After a lifelong struggle with mysterious body aches, Alicia Westerlund finally got answers—and solutions—to her problem during her first 28-Day Cleanse & Detox. Here, she shares her victories—and why she returns to the program again and again.
Q: What made you decide to do the 28-Day Cleanse & Detox? A: I did it the first time because a few of my girlfriends were doing it. I thought it would be a good way to spend time together and it would be fun to do it with others. And, like most women, I was hoping to lose those last five pounds that always seem impossible to get rid of.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway? A: After spending most of my life going to doctors and specialists, giving up when they had no answers, and popping Advil like Tic Tacs to handle chronic body aches, I learned I suffer from gluten sensitivity. About two weeks into my first cleanse, after eliminating gluten, it dawned on me that my body hadn’t hurt for a few days. I have been going to doctors for this since I was five, so this discovery was life-changing!
Q: What else did you learn? A: When I eat clean, I have so much more energy and my mood improves. I have always struggled to get up and feel so tired in the morning. You taught us that eating late at night means we go to sleep when our bodies are still digesting, so it’s better to go to bed a little hungry. When I minimized or cut out late eating, I felt better rested with the same or fewer hours of sleep.
I’ve also spent most of my life struggling with and obsessing over food. You taught us that processed, sugary food triggers parts of the brain in ways similar to heroin, so those of us who are sensitive to addiction will crave food that isn’t good for us. I’ve learned that one brownie won’t make or break my waistline, but it will send me down a path of obsessive thoughts.
Q: What challenges did you face during the program? A: I found it very difficult, both physically and psychologically, to give up coffee. It’s what gets me out of bed. I also used it to quiet morning hunger until I had time to make something for myself. Switching to green tea helped, but was hard to wrap my head around. It can also be a challenge to pass up a glass of wine in a social setting. When going out, I could usually find something “clean” to eat, but it wasn’t always easy to turn down other yummy foods. I also had a splitting headache for three days during the first cleanse and have dealt with sciatic nerve pain during others. You explained that was from toxins being released by my muscles.
Q: Despite these challenges, you’ve returned to the Cleanse & Detox many times over the last five years. How has the program been successful for you long-term? A: During my first cleanse, my energy levels soared. I woke up most mornings feeling rested and I lost 11 pounds. Over the five and a half years since, I’ve kept off anywhere between six and 14 pounds. I gave up pasta entirely after my first cleanse, and I rarely eat anything with gluten. Not only did I learn so much and lose weight, but I made many healthy changes to my diet that I’ve mostly maintained. Eating clean is actually pretty easy in real life!