Learnings From the Master Cleanse – Part 2

Bag Balm tin

Here is the second poop installment…If you missed Part 1, this is the follow up to my Master Cleanse, and subsequent hemorrhoid fallout requiring a trip to the ER. 

ER Aftermath

Sadly, the papers I left the ER with did not contain a prescription, but instead a referral to a G.I. specialist, who did not take the state insurance program. My appointment with a state doc is on April 2nd. This is an improvement! The original appointment was April 30th. If you want something for free, you gotta wait.

The other sad part was the papers said, “Do sitz baths, use laxatives, eat more fiber, drink more water, & get more exercise.” Sound familiar? Somehow I just knew this method wasn’t working. Desperation lead to internet research. I began with “paleo diet problems”, and gratefully stumbled upon the site Gut Sense.

Do not let the looks of the author fool you.  This guy knows his S***. Ok. Bad pun – but it’s worth the moans & groans if it means you can literally save your ass from my horrible fate.

Fiber Foe

The author Konstantin Monastyrsky is exactly the kind of guy you want to research this topic & write a book. A) He’s Russian, and has no shame about diving into poop topics. B) He studied pharmacology. C) He then taught himself computer programming languages in the 80′s and made a fortune. D) He took the same analytical skills to his anal research (more puns!) leaving no stone unturned to solve the constipation + fiber = relief mantra the docs also kept telling him, and 1,000′s of others.

In summary, fiber with higher water intakes bulk up your stool. Bulked stool is bigger, making it harder to pass through your inflamed pooper. Straining & pushing results in nerve damage, making it hard to determine when you should poop, because you can’t feel it. Fiber also causes a whole host of other problems, like Type 2 diabetes, but you can read the book for all that.

The point is, Mr. Monastyrsky finally wrote something that made sense to me. My inflamed pooper was a result of all the veggies I ate while trying to follow the Paleo Diet too soon after the Master Cleanse. My stomach acids rebelled entirely, and flushed everything I ate out immediately, causing even more irritation.

had to reduce the size of my poop. But how?

Losing Weight

I followed the plan Mr. Monastyrsky outlined in his Gut Sense book almost to the letter. White rice (because it contains no fiber) two times a day, plus a protein meal (home cooked meats, including fat), and high grade probiotics in-between. He also recommends not drinking at least an hour before a meal, and 4-6 hours after. I supplement with aloe vera juice & coconut water during the rare moments I drink liquids throughout the day. For more details, buy his book.

After so many weeks of not absorbing the nutrition from the foods I ate, and reducing the amount I ate to shrink my poops, I’ve lost a lot of weight. It’s not healthy. I don’t like it. I was hoping to take an inch off my hips & even thighs on the master cleanse. But now, these things are my life:

–inability to poop without pain or blood “spotting”
–discomfort sitting in chairs for long periods
–severely restricted diet to rice & meat which may last several years
–not having enough energy to do the things I love like yoga, bike riding, climbing, etc.
–uncertainty whether I can maintain restricted diet & eating habits in the backcountry

Was it worth all the weight I’ve lost so far? Are these things worth having thinner thighs? Frankly, no. It’s not worth it. I’d take my plumper thighs & waistline back ANY day to trade for the awful digestion mess & severe diet & activity restrictions that followed. There’s losing weight healthy ways, and unhealthy ways, and being half-starved because my stomach can’t accept food is definitely an unhealthy way.

Folks, losing weight isn’t that important to risk the health of your G.I. tract. In fact, if you follow Mr. Monastyrsky’s advice to eat a fiber-free diet, you will lose tons of weight without needing much exercise. He suggests eating fruits & veggies that are low in fiber, which do exist! The best list I found so far was at the American Cancer Society. From there he suggests low fiber grain like rice, and homemade meats, heavy on the sashimi, with no “pre-processed” meats like sausage. (This coming from a man who grew up in a country with the best kielbasa on the planet. Well, except Poland… ;-) )

Truly, though, I do not believe that “crashing” with a cleanse is needed to start losing weight. Mr. Monastyrsky agrees with conventional wisdom that the initial 14 days on the Atkins, South Beach or a cleanse like Master Cleanse is really just the flushing out of fecal matter, and body water. True weight loss can only come from the appropriate diet for your metabolism, blood type, and G.I. stability, as well as regular exercise. It will be a unique combination for every person.

Silver Lining

Despite my pain & suffering, I’m grateful. I’m grateful this inflammation flared up when it did. If I kept ignoring my gut, maybe it would be colon cancer in a few more years. Knowledge is power – look at all I’ve learned about fiber, poop, guts, and how to achieve health in just one week? Pain is a great motivator. I don’t EVER want an ER doctor to stick his gloved finger up my butt to check for hemorrhoids EVER AGAIN. If I have to research for a year at the Smithsonian, I will.

Additional research over the last 2 days on ayurvedic medicine and diets revealed a lot. Years ago a bodyworker identified me as a “classic” pitta personality, in the ayurveda understanding. “Pitta people” are usually of medium build (me), have a lot of freckles & moles (me), & include traits like softness & radiation of the body/skin (me), metobolism (me & my fast one), heat (I don’t like warm climates), mental functioning (I’m smart), cheerfulness & courage (definitely me), among other things. I was blown away by the similarities in the recommended diet for pitta personalities, the anti-histamine diet Mr. Monastyrsky recommended to me, and his general guidelines for bowel de-flammation foods in the Gut Sense book.

Truly I am grateful to make the connections between these areas of knowledge. Just since I started this post, using the recommendations from Gut Sense with respect to what I am eating, and when I am eating, my poops have become small, passable, and my time on the toilet has become 90% pain-free.

Keep in mind as you read, that not everyone is a “pitta”. I recommend consulting with a trained ayurvedic professional to ascertain a diet plan that would help you. There are many options. For me, I will experiment with combining some aspects of all three diets I mentioned above. Again, each person will have a unique response to their diet adjustments. The key is to take your time, and commit to your health, not weight loss. When you do, the weight loss will be a natural bonus. The primary thing to remember though, it will take time. Despite our instantaneous world & our desires around it, there are no quick fixes for nutrition and health.

Grab Bag Balm

Another God-send was from my brother– Bag Balm, a really great deep moisturizer initially meant for cow udders. It’s made by a family place in Vermont. Apparently road bicyclists swear by it.

Sure enough, it’s the only thing that has successfully un-chapped my hide. It keeps my bum moist all day long, and has some kind of magic mojo ingredient that healed the cracks as well as reduced the swelling. It worked better than any medicated hemorrhoid ointment I tried.

If you have anything chapped, or road rash from a scrape on your bike, or ‘roids like me, buy this stuff. It works miracles.

Other Emotional Factors

Another bonus to this suffering has been grief, deep-seeded grief. While I was lying on the gurney in the ER, post finger exam, pre-CT scan, I began to cry. I realized how much suffering my mom & brother both went through in all their hospital stays. Hospitals really suck. People are constantly poking & prodding you, waking you up when you just dozed off, the food is lousy, the canned music is horrible, and everything smells weird.

And through it all, my brother kept a chipper, fun attitude. My mom was crabbier, but I sure would be too! I missed them both so much while in the ER. I know my mom would’ve had the perfect answer for all my symptoms, since she went through it herself from the chemo drugs.

More importantly, I’m grieving my childhood. The hospital I went to still had my old info from an accident in high school. But the name of the hospital had changed, the trees were bigger, etc. When the person who ties you to childhood the most is gone, it’s a strange feeling. It’s almost like the teenage years – not quite adult, not quite kid anymore.  Although my dad is still here, and we have a great relationship, it’s different when it’s Mom. I have to fend for myself now, seek female wisdom from ladies who aren’t my mom. Look up recipes on websites instead of asking Mom.

Internal Insanity

The other great thing this inflamed belly fiasco taught me was how much I internalize my emotions into my gut. As mentioned before, my gut problems started at an early age. All the grief, anger, depression, etc. from these cancer deaths just overloaded the system. With this awareness, now I can try to move forward in a less self-inflicting way.

Just yesterday, I visited my grandpa, yes the same grandpa who railed at me last year when I left for Alaska. It’s my mom’s dad. He railed at me again, and I cried when I left. Yet, nothing he said had anything to do with me. My gut felt pretty bad after that, until I went…shopping. Boy, did I find some great deals!

It taught me a lesson, though, there are some family members where I do care about what they think of me. It’s helping me to ferret out the last remaining childhood patterns of self-inflicting misery that I somehow still cling to. Part of the grief is grieving my relationship with Grandpa, since it’s changed drastically from childhood. Also, realizing that he’s grieving also, and maybe has a limited way of expressing it, eased my gut & my burden. With awareness comes change and healing, just slowly…

This is a huge part to my intestinal troubles. Likely if you are reading this story, this is not your case. Most likely you didn’t have a parent die two months ago, nor did you grow up with the kind of wacky family I did. Therefore, take my tale with a grain of salt. Maybe you’d have a fine time on the Master Cleanse with no problems whatsoever, like my best friend Chelsea, who does the cleanse every year.

However, also take my story to heart. Compare your life to mine, and find the similarities. Do you internalize your emotions? Are there things you don’t like to feel, like sadness, anger, jealousy, or grief? How do you cope with the emotions you maybe were taught at an early age were “not ok”? Because of the last 3 weeks, I now see more clearly than ever the link between emotions, the mental states they produce, and our physical health. The link is deeper & the connection more instant than we can comprehend.

There is not much we can control in this world. But we can take active steps to control our health. Health doesn’t only mean our body, but also our emotional state, our mental state, and the reflection of that out into the world via our heart-state. What are you doing to address all three (I blend emotional & heart state together, since what’s inside comes out through the heart)? Have you experienced connections between the three in your life? What can you do to begin to feel this connection?

If you have an internet connection, the world of discovery and good health is at your fingertips…

In Closing

All of the blogs on the Master Cleanse are purely my opinion. I highly suggest you seek medical or nutritional advice before attempting this cleanse. My personal feeling is if you have ever had hemorrhoids, constipation, diarrhea, diverticulitus, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, ulcers, Crohn’s disease, ever had the stomach flu, ever thrown up from drinking too much, ever taken anti-biotics & especially not eaten yogurt while taking them, or ever gone through chemo, then do not do this cleanse.

That pretty much eliminates 98% of the population. I also recommend the same for the Paleo Diet. Did you know that almonds have almost the same fiber content as broccoli, when in the same portions? I couldn’t believe that. No wonder my poops were so large on the Paleo diet.

My stomach flora was completely stripped out during this cleanse, and it took way longer for the digestive bacteria to be replaced. Eating too rapidly after the cleanse was like shock treatment on my gut. A few years back I did a crazy cleanse that I also don’t recommend, but didn’t result in pooper problems. Instead, I used this product for several weeks, to kill off the bad bacteria, and support the good. I didn’t have to stop eating, and honestly I didn’t really notice any difference in my digestion. Following this supplement was a colonic flush that was so unpleasant I’ve not done it since.

Point is, there are tons of herbal supplements out there that will assist with cleansing out toxins and bad things in your gut, liver, etc., without risking destroying the sensitive internal ecosystem of those organs. In my humble opinion, this is a much safer way to go.

That being said, I do believe it’s important to clear out the gut of excessive poop buildup and, more importantly, toxins. Despite the aftermath of misery, it was a really good feeling to poop all that I did while cleansing. I did feel the toxins in my body were removed. It just came at a dear price, one I wish I knew I had agreed to pay.

Moral: find a cleanse that doesn’t require many days of liquid diet unless you have a completely healthy stomach. Find an herbal supplement that will help you poop a lot, but in a healthy non-invasive way, along with changing your diet to better suit your needs. General diet improvements for everyone are: eliminate processed foods of all kinds – go completely “whole” foods, and cook everything at home; eliminate wheat and reduce dairy & other carbs as much as possible; do not mix carbs & protein at the same meal – keep those separate; do not over consume water – “clear & copious” pee is not always the best, especially in the backcountry (You’re losing valuable nutrients like calcium, potassium, etc. If you do, take “under the tongue” supplements for those during your entire journey.); eliminate alcohol, or at least severely limit it to one glass per day, and make that nitrite/nitrate free organic imbibements.

Although a sordid story, I hope you’ve found my experiences useful for your own edification. It’s YOUR health! Do the research! And, good health to you!

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2 Responses to Learnings From the Master Cleanse – Part 2

  1. Luther Monday says:

    Wow, Marissa, that was some informative sh**. Seriously, I’m really glad you shared this. Though, I have thus far been lucky in the poop realm, I am inspired to do more personal research in order to gain more insight regarding some of my health issues.

    Love, Lu

    • marissa says:

      Glad it helped you, Lu! That makes me feel so good, and good feelings lead to good poops… :)

      Maybe you need to get “radical” about fiber too – you never know. So far, the white rice has been on the money for gut stabilization, along with one reasonable protein meal per day. Just yesterday I tried eating a small amount of veggies, and my gut was unhappy. It was astounding.

      And try consulting an ayuerveda person, too. I’ve noticed a difference when I try the no-no foods on the ayuerveda plan, like even just cinnamon in my tea. Amazing.

      Best of luck & my belly sends warm fuzzies to your belly!
      MK

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