November 10, 2009

The Master Cleanse. “Today is my 45th day without eating any solid food.” ~ via Harold Linde

Editor’s Introduction: I was in LA last month, meeting with Discovery re my Walk the Talk Show. The first night, I was whisked to a fundraiser with a bunch of leading greenies…including Harold Linde. He looked good. He was with it. Bright. Relaxed. Normal (unless you consider his huuuuge achievements, see his bio at bottom). Then, I found out he hadn’t had a bite to eat for a month point five. Holy Master Cleanse, I cried, and begged him to write up his experience for us. Et, voila: ~ WL.


Today is my 45th day without eating any solid food.

I’ve been on the “Master Cleanse” (without the daily saline laxatives/didn’t “feel” the need for this part). All I have essentially consumed this past month and a half is the special lemon-based liquid the Master Cleanse is know for (often referred to as “that lemonade diet”). The contents are simple: grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. I did not do vitamins. And feel effervescent.

I have done this cleanse before but never anything approaching this long. I was inspired this time by a visit to the Año Nuevo State Reserve and Park—regular haunt of elephant and other species of seals—where a docent explained how this aquatic mammalians would beach themselves and not eat anything but live off their blubber stores (females eat nothing while giving birth, nursing, and mating; males go without food for up to three months).

If they could do it, I decided, so could I. After all, I had some blubber stores of my own after a summer spent in the gourmet-enthusiast neighborhood of San Francisco Noë Valley. Daily visits to the cheese shop and delicacy markets kept my palette happy with triple-cream Brie, whole-wheat gnocchi, Belgian milk chocolates, French country loaves, and cream—in my coffee, tea, and baked egg dishes.

But that feels like another lifetime ago….

I already have my first solid meal planned for tomorrow morning. When I say “I” what I really mean is my body’s own internal culinary guidance system—for my intuitive digestive mechanisms have already had me prepare the following menu: organic red quinoa, uncooked tofu marinated in miso/ginger/garlic/Bragg’s, farmer’s market-fresh kimchi, and heirloom lettuce leaves. I already know my portions will be moderate, my chewing thorough, and my taste buds highly aroused. What my body wants my body gets. It has cooperated splendidly these last 45 days.

In fact, (except for the last three days where I started to actually feel hungry) this physique performed splendidly. I have even attended two haute cuisine weddings, a fully catered environmental fundraisers (complete with organic/vegan/local buffets), and various salons and workshops accompanied by colorful and delectable hors d’oeuvres , snack trays, fruit-and-cheese platters, and sandwich mounds. But it hasn’t been hard at all. I simply have not been hungry.

I actually feel better than I have in many, many years.

By the way, I have not been lying on my bed with the curtains drawn like some forgotten prisoner in a Turkish jail. Every morning I either trundle a couple of miles through the sand dunes in Marina Del Rey while utilizing my Nordic walking poles (like cross-country skiing this activity gives a full-body workout) or yoga. Just last week I was cutting down spiny limbs of a friend’s palm tree with a chainsaw while balances atop a rickety ladder. I’ve made love. I’ve sat in a classroom for 12+ hours.

I’ve been very relaxed. And my chronic back pain (I herniated my L5/S1 three years ago) has disappeared. Completely.

My friends’ reactions are inspiring: “You look so much younger!” and “I expected a gaunt look and dark rings under your eyes but you look fabulous!” Quite frankly, I feel sexy as hell.

My clothes all fit again. My body feels good on as well. Most significantly, I have re-established a healthy relationship with food. The habitual, unmindful eating I notice around me constantly (a great reminder of how I was eating before the cleanse) reminds me of how easy it can be to act like a zombie when something edible is available.

Curious, too, how much extra time I have. When it is time for nourishment, I squeeze some lemons in my double-sized Nalgene bottle, pour in some syrup, add a pinch of red pepper, and I am good to go.

The greatest challenge has been all the negative thoughts other people have projected onto me when I tell them what I am doing. In my recent experience, other’s food issues are more virulent than swine flu. They are concerned, or worried, or fearful, or judgmental. They think I am killing myself or insane or tortured—even when I tell them I feel fabulous.

My childhood wasn’t always rosy, and I developed an unhealthy relationship with food for the escape and succor.

“Twinkies, Big Macs, Kentucky Fried Chicken, 31 flavors abounded.”

Now I cannot stomach the thought of even tasting one of these so-called “foods.” My body wouldn’t let me close enough to touch them.

I have this sense of being clear, almost monk-like

As I mentioned before, only during the last three days have I started to feel hungry. But I haven’t minded. I appreciate the opportunity to actually feel what not eating is like for a change. And experience a noticed contrast to the years I spent stuffing my face with mac’n’cheese or popcorn or whatever.

Our species relationship to food might be our most basic and powerful with an outside substance (air and water don’t count; we don’t direct much consciousness or will toward these except in dire emergencies).

It has been thrilling to discover, viscerally, that all this hubbub about food really is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Simply put, food just hasn’t been an issue for me.

Harold Linde uses his creativity to inspire audiences about the environment and cultural evolution though visual and social media. Previous organization and projects he has worked with in the past include: United Nations, Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Burma Relief Center, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Forest Ethics, Ruckus Society, Evolver Project, PETA, 5 Actions Campaign, International Fund for Animal Welfare 11th Hour, Battle in Seattle, 30 Days; PBS, DragonflyTV, Edens: Lost and Found, and Big Ideas for a Small Planet.

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