Review of The Clean Program

What happens on Day 5 & beyond during Dr. Alejandro Junger's 21-day cleanse

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow wrote about The Clean Program in her GOOP newsletter. Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The first time I tried The Clean Program it was fall of 2009. At 5'9, I weighed 162 1/2 pounds and I really, really wanted to weigh 150 pounds. I read about the program on Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP newsletter and I figured if it was good enough for Gwyneth (you get the picture).

I did the program not only to lose weight, but also because I wanted to give my system a thorough cleansing. I figured it was the human equivalent of taking the car to get a complete system overhaul.

You can read my introduction to the Cleanse here.

My first full day was a disaster. I caved in at an office party and ate 3 decadent slices of coal oven pizza and then that evening while wandering around Manhattan waiting for a party to begin, I caved in again and ordered a McDonald's hamburger, small fries and a Coke. (Read all about it here). Pizza and hamburgers are not on my daily menu, but there was something psychological going on there. Obviously I was breaking all the rules and on purpose.

The 2nd day, I seriously considered wiping clean the slate and using that as the first day but my friend N. talked me out of it, and so on my 2nd day I was very, very good, except for 3 tiny pieces of Cadbury chocolate.

Day 4 I was also very, very good. (Read about Days 3 and 4 here).

Days 5-22 (I added on an extra day to make up for the pizza and McDonald's debacle) were such a blur that I quit writing this diary.

I figured it would be terribly boring for you to read about lunches consisting of either fish and veggies or chicken and veggies. The only thing I ever drank was seltzer water because I found green tea to be so bland and not worth the time it took to boil the water.

But there were many takeaways that I have to share with you because if you have made it here to Day 5, this means you are very likely on your own Day 5 of the cleanse or you will be soon and you are really wanting to know how it goes for me.

You should know that I liked the cleanse so much I did it again the following January and there's enough powder and pills left over in my cabinets that I can do it again for free. And I just may do so.

But enough about that, what about Day 5-22?

Day 5-Day 22

As the days wore on, I was able to keep up with the program. Every morning I drank the shake (a mix of powder, ice, agave nectar and a frozen fruit, such as blueberries) and took my pills. Every mid-morning I had a snack of more almonds than is really allowed. Every day for lunch I ate skinless chicken and steamed veggies or fish and veggies or a big salad full of veggies. Every mid-afternoon I had another pile of almonds. Every evening I did another shake.

And every day I cheated with a piece of chocolate candy.

A word to those of you who are married (skip this paragraph if you live alone): I'm a single woman who lives alone but I've noticed that my friends who are married have a much harder time dieting because their lives are so entwined with their husbands. My friends, for example, drink a lot more than I do because each evening they share a couple glasses of wine over dinner with their families. I rarely drink alone. So my advice to those of you doing this who are married or who have a family is to ask for their support through this cleanse.

If they agree to "have your back" as you go through 21 days of clean eating, then they will feel a sense of accomplishment with you when it's over. Also, they will get to enjoy hanging with the skinnier you. What husband and kids don't want that?

One hard thing about the Clean Program is feeling like a buzz kill when out with friends. Here they are drinking wine and eating rich foods and you are relegated to soda water with a splash of lemon. My friends were very nice to me, however, and I think people were generally impressed that I was sticking to a program.

The best thing about the Clean Program was how good I felt. I've told everyone that the biggest takeaway from the cleanse is learning how good it feels to eat cleanly. My stomach was never upset. I never felt bloated. My energy levels soared.

I did miss sugar and coffee and cream and bread. But my body didn't. Once the cleanse was over, of course I went back to some of my bad habits, but I did learn so many good ones that I've kept to this day.

It's very important to maintain some level of physical activity. Every day you should work out, run, walk or do an exercise tape because if you don't, you simply won't be burning enough calories to lose your maximum weight. I hired a personal trainer because I won't go to the gym without one. And I swear by Tracy Anderson exercise DVDs, which I pop into my laptop and do a few times a week. Yes, Goop got me hooked on Tracy, too. Buy her DVDs from Amazon.

What Happened After the Cleanse?

In the end, I lost about 8 pounds. I felt so great that 6 months later, I did the cleanse again. I didn't lose as much weight the 2nd time.

Update 6 years later: I'm editing this in 2016, and I can tell you that I never did the cleanse again. I have adopted some very healthy habits over the years that stem from this cleanse. For example, I rarely drink anything other than seltzer water with lemon and a morning coffee. I don't even drink much alcohol. I also know how to make a mean morning smoothie full of yummy stuff like frozen organic blueberries, almond milk, chocolate protein mix (I love NuMedica powders, which I learned about from a renowned dietician here in NYC, buy it from Amazon) and some other good stuff like spinach (you can't taste it) and cashews.

How about my weight? I married and then had a baby in 2014 and after I stopped breastfeeding my weight ballooned to 178 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight of 163. I have since lost that extra weight exercising (I'm into the Pure Barre method) and eating healthier.

For those of you interested in this cleanse, I highly recommend Junger's book, Clean -- Expanded Edition: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself, buy it from Amazon.

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