Getting Lean and Clean with the Clean Program

Getting Lean and Clean with the Clean Program

A while back, I told you about the Clean Program, a cleanse that my fiance and I decided to try out. (Read my previous post to find out more about it.) I’ve done many kinds of cleanses in the past, but this one was, believe it or not, actually enjoyable — and it worked really well too. Here’s the full story.

The first few days of any kind of cleanse are always both the hardest and the easiest. Hardest because your body is still craving salt, sugar, caffeine or whatever it is that it’s used to. Easy because you still have that fresh motivation and determination to help you power through. Like I said before, the main strength of the Clean Program is that it’s very easy. Shakes and supplements are pre-packaged, which is great for bringing on the road and somehow makes it all seem more manageable (although I’m not a fan of all the excess packaging waste).

The Clean Program kit, complete with shake packets, supplements, an easy-to-read manual, recipes and a pocket guide to bring when you eat out.

The Clean Program kit, complete with shake packets, supplements, an easy-to-read manual, recipes and a pocket guide to bring when you eat out.

The shakes come in two flavors, chocolate and vanilla. Vanilla was my favorite and somehow that’s the one we always ended up having in the morning, mixed with frozen fruit. The trick to making a perfectly satisfying shake is to first thoroughly crush 4-5 ice cubes in the blender, then add the frozen fruit and finally the shake packet, almond milk, stevia (the only sweetener allowed on the program) and whatever other powders you may want to add (we did maca, mesquite and, sometimes, spirulina). The vanilla goes really well with mango, raspberries and cherries and the chocolate is great with mint, spinach, or any kind of greens. They both taste really yummy with blueberries (make sure you stock up on lots of frozen blueberries if you decide to do the program). For an extra dose of healthy fats, add coconut oil or almond butter.

Blueberry/vanilla/almond milk shake — one of our favorites.

Blueberry/vanilla/almond milk shake — one of our favorites.

We found ourselves really looking forward to the shakes every day, not because we were hungry but because they were very enjoyable. We actually miss them now that the program is complete. Many others must have felt this way, because you can now buy the Clean shakes for maintenance purposes. You can also buy a good kind of plant-based protein — my favorite is Sunwarrior — and experiment with your own shake versions.

Lunch is your biggest meal of the day, so it's important to make sure to eat plenty. Here, I had lightly sauteed kale, quinoa and lentils.

Lunch is your biggest meal of the day, so it’s important to make sure to eat plenty. Here, I had lightly sauteed kale, quinoa and lentils.

For lunch, you’re allowed to eat whatever you want from the approved list of foods. Since both of us work from home, this became the main daily meal we spent time cooking and sat down together for. Usually, we did some kind of fancy salad, with lots of avocado, olive oil and seeds for added healthy fats and nutrient-dense greens such as kale. I also made lots of soups, quinoa, guacamole (which, without the tomatoes, is totally allowed on the program, just skip the chips) and, sometimes, even fish (certain kinds are allowed). If you have a full-time job, take this as an opportunity to treat yourself and go out for a healthy lunch every day. The program comes with a handy pocket guide listing all the allowed and prohibited foods — bring that along and you can eat pretty much anywhere.

Another lunch, featuring kale, quinoa, asparagus and wild-caught salmon.

Another lunch, featuring kale, quinoa, asparagus and wild-caught salmon.

If you have social obligations, you can switch it up and have a shake for lunch and a meal for dinner instead. It’s not recommended to do this too often, but it does help — we ended up doing it three or four times during the program.

The main challenge we experienced during the program was that we were traveling a lot. As we all know, staying healthy while on the road is never easy. Being on this program, though, made me realize even more what a big challenge it is to stave off those travel munchies. On a seven-hour drive to San Francisco, I caught myself opening the glove compartment in search of a snack several times without even thinking about it. That kind of mindless eating is what this program really gets you to think about. Most of us reach for something salty or sweet when we’re bored or stressed, which only makes us feel even worse. Sticking to three fairly strict meal times every day really helps keep any diet on track. Although one of the points of the program is to break bad snacking habits, healthy snacks from the approved list of foods are allowed. More than once, I ended up making delicious avocado/raw cacao/walnut pudding — one of my new all-around favorite recipes!

Occasionally we would treat ourselves to a good restaurant lunch. I still dream of this curried lentil bowl with quinoa, spinach and mint sauce from Cafe Gratitude.

Occasionally we would treat ourselves to a good restaurant lunch. I still dream of this curried lentil bowl with quinoa, spinach and mint sauce from Cafe Gratitude.

Our most trying day was a big birthday party for a loved one, about halfway through our three-week program. There was delicious food, incredible cocktails, and delectable dessert. I got through my cravings for champagne by sipping on coconut water and sparkling water with a splash of fresh lime in a champagne glass. At the end of the day, we were both very proud of ourselves for exhibiting such enormous will-power, which helped keep our motivation up for the second part of the cleanse.

A funny part of it all was that, as a woman who’s never been known to turn down a glass of bubbly, everyone assumed I was pregnant because I wasn’t drinking alcohol. Not the case.

Healthy snacks from the approved list of foods are allowed. This avocado-raw cacao pudding was one of my absolute faves.

Healthy snacks from the approved list of foods are allowed. This avocado-raw cacao pudding was one of my absolute faves.

Dr. Junger, the creator of the Clean Program, is quick to point out that it is a program not a diet. The intention is to detox and make your body better able to care for itself. However, in the process of detoxification, most people do end up losing weight. Both of us lost about ten pounds. For men, that’s very common. For women, it’s considered a lot, but I have a very easy time both gaining and losing weight (fun when it’s the latter, not so fun for the former).

As I write this, I am finishing the amazing three-week long Clean detox program… I can report that it worked wonders. Gwyneth Paltrow

For me, this was pretty much the excess weight I had been putting on over the last year due to stress and whatnot, and I feel great being back to my normal self (and in my favorite pants). Many of these kinds of programs are three weeks long because it’s been proven that is how long it takes to make and break a habit. After the Clean Program, we both definitely feel less inclined to reach for a stress-snack or an unnecessary afternoon pick-me-up cup of coffee. Once you realize how good you feel when you refrain from those things, you’ll be less inclined to submit to temptation.

At $425, the Clean Program is not extremely affordable, but if you figure that this represents two thirds of your diet for almost a month, it becomes a bit more doable.

Priced at $425, the Clean Program is not extremely affordable, but if you figure that this represents two thirds of your diet for almost a month, it becomes a bit more doable.

The final part of the program is the reintroduction phase, which happens after the three weeks are up. For this, you reintroduce one potential allergen at a time and observe how your body reacts to it. We started with dairy. Although neither of us had a serious reaction, I started feeling sniffly and congested fairly quickly — a very common reaction to dairy. It also made us both feel heavy and bloated. After two days of dairy, you stick to the Clean diet for the next two days before moving on to two days of gluten. This was the most powerful reaction for both of us. We went out for dinner with friends and had both pasta and bread. Besides being in a total food coma afterward, we were extremely bloated — my belly swollen as if I was pregnant (again, I am not). Gluten, it turns out, may be more of an allergen than we both had anticipated.

It really does make you feel better! It really does make you look better! Martha Stewart

You can continue this with other foods that could be potential allergens, such as sugar, coffee, alcohol, etc. The point is not that you should stay away from these things forever, but to know how they affect you in order to make better choices for yourself. I think we all know bread, wine, cheese and pasta are indulgences, but as with all these things, as long as you’re good most of the time, you’re allowed to cheat here and there. We all slip every now and then, though, which is why it is a good idea to do a cleanse like this one every year or so, to remind your body what really matters and get your dietary priorities straight. These three weeks taught me that the number one goal should always be to feel great — it’s amazing how often we lose sight of that.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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