The Cleansing Diary: Kidney Punches, Hallucinations and Monkeybuckets

During the cleanse, I became inordinately proud of my salads and became the kind of person who posted my food on Facebook.

During the cleanse, I became inordinately proud of my salads and became the kind of person who posted my food on Facebook. Sorry about that.

Since college, my friend Linda has always been a sort of personal tastemaker for me. If she swipes on a lip gloss, I am certain mine is the wrong one. I love her books, her shoes, her clothes, her apartment, her art projects. So when she invited me to do something she swears by called the “Stiggly Cleanse” run by a nutritionist, I thought, why not? I’d just started a very sedentary job, with no workout prospects in the building (there are signs on the stairs that chirp, “Instant gym!” but, uh, not fooling anyone there).

I paid my $59, which includes emails from Stiggly herself — green “Papyrus” font on a pink background, punctuated with stock photos of silhouetted people leaping for joy on beaches and small farm children eating huge slices of watermelon. The posts go on much longer than my brain can actually process with words of encouragement and recipes, but I failed to see any real schedule exactly of what we were cutting out and when. I did get that somehow, some way, I was cutting caffeine, wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, meat and processed foods for the next two or 35 weeks.

Day 1

9:30 am: Today I warily tried my first “fire water” recipe in lieu of my daily black tea, but it turned out to be delicious. It’s ginger, pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, juice of a lemon, cayenne, salt mixed in with coconut oil.

10:53 am: I am crouched at my desk, unapologetically digging into the peanut butter jar with a spoon, like a child in a Dickensian orphanage who is afraid it will be taken away.

11:54 am: It feels like a small rodent has climbed in through my ear and is now perched behind my eyes, trying to blast them out from inside with a welding torch.

12:31 pm: I am now especially mad at Stiggly’s newsletters, with their crappy fonts, migraine-causing color combinations, and bad directions. I am in it for $240 in groceries and supplements. I never thought of myself as someone who would spend $20 on organic hemp seeds, but so help them God, I’d better look like Emma Stone when that bag is empty.

12:35 pm: Today’s horoscope: “If you need to make a commitment or start anything now, it will be advantageous to wait until tomorrow. Instead, recharge your batteries.” Great.

12:46 pm: I just went to the bathroom and saw under the stall that someone was wearing open-toed navy shoes with navy hose. This pisses me off. Get it together, lady. I know California winters are confusing, but fucking just pick a season.

3:22 pm: Headache is gone but I feel like I am underwater and can only make binary decisions. More apple/peanut butter? Yes or no? Yes.

Day 2

9:26 am: Last night I was so tired I fell asleep with Grace, my 2-year-old, at 8:30. I did feel bad about getting mad at Stiggly’s fonts and that lady’s shoes, I would like to say that was the escaping toxins talking.

2:30 pm: Nap.

Day 3

8:15 am: Woke this morning feeling OK, except that my butt muscles have become twisted mounds of pain.

11:22 am: Obsessed with chia seeds; I put them in my smoothie this morning. Why don’t I make smoothies every morning?

Day 4

11:24 am: I was so tired last night again that I went to bed with Grace. She kept trying to push me over the edge and I called her “Monkeybuckets,” which she thought was hysterical, so we kept calling each other “Monkeybuckets” in different voices. And then we fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to feel my kidneys trying to punch their way out of my body. Nobody told me about the backache part, which, I have since learned, is not uncommon whilst cleansing.

12:58 pm: Insane craving for bourbon-soaked fruitcake. I don’t know why this is.

1:06 pm: Are the squiggles on the carpet actually swimming around? Or is it the prescription-strength painkiller + kava tea combo talking? I have to remember this for when company comes over and we need something fun to do.

Day 5

The magic clicked. I became incredibly productive. I amped up my oatmeal, soups and salads to the degree that I’m suddenly that person who posts pictures of her food on Facebook. Weirdest of all, I’ve become a little fond of Stiggly’s loopy newsletter and look forward to her bits of wisdom and cheer.

I did feel inordinately sad when they served wood-fired artisinal pizza at work and I sat there, chewing on some tired lettuce leaves. But the upshot is I’m a few pounds lighter, my belly is flatter, and my senses are bionic, and I feel very mindful. And who knew a poop could be so glorious? Most of all, I am brimming with energy to spend on my most important job: Being mom to Monkeybuckets.



Here’s a great recipe that helped me hold it together during the cleanse:


IMG_36072-4 Frozen mashed bananas (Great trick: use an ice tray so you only take out what you need!)

2 Dates (more or less depending on sweetness)

3 T Coconut cream

2T Coconut flakes

Drizzle honey

Chopped walnuts for garnish if desired

You can also add unsweetened cocoa powder for a chocolate version.

Put the above in a food processor, whirl and you will have the MOST AMAZING frozen dessert. Serve to unsuspecting guests.


Vanessa McGradyThe Cleansing Diary: Kidney Punches, Hallucinations and Monkeybuckets

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