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One Man

One Man’s Plan: A 9-day detox cleanse? Just what the post-holiday bulge requires

Photo illustration for Tim O'Shea story.

Photo illustration for Tim O'Shea story.

I need a change. The holidays should be a distant memory, but they’re still with me, right around my midsection. I guess all that beer, the Frito fiesta dips, triple-baked potato challenges and piece after piece of cake, pie and pizza went down too easily – taking with them my pride and self-respect. I’m close to my hibernation weight, and I can’t even look in the mirror. It’s time for a cleanse, a way to put me on the straight and narrow, which is good, because “narrow” is the opposite of me today.

Should I go for the milk thistle and acai berry cleanse? Or spice it up with 12 daily glasses of maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper, topped off with a laxative or two? How about the $400-a-month powder approach, the herbal cleanse or the cabbage soup solution? Perhaps I should partake in a series of “colonic irrigation” events to purge my body of its toxins. Every cleanse I find promises weight loss and a chance to begin anew. I need that, but not at the cost of red pepper shots with an Ex-Lax chaser. I may be chubby, but I’m not insane.

I’ll settle for something a little tamer, so for $67 I’m a proud member of the Beyond Diet community after purchasing the Nine Day Super Cleanse from a pretty lady on the internet named Isabel De Los Rios ( Isabel promises that if I follow her plan, “We’ll kick that fat to the curb.” This cleanse eliminates everything that brings joy – cheese, red meat, sugar, caffeine, cheese, milk, grains, potatoes, cheese and alcohol. No cheese? Preposterous and insulting. But my pants don’t fit, my face is doughy, and I snore like a cartoon hobo. So this nine-day journey starts tomorrow, bright and early.

Day 1: I’ve reached the absolute nadir. I’m naked, standing in my cold basement at 6 a.m., my feet on the scale. The digital numbers climb like I’m filling a gas tank. Did the word “fatty” just flash across the screen? The final number is bad – maybe not, “untuck the shirt and buy the sweat pants” bad, but pretty awful. This cleanse is overdue.

I meander through the supermarket, shopping list in hand. What in the heck are Chia seeds? So I’ll be hungry and sprout tiny green buds on my balding pate? Actually, a verdant comb-over will be the least of my worries because I just put something called “coconut milk” in my cart, next to the “coconut oil.”

Three hours into this trek, and I utter the words, “My body is a temple.” Is this the power of positive thinking or vegetable-related dementia?

Day 2: I dreamt last night that I rode a chicken parmesan dragon through a store-bought pastry obstacle course. I won and celebrated by eating my pet dragon and the Ring Ding hurdles. I’m starving and it’s only 8 a.m. My daughter nibbles on a chocolate donut hole as I eat a plate of runny eggs and tomatoes.

“What kind of eggs are those?” she asks, casually sipping her cup of coffee. “They look disgusting.”

I could dump them in the sink and join her for the donut and coffee klatch – but no, it’s not even lunchtime. Eat the eggs, drink your chamomile tea and yearn for that turkey chili at noon. Be a man for once.

Day 3: Who doesn’t love a banana, kale and avocado smoothie? Most humans, probably.

“That looks like you’re drinking someone else’s vomit,” my wife says. My daughter screams, “Get away from me! That is so gross!” I’m being shunned for my new-found beliefs. Is this what Scientologists must endure? I bet Tom Cruise would share this green paste with me. We’d probably be best friends. I think this constant hunger is making me delusional.

Day 4: Green tea has a vague taste not unlike dirty wool socks.

Day 5: “This is delicious sea bass cooked in coconut oil! Can I have seconds?” Said no one ever in the history of eating.

Day 6: My spinach, carrot and strawberry smoothie looks like I found it in Chewbacca’s diaper.

Tonight I’ll eat a piece of baked chicken. I might wear cologne to the dinner table. Good lord I want a handful of Cheez-Its or just a morsel of a morsel.

No – I have to stick this out. I know it’s working – I see it in my face, and I’ve earned a notch on my belt. Three days to go.

Day 7: I’m tired, hungry and filled with a mild dose of misanthropy. I wake up hungry, I eat and am hungry and go to sleep hungry. My daughter taunts me with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I hold one in my hand and smell it like a drifter in a back alley huffing spray paint. But I put it down and walk away.

Think of me, chocolate chip cookie. I’ll be here, thinking of you, wondering if you’ll still be mine when this craziness is over.

Day 8: I wake up to the sound of distant thunder except the thunder’s coming from my empty stomach. I stir my quinoa and apple breakfast gruel and have a moment of clarity. I’m starving myself in the pursuit of vanity? I volunteered to go hungry while millions of people struggle with food security every day? This is nothing short of misguided and grotesque. Anyway, back to my dream last night, in which I floated in a Velveeta pool wearing onion ring swimmies.

For dinner, I enjoy a pile of ground turkey and quinoa that tastes as bad as it sounds while my family eats homemade macaroni and cheese, its top golden brown, its scent wafting up to the heavens from whence it came. They discuss the glory of tonight’s meal: “This is Irish cheddar!” “The better the cheese, the better the meal!” “Yay! More, more, more!” My dinner tastes like Mesoamerican sawdust mixed with shame. One final day to go.

Day 9: I feel like a prisoner on his last night, getting advice from the lifer on the bunk above. “Remember what got you here in the first place – the bread, the ice cream, the red wine, the Camembert, the crackers, pretzels, candy corn and French fries. Stay clean or you’ll be right back here in no time. Don’t be a fool! Learn from this and live your life the right way!” I promise – anything to avoid sea bass and quinoa.

The nine days end with little fanfare – a few bites of salmon and it’s over. From the feel of my pants and the look of my reflection in the mirror, I know it’s helped.

The next morning I erase some of the ignominy from that first sad moment on the scale, losing eight pounds in nine days.

Isabel even has another 21 days planned out for me, most meals miles better than what I just endured. I wonder how this ends. For now, cheese and I are not on speaking terms, and I think that’s best for both of us. Maybe we’re just not right for each other.

(Email Tim at

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