Sunday, November 06, 2005


Snake Oil & Voodoo

I have moved one step closer towards my transition into the stereotypical Los Angelino. Last Sunday, I decided to do the Master Cleanse/Lemonade Diet. (I'd heard of it before, but personally I blame Alan Cumming, who mentions doing it on his web site.) Because of my OCD, I have a strange obsession with filth and internal "toxins," and I like the idea of cleaning myself out. But frankly, my main motivation for doing the program was to lose weight. Lately, I've been hitting the drugs and alcohol pretty hard. A few weeks ago, I missed a few days from work and was late almost every day for a week and a half. I told my firm that I had the flu, but in truth, I was going through a mild narcotics withdrawal. My anxiety and depression were so bad that I couldn't drag myself out of bed. I got a talking to from my boss—rather vaguely—about my "attendance" problem. And I've been on tenterhooks at work ever since. I don't think my boss or human resources suspected the lie behind my flu story, but I'm determined to shape up my image at work.

With all of this going on, cleaning myself out in preparation for another period of abstention seemed like a good idea. Plus, of course, there was the added benefit of losing some weight. Being the "all or nothing" kind of guy that I am, I'm (yet again!) trying to move from a self-destructive phase to a self-improvement phase. Besides abstaining, I've gone back to exercising and trying to clean up my apartment and getting a handle on my finances, etc. etc. This diet, presumably, is designed to keep your body from going into starvation mode; however, if I were just to go right back to my old eating habits after it's done, then all the weight would come straight back. My plan is to jump start my weight loss goals and keep the momentum with exercise and a proper eating plan. I don't know exactly how much weight I've lost because I didn't check right before I started. However, the night before last I weighed myself at the gym and calculated that I'd lost somewhere between five to seven pounds, along with my will to live.

When I was researching the Master Cleanse on the internet, I noticed that a lot of people who espouse the fast also politicize it. I don't see why you can't buy into a good idea without getting attached to some whole agenda. Everyone from "raw food" proponents to vegans to the all-diseases-come-from-environmental-toxins lobby to some guy who seems to think the fast is good preparation for when the C.I.A. and/or the Illuminati make their move seems to have a stake in touting the benefits of this regimen, with all them skimming a neat profit off the top through book and product sales. (Well, except for the conspiracy guy...I'm pretty sure he's just nuts.)

The diet itself is extremely easy. You mix two tablespoons of fresh-squeezed, organic lemon juice and two tablespoons of organic Grade B maple syrup. (I didn't know that maple syrup came in different grades, but apparently the corporate booger-head Grade A syrup has too much sugar, or too much formaldehyde, or too much bear piss, or whatever.) You add this along with a pinch of organic cayenne pepper to 10-12 ounces of purified or spring water. Then you take this concoction 6-10 times a day. The only other thing you can have is as much (purified or spring) water as you want. Everything else is forbidden, even vitamins and supplements. Not being an idiot, I of course continued to take my prescription medications, and I only drink the mixture six times a day as that is the recommendation for people who also wanna lose weight. You're supposed to do the fast for a minimum of ten days, but I decided to only shoot for seven. And that was hard enough! After a week without solid food, I could eat a shoe right now. All of these characters on the internet claim that you aren't hungry when you do the Master Cleanse. I don't know who they're trying to kid or what they've been smoking 'cuz when I smell food cooking I just about go into a frenzy. I will admit that I'm not anywhere near as hungry as I had imagined I'd be. (I've tried the Hollywood Diet, a two-day juice fast, before and could never make it through the second day.) Most of the time I'm just fine, and I think I miss the taste of things more than anything else.

Mardi Gras or Lent

A few months ago, my friend Jonathan came up with an off-the-cuff and rather brilliant metaphor for my pattern of cycling from overindulgence to asceticism. He said that I vacillate between Mardi Gras and Lent. He also said that the problem is that I never allow myself to reach Easter. Here the metaphor begins to break down a little bit; however, his point is that I never come to any kind of permanent resolution. Switching back and forth between two lifestyles doesn't get me to a point where I'm moving my existence forward to the kind of life I want to construct for myself. I suppose you could keep with the Easter metaphor by saying that I never allow myself to be reborn into the person that I want to be.

Right now I'm trying to go back to an asceticism phase. When I told my sister about Jon's metaphor, her comment was, "Go for Lent!" Since I only seem to offer myself the two options, my sister's right in saying that it's by far the better of the two. I'm much more likely to be productive when I'm avoiding my bad habits than when I'm getting drunk and/or stoned every night. Who knows? Maybe Easter will come early this liturgical year...

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