Braving The Organic Avenue Cleanse: Day 1

Cleanses are all the rage now. It is January 5th after all. For me, I've never been on a diet. I'm lucky that way. I have always eaten what I want to eat, when I want to eat it. And I hate fads.

But I'm also a sucker for sentiment, and with the new year, I thought it might be time to mark 2012 with something meaningful and different. So, when I got hip to a three-day, all-liquid cleanse offered by Organic Avenue, a growing company with five boutiques in Manhattan, I considered it.

And here's why I want to do it: For the challenge. For the thrill of doing something different. I don't know about you, but I don't get to chase down priceless amulets in Borneo or drop sheets of acid, like I used to. So, I figure, why not try something radical that allows me to maintain my responsible, urban, adult life, and which might also actually be healthy for me?

There are all sorts of cleanses out there—many of them bad for you. But Organic Avenue is all about releasing toxins and feeding yourself nutrients. That sounds helpful! The company offers several types of cleanses, but I chose their most extreme one—the one that allows for no solids. I want to see what my body can handle. Not that it's that intense: it's not as if I'm fasting or sticking something up my rectum. What this entails is me drinking organic, raw, vegan, fresh ingredients—in seven bottled "meals" per day—which they deliver to me, with simple instructions. I will be documenting my cleanse in three posts. One, today, for the first day of the cleanse. Another on Friday, and then a final dispatch on Monday—to see if I come out a new man. (I should note here that Organic Avenue fronted me the cost of the cleanse—a rather hefty $250. When it's over, I'll let you know if I think it's worth that amount.)

The night before, things don't start off well. My cleanse has a prequel. The instructions suggest I avoid coffee and other toxins the day before, and that I eat organic, healthy salads and stuff. They also suggest I write a "list of intentions of what you would like to release from your life." Instead, I drink three iced coffees during the day, eat quesadillas for dinner, and cap off my night by playing Wii while drinking straight from a bottle of wine (hey, I had to clear the fridge to make way for all the Organic Avenue bottles). I might be acting out just a little.

9:30AM: My first "meal" is a green liquid in a small vial. It's called E3 Live. Normally, at this time, I'm eating a fried egg and cheese on a toasted sesame bagel, with grapefruit juice. The physical memory is strong, as is the desire to taste it, but I'm not too bad without it. In fact, the E3 tastes good. Kind of sweet and grassy. Apparently, it's "a dietary supplement that uses phytoplankton (aphanizomenon flos-aquae)," which is one of the most common plants in the world. It's harvested from cultures grown in the waters of Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon. (You couldn't make this up.) But, hey, what's not to like? The stuff clears my sinuses, and, I swear, it improves my vision.

9:42 AM: Although I normally drink coffee every day, I don't need it in the morning. As long as I get it by 3, I can get through the day. Not sure what will happen today. I keep looking toward the clock, waiting for the time I can start the next drink.

11:04 AM: I get the coconut water that comes in a 16 oz. bottle. I've never been a big fan, but it's pretty good, if not as satisfying as I'd hoped. I'm feeling jumpy.

11:52 AM: I'm not finished with the coconut water. I've been thinking about how eating satisfies an anxious tic. I've always known that about coffee, but I'm now missing that satisfaction in my food. The physical act of eating, as well as procuring food, takes the edge off, as it were. And so, without that, I'm starting to feel on edge.

12:07 PM: I finally finish the coconut water. I feel totally satisfied; not hungry. The truth is, I am a natural for a cleanse. I like to take things to extremes. And, anyway, I often miss meals, because I'm on deadline or because I want to go to the gym instead.

12:24 PM: I feel great. When I put my hand to my face, I'm surprised to feel that my beard is no longer there. Did it fall off, I wonder. My skin feels...dewy. I remember that this morning I shaved off the beard I'd grown over Christmas break. OK, I guess this is what they meant when they said I might feel light-headed.

12:32 PM: The freshly squeezed orange juice tastes great. The sourness is welcome. This is the greatest thing ever. Can I do a cleanse once a month? The juice is almost too powerful. I drink water in between sips of the juice.

12:45 PM: I'm going for a walk, just to take the place of my usual lunchtime regimen.

1:10 PM: Note to self: New York City is the worst place to go for a walk when you're not eating. Every street is suddenly popping with Japanese noodle shops, pizzerias and burrito joints. Although I'm not really hungry, there's an undeniable impulse to enter one of those places to eat.

2:58 PM: The ginger lemonade is fantastic: sweetness cut by sharp ginger and sour lemon. It's delicious refreshment, followed by a burning throat. It's intense. Like me. Hear me roar. What am I saying? I really am feeling light-headed.

3:49 PM: I do feel a little tired. And I'm mostly tired of thinking about what I am and what I am not eating.

4:15 PM: The "Veggie Vibe" drink is delicious. I think it's all beet juice. It's like a V8, but not. Much lighter, sweeter, more pure. Forget I compared it to a V8. There's no comparison. It's the most substantial thing I've ingested all day, and it's really hitting the spot.

5:26 PM: Taking the subway home and again have a sense of clarity of vision that is striking. I see the people in their everyday routines and feel somehow elevated, like I've just won an Oscar or the Preakness. Maybe it's just pride of being.

6:05 PM: When I get home, I start drinking the "Green Love," which is made of Swiss chard, parsley, celery, lettuce and other greens. It's a little weird, but not bad. It is a bit cruel that I am drinking it while I am feeding my 1 ½-year-old daughter, Maxine, homemade turkey chili with rice and cheese.

8:14 PM: The kids are asleep, and I take a swig of my last drink of the day: coconut milk. It's...not what I had hoped for. I was feeling hungry and thinking that the coconut would satiate me, but it doesn't.

8:48 PM: Now I am very hungry. And I'm not particularly happy about that fact. Why am I doing this? I start lashing out in my thoughts, looking for weaknesses in this cleanse fad, resenting the elitism of it. Harumph. I seek distraction in watching old episodes of Downton Abbey. Unfortunately, I have to endure several scenes played out in the kitchen.

11:01 PM: The hunger has dissipated. I feel fine, if still a little grumpy. I head for bed to sleep, aware that having everything I eat decided for me is just weird. It's sort of like joining a cult or being in an S&M relationship, in which I do whatever I'm told to do. It's unsettling. But there's also some relief in that, because it simplifies things.

Check back tomorrow for the results of Day 2.

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