The CLEANSE (guest post).

This post is both awesome & bizarre. It’s the colliding of two worlds (my less than healthy college years & my new Mama-days).  And, for a blogger who writes as if no one is reading, it still surprises me when people from my past pop up in comments/greet me on twitter.

Alison is a friend, an amazing, inspiring runner and, as of recently, a CLEANSER.  Ive invited her here to share her experience & hope she’ll return with an update, too.


Big Lake marathon.

Big Lake marathon.

I’ve completed 28 marathons in 25 states.

You’d think I’d be stick-thin, right? WRONG! 

And you’d think I’d be really healthy, right?  WRONG again. 

My diet was pretty atrocious.  My food choices included things like Skittles, cheese puffs, and frozen yogurt.

Someone once said to me

I don’t know why you’re not stick-thin with all of the running you do.


Did this hurt me?  Yes.  Did I change?  No.  Until I did The Cleanse. 

What is The Cleanse? 

Cleanse can mean different things to different people.   I chose a 5-day Summer Cleanse through the Watertown Holistic Center  (note: everything is online).

What I liked about it is that you are not consuming *only* liquid. 

On this cleanse you can actually EAT.   It’s also about lifestyle changes, too.  For example, we were instructed to take an Epsom salt bath every night, massage our skin with sesame oil, & cleanse our liver daily with water & lemon or lime.

The cleanse was hard. 

Really hard.  So hard I was tempted to eat just one little Skittle or peanut.  But I never cheated.  Not once.

If I was going to do it, I was going to DO IT.

For five days I followed all of the food instructions:  all I ate was fruit and vegetables.

I was also allowed “add ins” in smoothies (nuts, seeds, hemp protein powder, chia seeds etc) & we had salads most days and quinoa/other whole grains on two days.  It’s not a totally liquid experience.  PHEW!

A big reason the cleanse was hard is that I was surrounded by other people who were not cleansing.

I went to a Red Sox game surrounded by thousands eating ballpark food–but I didn’t budge. I bought water instead.

This face drank only water!

This face drank only water!

Did I mention we were supposed to drink 10-15 glasses of water per day??  (Hello, bathroom breaks!)

There were detox symptoms.  Many people in my group got headaches, but luckily I did not.  Instead, I was blessed with things like diarrhea, shakiness, weakness, and lethargy. Fun stuff!

As a runner, it was hard to not have the energy to run–but instead of lying on the couch like I wanted to, I walked. If I didn’t have the energy to run I could at least walk!  And the symptoms went away.

As the cleanse came to a close, I was getting *really* nervous about re-introducing things like sugar, fat, protein, and diary to my diet. Would they make me vomit?  Would I get nauseous?  Would I get diarrhea? 

We were told to slowly re-introduce food groups to our diet.

I started with granola then added things like herbal popcorn and pretzels. By the end of the first day, I was back to a more regular diet.  I eventually went for ice cream, but I walked 3 miles for it.

It’s been 4 days post-cleanse.  What has changed? 

My appetite has been greatly reduced and I don’t crave processed foods.


Did I say I didn’t eat any processed foods?  No!  But I’m not craving them! 

I’ve never been a fan of completely eliminating a food from my diets so I *will* have Skittles, cheese puffs, and frozen yogurt again.  I’m just not sure when.  Or how many I’ll eat.

Time will tell, of course.

For now I’m anxious to get back to running, continue to monitor my appetite and cravings, and integrate some long-term changes into my routine.  Check back with me in a few months to see how I’m doing :-)


  • Have you ever tried a cleanse? What was your experience?



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  1. Pat says

    I would like to try a cleanse after the summer is done. I always eat the same junk as my twins (they’re 6) when they’re home and I need a re-boot.

  2. says

    I’ve never tried a cleanse and I really don’t have an interest in it. The closest I’ve come is doing a sugar detox where I eliminated all added sugar (except those that naturally occur in fruits). I do think it helped curb my sugar cravings but it’s like everything else – once you are done you go back to your usual way of eating and so begins the cycle all over.

  3. says

    I do a short cleanse probably twice a year which is usually after a big goal race. Not necessarily to lose weight but to refresh after a training period. It is amazing how even after only a short period you no longer have the same cravings.

  4. cheryl says

    Up your intensity and you will probably lose weight if that’s your goal.
    Running slowly for long distances doesn’t help you lose weight and really is the wrong reason to start running in the first place. (my opinion)
    If you are eating right (lots of fruits, veggies and good carbs) you really shouldn’t need to cleanse-it will happen every morning before or mid-way during your run….if you catch my drift.

    • Alison B. says

      HI Cheryl, thanks for your comment. I know that long distance running is not helpful for weight loss but I do it anyway as I figure it’s better than sitting on the couch. :) I usually gain a few pounds before each marathon which is annoying. Also, I was using the cleanse as a jump-start to eat right so that maybe I don’t have to do a cleanse again. :)

  5. Hannah says

    I am like you!!
    I’ve done almost a marathon in every state and continually get those comments.
    I wonder if this will be your jump start?
    Please report back LOL

    • Alison B. says

      Hannah, I will definitely report back in a couple of months with more long-term feedback but it’s been over a month since the cleanse ended so I have some quick follow-up. I’m definitely eating less and eating healthier but still struggle with weight loss. But I figure the better food I am putting into my body has to count for something! I am much better at portion control now, too.

  6. says

    I have learned that as soon as I give myself “rules” about my diet I will go to extremes to break them, but I know things like this do help some people.

    • Alison B. says

      Coco, I’ve never been into “rules” for the same reason as you. I figured a 5-day cleanse was a good short-term jump start but I’ll never completely eliminate any food from my diet. For me, it’s not realistic in the long term. I’d rather work on portion control than food elimination.

  7. Runner Girl says

    I don’t know I could do anything where I couldn’t run, but I would guess my body would like the break (from junk food and running) of a cleanse.

  8. Rita says

    I have tried cleanses before, but crack when I leave the house and hit social situations.

    Good for you!!!

    • Alison B. says

      Thank you so much! Being at Fenway Park at the baseball game was probably the hardest part, but it was a good lesson that I could still have fun at the game without eating. :)

  9. says

    I haven’t tried a cleanse before, but it sounds like a good way to jump start a clean eating lifestyle!

  10. says

    that is really tough! but it always gets worse before it gets better, right? glad you could still eat food and i hope you keep up the good work. Focus on fuel. <3

    • Alison B. says

      Thank you! I attended a webinar with a nutritionist who always emphasizes that food is fuel. Great perspective! Good mantra.

  11. says

    So interesting. I’ve never really thought liquid cleanses were all that healthy, but this one sounds solid. I’m really glad it worked for you…follow up post to let us know how you’re doing?

    • Alison B. says

      See my response to Hannah above for a one-month quick followup. Things are better than before the cleanse but still need improvement!

  12. says

    I have heard mixed things on cleansing. My wife did a two week cleanse before we were married. She was unbearable. For those two weeks. She swore she would never do it again. She was on a liquid only cleanse. This sounds like you got to eat, but just extremely clean. Glad it worked for you. I think doing it for a short time sounds ideal.

    • Alison B. says

      Thanks. There are so many cleanses out there but I chose one that was very short and involved more than just liquids. I figured I would start with something that was somewhat realistic for me. And it worked!

    • Alison B. says

      Yes, it was definitely a good one and I like that it was more than just about the food. Plus the private teleconferences and Facebook group were a GREAT way to go through the experience with others.

  13. says

    This is very interesting to me. As a long distance runner, I thrive on eating a lot of food and don’t perform well when I DON’T have carbs, fats, and proteins so i don’t think I could do this in the middle of training. However I will say I typically GAIN weight during marathon training b/c my appetite is HUGE after a 15 mile run! I am glad this one didn’t involve just liquid though!

    • Alison B. says

      Heather, I chose the timing of this one carefully: I was not in marathon training at the time. I don’t think I could ever do it during marathon training. Like you, I need plenty of carbs, fats, and proteins for long distance running.

  14. Bea says

    When I did my first marathon I gained 10 pounds.
    No one warned me how common that is!!!!

  15. says

    Every time I try that kind of thing (cleanse, intermittent fasting), I become so cranky people beg for me to eat food!!! LOL

    I have a good friend who runs marathons, and fast 5Ks for her age group, but she is overweight. Imagine how she would run if she lost weight!

    • Alison B. says

      My running times have gotten even slower so I’m hoping if I drop a few pounds I can improve my times. I’ll never be stick-thin and don’t want to be, but I’d love to see how my running might improve with weight loss.

  16. says

    Doing a cleanse/detox at a facility is on my 30 before 30 list. I have this dream of bringing in the new year doing one. :)

    I can totally relate to your feelings about people commenting on your body weight in relation to the amount of exercise that you do. I exercise like a maniac…but my diet is what holds me back.

    • Alison B. says

      It is so frustrating when I tell someone I run marathons and then they look at my body like there is no way I can do that.

  17. s says

    i don’t think i would ever try a cleanse. well, maybe. i have struggled with disordered eating in the past and actively not eating actual food for 5 days would probably just trigger that again. or maybe it would appeal to me, haha. who knows. anyway i agree that eating differently than other people you’re around can be hard (peer pressure is the worst, haha).

    • Alison B. says

      It is definitely hard but with a strong mental focus you can do it! I kept telling myself it was “only” 5 days and that there were so many people suffering in this world that not eating most foods for 5 days was nothing compared to them.

  18. says

    I’ve never tried a cleanse. I do try to eat a pretty clean diet though. I think it’s important to eat mostly healthy every day and I don’t think an occasional cleanse will make up for a bad diet. I’m not perfect though, and enjoy a treat every now and then, but I know that it needs to be the exception, not the rule, to my lifestyle eating.

    • Alison B. says

      I completely agree that an occasional cleanse will not make up for a bad diet! Amen to that. What I’m hoping it will do for me is get me in the right direction so that my diet will improve. So far, mostly so good.

  19. says

    Yep, i’ve done them, and some juice fasting. It’s why i don’t eat junk any more, and my weight is now stable instead of being the yo-yo with it i used to be. (Yes, i’m still a yo-yo in general, but that’s a different story.)

  20. says

    I did a cleanse about a year and a half ago. It was vegan, gluten-free, processed-sugar free, caffeine/alcohol free. Sounds tough, but it was completely meal-planned. I knew what was for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what was allowed for snacks. I didn’t really focus on what I couldn’t eat.

    A lot of people responded to my cleansing with, “but you don’t need to lose weight!” Cleansing is still a mystery to the general public. I was doing it to improve my eating, not lose weight!

    But actually, I did. It was a two-week cleanse, and I dropped six pounds. I’ve kept most of it off, too, even after returning to a ‘normal’ diet.

    It was really eye-opening. I still make a lot of my cleanse recipes, and my diet is so much cleaner than it used to be. Not perfect (I’m a marathon runner too! Gotta feed the rungry!), but I’m happy with my food choices!

    • Alison B. says

      Oh, do I know that “rungry” feeling really well!!! The cleanse you did sounds really interesting. Was it through a center or online or what? I’d love to look into it.

  21. says

    The closest thing I have come to with a detox cleanse is to eat only fresh fruit, veggies, lean meats, eggs, water, green tea and a bit of cofee. It was great and I do try to eat this way most of the time now.

    Wow! That’s a lot of marathons!

    • Alison B. says

      That sounds like a really clean way of living. Kudos to you for continuing to eat that way most of the time. I’m not sure I could do it, but in general I’m trying to eat healthier *most* of the time.

  22. says

    Paleo is my favorite version of a cleanse – of course if you already have CHF or renal disease it may not be the best diet for you.

    Congrats on the marathons. One thing to keep in mind is the amound of research out there showing increased mortality with more miles logged though….

  23. says

    I have never tried a cleanse before – liquid or food one. I do like that you at least got to eat food…. I am glad that some of your cravings went away. I guess the issue I always have with these for those that do it to lose weight is like friends I know that went on the Lindora super low carb program years ago when I was young or anyone that goes on a restricted diet – the weight some back on very quickly when you add back in other foods.

    I am all for whatever works for the person & I know many say these do so I am happy for them! :) I just prefer to see a more balanced approach & one that teaches a person to eat healthy life long.

    Now saying that – I know many like the kick start of these programs & of they work – I say good for them! :)

    Eager to hear an update! :)

    • Alison B. says

      Thanks for your comment. It’s been about 6 weeks since the cleanse and I am definitely eating a lot less and I’m generally eating better foods. But I’m not going to lie: I do occasionally eat “unhealthy” foods like french fries and burgers, but I try to do so in moderation. I haven’t really lost any weight since the cleanse but I feel better so I guess that’s a start!

  24. says

    I LOVE this post! It’s REAL and HONEST…I have never done a liquid cleanse and never will, because I just don’t agree with it. I have done cleanses, where I’ve felt the need to “regroup” and get back on track, but it is more about eating real food, water, etc. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Alison B. says

      Thank you very much! The day it posted I had a bit of a panic attack because I really put it all out there and there was no turning back. So I appreciate your feedback!

    • Alison B. says

      I liked that word: “choices.” I saw a nutritionist once who said we wake up every day and make a choice: is it going to be a “gain” day, a “maintain” day, or a “lose day”? As long as most days are maintain or lose then we’re in good shape. And I see each choice as a choice just for that moment. If I make a “bad” choice I don’t let it become a “bad day.” Each decision is unique and shouldn’t reflect the entire day for me. I think sometimes we make a “bad” choice and then say “what the heck” and binge or eat unhealthy foods for the rest of the day. I try not to let one bad choice turn into a bad day or week.

  25. says

    Good on you and Congrats on the marathon by the way. I have always wanted to try a cleanse but seem to get put off. I must say that reading this article and other peoples responses has given me more confidence to just try it!!

    • Alison B. says

      Thanks Joanne. I urge you to give it a try. And I challenge you to REALLY GO FOR IT if/when you do. Like I said in my post, no sense doing it 95%. I think it’s best to do it 100% or not at all. I kept telling myself during my cleanse that this was really hard and if I cheated, even once, it would ruin the whole thing for me. I didn’t want to “suffer” 95% of the time and then cheat for 5% of the time and not know what the cleanse could truly do for me.

  26. says

    I was educated to believe that the body, treated kindly, will self-cleanse. I’m pretty alternative in my thinking but I still feel that way. However, if the cleanse one is doing does no harm, I certainly do not have a problem with it.

  27. says

    Doing a cleanse can be powerful for beginning a personal fitness regimen. If you’re someone who sets fitness goals for yourself you don’t keep, you should check out FitPals ( FitPals helps you set goals like running your first half marathon, break it into achievable steps, then stay accountable to friends. — After your cleanse, start accomplishing your fitness goals!

    • Alison B. says

      I will check out that site! I definitely need to work on my fitness goals. I’ve been saying for MONTHS that I need to get back into my strength training routine! MONTHS!

  28. says

    The comment you made about people not being able to believe you run that much hit home for me. I don’t do marathons but I have done 4 halves and did not notice significant weight loss. I think it’s easy to make up for the calories. Plus some people do tend to hold onto more weight naturally.

    Even if exercise doesn’t make everyone thin, it does make everyone healthier, and that is more important anyway.

  29. says

    I haven’t tried cleanse before but I’ve been trying my best to avoid red meat, sugar and other unhealthy foods. I’m afraid doing cleanse can trigger my migraine that will make me useless for days.