My Master Cleanse 2013: The Whats, The Whys, The Hows and the What to Expect

I’ve tried to put off writing this mammoth of an entry for until I was at least at halfway point of the detox but today there was a shortage of things to do that required very little physical exertion and not involving my credit card. So, here I am… Hopefully, by end of this entry, I’ll be more open to doing other productive things today.

At the risk of sounding like my father and betraying my profession as a teacher, here is an outline of what I want to write:

  1. What: My Dislaimers and claims
  2. Why: My Motivations for doing the Master Cleanse
  3. How: Some tips for people who are looking to doing the master cleanse
  4. What to expect: A sneak peek at the “first three days” of the detox.

What: My Disclaimers and Claims

Before anything else, let me just make a couple of disclaimers:

  1. I am not a nutritionist.
  2. I am not an expert on the master cleanse.
  3. I am not trying to make anyone else do the master cleanse.

However, I can give you first-hand information on the experience of the cleanse since I have successfully completed it more than 5 times. So, you could say, that while I’m not an expert, I am a proud veteran.

What I have learned, I have gleaned from various sources. When my parents introduced me to the cleanse, I read the book (heres’a  pdf version) by Stanley Burroughs. While it is quite old, it answered some of the important aspects of the cleanse. I would, however, strongly recommend going to themastercleanse.org website if you are interested. Three words: They.Have.Videos.

Why: My Motivations for Doing the Master Cleanse

The lure of my first time around the Master Cleanse was simple: the promise of weight loss. And lose weight I did. However, the reason I’ve kept on doing it –  is due primarily to what I gained during the experience…

The Master Cleanse, for me,  is less about losing weight and more about gaining control over my life and my body.

I live a very stressful life. It is probably a product of my own life choices as opposed to just being a hazard of my profession. The stress is further expounded by my natural “bear”-like predisposition i.e. after a lot of stress, I store fat and then proceed to do nothing. All of this take a heavy toll on my overall well-being – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. By end of every school year, I look and feel 20 years older (at least).

Doing the cleanse, helps my body to get back to a semblance of balance. My body is leaner, my hormones are less rampant, my cycles (digestive and reproductive) run smoother, my skin is glowing, my mind is clearer and my overall predisposition is refreshed and invigorated.

Ironically, not having to eat, gives me more time to think about food (and other important things). The cleanse reminds me that food should be for nourishment and should not be used as a distraction/excuse from dealing with real life issues and problems.

It has me thinking about myself. I get to evaluate how I have treated myself. Unfortunately, I suffer through bouts of self-hate throughout the year. I tend to IMPLODE first — attacking myself when things get rough.

It has me thinking about what is going on around me. Once my digestive system isn’t protesting anymore, I find myself listening to the soundtrack of “everyday life”, my eye is drawn to snippets of simplicity around me. Besides introspection, I get to do “extro-spection” – about life, about God, about the future, etc.

Of course, it isn’t just a philosophical/psychological/spiritual retreat.

I get to know my body a lot better. Have you ever gone to bed with no food? Its a veritable cacophony of gurgling, rumbling and splashing in there. During the cleanse, you learn to listen to your body. You become intimately in tuned to your energy levels. You find out the times of the day when your hunger starts. Best of all you learn the importance of discipline and preparation.

How: Some Tips for People Who are Looking to Doing the Master Cleanse

If you’re reading this far in, I am assuming that you have done the necessary fact-finding into the subject (and no, I’m not just talking about the recipe to the lemonade), considered the risks and have made the decision to try it out.

No matter how many times I’ve successfully done the master cleanse, preparation is still imperative to success.

  1. Clear your schedule. The first three days is the hardest so make sure that you can hanker down somewhere not having to do much. You are more likely to quit in the first three days. Trust me, I know from personal experience. Steer clear of any major “food events”. Unless you’re a masochist, you wouldn’t want to do that to yourself. 
  2. Write a to-do-list. You will have a lot of time in your hands. You will need something that is not too physically strenuous to pre-occupy your mind with. ESPECIALLY the first three days.
  3. Prep your body. The days leading to the start of your detox, start eating simple foods as opposed to processed (i.e. vegetables, fruits, soups, juices), this will prevent your body from the shock of having to quit solid food cold turkey. Initially, you will experience dizzy spells, hunger headaches and cravings like none other. By getting to know your personal digestive cycle, you can prevent yourself from going “hungry”. For example, I usually prepare my morning lemonade the night before so when I wake up, its ready. But heed my advice, no matter what: keep calm and drink more lemonade.
  4. Prepare for breakdown. Remember that The Master Cleanse is a detox – and not just a physical kind. I’ve experienced some major emotional breakdowns during cleanses. But I have learned to anticipate them, to be open to them and as a result have experienced major breakthroughs. Talk to someone you trust, log on to a forum, write in a journal – GET. IT. OUT. You’ll feel a whole lot better.
  5. Get support. The Master Cleanse Detox is controversial. There will be people who will not be supportive. Some will even try to set you up for failure (so mean!) Having support will help you keep your commitment and give you the reinforcement you need when you are vulnerable.

What To Expect: A Sneak Peek at the First Three Days of my Detox 2013

Note: Every person is different. Every detox is different. My detox experience varies from year to year. This is just a “snippet” version of the first three days of this years’ detox.

Day 1

  • Ate too much last night.
  • Feeling groggy – not a good start.
  • Didn’t drink my first lemonade early enough.
  • Had to go out and walk around Central.
  • Hunger headaches and stomach aches all day
  • Terrible, TERRIBLE, first day.

Day 2

  • Feeling much better today.
  • I lounged around the house, watching TV, reading online, sleeping, etc.
  • I tried to do some weights and do errands for mum – felt more energetic at night.
  • no headache but towards sleeping time, I felt dizzy.
  • Could sleep much. Went to the toilet multiple times. My stomach feels upset.

Day 3

  • Didn’t wake up to hunger.
  • Have to go to Central to buy more maple syrup. After that, I’ll go around and shop some more.
  • Ecstatic to find that I’ve already lost 3 pounds – I usually don’t start losing weight until the 4th of 5th day.
  • My stomach is flat already and my face is slimmer. Feeling pumped!
  • My tongue feels and tastes strange. Its covered in white.

Conclusion

To end, let me reiterate that doing the Master Cleanse is a personal commitment that I have made. A venture that I have gone through at least once every year for the past 5-6 years and hope to – for the rest of my God-given life.

I hope this was informative, reassuring or at least entertaining to read. I’ve managed to use up at least an hour and a half on this – which I am very pleased by because today (Day 4) has been awfully slow.

I have a bit of stuff that I want to do so I am ending here. Perhaps in a few days, I will write about my progress so far and regale you of some terrifying stories of past “hiccups”. Til then!

These Paths

I did originally plan to name this shot “God Bless The Broken Road” just coz the moment I saw it on my photo reel that was the song that sprung up in my mind ( Note: This is the usual way that my photos get named. )

But in the end, inspiration steered me elsewhere. Besides,  I thought the name didn’t really quite express my intention in the photo. In any case, here is a lengthy and (others might say) hopeless drawn out treatise on what went through my head while I was processing this photo and long after…

We all have places we want to go. That is, we have goals, ambitions, dreams that we pursue. Whether or not they are worthwhile pursuits – is another blog entry. But often times, we find that it takes quite a while to get there.

The images that come to your mind may vary from Israel’s long 40-year-stint in the desert (check) to the journey of the Fellowship of the Ring in Lord of the Rings (check).

Instead of going straight to where we intend, we usually end up going round in circles, meeting with all manner of hindrances in our way, ending up in ditches and dead ends, even finding ourselves walking in totally different directions…

The sad part is that often times, we never realize that we have steered so far away from original course – well, until its too late.

After a particularly difficult bit down the road, we look back and only then can we see what we have just come through: may it be thicket of thorns, a dark tunnel or narrow cracks in some wall that just appeared out of nowhere… All in all, we often stop to wonder to ourselves, “did I really have to go through that?”

I like to think that God and I have a very close relationship – we’re on talking terms. Not the “hi.hello facebook friends” status. We’re “face to face, spit on your face” type of friends. I like to believe that we are well above talking round in circles. Which is why it always frustrates me when I don’t get answers to some of my “important questions”.

My personal (written) journal is littered with ramblings and rants dedicated to one single cry, “why?”

Why me? Why NOT me?

Why then? Why now?

Why here? Why there?

Why him/her? Why not? 

Why…? Why..!? W H Y?!

Thankfully, God doesn’t charge us for our outright gall in questioning the ways he does things. As a much younger Follower, I found it difficult to trust God to lead in certain areas of my life. Years later, I’ve grown in my ability to trust in Him but sometimes, my trust is lacking.

When you’re in the middle of especially hard paths, you will find yourself going from a brave “There is a point to this!”, to a consoling “There MUST be a point to this!”, to a more doubting “Is there a point to this?” and finally to an adamant, “What’s the (bleep) point?!”

But contrary to popular belief, God doesn’t gamble with our lives. He doesn’t make us go through hoops and whatnots just for his divine amusement. I am convinced: Everything. Every little thing – is a piece of a grand plan. We just can’t see it because we’re in the middle of it all.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  (Acts 17:26)

Our location in place and time – they are all marked out by God. Whereever we are, no matter how “lost” and “overwhelmed” we feel – we are ultimately under God’s watchful eye, our lives under his watchful hand.

You have heard it said that God would never let you have a burden/struggle that you cannot bear. My dad tells me, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes, he leads us to places just to remind us, how much we need him.

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Whenever things are hard and we cannot see our paths so clearly, we move our question from WHY to WHERE?

Where are you? Where are you, God?

But its not like God “hides” for the purpose of hiding. Its more so that we might pursue with ardor and expectation. He hides in “plain sight”. He builds the tempo up to a climactic FINDING.

The expression that God leads us to walk down the “straight and narrow” is easily misunderstood if we do not consider that God’s perfect plan for our lives is not always the way we decide to walk. Following Christ (who is our True North) will ever lead us straight to God but following our will will lead us to death. The combination of both ensures that the “straight and narrow” feels like a rollercoaster.

I often pray that God would spare some of the younger generation the arduous paths I had to take, the lessons I had to learn the good old fashion “long and hard’ way but part of me knows – that is not my decision to make AND this is the way that life threshes the wheat from the chaff.

So, as I look back at all that I have gone through, I cannot help but think. “Wow God. What a ride. I really wouldn’t like to do THAT again but thank You. For helping me through. For showing me the way. For not letting me go…”

I thank God – sincerely – for these paths He has let me walk on. They help me to appreciate life’s true treasures. They help me edit the way I feel, the way I think, the way I live…

I’m not saying that “all paths lead to God” – by no means! But I do believe, as an old youth pastor had exhorted,

If you obey Him, You will never “lose your way”. You will always find yourself in the centre of His will.

Even if, you are not sure where you “ought” to go. I think the Lord grants us leave to take a step of faith and “fill in the blanks” – to go until he says to stop. Seeking His will, trying to find “the path” he has laid out for me – is no longer an “idle” activity. I find myself walking while waiting. Doing the things that he has already mandated me to do – waiting for further instructions.

If I seek Him, I will find Him. If I follow Him – in the way that He has set out – I will eventually find myself in the Halls of the House he has prepared for me.

I am thankful. Sincerely grateful for the fact that the Lord never decided to make things all drawn out. That He, in his infinite wisdom decided that I was to embark on an adventure rather than a static and boring “non-stop flight”.

Because the reward is not just reaching your destination, but in the sheer joy of having travailed the distance, having passed through the fire of struggle, having fought through the battles, having learned hard lessons, having lived the “full” life that He promised.

My only prayer is this:

That my steps my hold onto your paths… that my feet may not stumble away from them… (Psalm 17:5)

The Seven-Fifteen

Lately, our church was visited by Drs. (yes, plural) Hong Yang and his wife, Esther.

He’s a funny, ON FIRE, truly pentecostal preacher – barely attached to the floor when he’s preaching. He’s like a firecracker bursting at the sides to proclaim the Gospel. It is truly inspiring to see. One of his many talents is using word play to convey the deepest truths in the simplest ways… One thing he said which really struck me was:

“… at the heart of every issue … is an issue of the heart…”

I had to write that down in my notebook very quickly (coz this guy speaks a million miles a minute) but I just knew that I would have to revisit that thought at the very first chance.

On my last post, I had mentioned that just over a year ago, I was living a life of sin…  but since coming back to God, its been a long and hard process of learning and unlearning things that I had always thought to be true about myself, about my small world, about the world-at-large, about life, about the church, about God himself.

And no, I’m not talking about some kind of shifty DIY ‘psych yourself out’ process. Part of what was different about “this” coming back to God – was my going back to the light of his Truth – of his Word.

The Bible says, the truth will set us free. We say it often in the church but most of us don’t really know how that can be true. I’ve heard many a sermon on the importance of reading the Word but never had I placed so much faith in its power, never have I relied on it and NEVER have I been more convinced that:

No one can hope for true redemption, for transformation, for TRUE LIVING without God’s word…

Without the Word – you won’t know WHO you are – you won’t know WHOSE you are – you won’t realize WHERE you are (reference to God’s first question to Adam — making him realize he was NOT in God’s presence anymore)…. These three questions make up the basics of human identity.

We were created by God for his glory and his pleasure and without Him we are left incomplete for the “creation can never be satisfied without communion with the Creator”.

Without intimacy with God, without identity – no wonder we have no inkling of the WHYs, the HOWs, the WHAT FORs of living. No wonder we have no sense of direction and purpose in life – no wonder we end up living for the lesser things – no wonder we end up being mastered by our most natural desires…

Sin caused us to lose our intimacy with God, which resulted in the loss of our identity – which led to the loss of control.

It always confused me – why I would do the things that I knew were not good for me – why would I continue doing the very things that were screwing my life up. It was masochistic. Its counter-intuitive… Its as Paul had said

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15

And yes, that is THE SEVEN-FIFTEEN that this blog is named after.

Masochistic, counter-intuitive it may be — but it is the human condition…

Most of us, who secretly struggle with sinful habits — have tried countless times to STOP — without realizing that the reason we cannot stop is because we haven’t gotten to the root of the problem.

The heart of the human issue – is not the ISSUES – its our HEARTS.

We all need an intensive renovation of the heart. We need to stop running away from the Truth – hiding away in the shadows, in the darkness. If you want to be free — if you want to live — you need to die…

We need to start moving things OUT and invite Jesus in. We need to check ourselves into the Hospital (the Church) — to reconnect with the Father, through his Son and re-establishing that connection through the guidance and the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

Only then, can we live in freedom. Only then, can we truly live.

Sin and Snakes

Come Away With Me - Agatha Villa
Come Away with Me

It was another one of those hot Saturdays, I just needed to get a breath of fresh air. So, I packed my camera bag and set out to retrace some of my old photo-venture trails. Somehow, I found myself along the rocky side of the island and I felt like taking a turn I had never tried before. Then, I had an encounter (too close for comfort) with a snake – not just any kind of small worm-like garden snake – it was a nice, fat, HOODED snake – yes, a cobra.

Words cannot even begin to describe the panic that set the moment I saw it. Yes, I had always known that in an island (such as the one I live on) full of trees, boulders and crevices, there would be untold numbers of creatures lurking, hiding. In fact, part of the thrill of photo-venturing was the reminder that there were dangerous things out there. The only thing was, now that danger was all too real.

So, when I saw that scaly body not even a foot away from where I was standing, all I could think of was to run.

“Snakes… you either kill them or you run away from them – fast…”

Sin, is like that too in many respects.

I’m not saying that snakes are inherently evil – but sin definitely is. No matter how people might want to view it sin is despicable, ugly and destructive. It is anything and everything that separates us from God.

I used to be in bondage to sin. I could not stop doing the very things that I hated, the very things that brought me so much pain and suffering. All my attempts at ‘cleaning up’ were in vain. I was but a slave and sin my master.

Today, in many ways, I am still the same person I was before – the same proclivities, same inclinations, same carnal desires — but after having repented and returned to God I am convinced now that I am a ‘new creation’ (as the Bible puts it). I am no longer in bondage to my sinful ways – I can say no.

But just because it is possible to say ‘no’ to sin, doesn’t mean we should just willingly waltz into situations wherein we know we can ‘fall’. In Matthew 26 we are told, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” In James 1, we are also told that we are tempted by ‘natural desires’.

We live in a world that glorifies sin. Temptation presses on us – from all sides. We should not, therefore, be surprised by it. At times, its harder to resist especially when my humanity weighs on me. But the Bible gives me hope, it tells me

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

There will always be a way out.

We need to realize that falling into temptation is not an ‘oops, I did it again’ sort of thing. Often, we make several unwise decisions before we are trapped into sin again. In that case, we must be aware of our weaknesses — of things, places, times and even PEOPLE that may lead us to sin.

So, I tell myself. “Agie, you know you shouldn’t be here – you know where this road leads.”

1 Peter 5:8-9 tells me:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Life for every Christian is a constant struggle – its why I decided to make this blog. Even if we are no longer who we were – we still have that sinful nature in us – THAT WANTS to sin. It is not, however, the end game – if and when we fall. If and when you fall into sin (just like I have in many occasion), the best thing really is to look to Jesus again — don’t be discouraged by your failings, rather – repent and return to God our Father.

1 Peter 5:10 reminds us

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

God is not finished with us yet…

“…Trust deep. Aim high. Work hard. Live Well. Die Laughing…”