I Did This: The Seven Day Detox Challenge

I love the sound of cracking open a new can of my favorite energy drink every morning. The popping noise creates the same anticipation others feel when the smell of coffee awakens their senses. The problem with my habit, though, is that everyone can hear that as well, which makes the attempt at any stealthiness virtually impossible. Which brings me to the experiment of trying to ditch some of my favorite, yet bad-for-me, things. What were the culprits? Dairy, sweets, and alcohol. I intended not to indulge in any of these vices for seven days, and, to make things even more exciting, I made it a point to cut out the fake sugars, limit my bread/carb intake, and generally try to be more mindful of my diet.

Easier said than done when we’re talking about some of my truly favorite things. Full disclosure: I have failed at every diet I ever attempted, but I was eager enough to see what, if anything, would happen in a short span.

The first two times I attempted it, I caved in shortly after starting (the first round failed with me binging on energy drinks and cheese, and the other round ended when my colleagues and I went to a decadent Italian restaurant where I couldn’t resist the cheese, focaccia, or the mouthwatering gnocchi). And don’t even get me started on desserts. Needless to say, what I learned is that I could be better at exercising self-control. So I tried to keep the failed starts in mind as I set out to complete my last attempt at the 7-day challenge.    

The first couple of days, the novelty–and the excitement–of the challenge made me determined. No energy drinks? Who cares! I can drink iced coffee instead. No milk for the coffee? Well, lucky for me I thought of unsweetened almond milk! Instead of sugary treats, I had a couple of clementines to eat during the day.

But after the initial buzz of the challenge wore off, I was craving all the things that were supposed to be nixed from the diet. The more I tried to avoid temptation, the more I was sucked into situations that fostered it. I was saying no to offers of candy, chocolate, and cake. But did I feel better? Not really. My sleep, skin, and even the weight remained the same, without the slightest fluctuation. Sure, we’re talking about the first 4-5 days, but in my mind, if I had made the commitment to drastically eliminate some of the culprits that stand in the way of healthier living, I wanted to see some kind of reward for the restrictions I was imposing on my body. 

What I’ve found out is that maintaining a very strict diet isn’t for me — I’d end up being way harder on myself each time something didn’t work out or I caved in. But challenges are that for a reason — they’re challenging. And not everyone can successfully complete them. I found myself giving up the challenge early once the weekend rolled around. But I tried to keep a more positive outlook on it all. After all, it doesn’t pay to be hard on oneself or get discouraged if something doesn’t quite work out as planned. You’re bound to be more productive and comfortable and less agitated if you treat everything as a journey and not get sidetracked if there are some obstacles along the way. For me, a more moderate, balanced approach yields more productive results and makes me feel more rewarded and accomplished in the long run!