Fresh starts

FIT green smoothie photo

by David Holdstock

When WALTER asked me to write about my experience juicing and losing 35 pounds as a result, I was perplexed. Why would the magazine want to hear from me, in my own voice?
I’m British, and irony tends to be the dominant ingredient of my conversation. You know: joking but not joking, caring but not caring, serious but not serious? This can be somewhat frustrating for a lot of people.
So, to write this article, I’ve decided to use two techniques. First, I will have a glass of “truth serum” next to me at all times (red wine – 125 calories), and second, I will play the un-ironic “obvious game.” That means I’ll give some pretty trenchant advice about dieting, like don’t eat cake for breakfast (1.7 million calories).
But before I embark on this discussion about eating, dieting, and losing 35 pounds through the magic of detoxification, I need to give you a little of my back story. I come from a very small fishing town in the north of England.  It was so insular that when, on April 15, 1912, after leaving Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York, the RMS Titanic capsized, losing some 1,500 souls, the headlines in the local newspaper read “Two Yorkshire Men Lost At Sea.”
We can therefore agree that my “formative” years, all 26 of them, were somewhat narrow-minded and provincial, especially when it came to healthy food. I grew up eating classic British food like pork pies, scotch egg, egg and chips, tinned fruit, tinned fish for that matter, shepherd’s pie, bacon sandwiches, chip sandwiches, pickled onions, bubble and squeak, and Yorkshire pudding.
Not to mention the great English breakfast, and of course desserts, or puddings, including spotted dick, (yes, a pudding, not a condition), treacle pudding, bread pudding, sticky toffee pudding, rhubarb and custard, scones and clotted cream, and, of course, soft scoop ice cream. There is also the calorie-rich pint of ale (bitter) and the ploughman’s lunch. (Note to self: Don’t write about delicious food on an empty stomach).
Throughout my childhood, I do not remember a single conversation about calories, fast food, or obesity. This is probably because we were so poor we paid little attention to calories, proteins, or carbohydrates. In fact, I thought cutlery was jewelry until I was 14.
Now, with 23 years of North Carolina under my belt, my dietary habits had changed to include forks, knives, and a lot of barbecue pork – pulled pork, shredded pork, chopped pork, sliced pork, pork ribs, pork chops, thin vinegar-based sauce on pork, Lexington tomato-based sauce on pork, and so on. As you all know, these pork dishes are served with coleslaw, sweet tea, and hushpuppies. I am now as comfortable eating half a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts as I am taking a covered dish to a pig pickin’. I love buttermilk biscuits and molasses, especially for breakfast at Big Ed’s. I have an addiction to Goodberry’s vanilla custard concrete with caramel, double banana, and Heath bar. But my ultimate favorite North Carolina dish, overshadowing everything else, is the great pecan pie.
In fact, it was just after Thanksgiving last year when I realized that my genetic disposition for stuffing anything in my mouth that tasted sweet, or savory for that matter, was a problem.  I have come to learn that I actually have a medical condition. It’s called gluttony. Please do not laugh, because I think it’s nearly impossible to exaggerate the number of people who suffer from it. It’s a self-induced condition that leads to heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, medication, and an early death. For the record, if your doctor uses the word “borderline” with you, you’re doing something wrong.
At this point, an educated friend introduced me to the idea that low-quality food has the power to make and keep us sick, while good food has the power to keep our healthy genes on, even turning unhealthy genes off.
I made a decision very quickly to give myself a 21-day “cleanse,” and moved directly into a world of juice, almond butter, protein powder, and coconut milk.
Step 1: Write a $500 check to the cleanse people. Don’t tell anyone, including your spouse, how much you spent on this quackery. Try to run it through your business account.  After all, it should be tax-deductible.
Step 2: Open the large brown box the FedEx man delivers and spend two days trying to work out how they came up with the “do not eat” and the “eat” categories of foods.  It’s like reading Arabic. How can bananas be on the “do not eat” list?
Read their slogans and understand that after this program, you will feel strong, your libido will improve, you will finish new projects and volunteer more. Your conversation will sparkle, you will let go of any fears you may have, and you will take spontaneous trips.
I envision myself leaping tall buildings in a single bound and volunteering to have long meaningful conversations with my wife about spontaneous trips to the Napa Valley.
Step 3: Find a gullible and qualified candidate to help you make this cleanse happen. Mine kindly offered to prepare most of the cold fish lunches and almond butter and avocado shakes for me. Yes, avocado shakes. Remember, this is war. This quote sums it up: “You must unleash Hell. You must hold the line. You must stay with it” (Gladiator)
Twenty-one days and 10 pounds lighter, it was time for me to re-introduce foods to identify my “toxic triggers.” These are the ones that cause inflammation, irritation, and digestive upset. My first taste of alcohol after 21 days was an overwhelming toxic success. I was mumbling Swahili in no time at all.
Then I started a diet that was extremely low in carbs, included exercise, adhered to the rules, and I lost another 25 pounds over the next two months. It was magnificent!
It happed so quickly, in fact, that I had little time to buy new clothes to fit my new waistline. That became apparent at the airport not long after. As my belt went through the x-ray, I felt like a shuffling rodeo clown. My new Lululemon camouflage underwear was quite a sight for the unsuspecting crowd.
So, what did I learn and how did I personally benefit from my detoxification? It really came down to feeling healthier by eating the foods that work for me, not suffering from heartburn, having improved stamina for enjoying sports, mastering the habit of going to bed on an empty stomach, and eating guilt-free. To live a purposeful, blessed, and happy life, we need to be on our game. We need to stay relevant. We need to be healthy!
So if one day, like Gladiator, “you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled; for you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead!” Or maybe you’ve just done a cleanse.