back-up plan listed in the book for those who will be away from home and cannot make the lemonade fresh every time.


Day 2 / Saturday, April 19:

Well, today is sort of like yesterday.  BMs are sort of the same, etc.  I’m wondering if the cleanse part is really taking place.  I feel like I’m already planing off, just passing the same stuff I’m drinking.  Of course, maybe I just want to believe that..  Because, honestly, I do want to eat, but it isn’t a super, pressing kind of desire.  It’s just not that interesting living off the lemonade alone.  Maybe I’m just being negative.  I’m not going to quit though, it’s only been two days of the actual cleanse so far, not counting the two days of vegan diet prep I did before hand.  I want to stick it out for the full 10 days.  I guess I was just expecting something more dramatic, especially after the stories of people passing rubbery substances, parasites, and all other variety of nasty things during the initial stages of the cleanse.  It’s 8:30 p.m., and I’ve had 4 glasses of lemonade so far.  I think I’ll have 2 more before I sleep, for a total of the minimum 6 glasses that the book says are required each day.


Day 3 / Sunday, April 20:

Today I got up, made my tea, then weighed myself.  It put me in a somewhat better mood to see that I had lost 3-4 pounds since Friday (the last time I weighed myself).  This morning I woke up twice, early with a somewhat urgent need for the toilet.  This may have to do with the fact that I let the tea steep for almost 25 minutes last night, as opposed to 15 (the box says to steep it between 10 and 15 minutes, but I caught a hint from the book that steeping it longer might make it even stronger).  I’m doing that again this morning.  Actually, I’m hungry, and I’d like to start the lemonade, but I want to put a little distance between the tea and the lemonade, so I guess I’ll have to wait an hour or so for my “breakfast.”  My tongue is very white by the way, which is interesting, because that is one of the things that is discussed extensively in the book and on online blogs relating to this diet.  It is supposed to turn a healthy pink with no white by the end—which sounds normal, but if you think about it, it is normally at least a little white on top, for most adults anyway.  I drank 6 glasses today.  I also had an experience where I went for a very long walk, through the woods, then out on the beach.  I was walking briskly, about an hour from home, when I felt like I was running out of gas.  Literally.  I wasn’t hungry, but my body was like a car running out of gas.  I started heading home, and felt like I might not make it.  Needless to say, I did get home.  Then, when I got home, I had to quick make more lemonade.  It was a really weird feeling, because normally if you get tired or hungry, it is just that, you just run on little pieces of food inside you, like perpetual gas fumes.  It was strange to feel like a machine/car, just run out of fuel and can’t go any farther, rushing to get back, with the warning light on.  I had only had two glasses so far that day, many hours earlier.  Also, my stomach doesn’t hurt, except for some occasional cramping, but going to the toilet is sometimes slightly urgent, and my stomach feels temperamental overall.  This seems to keep me home.  Even though most of the time I feel ok, I wouldn’t want to undertake some major task or some important event on this diet, at least not the way I’ve felt so far—even heavy exercise has been a toss-up, although I am planning on going to the gym tomorrow, then to aikido class on Tuesday—I hope that is not a mistake.  I basically skipped a planned trip to St. Andrews this coming week, but still plan on starting flight lessons at the end of next week, then a regular schedule of lessons starting the following week, which will be the end of this fast, if I last that long…


Day 4 / Monday, April 21:

Today was fine.  I did the salt “bath” drink again this morning.  The only way I can force myself to drink all of it is by promising myself it’s the last time, although I know I will do it once more before I end the cleanse.  I drank 6 glasses today.  Late at night, I had still only had 4 glasses, and I was out of lemonade.  I was going to let it go and just sleep, but then I reconsidered and decided to make lemonade and drink my last two.  I had to take the citrus juicer into the garage and plug it in and use it there, so as not to wake people up—it’s very noisy.  After I had juiced 5 lemons, I realized I didn’t have enough maple syrup to match the juice equally for my syrup.  Then I remembered that the book said that obese people could use half as much syrup.  I used more than half the normal amount (all I had), and I think it actually tastes better that way—or maybe just different, which at this point is better by very fact of being different.  It definitely has less calories, which I think is fine, but it also has less minerals (many of which come from the syrup, which I guess should be ok.  From now on, I might start using about 3 parts lemon juice to 2 parts maple syrup for my lemonade, just to mix things up and live on the wild side!


Day 5 / Tuesday, April 22:

Nothing eventful today.  Another day, another 6 glasses.  This diet is fine, and I feel ok, but I question whether staying on it for 10 days, as opposed to say 3 or 4, really matters.  One reason that was stated in the literature online and in books was “resting your colon and digestive organs.”  This makes sense, except for the fact that my stomach is gurgling and churning, and sometimes even slightly cramped.  It is not extreme, and I’m ok, but I don’t feel like my digestive system is ‘resting’ exactly.  The other thing is the “detoxification” reasoning.  I don’t know…maybe I’m detoxifying, but it doesn’t seem like it.  For the first couple days, yes, but after that, I feel like I’m just cycling this lemonade through my system.  To be frank, what goes out looks pretty much the same as what is going in.  I’m not passing any nasty toxins, or rubbery spackle from my colon, or parasites, or any of the other things that have been discussed my authors and testimonial writers.  So I don’t know why I should stay on it for another 5 days of the same.  I’m not dying for food, but I’m kinda bored.  Meals break up the day, they add variety to one’s day to day life, something to look forward to—they have cultural significance, social significance, and food is just plain enjoyable.  So, I’m going to try to stick it out, but if things are the same on say…the 8th day, I may reconsider the full 10 days.  Originally, I thought about going for 2 weeks, but I can now say that I highly doubt I will bother with any more than 10 days.  It is an interesting experience though.


Day 6 / Wednesday, April 23:

Today I made lemonade using a concentrate with less maple syrup.  I used about 3 parts maple to 5 parts lemon juice.  Part of it was because I haven’t been losing as much weight, but it was also just to mix things up a little (no pun intended).  While I’m not obese, which is the condition under which the book recommends using half as much maple as lemon, I am probably slightly overweight, so I though I would start using less.  Also, I’m kind of tired of the taste of the lemonade, and this way it has a little bit more bitter or a taste, which is refreshing.  I’ve had 4 glasses today, and I think I’m going to leave it at that.  I know I’m supposed to have 6, and I am going to continue having 6, but I just want to try 4 today.  Honestly, on a number of days, I’ve felt like 4 or 5 would have been plenty.


Day 7 / Thursday, April 24:

I had 5 glasses today.  I haven’t felt so hot.  Aikido practice, with all it’s rolling, falling, and other acrobatics, was difficult with my stomach in such a precarious state.  I am counting the days till 10, but am committed to finishing out the full 10 days.  I’ve had a lot of stomach pain and cramps, not extreme though, just here and there.


Day 8 / Friday, April 25:

I only had 3 and a half glasses today.  I just didn’t want anymore.  Also, I had to work (substitute teaching at a high school) today.  So, I skipped the morning herbal laxative and the morning lemonade, because I was anxious about the effect it might have on me if I was working and suddenly had to rush to the bathroom or whatever.  I even avoided drinking too much water—these days any heavy liquid consumption has the same effect as a full meal on my system.  That is what it has come to.  It worked though, and although my energy levels were lower, my stomach was generally ok.  I’m going to have to skip the laxative tomorrow morning too, because I have flying lessons at the airport, and having an emergency up in the airplane, while I’m piloting,  would be the worst possible situation, for obvious reasons.  Then, tonight, I had to sit with my mother and grandmother while they ate out at a great restaurant.  They had wine, giant, succulent brand-name pork chops, crab soup, bread and decadent desserts with coffee.  It was torture.  I couldn’t even drink the water.  I just sat there with my spring water bottle, drooling.  Kind of cool though, I was ok and many people “couldn’t,” and therefore never will have a chance to, do this I think.  On Sunday, the last day, I’m going to do the salt water bath in the morning one last time.


Day 9 / Saturday, April 26:

Today I only drank 2 glasses.  I just didn’t want it, even though I could feel that my energy level was reduced.  I know that I’m living on an insufficient calorie intake, but since I’m going off the diet on Monday anyway, it shouldn’t matter too much.  I didn’t drink the tea either yesterday morning or this morning.  Today I had flying lessons, and I just couldn’t risk going up and flying an airplane, when I have to worry about the tea hitting me suddenly or causing stomach pains.  I am drinking a strong tea tonight, then the dreaded salt water bath tomorrow morning, then strong tea again tomorrow night—I want to go out strong.  I’m not sure how much I’ll drink tomorrow.  I’ll drink as much as I want, but I’m sure that will be less than the recommended 6.  We’ll see.  In any case, I’ve already started planning a juice/fruit salad/vegetable soup first day on Monday.  That will be heavenly.  Even though what I really want is a delicious burger at a restaurant and some pizza (in that order).   But that kind of stuff will have to wait till Wednesday at least.  On Tuesday I think I’ll upgrade to fruit juice/salad/vegetable burrito.  Of course, the book recommends about 6 days of strange vitamin mixtures and juice only for the first few days, but I’m not doing that.  The writer is very extreme and perhaps overly purist, in my opinion.  Still, I’m not going to eat a burger on Monday morning either—my stomach would probably explode!  I’ll ease in, starting Monday morning and then see how things go.  I can always go slower if my stomach is rebelling, I know now that I have the will-power to control my eating, which is empowering (honestly, it was probably worth it just for that empowerment, that knowing and security, and the experience).  But I won’t come off any quicker than the two days that I outlined above, I’m decided on that.


Day 10 / Sunday, April 27:

My last day!  Fairly uneventful though.  The most exciting thing that happened today was that I went shopping and bought an insane amount of fruit, organic vanilla soy milk (for making fruit smoothies), banana chips, dried apricots, fresh squeezed organic orange and grapefruit juice, blue corn chips, organic salsa, fresh melon salad, and a bunch of other “come-down” supplies for the next couple days.  I sound like a hippie, but really I don’t normally talk/shop/eat/live like this, but that is the space I’m in right now, so I’m living it.  I guess the other thing to mention is that I only drank 1 and a half glasses of the lemonade.  That’s an all time low, and I know it’s not healthy.  I just didn’t want it, and I figured since it’s the last day, it doesn’t really matter.  I also drank the salt water bath this morning, which sucked to drink, as usual, and worked effectively, as usual.  I will weigh myself tomorrow and take an “after” picture, but I can estimate right now that I’ve lost 13-14 pounds over the ten day fast.  That’s almost 1.5 pounds a day.  I think I will get some of that back in the first few days though, before I hopefully start losing again as I return to the mild weight loss diet that I was following anyway, before I started the fast.  Well, I guess I can say that I am glad I did this.  It was definitely an experience, and I did experience some rapid weight loss—which is not the reason to do it, but it doesn’t hurt either, since I was on a diet before I started.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone, but it does lay bare ones emotional attachments to food, which I think is an important realization—which also leads to a kind of enlightenment, epiphany, realization, and ultimately, empowerment.  If I to, I know I could make due in a case of some kind of forced food crisis.  Maybe most people could, but I know I could, on an experiential, not just intellectual level.  I’ve done it once, and I could do it again.  I’m also fairly sure that I will be more appreciative of food in the future, although I’m not sure how long that will last.  I feel a little disappointed, because there is no real evidence that I can point to and say that I have been healed in any way, or detoxified per say, although I’m sure that I did clean myself out pretty good.  It is entirely possible that other people with have better results that I did.  Of course, it is equally possible that they might have worse results.  I’m just not in a position to say for sure—although some clearly swear by this extreme diet, as well as other kinds of fasting, etc.  I had high expectations, that’s for sure, which is probably why I am disappointed, in part.  I guess I was hoping that it could become something in my life that I would want to do once a year or more, or less, or at least something of significance to repeat in the future.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that it is right now, although perhaps I will come to look at it differently in the future.  All I can say is that I’m glad I did it, although I can’ necessarily recommend it to others—that is for them to decide.  One thing for sure, I’m glad I’m coming off it, and really looking forward to enjoying food again in my life.

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