I turn 60 on July 3rd. Hard to believe, I know. By God’s grace, strong Norwegian genes and good luck, I’ve been blessed with excellent health for all these years – free from injury, pain and disease. Well, except for the stitches I got in my hand when I was a kid and the other stitches I got in my head and my knee, and the time I almost drowned in the public swimming pool, and the broken collarbone I got in 8th grade, and the many sprained ankles I got playing basketball, and the multiple concussions and contusions I got playing football, and the time I got stung by 15 hornets while working at a golf course, and the bout of bronchitis during my years as a teacher and the bike accident I had last year which resulted in another fracture of the same collarbone. Other than that, it’s been smooth sailing.
What could a guy like me possibly desire for a 60th birthday present? Could it be that Specialized S-Works Epic Hardtail mountain bike I’ve been drooling over? Could it be that new set of custom-fitted PXG golf clubs? Wrong on both counts. Per a suggestion from my wife, I decided to give myself a 26-day plant-based detox from the Green Smoothie Girl. Hooray.
From 2003-2008, when I was competing in triathlons and training 15-20 hours a week, I fluctuated between 183-188 lbs. After I stopped racing and my training hours decreased, I gradually started putting on weight. It was nothing alarming, but that’s what the frog sitting in a pan of boiling water probably said. Over the past decade, little by little, pound by pound, I added girth until the day I tipped the scales at 200 lbs. for the first time. Human beings, if nothing else, are adaptable. As I put on weight, I rationalized it and excused it. I had a busy travel schedule; I didn’t feel like working out as hard as I used to; I loved pizza, chips, popcorn, ice cream, beer, wine, bourbon and a lot of other unhealthy foods; I could still button my pants.
Luckily for me, my wife has some of the same issues. To rectify spurts of bad eating and weight gain, she has tried every single diet, cleanse and detox known to man. I’m not kidding. You name it? She’s tried it. I’ve joined her on a couple of these adventures over the past decade, and they usually end the same way.
Me: I’m starving!
Her: You can’t make it three more days?
Me: No, I quit. I’m making myself a vodka tonic and some nachos.
Over the last five years, my weight gradually crept up to 205, then 210, then 215. It peaked last year at a disgusting 219 after we returned from a long road trip. I felt bloated and uncomfortable. My face looked fat, I lacked the energy I normally had, and worst of all, my knees and other joints hurt all the time. It got to the point that, after sitting for a long stretch, it hurt to stand up.
During this curious time of sheltering in place, isolation has lent itself to trying some new things at home. Three weeks ago, I overheard one of my wife’s friends telling her about the detox she was doing. “Here we go again!” I thought. More Amazon boxes filled with protein powders, cleansing liquids, pills, books and tracking sheets.
Not realizing I was at a point of doing something drastic, she said to me, “Hey, how would you like to do a 26-day detox with me!”
Without even hesitating, I said, “I’m in!”
She looked surprised as I grabbed the manual off the counter and started reading about the theories behind the detox. One thing it said was that a person should stop drinking coffee three days prior to starting. I quit cold turkey the next morning, not an easy thing for me to do. I love good coffee, and it’s been a regular part of my morning ritual for decades. I knew caffeine withdrawal was a real thing because I’ve tried to quit drinking coffee before. I’d get a splitting headache on the second day and drive straight to Starbucks. This time I made it through the first two days without a headache. I thought I had it beat! On Day 3 I started getting muscle aches in my lower back and legs, common symptoms of withdrawal. It got so bad that I couldn’t sleep that night. The next day was worse. My legs ached and I got a terrible headache on top of it. By Day 5 I started feeling better, and by Day 6 I felt perfectly normal again. I was caffeine free, so the detox could commence.
We are currently 13 days in, halfway to the finish line. Let me tell you what’s happened. I’ve dropped 17.4 lbs. so far. My shorts are so loose I have to wear a belt again. Forgot the other day when I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few items. I had my phone, wallet and keys in my front pockets, three weighty items. I bent over to pick up a case of water and when I stood up my shorts dropped down around my ankles. Fortunately, I was wearing compression shorts underneath and no one else was in the aisle. I dropped the water and quickly hiked ‘em back up.
I’ve been sleeping great and waking up feeling alert. GI system is working smoothly and regularly. I feel lighter on my feet and on my bike. My energy level is strong. Best of all, my joints feel 100% better! My knees don’t hurt when I stand up, and my left shoulder feels good enough to start swimming again. It’s nothing short of miraculous and a good reminder that what I put into my body makes a difference. I haven’t had food cravings because the daily menus are creative, tasty and filling.
There is one drawback: it takes a fair amount of time to buy supplies, prepare the food and clean up the messes, and by fair amount of time I mean it’s like a part-time job. My wife looked at me after a week and said, “This is so easy!”
I said, “Yeah, because you don’t have to buy and make all the food and clean up the kitchen three times a day!”
“Oh yeah,” she said, laughing. “Thanks, honey!”
As great as I’ve been feeling, the day after the detox ends I’m gonna drive straight to Starbucks for coffee, eat chips all day and when 5:00 o’clock rolls around, make myself a bourbon old fashioned! Happy birthday to me.