An Angeleno’s Rite of Passage

We finally did it!  Made it official and became true Angelenos.  We did a three-week “detox” program.

My life as a physician-researcher-book-editor-radiosurgery-director-mother-wife (in no particular order, mind you) required all of my time.  I was up to five cups of coffee a day; chowing down oily greasy food delivery during lunch while typing clinic notes; and barely getting by our daily family meals with frequent takeouts.  When I was tired, I downed more coffee.  MK was the same way.  9pm came around, and you can hear the espresso machine being turned on in my house because one of us needed a shot to get through more work.

To my good fortune, as I was surrounded by good friends gathered to celebrate my birthday, we were discussing healthy life styles. KK mentioned the CLEAN program that she and her husband have been following for a few years.  “Get the book, read it, and follow it.  We do it at least once a year.  You are going to love it”, she said to me.

I ordered the book on the spot.  Two days later, the book arrived at my door.  Written by Alejandro Junger, MD, this book started out with anecdotes about how he himself got into the business of building a leaner, more efficient machine that is the human body.  I won’t go into the scientific, physiologic detail here, but it does look plausible that by shunting the body’s digestive energy away by giving the body blended/juiced foods without common allergens, one gives the liver a chance to metabolize “toxins”.

As if the stars were lining up for my path to CLEAN, Dr Junger just happened to be giving a talk in Venice a few days after the arrival of my book.  Naturally, I took this opportunity to hear the information straight from the horse’s mouth.  Basically, it’s a 21-day program.  He boiled it down to this simple plan: we “drink” our breakfast and dinner and eat a “solid meal” for lunch for people who live a normal busy life.  “If you are in a spa and you are just doing yoga and meditating all day, you can drink all your three meals no problem.  But if you are living your normal life, working, then you need a solid meal to sustain you”,  he said to the crowd.  That made sense.  Still, as someone who has never been on a diet, nor “juiced” before, all this blender/juicer business sounded intimidating.

“I suppose I need to get a blender,” I said to my husband.

“Do I need a juicer too if I get a blender?”, I asked KK.

KK had both.  But since we had neither, and I believed in actually eating fruits and vegetables whole for all the nutrition it had to offer including its roughage, I decided to skip juicing recipes, and concentrated my effort on blending my meal.  I found the Magic Bullet 12 piece high-speed blender/mixer system that suits our needs.

In the book, it also talked about purifying our environment.  This made sense as well.  I ordered a water purifying filtration system and had Monkey King install it in our kitchen.  I switched out our dish washing detergent, laundry detergent.  I got an air purifying machine for my basement office in the hospital.

I shopped at Whole Foods and ventured into an aisle I’ve never stepped foot in before: the power foods section!  I was about to hyperventilate the way I did the first few times I stepped into a Babies R Us store when I found out I was pregnant.  All those unfamiliar names and gadgets!  I stayed in that two-feet radius in the store, reading labels, comparing notes, and finally picked up Cacao beans, Chia seeds, and Gogi Berries.

After one month of preparation, I was now armed with the book, the bullet, my beans/seeds/berries.  I managed to convince MK to join me on this journey.   His big milestone birthday was coming up and I wanted him to welcome his big day with the promised radiance and rejuvenation that I read and heard about.

The first two days were not easy.  In fact, it was really, really difficult.  I was not used to not eating dinner, so by 2pm the following afternoon, I was ready to pass out.  A therapist offered me a piece of her carrot, and boy, I savored that little piece of baby carrot like it was the most delicious morsel that has ever landed on this planet earth.  We learned to pack a small snack: a piece of apple,  some carrots, hummus, almond butter.  Our lunch was basically a salad with protein.  Protein could be wild king salmon

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or grilled chicken

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By the third day, our bodies finally got the message that it really was not getting dinner anymore.  We took the matters into our own hands and decided that we were going to make our lunch really spectacular.  I stayed up late at night making my grilled rack of lamb with rosemary, thyme and garlic; duck leg confit (without the wine of course); cumin and curry quinoa with celery, onion and pine nuts.  Sorry guys, no pictures to show as these meals were devoured in mere minutes when lunchtime rolled around.  While supposedly taking a break from eating so that our bodies can concentrate on detoxing, my mind ironically took the opposite approach and sharply focused itself on anything food-related.  We talked incessantly about the “dirty foods” we were going to devour once we were off this diet.  I cooked every night and packed our lunch and snacks daily.  I shopped for food twice a week, which was a far cry from the barely once a week of yesterdays.  I started  shopping at our local Farmer’s market on Saturday mornings again so that I can get the freshest ingredients.

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There’s something to be said about buying fresh, organic foods straight from the people who grew them; and buying the wild caught salmon by the fisher man who caught and sliced them just the day before.  What gifts these hard-working folks are offering us!

For our date night during CLEAN, we had our “dinner” at this juice bar in Venice called Moon Juice.

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The interior is cute, fresh, and neatly stocked with jars of items that are now as familiar to me as flavors in a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream store.

IMG_2819They have an extensive menu, full of yummy mixology offerings

IMG_2818 The “bartender” was quite knowledgeable and we chatted about the merits of different nuts and seeds.

IMG_2829We went apple picking to gather organic fruits straight from the trees!

IMG_3028MK’s appearance improved dramatically.  He no longer had bags under his eyes.  His jaw line sharpened and rid itself of the puffiness that was starting to accumulate.  His abdominal six-packs reappeared.  His skin glowed and I looked at him in awe.  “Wow, you look really great!”, while silently wondering what the heck had this program done for me.  Being a scientist and needing numbers for quantification purposes, I started to weigh myself once a week.  Lo and behold, I lost about 5.7 lb in less than 3 weeks.  People at work took notice and our receptionist told me that my skin looked like porcelain.  Ha!

Today marked the end of our three-week program dedicated to improve our health.  We celebrated our first solid dinner with pan-seared Ahi tuna with thyme, rosemary and coarsely crushed pepper, and a bottle of red wine.

IMG_3257The tuna was delicious.  As we drank our wine and had our lovingly prepared meal, I can’t help but feel FULL.  All those nights going to bed daydreaming about how ridiculously happy I was going to be to finally eat a solid dinner?  It felt like a non-issue now.  My body has de-cluttered itself, and it wants to keep itself trim and neat.  We had a piece of Belgium chocolate after dinner and the giddiness I thought I was sure going to feel was lacking as well.

In fact, right before bed, I went straight to the kitchen and cut up the ripe papaya that MK picked up from the market today.  I am dreaming about the fresh papaya, raspberry, coconut and spinach shake that I am going to have tomorrow morning.

About Monki

I am a mother, a wife, a physician and a scientist. This is a life style blog about recipe ideas to try out, fun events to check out, being a career woman, health concerns, parenting doubts and triumph, and all the silly and loving moments in between.
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4 Responses to An Angeleno’s Rite of Passage

  1. camparigirl says:

    Ah ah ah! You have finally been inducted in the health section of the Angelino pantheon! I usually do Dr. Junger’s clean detox once a year and it is bloody hard! But I have to admit I feel better afterwards and, in the past six years or so, I haven’t really gone back to any junk (not that I was much of a junk addict) and I have learned to curb my sugar cravings – I do have a sweet tooth. I juice and make smoothies as a matter of course now (love Moon Juice but oh those prices!). It was never about weigth – if anything, I am on the too thin side – but reprogramming my dietary habits has left me with more energy. Hope it does the same for you.

    • Monki says:

      Wow Camparigirl, you see, almost everyone I talk to has done this! It’s amazing! For the last “dirty meal” pre-CLEAN, I went all out and got some nice French cheese and wine and steak. As I was selecting my wine, the wine guy came over and we chatted about HIS clean program that he just came out of! He even had recommendations of what kind of almond milk to get, on top of the red and white that he selected for me :)

      Yes I am so glad that we finally did it!! Two juicing virgins journey into the health section of the Angeleno pantheon! It was bloody hard! I was obsessed with thoughts of ingesting coffee, cheese, wine, sushi and beer. But started to feel better by the second week. By the end of the second week, I thought I could just live the rest of my life CLEAN. I didn’t feel like I need to lose weight, but definitely could lose the sluggishness and chronic fatigue! The weight loss was an extra bonus! Something concrete to measure. We are hooked and will be doing it at least once a year too :)

  2. Doctor , such a great account of your program. Thank you for sharing..
    Wishing you a great continuation of a CLEAN life,
    Big hug,
    Alejandro Junger

    • Monki says:

      THANK YOU for coming up with a concrete plan like CLEAN. It felt amazing to not depend on coffee and still feel energized throughout the day; empowering even, to not rush to food when hungry. Whenever I felt hungry, I asked myself, as you suggested in your book, “Am I really feeling hunger? Or do I just think that I should be hungry at this hour?” It really did make a difference to differentiate expectation and reality. Now the blender is on when I feel tired–whipping up a cold shake with ginger and cucumber–instead of our espresso machine! Thank you, Dr Junger!

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