Yesterday was the last day of my mini cleanse. I actually got sick and woke up in the morning with a headache, chesty cough and fatigue like nothing I experienced before and fatigue is an accepted part of my life these days! I went against my own plan and did a circuit-style workout at home on day 3 of the reset. I was really in the mood to exercise, mainly to relieve stress but afterwards I felt exhausted and today my whole body aches as if my muscles haven’t been able to recover properly.
I started off day 1 well with a green juice. But despite feeling unwell, I had to drive an hour to inspect an industrial site (I work for the Environment Agency) and I gave into temptation and had a coffee on the way. Straight away I could feel it in my nervous system, after a few periods of going caffeine free I am hyper-aware now of what it does to my body but it did help to get through the day. From Monday I will go caffeine free again but for now its the weekend and I am going to enjoy my coffee. At least my early start to the day meant I got to see a beautiful pink sunrise!
By the time I got home in the evening I had totally crashed and was actually feeling pretty down. I am on day 25 of my cycle, at the end of the luteal phase which is a natural low point for me anyway but the last few months of stress have made these lows even lower. I start to question everything in my life and feel this deep sense of despair. Journalling helps but sometimes I don’t like what comes up, especially when following my intuition means taking risks or making dramatic life changes. Awareness is the first step though and allowing things to be processed is better than ignoring them which I do for most of the month. There’s just something about the luteal phase that pushes me to dive deeper and get reflective.
Anyway, food wise yesterday wasn’t so great as I was unprepared and ended up eating breakfast and lunch on the road. I had fruit and nuts in the morning but I bought them from the petrol station and they definitely weren’t the best quality. For lunch I ate in the canteen at the site and went for the vegetarian chilli with rice. It was ok but a bit too oily and spicy for my liking and I felt heavy and sluggish afterwards. Then later on I had a few squares of dark chocolate to perk me up on the drive home. I think this was technically a 4 day reset as day as my nutrition goals went out of the window on day 5.
I tracked my nutrition using Chronometer for the 5 days and here is the overall summary:
For intuitive eating I think this is pretty good! Apparently I ate a bit more than I need to maintain my weight but I don’t think these calculators are accurate anyway. My calories were about 2000 each day which is about what I need as I woman and I hit most of my nutrient targets (eating nutritional yeast every day definitely helped with the B vitamins including B12). The only thing that I was seriously lacking in was vitamin D but I do take a daily supplement so I’m not too worried about that. The 2nd chart shows the macro-nutrient breakdown for each day – green is fat, red is carbs and blue is protein.
You can see the drop in carbs after the first day when I definitely went overboard with the fruit and an increase in fats/proteins from the extra nuts and seeds on the last couple of days. I have to admit I am a bit of a science-nerd so I love data!
What were my results?
My goals going into the 5 day reset were:
- Better digestion and elimination
- Improved sleep and higher energy
- Brighter skin/less acne/dark circles
Truthfully I don’t think I have achieved any of these – oops! I am still constipated, my sleep has gotten worse over the last few days and my acne is no better either. I feel pretty exhausted and generally terrible. Not at all in the mood to celebrate this weekend when feeling my best for my Christmas party and graduation was the main reason I set out on this cleanse. I guess the only positive I can say is that I’ve learned a few things along the way and have some ideas on how to “do better next time”. Look out for round 2 of the 5 day cleanse!
What have I learned?
A major learning from this reset that I mentioned in other posts is the importance of blood sugar balancing. This is something I will take forward into the rest of this month. No high carb, high fruit, vegan diet for me right now as it just doesn’t work. I think for anyone struggling with hormonal issues, particularly those related to the adrenals, needs to focus on balancing blood sugar above everything. What does this mean? More healthy fats and vegetables, less fruit and grains and especially so in the morning.
Another thing I have realised is that good digestion and elimination is not as simple as increasing fibre in your diet. In reality, there are so many other factors at play including sleep quality (as this is when our body is detoxifying and preparing for elimination the next day) and stress levels. Sometimes a higher fibre diet can actually make the situation worse if our system becomes overloaded and can’t process what we put in.
On my favourite topic of menstruality and hormones, I have been reminded of the importance of cycle synching! Pushing my body with work and exercise towards the end of my monthly cycle leaves me feeling imbalanced and exhausted. I have a new wave of motivation to try to line up my schedule with my cycle and I am already thinking ahead over the next month how I can do this. I did say going into this cleanse that I thought the follicular phase is the best time for women to start a cleanse as this is when our energy levels are highest and we also have that fresh feeling of the start of a new cycle. My experience has shown that I was probably right and I will try this out next time.
Finally, I have realised that my relationship to food and my body is so much better than it used to be. I am much more in tune with how my body is feeling and what it needs. I’m not afraid to listen to my intuition when it comes to what and how much to eat. Coming from someone who spent many years in my teens and early 20s as a chronic dieter and binge eater this is amazing and these few days have proved to me how far I have come. For a long time I wasn’t able to do any sort of cleanse as just the thought of restriction was triggering for me and I always associated clean eating with dieting and weight loss. However, now I am able to do something like this for health reasons without weight loss on the agenda which is great.
I hope you enjoyed following along with this 5 day reset even if it didn’t exactly work out as planned! Now I am going to enjoy my weekend as best as I can even though I am feeling crappy right now. After that I am in the mood to share more about cycle synching and how this can benefit us women so look out for that over the next month including:
- What are the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle
- How to adjust your lifestyle, nutrition and exercise to each phase
- What our “superpowers” are in each stage and things to look out for
- My experience with cycle tracking using journals, apps etc.
- Yoga practices for the different cycle phases