Confessions of a Cleanser – The Storm Before The Calm (Cleanse Week One)

Project: Spring Cleanse

Starting with the good news – I’m very happy to report that one week into my (early) Spring Cleanse and I’ve lost 2 kilos. Yeeha! I’m feeling lighter and better in my physical body, which is a relief after swinging in the opposite direction for a while there.

But, like most things in life, the results don’t come without some effort. In fact, I’d say that the No Pain, No Gain  slogan has never rung truer for me than over the past week. I’ve felt confused, emotional and even a little whacko at times as all the toxins work their way out of my body, one fairy floss cocktail at a time.

While it is not this way for everyone, it’s been tough for me this time round. So tough, in fact, week one has reminded me of giving birth seven years ago. Huh?! Like cleansing, it was an intense experience, involving a palpable level of pain that was forgotten almost instantly because the rewards are so great afterwards.

A good heart-to-heart with MFL Group Trainer Gus Rickard at morning sessions this week reveals what is going on in the body as we cleanse, and essentially, why it can hurt so much (for some, but not).


1) Becoming a Fat Burner 

Your body is making a shift from using carbs/sugars as your main source of fuel to using protein and fat instead. The body is working harder than normal at a digestive and cellular level to adapt to this change.

It’s an important shift to make because sugar in your blood stream can be quite damaging. How?

i) Sugar burners get the energy highs and lows
i) You produce insulin to pull sugar from your blood stream to store as fat
ii) When your energy dips after a sugar high your body produces cortisol to elevate your blood sugar levels again

Fat burners, on the other hand, get a smooth and even lasting release of energy all day long and avoid the erratic highs and lows.

 2) Using Stored Glycogen in Cells 

Glycogen is our emergency source of fuel. The average person will always have around 2000 calories worth of glycogen available for use. It gets stored in our liver and muscle cells and can be mobilised and used instantly (when you’re next being chased by a tiger, for example).

Assuming you’re a carb/sugar burner when you start the cleanse, cutting out carbs forces your body to access those emergency stores. Once they’re gone (1-3 days later) your body starts using fat and protein instead which leads to low blood sugar intially and causes your body to release cortisol.

“This can make you feel anxious, tense, stressed and shitty all over,” Gus says.

3) Releasing Bad Bacteria 

At the level of your gut, all the bad bacteria is dying off because the cleanse diet starves the little bugs of their prefered food source, which is sugar and starches. As the bad bacteria die off, they release a large number of toxins in your body which also make you feel uncomfortable, moody and drained of energy. Drinking lots of water helps the body flush out these dying off organisms.

4) Serotonin and Dopamine Depletion

Sweet foods generate a hit of dopamine in your system, just like cocaine or any other drug would. It is the reason why sugar is so addictive.

“When we cleanse, we are cutting out all those little dopanmine hits (exorphins) that we get from coffee, sugar and grains all day long so the body goes through a perod of withdrawl,” Gus says.  “It’s the same for a drug addict coming off cocaine, and the same for a person who is in love going through a breakup. When it comes to your brain chemistry, it’s all the same thing.”

5) Metaphysical Shifts 

They say, ‘as above, so below’.

As your body is cleaning itself out, you will be mentally and  emotionally shifting a lot of stuff too. “Old negative emotions are likely to come up that are undealt with so you can observe them and allow them to leave your body,” Gus says. “It’s a good time to look at it and write about it to see what that emotion is related to.”


1) Take it Easy

Understand that the body is working hard to make chnages. It is under a lot of its own stress already so schedule in rest and relaxation and manage other life stressors.

“Being in a restful and parasympathetic state helps your energy move to your vital organs and this will help you cleanse better,” Gus says.

2) More Working In, Less Working Out

Go easier on your training regimes and get rid of any intense work out sessions.
Try working in with yoga, tai chi and meditation.

3) Early To Bed

Give yourself love during this time by getting to bed early and allowing yoursef to sleep in. Chill out more by having afternoon naps (if you can). Gus says: “Your body is going through stress so the more rest and care you can give it the easier you will be able to get through it”.

4) Cocunut Oil for Blood Sugar Crashes 

Cocount oil is a fantastic anti-bacterial and anti-fungal product that is easily digested. It gets into your bloodstream and turns into energy quickly.

5) Herbal Teas 

Drink lots. They’re soul warming and a great substitute for coffee or any other products you’re used to drinking throughout the day.

6) Be Prepared 

Be mindful of what you’re eating ahead of time as you can’t get away with just grabbing whatever when you’re out and about. Planning will help you  get through your cleanse in the most comfortable way possible.

“Eat lots of raw salads, grapefruits and green apples as well,: Gus says. “The enzymes in these raw foods make it easier to digest the protein and fat in your diet.”

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LeeConfessions of a Cleanser – The Storm Before The Calm (Cleanse Week One)

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