Megan McIntyre, Senior Beauty Editor
"There's an almost masochistic sense of pride that comes from the deprivation involved with this particular cleanse. BluePrint is a juice-only fast — you aren't allowed any solid food while you're on it. The concept behind it is that it gives your overworked digestive system a breather from breaking down hard-to-digest foods, which in turn will help you feel more energetic, healthier, and, yes, lighter. The cleanse is divided into three levels, each a bit more hardcore than the last. Not wanting to half-ass it, I went for the most intense level — Excavation. My cleanse consisted of 6 juices: four green veggie juices, a spicy lemonade, and a protein-rich cashew nut milk.
In the lead-up to your cleanse, BluePrint recommends you start weaning yourself off of meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine in order to make your transition easier. This is definitely a key step — don't skip it or you will feel miserable. At the start of the first day, I was so excited to open each numbered bottle and guzzle it down. That joy quickly turned to dread over the next few days. The juices themselves all taste great; the issue is that there isn't a lot of flavor variety, so I found myself obsessively craving savory foods. It doesn't help that your sense of smell becomes really enhanced — every day on my way to work I walk by an artisan pizza place and the smell of baking pepperoni and cheese nearly killed me with desire.
Up until recently, BluePrint juices were not organic, but as of this year the brand has switched over to using 100% organic fruits and veggies in their fresh-pressed formulas. They are currently in the process of becoming a certified organic brand, which is important to note for those people striving to stick to a toxin-free diet.
Some unpleasant side effects you can look forward to are headaches, hunger pains, making frequent mad dashes to the loo, and an overwhelming rage toward anyone who eats within a 20-yard radius of you.
By day three, I definitely noticed a difference in my health: I slept way better, my skin had a glow, my aches and pains seemed lessened, and, most importantly, I lost almost ten pounds. Of course, it was all water weight, but I only gained back half of it, which was a definite win in my book, especially after spending the last few weeks feeling bloated and uncomfortable from all that holiday gorging.
So, was it worth all the agony in the end? Yes and no: I felt awesome when all was said and done, but for the cost of the program ($195), I don't see this as something I could keep up with regularly. It's definitely a smart choice right before a big event, on an occasion when you need to look extra-svelte, or just to make you feel better after a guilt-inducing week (or month) of gluttony. But for me, it's probably not a way of life."
BluePrint Cleanse 3-Day Excavation, $195, available at BluePrint Cleanse.
Piera Gelardi, Creative Director
Apple Cider Vinegar Cleanse
"A cleanse doesn't necessariIy have to mean depriving yourself of food. The apple cider vinegar cleanse is an at-home remedy that consists of mixing 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water and drinking it before every meal. Apple cider vinegar is promoted by nutritionists and wellness experts because it's supposed to clear your colon of built up toxins and aid digestion, but one of the reasons it's so popular for people trying to lose weight is that it staves off hunger and flushes out your system, resulting in some serious shedding of pounds. All things that seemed positive after a holiday season full of the requisite overload of "merry making" (i.e. sweets, booze, fat, and more booze).
Personally, I was relieved to be assigned the cleanse that allows you to eat, because I'm in the middle of moving into a new apartment and the thought of no food after a day of carrying heavy objects up and down stairs was a serious no-go for me.
I woke up on Day 1 of my three-day cleanse and located the apple cider vinegar bottle right where I had left it the night before: Sitting out on the counter next to an empty pizza box and a can of Red Bull (my pre-moving dinner the night before).
Let me tell you that it is neither pleasant nor easy to drink a glass of vinegar water first thing in the morning. The facial contortions I experienced may very well have left permanent lines on my face. After I drank the vinegar, my appetite was miraculously gone…although it very well may have been from nausea. And then the move began.
I had my first meal — yogurt with berries — mid-move, and wasn't hungry again until hours later when I was unpacking boxes in the new apartment. I had my second vinegar drink followed by a salad for lunch. After the third drink of the day, I ordered vegetarian Chinese food for dinner and though you're technically not supposed to drink on a cleanse, how could I not have a little Prosecco to reward myself and celebrate the new place?
The rest of the cleanse went pretty much the same way — facial contortions in the morning while trying to knock back the first sour glass of the day, followed by a healthy breakfast and lunch, then consistent cheating in the evening when friends came over and my willpower to abstain went out the window. This is definitely something you want to do when you don't have a lot of things going on in your life. Otherwise, it's way too hard to stick to it faithfully.
Regardless of my occasional cheating, throughout the cleanse I did notice significantly improved digestion — I wasn't as hungry between meals, and I felt incredibly energized (although that could have been from excitement over the move and the looming holiday weekend). If you can stomach the horrible taste, I would recommend it. Plus it costs about $5 — way cheaper than those pre-made juice cleanses."
Gina Marinelli, Editorial Assistant
David Kirsch Ultimate Detox Kit
"I expected a fairly heavy shock to my body within the first day of the David Kirsch cleanse, but in reality, it wasn't all that bad. I like to think of myself as a fairly health-conscious eater: I am mostly vegetarian (however, I do eat fish), avoid all processed foods, eat as close to nature as possible, and try to keep my sweet tooth at bay. That said, coming down off the Christmas sugar hangover and right onto the strict regimen of protein shakes and super-lean meals was an adjustment. The fundamentals of the David Kirsch cleanse are fairly simple: You consume one daily detox mixed drink first thing in the morning (easy — and pretty tasty), substitute one or two of my meals with a low-carb, low-fat protein shake (not so tasty, but I could deal), and the remaining meal(s) with a simple green salad with lean protein, drizzled with lemon juice (and nothing else).
On Day 2 of the cleanse, I was doing fine, but I did start to regret not having kicked my caffeine habit the week before. I think the most miserable thing to endure is a lingering caffeine-withdrawal migraine that lasted a solid two days. Note: The migraine plus that not-quite-satisfied feeling of substituting a shake for a wholesome meal can make for a little irritability (or at least in my case), so warn your friends and co-workers.
By the third and fourth days, I had gotten the hang of my salad, making it with either tuna, tempeh, or tofu. I thought the drizzle of lemon would seem plain, but my taste buds were so excited for something other than a vanilla shake that every salad seemed extra fresh and delicious. As for that unavoidable shake — which I was also instructed to mix with the Super Charged Green Blend every morning — those actually became harder and harder to get down. The shakes were chalky and tasted even worse when the greens were blended in. I don't think I've ever had a protein shake until this cleanse and I think I would rather juice an entire field of vegetables than downing another one of those. Ever again.
All in all, I did find some positive results from my five-day David Kirsch test drive. While I don't have a scale at home, I do feel like I've been able to avoid the post-holiday bloat. I feel lighter and not like I've been indulging for the past month. In addition, I heeded David's advice and got as much sleep as possible this week while cleansing, which helped me wake up more energized and sustain my energy throughout the day. While I can't say I'll ever be a protein shake kind of gal, I do think it has given me a nice boost to start making even healthier choices in 2012 and get the year off on a "cleaner" foot."
David Kirsch Ultimate Detox Kit, $95, available at David Kirsch.
Christene Barberich, Editor-in-Chief
The CB Faux Cleanse
"I am a purist at heart, which is why I love the liquid offerings at Organic Avenue, which are 100% organic, delicious, and a fave of one of my biggest beauty/health gurus, Norma Kamali. I have done many cleanses over the years...some more disgusting and "cleansing" than others. My advice if you're not super disciplined on your own (and, let's face it, many of us are not), is to plan a stay at We Care in Palm Desert, California. It was by far, the best cleansing experience I've ever had, and I could not even believe that after three days, the whites of my eyes could be SO WHITE.
But back to Organic Avenue. Although they do recommend juicing without any solid food to achieve maximum detox results, it was just too busy of a time for me to get through on green beverages alone. Hence, I crafted my own cleanse consisting of the following more sustainable steps. I'm not sure how long it will last, but I'm aiming to keep this going until the end of January...just in time for Fashion Week.
1. Water: Wake up to a glass of water with fresh organic lemon juice and a dash of cayenne pepper.
2. Fruit: Swap my usual cereal, Ezekial toast, for protein with fresh organic fruit. Kiwi and strawberries are my favorites, but occasionally, I'll include some chopped pineapple for variety.
3. Morning workout: I try to do at least 40 minutes of cardio per day, usually running...the point is to get a good sweat going, even if it's for just 15 minutes, if time is an issue. At the end I like to do a handstand against a wall, as I once read that inverted poses and reversing blood flow actually reverse the aging process. Either way, it feels amazing.
4. Organic Avenue Green LOVE juice, 2x per day: This one is my favorite, pressed from a blend of greens, pear, and lemon. Drinking it is like downing a bottle of pure life-force, and provides the kind of energy I can usually only get from a small coffee.
5. Whole foods only: I replace one meal per day with a juice (above) and for all other meals, I'm sticking to organic whole foods, like lentils, chick peas, greens, brown rice, root vegetables, quinoa, etc. Any of the above sauteed with olive oil, garlic, and spritzed with some of Braggs' Amino Acid tamari seasoning makes an awesome meal.
6. Things that are OFF the menu: All wheat, gluten and processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and....whahh, dairy. The interesting thing about cutting things out though, is that just a day or two after removing them, you really stop craving them as much. Except for cheese. For me, cheese is a lifeline and I simply want to eat it all the time.
7. Skin brushing: Several health specialists I've worked with have recommended doing this over the years, and so it's just become a habit for me before the shower. It not only sloughs away dead scaly skin (which is rampant in winter), but it stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system, which helps to flush out toxins (a nice bonus during a cleanse). Plus, it just makes your whole body glow and feel refreshed.
8. Lots of water, all day every day: I hate hearing people tell me they don't like the taste of water. Get over it! Water is the key to everything in cleansing, healing, and revitalizing. So please don't skimp!"
Photographed by Shanita Sims